August 1, 2016

Samyang Wants to Brighten Up Your Day with New 35mm Lens

Samyang 35mm T1.3
With a 35mm F1.2 for mirrorless cameras, Samyang continues rolling out lenses for low light and shallow depth of field at amazing prices.

Samyang has devised a great marketing plan for summer 2016: instead of releasing 5 new lenses at once, they're rolling them out once a week, giving the products a lot more coverage as sites like this one report every lens release. While this means more attention for Samyang, it also means we get to dive into each lens in a bit more detail, so that we’ll notice good things we might have missed, but also means we’ll be annoyed by things we would’ve ignored in a more traditional “here are all our new things at once!” type announcement.

The good with this lens?

The most obvious is the F1.2/T1.3 widest aperture. While most of the progress is low-light shooting of the last decade has been focused on sensor sensitivity (such as with the Red Weapon Helium), there are still benefits to a wide aperture lens. Even with super fast sensors, you can often find yourself in need of a wider aperture for scenes where you don’t control the lighting, or where you are depending on dim natural sources. Of course, with wide aperture comes a shallower depth of field. It’s nice to see some manufacturers at the lower end pushing beyond the T1.4 we mostly see as the “wide aperture” lens. Of course, there are the Vantage ONE T1 lenses, but man, they cost a pretty penny.

Which leads us to the next positive on this lens: a $500 price point.  That’s a great price for a lens that can provide such amazing wide aperture performance. 

Speaking of that aperture, it’s 9 blades, which, if you do shoot wide-open, will make for smoother bokeh rings, as opposed to the triangular spread you see with a three blade shutter such as older Zeiss Super Speeds when shooting WFO (wide freakin' open).

Samyang 35mm T1.3 front view
Front view showing the aperture blades in a closed-down position.Credit: Courtesy of Samyang

The mirrorless-only design of the lens makes sense at this price point and explains why it's a design that won't likely make it to the PL-mount XEEN line. Creating lenses with such wide apertures often pushes the rear element of the lens back to where it might interfere with a spinning mirror (hence the reason Kubrick needed to use non-reflex BNC to use the Zeiss .7 glass on Barry Lindon), and by designing the lens specifically for APC-C and 4/3 cameras, they are able to engineer that aperture at an affordable cost. Combine with an A7S with APS-C mode (which some operators are using to reduce rolling shutter), and you've got a low-light monster.  

But are there drawbacks?

The lack of full frame coverage will be a drawback for many, but for the price versus specs standpoint, the smaller coverage area makes a lot of sense. Overall, from what I’ve seen I’m a fan of the lens, with one small annoyance: marketing it as F1.2 so prominently.  Yes, it’s F1.2, but it’s transmitted light T1.3, which is what you would use setting exposure. F1.2 is traditionally considered to be a full 1/2 stop wider than a F1.4.  While T1.3 is only “.1” less, at this end of the scale, .1 actually matters, and makes the lens more like 1/3 of a stop wider than a 1.4 lens. 

A 1/3 of a stop is definitely notable, but less so than a half stop.  Since their marketing is how much “brighter” this lens is than others (and a 35mm T.14 is widely available), it’s a rings a little hollow.  Of course, setting the lens to wide open at F1.2 will have a shallower depth of field than a 1.4, but that’s not what Samyang choose to highlight.

Would that stop me buying the lens?  Absolutely not. The lens looks like it could be a great addition to any mirrorless kit. But if you’re going to roll out a lens a week, little annoyances are going to feel like a bigger deal.  The specs also don't mention whether the aperture ring is smooth or notched which, considering the focus on the smoothness of the focus ring, makes me think it's clicked.  Not particularly frustrating for a lens that's clearly intended to live most of its life wide open, and aftermarket de-clicking is available, but it would be nice if it came smooth from the factory.

What do you guys think, does this lens fill a need in your kit?     

Your Comment

13 Comments

"Yes, it’s F1.2, but it’s transmitted light T1.3, which is what you would use setting exposure. F1.2 is traditionally considered to be a full 1/2 stop wider than a F1.4. While T1.3 is only “.1” less, at this end of the scale, .1 actually matters" T1. 3 is '.1' less than T1. 4, not f1. 4. Your whole argument here is flawed, you're mixing measurements. Its also slightly dumb to pick on them advertising it's f number when literally every stills lens uses that measurement, only the Samyang cine lenses quote the t stop.

