Of all third-party lens manufacturers, Korean Samyang was the first to launch a new lens lineup for the recently announced Sony A7 and A7R full-frame cameras. There are five of them – as many as Sony announced themselves, but unlike the Zeiss lenses these were not specifically designed for mirrorless cameras. Rather, they are tweaked Samyang prime lenses designed for the most popular DSLR systems and are also known as Bower, Rokinon, Vivitar and Pro-Optic.
This is an in-depth review of the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC, a manual focus prime lens designed for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung and Micro Four Thirds mounts. While I will be referring to this lens as “Samyang” in this review, please keep in mind that you can find exactly the same lens under different names such as Bower 35mm f/1.4 and Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 in the US. In fact, the South-Korean lens manufacturer Samyang Optics sells its lenses to different companies like Vivitar, Falcon, Rokinon, Walimex, Bower and Pro-Optic, which simply re-package the lens and imprint their logos / add tags and sell them. Interestingly, while the lens is exactly the same, these brands are sometimes sold at different price points too (probably due to differences in packaging). The lens I tested for this review is the “Samyang” version, supposedly branded and packaged by the original manufacturer.
The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 is targeted at photographers that do not need autofocus and want to get a fast aperture lens for a variety of needs such as landscape, architecture, street and travel photography. At just under $500, the lens is a huge bargain when compared to brand lenses from Nikon, Canon and Sony that all sell their pro-grade 35mm f/1.4 lenses at around the $1,500 price range. The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 is designed to work on both APS-C / DX and full-frame / FX sensors, so it will work on cameras like Nikon D7100 (with a similar field of view as a 52.5mm lens) and D800.