Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Vignetting and Distortion Test

Samyang 35mm for Sony

Budget lenses were once only manual focus, but manufacturers of the low-cost optics are now adding autofocus to more models: the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 for Sony E-Mount bodies is one such example. It’s relatively cheap, small, and light…but is the quality up to snuff for a full-frame Sony Alpha camera?

Samyang 35m f/2.8 Quick Overview

There are already some thorough reviews of this lens out there, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to mainly focus (har-har) on two things: vignetting performance and some sample images. Note that this same exact lens is also sold under the Rokinon brand name.

But let’s run down the basic stats and my overall impression.

  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Mount: Sony E Mount
  • Max/Min Aperture: f/2.8 – f/22
  • Aperture Blades: 7
  • Focus Type: AF
  • Glass: 6 Elements in 7 Groups
  • Filter Thread: 49mm

Overall Build Quality

So it’s not weather-sealed and it’s mostly plastic, but I find the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 to have a very nice feel. It doesn’t feel cheap to me (nor does it feel or handle as if were an expensive metal Zeiss lens), and the fit and finish are also nicer than the price tag would suggest. The focus ring is nicely ribbed for easy gripping and it turns smoothly, but has enough resistance to make it easy to use for fine tuning focus.

The hood that comes with it is tiny and very plasticy. And using it means you can’t use the same 49mm filters as with the hood off. With the hood on, you have to use a not-so-common 40.5mm filter size. I don’t bother with the hood, as flaring isn’t very noticeable in all but very harsh and direct bright sunlight. It also comes with a pretty nifty little lens case that is very light but surprisingly sturdy and effective.

This a very compact and light lens, making it perfect for hiking or outdoor activities in which weight is a factor. It would also be a great candidate as part of a travel photography kit.

Vignetting Performance

Before buying this lens, I read several reviews that bemoaned the intense and prominent vignetting the lens displayed in all images. So naturally I wanted to put this to the test right away. And true to the accounts  I’d read, the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 does indeed display significant vignetting. Stopping down does offer minimal improvement, but doesn’t really clear up until f/8 or smaller.

For the vignetting test images, I chose a light-colored brick wall to make the dark corners as obvious as possible. And for comparison, each image is shown next to a corrected version done with the Samyang lens profile in Lightroom / Adobe Camera RAW (ACR).

Vignetting at f/2.8

Original image on the left, corrected image on the right.

 Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Vignetting

Vignetting at f/4

Original image on the left, corrected image on the right.

Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Vingetting Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Vignetting

Vignetting at f/8

Original image on the left, corrected image on the right.

Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Vignetting Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Vignetting

Note: for the ACR lens profile correction, I went with the default settings. For wider apertures, manually pushing the vignetting correction beyond the default may be necessary to completely mitigate the dark corners.

Barrel Distortion

As you can see from the test images above, the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 also exhibits a fair bit of barrel distortion at wider apertures. This is also easily corrected with the lens profile adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop ACR, so it’s not a huge problem unless you are a JPEG-only photographer.

Chromatic Aberration

I was expecting the Samyang to render noticeable chromatic aberration (purple and green fringing of highlight edges), but my copy is surprisingly clean in this regard. I noticed it in some photos with bright highlights and high contrast, but it was far less than I expected and is easily removed in post production. It’s as good or better than Sony’s lower-end lenses, such as the Sony 50mm f/1.8 (SEL50F18F) or the classic Sony 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 FE OSS kit lens.

The Verdict

Overall, the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 AF lens for Sony A-series full-frame bodies is a fantastic value. It’s a low-cost autofocus lens that balances performance vs price in a camera system with very few cheap lens options. While not weather-sealed or built like a tank, it’s a great option for budget-minded shutterbugs.

Who is this lens good for?

I would recommend this lens for Sony shooters on a budget, or those who need a compact, lightweight wider-angle lens. This lens is great as part of a travel photography kit or for outdoor activities in which weight is a big factor (hiking, biking, camping, etc).

Street photography buffs might want also consider the Samyang. While the maximum aperture of f/2.8 is not especially fast for low-light situations, the very small profile and non-flashy finishing make it ideal for shooting discretely and not drawing attention.