The Low-down on the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Lens
Written by Karl Schwerdtfeger - Oct 08, 2020
Equipped with a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Lens, Sydney photographer Karl Schwerdtfeger set out to test the lens. It is quite a niche product with an exceptionally wide-angle perspective, offering the ability to produce some unique shots. Here is what he has to say about the lens.
Day to day use of a 14mm is limited, as it is very much a specialist lens principally designed for architectural and construction work. In a quest to create a mini portfolio of images for this blog post I had considered a nude series inspired by Bill Brandt. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your stance) I couldn’t find anyone willing to take off his or her clothes.
In the current climate, commissions I have received were limited and with those that I have been working on, none called for the use of this lens. I did however amble around town and went on a western districts road trip where I had the opportunity to test the lens. I did attempt a portrait in the studio in the style of the New York photographer, Platon. In the end as it was too wide, so I resorted back to my 28-70mm Canon lens.
As with my assortment of Canon lenses, the focus worked well with my Canon R. It has the usual issues of a bit of vignetting and barrel distortion, which can be prevalent in the Canon lenses. These are easily corrected by using the raw file function and checking the boxes to correct the distortion. The lens is recognised through Photoshop, where the lens profile is used to correct the distortion and vignetting of the lens.
Considering the ever-diminishing budgets in the photographic industry it is pleasing to have available affordable quality products. Whatever compromises there may be with this lens, they can be forgiven as the majority of work is published on the internet, so unlike in the previous millennia the chances of a critical eye being cast over the work in the form a double page spread in a magazine is pretty remote, but even so this lens holds up remarkably well. The Canon 16 – 35mm lens that I usually use suffers from barrel distortion at 16mm and pincushion distortion at 35mm and so I always use the distortion correcting function in Photoshop. With regard to sharpness the Samyang and the Canon are comparable.
I could see this lens being popular with real estate photographers, many of whom work on very tight budgets. The added appeal in a lens at this price point is that I would be more willing to take it into a mine or dusty industrial area. Not suggesting it is disposable at this price, just that I would be reluctant to expose unprotected front elements of a name brand lens at $2,500 - $3,000. None of the extreme wide angles allow for a protective filter.
The lens is particularly small and light so as an additional carry on when travelling it won’t tip the scales over, and if it does it would easily fit into a jacket pocket.
The only real fault of this lens is that when walking about the lens cap slips off. To avoid this, you would benefit from using an attachment to keep it secure to your camera body, so you don’t lose it.
It’s on my list to buy once I return this loan lens.
Being bit of a boy scout at heart I have always enjoyed a tour of a power station or something big and usually noisy. Coupled with the adventure of travel the obvious choice of a niche in the photographic industry was to pursue the corporate and industrial area.
For the past thirty years or so I have been busy travelling with photographing construction, mining, industrial and anything else the corporate world will throw my way. Thirty Five years ago when I started the only way in was with study (BA from RMIT) and then a short stint as an assistant. The business has changed remarkably since. In many ways it was far more disciplined in both approach from the photographer and art director in having a tight brief which you would fulfil. In contrast to today dealing with the frustrations of everyone expected to be super flexible diary there however is the upshot with digital photography as there are no more anxious trips to the lab the check the film test clips.
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