I just purchased a Samyang 12mm Super-Wide-Angle Lens to use with my Sony a6300 mirrorless camera. I usually don’t buy less expensive, off-brand lenses like this as I have found, when it comes to optics, you typically get what you pay for. But a super wide-angle lens isn’t something that I have a lot of regular use for, so I didn’t feel inclined to invest a lot into a lens that I don’t envision using so often. I plan to use it mainly as a travel lens, for occasional landscapes and city-scapes, or for shooting urban street scenes. Not for commercial purposes though.
Samyang lenses are manufactured in Korea and this one is made with an E-mount for Sony cameras with APS-C sensors. Since the Sony a6300 has a focal crop factor of 1.5, this Samyang 12mm lens becomes an 18mm focal length equivalent on the a6300, which is exactly what I wanted. A true 12mm lens would have been too wide for my needs.
The price of the Samyang lens is only about US$320. If I had purchased a Sony brand wide-angle lens with an E-mount then the best option available would have been the Sony 10-18mm wide-angle zoom lens (15mm to 27mm equivalent), which is priced at around US$850. That is nearly 3 times the price of the Samyang.
At first I was a bit apprehensive about buying this particular lens though because it doesn’t function with Sony camera electronics. This means no auto-focusing is possible and changing the aperture setting also needs to be done manually on the lens while shooting.
To my surprise though, manual focusing with this lens is far easier than I expected. The focus ring only offers adjustments for focusing close range at either a 1 meter distance or less. Otherwise, you just turn the focus ring counterclockwise all the way to the left to put the focus ring into the “infinity” focusing position for all focal distances beyond about 1.5 meters.
Unless you are shooting close-up subjects, which is probably not often the case if you are shooting wide-angle street scenes or landscapes, then you really don’t need to focus this lens much at all. Just leave the focus set to infinity most of the time as I plan to do. Mainly I will need to adjust the aperture setting on the lens when I shoot, depending upon the amount of available light, and will aim to go for the higher aperture numbers in order to maximize sharpness and detail.
The lens itself offers an aperture range of F/2 with half stops all the way up to F/22. So it is also a fast lens for low light handheld shooting situations. In addition, the aperture and focus adjustment rings both feel solid and very well made. No unwanted looseness or drift when making adjustments and the aperture setting clicks are very precise. The lens mounts snugly to the camera with virtually no play at the lens mount. So it feels like a well machined lens with good precisioning when you have it mounted to your camera.
The lens comes with a hood, front and rear lens caps, a small fabric carrying bag, and you can purchase an inexpensive protective UV filter for it separately if you like. The filter thread mount on the lens is 67mm and I would recommend buying what is called a “slim” protective filter, which means the glass has a very thin metal frame around it that helps to prevent any vignetting that might usually occur with a wide angle lens if you were to use a filter that has a thicker filter frame. This 67mm slim protective UV filter for it here is a good option and value.
Aside from the obvious benefit of the Samyang lens’ very reasonable price-tag, the biggest question of course is the quality of the photos it can produce. Color and sharpness are both what count the most.
As you can see for yourself on the images below, color rendition and contrast are excellent and the overall sharpness from this lens is very inspiring. I have attached 4 grab shots I took with it today on the streets of Bangkok taken as a quick test right after I received it.
There is a bit of typical barrel distortion on some shots since this is a super wide-angle lens. It is more pronounced when I was pointing the camera a bit up or down instead of shooting with the camera perfectly level to the ground. However, these are all normal optical effects from a lens like this.
As it is the monsoon season in Thailand at the moment, the weather has been rainy lately and it isn’t the best time of year to go out shooting in the city if you are after good light. To shoot with decent apertures I had to kick up the ISO a bit on some shots and shoot at shutter speeds that weren’t always fast enough to fully freeze movement. As a result, most shots were only at F/8 where I would have liked to shoot some of the images at F/16 for maximum detail.
But I will put up another blog post soon to provide more sample shots taken with the Samyang 12mm Lens and the Sony a6300 Camera once there is better available light so that I can shoot handheld at ISO 100 and F/16.
You are welcome to click on any of the above images to enlarge them to an 1800 x 1200 resolution on your screen for better viewing of the detail. You may also right click on any of them to save them to your computer so that you can open them up in your favorite graphics viewing program if you like.
Here are links to where you can purchase all of the equipment I mentioned above in the article if you are interested:
1 – Samyang SY12M-E-BK 12mm F2.0 Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens
2 – Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera
3 – 67mm slim protective UV filter
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below as always and I will be back with you again soon.