GeneralI have to admit, I find the Samyang concept very solid: remove autofocus to cut down cost, but give the best image quality you can (within the price tag). Result? A cheap but optically very capable lens. The 85mm f/1.4 was sensational, and the 14mm f/2.8 was no slouch either. When I heard that Samyang prepared a macro such lens, I was thrilled - because in macros, more than in any other case, the lack of autofocus is even less of an issue. I got one for reviewing purposes, hoping it'd be good enough to keep it. Here are my findings...
|Center sharpness is just fine, really (although, this is a given for a macro prime lens)|
Pros/Cons+ Well built, like its siblings. No shortcuts when it comes to construction quality
+ manual focus is well implemented, allows for precision adjustments.
+ sharpness what you'd expect from a macro lens. No complaints really, except...
- ... wide-open in the corners. Not bad, but definitely not what I'd call great.
- the bokeh wasn't as great as I hoped for (of course this is subjective), especially in front of the subject and stopped-down a bit. Wide-open is somewhat better (but still not ideal).
- value not great, it's more expensive than it should have been.
Intended UsersGreat for:
- As a dedicated macro lens, it's very good - I wouldn't call it "excellent" though.
- Particularly good for entry-level cameras (it has an AE chip, so you have metering and you can control the aperture from the dial).
- DX in general: great working distance, and corners not as much of an issue.
- If you plan to use it for things other than macro, the lack of autofocus can be a show-stopper.
- Sadly, I can't recommend it for FX. Why pay $500 for such a lens, when with the same amount you can get an autofocus macro (with better corners, to boot)? And with another $150 or so, you can get optical stabilization, too!
- portraits. I disliked the bokeh - opt for the optically no-nonsense Samyang 85mm f/1.4 instead (which is way cheaper, too).
|This is taken with the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and I offer it as a bokeh comparison. If you're interested in portraits, the 85mm f/1.4 is far superior.|
Final VerdictI wanted to like this lens so much. The price was higher than I would have wanted, but I kept telling myself that maybe the optical quality was really extraordinary. Sadly, it wasn't. If the price of the Samyang 100mm f/2.8 was less than $300, perhaps I could recommend it - although, it would compete against the breathtakingly brilliant AIS Nikkors, and I'd pick the 105mm f/2.8 AIS any day over the Samyang.
Ultimately, the biggest issue of this lens is not so much its quality (which, despite the so-so corners is still very good), but all the little elements put together. It's a matter of scope and competition, really. To be recommended, this lens would have to be $200 cheaper; or, there shouldn't exist a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 HSM OS, or a Tamron 90mm f/2.8; or, a Nikon Nikkor AIS 105mm f/2.8. Too many "if", "or", "what not", "perhaps", and "maybe". Not a bad lens, but there are options that are better or cheaper (sometimes both).