My non-technical review of the Samyang 135mm f1.8

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Sundre
Sundre Senior Member • Posts: 1,257
My non-technical review of the Samyang 135mm f1.8
7

*** IMPORTANT - this is not a technical review. I don't have the required expertise for those. This is a 100% subjective review based on my personal preferences and current skillset.

I rented the Samyang 135mm 1.8, and have now been using it for a week. I have mainly been using it at the Prague Fringe, a 6-day theatre festival with lots of little theatre plays and shows.

My copy of the lens runs on firmware v1.00. The most recent FW is v3.00, and I understand it improves AF accuracy among other things. I am not able to update the firmware of this rented lens unfortunately as I do not have access to the dock required.

Pros:

- Very small and lightweight for a 135mm prime.

- Very sharp.

- Fast AF. (Apart from tracking quickly, I get 15 fps with my A9.)

- Weather sealing. (I have admittedly only used it in light rain.)

- Great bokeh.

- Programmable lens function button.

- Cheap!

Cons:

- AF accuracy less than stellar on firmware v1.00.

- Rendering is fine, but not spectacular.

Summary:

For me, this is the best telephoto prime for Sony FE except for the Sony 135mm f1.8 GM. The Samyang beats the Sony on price, weight and size, but the Sony has better rendering. I understand that "rendering" is entirely subjective; but to me, photos taken with the GM just have that extra oomph in terms of colour, smoothness and bokeh which sets them apart.

The Samyang renders perfectly well, there's nothing to complain about; but it doesn't stand out to me. It is quite amazing that Samyang have produced a lens this cheap and good in so small and lightweight a form factor, and they probably achieved that with less fancy glass than Sony did with their GM.

Compared to...

- Sigma 105mm f1.4: The Sigma is too heavy for me, and does not perform all that well when tracking high-speed targets in low light. Superb in good light.

- Sigma 135mm f1.8: The Sigma is bigger, heavier, more expensive, has slower AF, and does not stand out rendering-wise.

- Sony 135mm f1.8 GM: I will buy the Sony when I can afford it. That rendering is worth every penny.

Will I buy it?

No. I'll be saving my money for the Sony GM instead. Especially for fire dance photography, the Sony is exceptional; and it shines at everything I have thrown at it. While I wish it were less heavy, it isn't impossibly heavy. Samyang have done a stellar job, and made some great compromises; ultimately, a few too many for me.

 Sundre's gear list:Sundre's gear list
Sony a9 Samyang AF 75mm F1.8 FE Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6
Samyang 135mm F1.8 AF
Prime lens • Sony E
Announced: Jan 28, 2022
Sundre's score
4.5
Average community score
4.5
Nikon 1 V3 Samyang 135mm F1.8 AF Sony a9
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