First Impressions: Samyang 16mm f2 (Canon EF)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (16 of 17)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 5.6

Earlier this year, Rokinon/Samyang announced their second lens designed for APS-C DSLRs: the 16mm f2–with the first being their fisheye prime. And just like with their fisheye, the lens is actually an EF lens–not EF-S. How do we know this? We mounted it onto a full frame DSLR and found that the imaging circle doesn’t cover the entire area of the sensor but it will mount to a 5D Mk II without crashing into the mirror at all.

On a Canon APS-C sensor camera, this lens will render a near 26mm equivalent field of view. As is previous with other Rokinon/Samyang lenses for Canon, the lens isn’t chipped for focusing communication, so chances are that you’ll be relying on your live view feed.


Gear Used

We’re testing the Samyang 16mm f2 with the Canon T5i and the Canon 5D Mk II.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing.

Performance
Focal Length 16 mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 25.6 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Canon EF-S
Format Compatibility Canon (APS-C)
Angle of View 79.5°
Tilt/Shift None
Minimum Focus Distance 7.87″ (20 cm)
Groups/Elements 11/13
Diaphragm Blades 8
Features
Image Stabilization No
Autofocus No
Tripod Collar No
Environmental
Operating/Storage Temperature Not Specified By Manufacturer
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 77 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.39 x 3.52″ (86 x 89.4 mm)
Weight 1.28 lb (583 g)

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (17 of 17)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 5.6

Samyang’s 16mm f2 lens has a big front element, and you’ll want to keep that in mind when you attach the petal style lens hood that is included. This is very typical of wide angle lenses though, but you’ll still want to keep it in mind when you’re walking about or just generally using the lens.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (14 of 17)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 5.6

Like all Samyang/Rokinon lenses, it is characterized by a giant manual focusing ring that is smooth feeling when focusing. The exterior of the lens is comprised of plastic which can sometimes be off putting to the feel of the lens otherwise. Additionally, this lens has a textured exterior that gives the user a better grip.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (15 of 17)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 5.6

The other critical parts of the lens are the depth of field scale and the aperture ring. Samyang and Rokinon lenses are the only major manufacturer that includes this with their lenses. As the lens is stopped down, your viewfinder will become darker–which can sometimes make focusing with this lens otherwise simpler.

 

Focusing

If you purchase this lens, you’ll need to note that it isn’t an autofocusing lens–nor is there an AF electronic chip the way that Zeiss has in order to communicate with the camera for MF assist via the viewfinder. This makes focusing extremely tough if you’re shooting wide open and through the viewfinder. But if you’re stopped down, it is a bit easier.

When stopped down, you can also use the depth of field scale with ease. Otherwise, switch the camera into Live View mode and focus that way. By far, this seems to be the most effective way to focus.

Build Quality

This lens doesn’t feel as solid as other Rokinon/Samyang offerings that we’ve held. It doesn’t feel cheap, but it also doesn’t feel as stellar as their other more traditional focal lengths.

Ease of Use

Something that I’ve always told folks that go for these lenses is that you need to turn the camera off of auto or any automatic mode. It will only work in PSAM modes with Rokinon lenses.

Otherwise, we recommend this lens for folks that have a working knowledge of how depth of field works–and therefore how to use a depth of field scale.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (10 of 17)ISO 1001-250 sec

Once again, we recommend this lens to be mounted on an APS-C DSLR–otherwise it will suffer from severe vignetting due to the imaging circle not covering the entire sensor. So far, we’re impressed with the image quality and this lens seems to be extremely sharp just like all of their other lenses.

We’ll go more in depth with this in the full review, but here are some samples.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (2 of 17)ISO 4001-320 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (3 of 17)ISO 4001-4000 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (4 of 17)ISO 4001-4000 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (5 of 17)ISO 1001-50 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (6 of 17)ISO 1001-1600 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (7 of 17)ISO 1001-250 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (8 of 17)ISO 1001-640 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (9 of 17)ISO 1001-320 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (10 of 17)ISO 1001-250 sec

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 first impressions (11 of 17)ISO 32001-30 sec

The view on a full frame camera with this lens

The view on a full frame camera with this lens

First Impressions

So far, we believe the image quality to the be strongest quality about this lens coupled with the price point–though it could probably be a bit lower than the $479 that it currently is. The build quality is better than anything Canon puts out in a comparable price range, so maybe we’re just being a bit fussy–and that will be finalized in the full review.

Samyang and Rokinon stated that they would put out an AF chipped version of all their Canon lenses, but so far they haven’t. It would make focusing a heck of a lot simpler.

But for what it’s worth, we’re pretty impressed with this lens so far–especially the manual focusing ring that feels just so wonderful.

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