Samyang V-AF Series Review : Primed For Creators | E-Mount Compatible!
Updated: Jan 30
I for one have not been much of a prime lens type of shooter. I’ve always preferred zoom lenses due to the bulk of what I do, usually for run n’ gun type situations where getting another angle or focal length is crucial when it comes to capturing moments that simply just can't be done with a simple re-take.
While most Cine lenses are manually focused, I have here with me a set of Samyang's latest full-frame V-AF series, and I’ve gotta say.. Prime lenses are the way to go if you care enough about what your footage looks like that most zoom lenses just can't emulate. At the time of this video's release, there's just these 3 which are the T/1.9 24mm, 35mm and 75mm, while being priced less than $700 or 3,000 Malaysian Ringgit, which is just a bargain if you'd consider the value you get from them.
For those wondering, “what's the difference between an F-stop and T-stop?” Well, f-stop is the measure for photo lenses while T-stop is the measurement for Cine lenses. Depending on how many elements are within a lens, the amount light that travels passes through the aperture blades do tend to lose some of it through refraction or reflection, which means a sensor won’t ever get 100% transmission ratio. That’s why we have our ISO options to manage the sensitivity of a sensor. And yes, in this case, it's gonna show f1.8 on your camera.
But yes! These lenses were phenomenal when it came to documenting a close friend of mine prepping for her performance at a local music festival and there were many moments where I had to switch between using the camera handheld, placing it on a flycam or gimbal.
My biggest worries when it comes to using prime lenses are purely because of the weight differences that could alter a gimbal’s balance when I’ve set all of it up, as changing focal lengths would ultimately mean recalibrating things altogether due to different glass elements within each lens that affects the overall weight to your camera.
But it wasn’t the case with these lenses. They were super convenient because despite them being different focal lengths, all of them are exactly the same size and weigh only 0.6lbs or approximately 280g. So a very lightweight and compact structure while also having a feature that I’ve personally never seen before on a lens, which is a built-in LED Tally Lamp at the front and mount index.
I don't know about you, but that feature alone is super convenient for self-shooters like myself. Even though some newer or cinema based cameras already have their own tally lamp built-in, older cameras like my A7iii didn’t come equipped with one, so I already can imagine so many other creators who might appreciate this feature too. So thank you Samyang, for thinking to a small but very significant detail. It’s not ridiculously bright till it would leak into any footage or any kind as the front LED is embedded quite deep inside of this Metal Accessory Mount.
To which I have no information at this moment as to what accessories can actually be attached to this, but I’m sure it has something to do with a feature that could take advantage of these 2 mode switches which I’ll get into in just a second.
My guess is that these contact points could either suit for an additional electrically controlled variable ND filter that could be controlled by the focus ring, OR something that’s less exciting like an additional front element to give a wider aspect like Sony’s f/2.0 28mm combined with their 16mm f/3.5 fisheye. An interesting combination but I have a feeling that it won’t be too helpful for video use, considering how vignetting or having it effect it's focus breathing altogether, so yeah I’m really hoping that variable ND alternative could be something they’d do, because as far as I know, there’s no lens out there that could do such a thing.
But yes, these 2 mode switches are very handy themselves for having the option for aperture priority or having it act as a your usual focus ring, depending on what your camera is set for. But since it’s an autofocus cine lens, having a fast control really helped me the most when I was transitioning from different rooms or stage lights that constantly dimmed up and down, or when my subject was backlit behind a bright background. Additionally, there's also a focus Hold Button and different functions can be assigned through Samyang's Lens Station.
Other benefits that I've noticed which are very surprising for lenses at this price range is its focus breathing that is usually very prominent in most zoom lenses, yet shows very minimal travel here. Samyang also suggests that they were made for 8K resolution, (I don't exactly know what they mean by that) but probably because of how sharp these lenses are and I can confirm that yes, these lenses are very sharp. Kinda reminds me a lot of Sigma and their Art lenses in some way but to be fair, new-age lenses of today's standards and the look you get from more vintage ones are subjective to each user anyways.
If you're keen to see some of the specification details, here's just a few to begin with to their respective values in viewing angles for both Full-frame and Super 35 but you're adamant in seeing further details such as Rotation or Focus Breathing angles, do check out the link below:
Autofocus is great for most parts and really does feel native to Sony's E-mount, with just a little inconsistencies every now and then in the 75mm. It's also very quiet and none of my experience with all 3 had any audible sounds in the motors. Other than that, the minimum focus distance is less than 0.7 meters so you could actually get close to subjects and still have the Autofocus range.
My only gripe with these lenses was the throw you get when in manual mode gets up to 300° and wished there were some indicator that I've reached infinity or some sort of click you get when in aperture mode like how some G-master lenses do. Then again, I could be asking too much. Overall it's a very smooth focus ring but might just take some muscle memory to get really used to it.
As mentioned before, they're all just under 700 US Dollars, but to be more specific, the 24mm is priced at RM3,099 and the 35mm and 75mm is at RM2,890 as well its respective prices in USD$ next to it.
Just for context, Sony's FE 35mm goes for 2,899 Malaysian Ringgit and their G-Master 35mm f/1.4 is more than double the price. So, if you're out to look for fast prime lenses with some additional features that's yet to be seen from any other manufacturer that I know of, do give these Samyang V-AF series a look cause I can't recommend them enough for the build quality and weight. Really something that I believe most videographers would appreciate and in more than ways than one, could actually be a game changer if Samyang continues to think outside of the box.
Written by Fitri Aiyub