Samyang Reflex 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS for Fuji X mount

Started Jul 21, 2013 | User reviews thread
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Tom Schum
Tom Schum Veteran Member • Posts: 8,172
Samyang Reflex 300mm f/6.3 ED UMC CS for Fuji X mount

The Samyang 300mm F6.3 Reflex telephoto lens will work on numerous cameras besides the Fujifilm X series. This lens is the version for the Fuji X-mount, since I own a Fuji X-E1.

Nominal price US$300, as of July 2013.

The lens seems to be well built out of high quality plastic for the most part, with metal in critical locations. X-Mount is machined aluminum. Focus is the only control on this lens, and the rubber ribbing is wide and very easy to grip. It is not very heavy, and very small considering the focal length.

This lens is slightly smaller than the Fuji 18-55 zoom, and the plastic 58mm filter thread is really more like 58.3mm, so my 58mm filter threaded onto it loosely and tended to bind up as I was unscrewing it. I'll be using this lens without a UV filter, but you should feel free to add a 58mm filter if you like. Filter thread size is NOT specified in the lens manual.

The maximum extension of this lens is at closest focus.  The fully extended 18-55 reaches out further yet, as shown. Since the Samyang 300mm lens is manual focus (set X-E1 focus selector to "M"), and has a fixed F6.3 aperture, the exposure controls on the X-E1 consist of only shutter speed and ISO. With the exposure dial set to "A", the camera will adjust the shutter speed to achieve correct exposure, within the limits of the ISO speed you have set. F6.3 is a good aperture for wildlife shooting in daylight.

This would be an ideal stealth telephoto lens if it were vibration-stabilized. Since it isn't, use of a rock-solid tripod is virtually essential when using this lens. Even then, the slightest motion of the camera during exposure (such as from the operation of the focal plane shutter in the Fujifilm X-E1) may impart motion blur to your capture.

I don't have a really rigid tripod, so that will be next on my list of gear purchases. At the moment my tripod is a low-cost flimsy one bought years ago for my first digital camera which had a leaf shutter. All my imaging tests were done with this tripod, so the images are not optimally clear, but fairly close.  Resolution is not up to the standards set by the 16 megapixel sensor in the X-E1, but entirely usable and a very good value for the price.

Regarding stealth, you can sit across the street with a tripod, and few people on the other side of the street will notice you, so it might have significant potential for street shooting. I have not yet tried this however.

I recommend also setting shutter speed to faster than 1/500th second, and frequently this will mean using high ISO settings in the X-E1, and paying the penalty of less than maximum image quality. The alternative is blurry but high quality images. Hobson's choice, sort of…

The front of the lens rotates through about 150 degrees while focusing (the focus ring is most of the lens, including the front), hence Samyang provides a tubular lens hood as well as a nice soft pouch for storage. I did not use the lens hood during any of my shooting for this review. Also, all my images were JPGs from the camera, post processed with Photoshop Elements 9. Most sample images below are available in full-res in my gallery, and a few HD downsized images have been thrown in as well.

Focus ring rotation is very smooth and well-damped, but on my lens there is a very slight amount of play in the angular response, that is, if I rotate past the point of ideal focus then I have to turn back about 1 degree before the focus will change in the other direction. I believe this is normal play in the focus mechanism.

Generally, focus has to be extremely precise for good clarity of the target (in this case, our cat). Fortunately she was staring down the camera and was completely still during this portrait, so I could focus on her eyes. Regardless of environment however, focus is always critically important, and the lens is unforgiving.

Close focus performance is pretty good, without a trace of chromatic distortion and good clarity edge-to-edge. This shot is of a 60mm-wide piece of magazine ad at a distance of about 0.95 meter. I didn't take care to perfectly align the image plane with the object plane, so you will see the focus dropping off toward the top of the image.

Depth of field remains shallow regardless of shooting distance and here are a couple shots showing that.

High-contrast edges seem to acquire a slight haze around them, which disappears for the most part after downsizing. Overall image contrast is slightly low compared to the excellent Fuji 18-55 zoom, but this is easily corrected during post processing.

Close-focus performance outdoors is quite good, although in this shot you will see swimming donuts in the bokeh, a characteristic of the reflex optics:

It is possible to avoid the worst of this in many shots, so it is only an annoyance, offset greatly by the small size of this lens:

Finally, even in situations where donut bokeh might be expected, the lens can surprise you!

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Tom Schum

 Tom Schum's gear list:Tom Schum's gear list
Fujifilm X30 Sigma dp0 Quattro Fujifilm X-E1 Sigma sd Quattro Fujifilm X-T100 +10 more
Samyang Reflex 300mm F6.3 ED UMC CS / Rokinon Reflex 300mm F6.3 ED UMC CS
Telephoto mirror prime lens • Canon EF-M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Sony E
Announced: Jun 13, 2013
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