August 1, 2016 at 1:50PM

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Jonathan Burnside
Co-owner, Supernova Productions
92

Yeah, it's a really silly thing to nit-pick, especially since it's not like F1.4 lenses are going to actually transmit light at a T1.4 level anyway. Rokinon's own Cine line features F1.4 lenses that are rated at T1.5 for light transmission. While more expensive lenses may have slightly better light transmission, the point is that wide open an F1.2 lens is still going to be about 1/2 a stop brighter than an F1.4 lens.

August 1, 2016 at 3:29PM

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David West
Filmmaker
1044

''While T1.3 is only “.1” less, at this end of the scale, .1 actually matters, and makes the lens more like 1/3 of a stop wider than a 1.4 lens.''

err your reasoning makes no sense when you use different measurement. It won't be a 1/3 stop wider. The aperture is 1.2 not 1.3, that's the T stop, so you mean brighter. But either way, it's still gonna be more than a 1/3 of a stop brighter than a F1.4 lens because those lenses are mostly T1.5. You still get that half a stop difference, at the end of the day (except maybe with the Canon 85mm 1.2L, that lens is dark as hell wide open, or maybe it's my copy of it).

August 1, 2016 at 2:00PM

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Hubert Hotte
Photographer
103

DXOMark rates the older Canon 85mm 1.2L at T1.7, and the newer one at T1.6.

August 1, 2016 at 3:58PM

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that's random, when I looked up the canon lens, i've seen it rated at T1.3 on that site, you need to switch dslr

August 2, 2016 at 7:38PM

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It looks quite nice, I just wish Samyang would pump out some cheaper and, most importantly, smaller lenses that have like an f/2 aperture. That would be an amazing addition to a mirrorless kit.

August 1, 2016 at 2:27PM

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Olof Ljunggren
Student
140

It looks like they're marketing this as a still lens, so why wouldn't they emphasize the aperture as F1.2? Do you think ANY lenses designated F1.2 actually provide T1.2?

You also mention the Barry Lyndon lens, for which I can't find the T-stop published anywhere, but I can assure you it was slower than T0.7.

August 1, 2016 at 3:55PM

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"Speaking of that aperture, it’s 9 blades, which, if you do shoot wide-open, will make for smoother bokeh rings, as opposed to the triangular spread you see with a three blade shutter such as older Zeiss Super Speeds when shooting WFO (wide freakin' open)." I'm guessing that this was a typo and you meant to say "...if you DON'T shoot wide open..." The number of blades has no effect on the bokeh when shooting wide open on any lens. Only matters when you stop down from wide open.

August 1, 2016 at 4:07PM

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Ken Hurst
Cinematographer
81

Yup. Came here to say the same thing.

August 1, 2016 at 4:52PM, Edited August 1, 4:52PM

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I just keep having an issue with focus on their previous 35mm. The gears are slow at times. If this is corrected I'm so down for this! They are doing an incredible job bringing us these specs at this price, those are just my thoughts. Just recently $500 would get you nothing. I can't wait to try out their cinema line. And if Samyang is reading this please pump out a killer 27mm!

August 1, 2016 at 4:41PM

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Filmbaker
Writer/Director
450

SLR Magic makes a 35mm T0.95 Cine lens for mirrorless cameras...

August 1, 2016 at 4:45PM

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Since this is just an aps-c lens, I'd love to compare it with the Full Frame Rokinon 50mm t1.5 f1.4 DS on a Metabones SpeedBooster (making it a aps-c 35mm f1).

August 1, 2016 at 4:59PM

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Ryan Grams
Director of Photography, Uptop Films
81

Umm... all this arguing about T-stop and F-stop is addressed by Samyang also releasing a Cine version of this lens:

http://www.samyanglensglobal.com/product/detail.do?SQ=49

August 2, 2016 at 12:32PM

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Robert Schmeltzer
Cinematographer
199