Samyang (also known as Rokinon) has long been known for making decent, very affordable optics for photographers. After that they took their full-manual lenses and created cinema-ready versions. Now, they continue to make optics more accessible to all filmmakers with the release of autofocus-capable models.
The latest exciting release from Samyang are their V-AF series for full-frame Sony E cameras, which are AF lenses designed for video creators. They look decent and have respectable specs, so are they worth it?
These are still cheap lenses and this style is a new endeavor for Samyang. The guys at ProAV TV have taken a look at the initial release of V-AF lenses and it might provide some insight as to their actual value.
Currently, Samyang offers the following focal lengths:
On the way:
- V-AF 45mm T1.9 FE
- V-AF 20mm T1.9 FE
One note is that availability is still quite limited at this point. Only the 75mm and 24mm appear to be available in the US and it looks like a couple more are able to be purchased in Europe. Based on their own schedule this should change very soon.
Samyang is claiming that this is the first set of cinema lenses with autofocus. Not quite true since there are a bunch of good video lenses with AF. However, it is one of the first true matched sets to have autofocus.
The real trick Samyang is pulling off is keeping them very affordable.
Now that there are just about three lenses available (35mm is coming very soon), ProAV TV is taking a closer look at them.
These lenses are tiny. Weighing in at 280g they are super lightweight compared to traditional cine primes. This should make them useful for use on gimbals and compact cameras. All the lenses have a somewhat plasticky construction, but they are still weather-resistant.
Samyang has put some additional features into these lenses as well. The front of the lens, beyond having a 58mm filter thread, has a bayonet mount with electronic contacts that is supposed to be expanded with exclusive accessories in the future.
Nothing has been announced yet weirdly. Maybe some sort of advanced ND system or anamorphic adapter that will communicate the changes to the camera.
A customizable switch is available which by default allows you to switch the control ring between iris and focus. A customizable button is also on the lens. You’ll need to use the Samyang Lens Station to make adjustments to how these controls function.
Interestingly, Samyang built some tally lamps into the lens itself. There are two, one on the front and one on the side, which change to red when recording. There doesn’t seem to be a way to turn them off though.
As for autofocus, the lenses do seem to be surprisingly good. They make smooth adjustments and while they may not be as nice as a G Master lens they are much cheaper.
Because it is an AF lens you do lose the tactile manual control. The focus ring has no markings due to the focus-by-wire design. They have a long 300-degree linear rotation, which does help. Still, they don’t compare to traditional lenses for manual focus control.
Overall image quality is solid. A seemingly new optical design appears better with more natural colors and a slightly sharper image. Also, the bokeh sheds some of the onion skin look of Samyang’s older glass. This is the case across the range.
These lenses are surprisingly impressive. The autofocus design and light weight are going to be nice for certain types of users. If you often need to use a gimbal or rely on autofocus for your work this set can do the job.
What do you think about Samyang’s V-AF series?
[source: ProAV TV]
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