Using the Samyang AF 14mm 2.8 F for the first time;
First, the unboxing.
This lens felt like it is made with care and class. I have small hands (I am only 5”2), but the lens felt nice to hold in my hand; didn't feel heavy or bulky.
I do like to look at things (well of course, I am a photographer after all) and I like the fact the black coloured casing on the lens matched the black on my Nikon camera, and I liked that the red line around the rime of the lens as this also matched the red on my camera body; making the overall camera look fantastic and not mismatched.
The lens had a large lens cap, the glass on the lens itself is curved and is protected by the lens hood that is permanently attached to the lens. This means standard lens filters cannot fit onto this lens. But I believe Cokin have created a filter holder to fit the new AF 1.4 Samyang lens range.
Connecting the lens to the camera was easy and smooth; by following the white dot markers on both the camera and lens, which you simply turn, and it clicks into place when it is attached. Turning the camera on, the lens was accepted right away and the auto-focus light for my single point focus was ready to use.
1 minute after receiving the lens, I was outside on my street testing out the auto focus. I normally use the single point auto focus, and only normally use a live view for night photography in regards to focusing. But using this ultra wide angle, I realised I would have to trust my focal spot quite a bit as I was too wide to see smaller details clearly through the lens.
However, just moving the focal point around and focusing on the foreground, then middle, followed by moving to the background, on a f2.8, I could see the focal point square light up on the areas I had selected. I felt a small vibration of the lens on my hand when it was reacting to my back focus button, but it was silence so I could slightly hear it focusing on my extremely quiet street. But looking closer at the frames after, I was pleased it hit each target, every time.
The lens has a manual or auto-focus switch at the side of the lens so changing from auto-focus to manual is possible without taking your eye away from your eye piece and subject. The manual focus is controlled by the turning the rime of the lens. This was able to be gain control of my focus well, However, the rime was a tad too loose for me but it was simply to turn and it worked well when you are trying to focus on something outside of the focal point area that the alto focal points cover
Within a few frames, my street became quite boring, so I was thrilled the lens had arrived in time for my weekend; which involved the Gumball Rally, and a lavender farm.
First up was the Gumball Rally in London. The 14m factor to the lens was an instant success for me. With super-cars that are long in length, and crowded streets, This 14mm wide angle allowed me to document the whole scene, in one frame; making this lens my new go-to lens for street / documentary photography because this lens made for a full frame Nikon so this allows for me to use the maximum high resolution from my full frame Nikon in a centre focus and crop to suit my needs; knowing I still have a good pixel count after edit.
After a few hours hour I had experimented with close up shots, street photography, and portraiture. I had slight lens distortion problems, but nothing too serious that I couldn't fix by changing my angle on location, or knew could be fixed later on my laptop.
Second up shoot for my weekend was a visit to the Mayfield Lavender Farm; for a photography workshop that I was leading. I knew the Samyang AF 14mm 2.8 F would be at home in the countryside as wide angles are known to be perfect for landscape photography.
The wide angle is wide; like almost the full view offered by one humen eye. This wide angle is lovely. I could capture the whole length of a field at clearly at f16. I didn't noticed lens distortion when looking at the rows of lavender.
However, I did notice a few shots that had a tree in the top side corner had noticeable lens distortion when looking on my laptop. But 1 shot out of 50 taken at that location wasn't bad.
While the close up detail at f2.8 was also just as impressive. I could go relatively close up (about ¾ of a foot away from my subject) and achieving a sharp shot with a bokeh background. I didn't notice any lens distortion on location or on the laptop.
After the weekend I found myself becoming greedy for more, so I headed off to test out the lens with an architecture shot. I decided to visit a staircase that I have visited before using a 50mm. The photos from the 50mm were impressive. However, I don't mean to say again about capturing the whole scene. But, this Samyang AF 14mm 2.8 F really pushed my photography buzz into overload as I was able to not only capture the amazing spiral staircase, but I was also able to capture the view outside the window, in the same frame as the staircase; this was great because the view outside the window was a great cityscape shot with the London Eye in the background. This type of shot excited me because I have never seen the staircase displayed like this before; in any photo I have seen online. So, the change to take unquice shots is why I chase photography in general.
And... Yes there is a and... But because I wanted to capture the view outside too, this meant had to use a f16 inside; which created lower lighting conditions, so I opted at one point to use my flash to light the foreground. However using a flash while looking towards a window will create problems with reflections. But I found this was not a problem for this lens as it turned the small flash reflection into a starburst; so this lens is not only a winner for allowing me to capture the whole scene, but this lens is a problem solver too.
On concluding my first week using a 14mm AF F by Samyang.
Having tried the lens over the last week. I am thrilled with it. I have a wider field of view that I never thought I would need, but now I see why other photographers win competitions using it.
This is the ultimate lens for mastering composition because can fit so much more into your frame. It's also great because it will truly make you notice more within the field of view for your own eyes and you will start to see things you didn't notice before; like the view out of the window of the spiral staircase for me, I didn't notice the London Eye on my first visit.
While everyone talks about a 14mm 2.8 in regards to astrophotography and landscape. Being a city girl, I am keen to explore more street photography; especially at night, to see how it can handle low light. I am also keen to try out long exposures by day and understand I will require a new set of filters if I want to do a long exposure shot. However, the f22 factor in this lens will allow me to use a lower shutter speed at midday of around 1/8 if I am lucky (which I often am) so I can experiment a little with motion without using a filter.
While some of the shots taken during the week did have some signs of lens distortion. I found the more I used the lens, the more I understood that the way I hold the lens, the size of my subject, the angle of my subject, and/or the camera angle I am using to aim with will all play a part on how serious or minimum the lens distortion can be, and thankfully with great editing software available, this is a problem that can be quickly rectified.
This lens makes me want to revisit the places I have been, just to see the locations from this field of view, and surely that is what a new piece of equipment should be about. It should make you want to go and shot. This lens has done that for me.