Mount: Canon, Four Thirds, Nikon F, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Sony E, Sony A | Format: full frame Construction: 13 elements in 12 groups, 8 diaphragm blades | Closest focus distance: 25cm | Filter thread: 77mm | Focusing: manual focus only | Dimensions: 83 x 98mm, 580g | Tested on: Nikon D7100
Typical of Samyang lenses, this 24mm f/1.4 looks a bit of a throwback. In an age of automation, it takes the path least travelled with an old-fashioned manual focus system and aperture ring. So, while most competing lenses can autofocus in a jiffy, and work perfectly well in Program AE and shutter-priority shooting modes, this one slows you down.
That said, things are a little more refined if you're using the Nikon-fit edition of the lens, because electronics are added so that the aperture can be controlled from the camera (essential in Nikon DSLRs), and focus assistance and confirmation lamps are enabled in the viewfinder display.
The relatively large depth of field generated by a 24mm lens means that focus accuracy isn't really critical. The lack of autofocus is therefore less of an issue with a wide-angle lens than, say, a standard or telephoto optic. A plus point is that the large manual focus ring of the Samyang is wonderfully smooth, comfortable and precise in operation, so manual focusing certainly isn't the chore you might expect it to be.
The Samyang makes the most of its two aspherical elements, four ED elements and UMC coatings to deliver very pleasing image quality. The only negative is that sharpness is a little poor at apertures between f/1.4 and f/2.8 but it's no worse at the corners of the frame than at the centre. Vignetting is also noticeable at f/1.4, but no more so than with other fast, wideangle prime lenses, such as the Canon 24mm f/1.4,
Sharpness: The sharpness chart provides an indication of lens performance across the focal range (for zoom lenses) and at different lens apertures.
Sharpness takes a dive at wide apertures between f/1.4 and f/2.8 but, apart from that, there's plenty of detail across the whole frame.
Fringing: There's very little colour fringing which is essentially impossible to spot in the majority of images, even towards the corners. Lower scores are better.
The distortion figure is a little higher than usual for this type of lens, though the Samyang still gives less barrel distortion than some competing lenses, such as the Nikon 24mm f/1.4. Negative values indicate barrel distortion, positive values indicate pincushion distortion, and figures closes to zero are best.
Verdict: Apart from a lack of sharpness at very wide apertures, image quality is very convincing from this Samyang, making it very good value.