Samyang 18mm F2.8 AF FE E-mount lens review by Miranda F

reviewer#45671 date: Mar-22-2021
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Samyang 12mm f2 MF
Samyang 24mm & 35mm f2.8 AF primes
Sony 28-70mm FE OSS (the kit one)
Sony 16mm f2.8
Sony 16-50PZ
Sony 18-55mm & 55-210mm E lenses.
Meike 35mm f1.7 MF
Newer 32mm f1.6 MF
MF lenses in 28, 35, 50mm
All the A-mount SAM DT lenses
Lots of other A-mount lenses.
price paid:£265 new.
positive:Compact lens
Amazingly sharp even at full aperture even on A7Rii
Very little distortion & CA (corrections on)
Useful UW lens on FF and W on APS-C
Useful case
Lens hood adds some protection.
negative:Large filter thread at 58mm
A little front-heavy on the Nex-6.
Not a lot, really.
comment:I now have three of the small Samyang AF FE primes: the 18mm, 24mm, and 35mm f2.8, respectively new, ex-demo and s/h. I wanted inexpensive compact primes in the most useful FL on both the A7Rii and on the Nex-6, which were useable wide open without terrible corners and had a quick and reliable AF.
I bought this one new from an eBay seller in Switzerland and received it promptly.
First impressions of the lenses are good with a solid feel, small carry-case and interesting lens hoods/caps. The 18mm is quite a bit bigger than the other two; on the A7Rii this makes little difference but on the Nex-6 it is around the same size as the SEL18-55 and hangs down at the front on a neck strap. The 58mm filter thread marks it out from the others, as does the lens hood which is almost a petal type and almost useful.
AF is definitely better than with the 35mm f2.8, very slightly quicker I think but with much less focus breathing, so that although the image does flicker slightly when focussing (in AF-S on the A7Rii, and in AF-C on the Nex-6) the image doesn't change size so it is a lot less annoying.
Like the other Samyang f2.8 AF primes it is extremely sharp even wide open and with good contrast too, and on the A7Rii it is quite extraordinary how much detail can be seen if you zoom into 100% crop and more on playback. You can photograph an entire wall of a bookshop hand-held and read every title perfectly! My copy must be sharper in the corners wide open than some reviewers' though vignetting is quite noticeable at f2.8 even with corrections on.
I bought the 18mm to get the same sky coverage on the Rii as I had with the Samyang 12mm MF on the Nex, and though this is too wide for most other things you can crop to APS-C and/or 16:9 to reduce the empty spaces and get a useful and flexible single-lens solution for those walks where the views are often wide.
On the Nex-6 the focusing behaviour is reversed as commented on in the 35mm review; AF-S gives a quick focus and AF-C does the CDAF dance, whereas it’s the opposite on the A7Rii – no idea why.
The 18mm Samyang is noticeably narrower angle view than the Sony 16mm f2.8 but much sharper, and the geometry corrections seem to be very small. On the Nex-6 the 18mm is a moderate wide angle (27mm equiv) and a nice lens for wandering around if you don't mind the extra size and weight over the 16mm or 16-50 PZ.
If you don't mind the physical size, I'd recommend it over the other E lenses on the APS-C cameras and if I had the A7C it would be my first choice UW.
BTW I can really recommend the u-tube reviews by Christopher Frost. He also finds these Samyang lenses very sharp.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 3
  • sharpness: 4.67
  • color: 4.67
  • build: 4.33
  • distortion: 4.33
  • flare control: 4.00
  • overall: 4.40 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania