Samyang launches two fast prime lenses for mirrorless cameras

Samyang 21mm f/1.4 and 50m f/1.2 lenses

Samyang is a Korean lens manufacturer of fixed focal length manual focus lenses – it sounds like an anachronism but is actually a succesful and expanding lens maker.

The lens designs are simple and traditional and a million miles from the autofocus zoom lenses made for today's DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but their simple operation taps into the growing popularity of simpler, retro-style photography. They offer a chance to shoot in an old-fashioned way without being lumbered with an old-fashioned analog camera.

But Samyang has spotted a second market for low-cost, high-quality professional video lenses, by creating additional 'cine' versions of its lenses with external 'declicked' geared wheels for smooth iris (aperture) adjustment and follow-focus attachments.

New 21mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.2 lenses

The two new lenses are a 21mm f/1.4 and a 50mm f/1.2. They are designed for mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors and come in Sony E, Fuji X and Canon M mounts, with a crop factor of 1.5x which affects their effective focal length. On these cameras, the 21mm f/4 works as a super-fast semi-wideangle prime lens (32mm equivalent), while the 50mm f/1.2 is an even faster portrait lens (75mm equivalent).

Cine versions and the differences

The lack of autofocus and zoom capability for stills photography is something of a lifestyle choice, but a much more concrete benefit for professional video photography, where a wide maximum aperture is often far more useful than a zoom capability, and where manual focus is practically de rigeur.

Samyang 24mm f/1.4 Cine lens

The Cine versions of Samyang lenses have geared iris and focus rings for use with professional video equipment.

The Cine versions optically the same as the stills lenses but physically different, with the addition of geared focus and iris wheels, iris and distance scales on both sides of the lens (for easier viewing when filming) and the adoption of T (transmission) ratings for the iris settings rather than F-stops; in video, it's the light transmission that counts, not the physical aperture size.

They are also available in a Micro Four Thirds mount, where the smaller sensor doubles their effective focal length to a 42mm f/1.4 and 100m f/1.2 respectively.

Prices and availability

The new lenses go on sale in mid-October. The 21mm f/1.4 photo lens will cost £279.99 (about US$432, AU$609) and the Cine version will be £309.99 (about US$479, AU$657). The 50mm f/1.2 will cost £309.99 (about US$479, AU$657) in the photo version while the Cine option will cost £339.99 (about US$525, AU$740).

Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.