Look at These Colors! Samyang 14mm F2.8 II MF Review

The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is a step forward in the right direction.

By far, my favorite focal lengths to play with are super wide-angle lenses. The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is no exception to this. This is an update to a lens that the company had for many years, and it’s been improved many times over. Besides a bit of weather sealing, the optics are very sharp. The colors are also positively gorgeous–which translate to better landscapes. It also doesn’t feel as plasticky as the previous iteration. Of course, it’s still manual focus-only. So if you’re not a fan of focusing a lens yourself, then steer clear. But keep in mind that a manual focus lens makes you work harder and more carefully for better photos.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very fun to use!
  • Nice colors
  • Weather sealing, to a point
  • It’s a more film-like look for a Samyang lens
  • It has less saturation though high contrast, which is very different for a Samyang lens
  • It can create some very atmospheric portraits
  • Distortion is pretty well controlled
  • Gorgeous lens flare. The rest of the industry should embrace this

Cons

  • Some may hate the lens flare, but I adore it
  • Why no lens contacts?

Gear Used

We tested the Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF with the Sony a7r III and the Canon EOS R.

Tech Specs

This has been taken from the manufacturer description on DPReview:

“The Samyang (Rokinon in the US) MF 14mm f2.8 MK2 is a ultra-wide-angle lens with enhanced usability. It incorporates focus lock and de-click function along with weather sealing and micro-patterned rubber ring. It is an ultra-wide-angle, manual-focus lens with excellent sharpness, even at its maximum aperture. The 115.7˚ wide angle of view is suitable for shooting landscapes, interiors, etc. and the lens hood effectively blocks unwanted light so you can shoot freely. The minimum focus distance is 0.28m (11″) with a max magnification of 0.08x.”

Ergonomics

The Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF looks much different from its predecessor. Though ergonomically, I still think it’s a bit behind. It features some very standard updates, though. For example, the focus ring has a much different texture now. It’s rubberized, which helps for a better grip. There’s also a cold metal ring around the aperture, which feels pretty nice to use.

One of the newest features is the lock and unlock on the top of the lens. This is a feature that we first saw IRIX using a lot. And it comes to Rokinon/Samyang now.

Of course, there’s the big front element. You can’t put a filter on it, which is sad.

Build Quality

One of the best things about the Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is the improved build quality. These lenses used to feel cheap. They don’t really feel that way anymore. And best of all, they’ve even got a bit of weather sealing to them. We asked Samyang for a bit of insight into the sealing. It’s just at the mount. So if you’re using the lens in the rain, you’ll still need to be careful. For the record and as a tester, I wouldn’t call this weather sealing. It’s just a little bit of extra protection. That aside, this lens feels great in hand. It’s hard to complain about the way the focusing ring and the aperture ring clicks.

Ease of Use

This, first and foremost, is a manual focus lens. So for most of us, it’s probably going to be more challenging to use. But manual focus lenses push you to go further when creating images. Be sure to set your camera to aperture priority or manual when shooting with them, though. Otherwise, your camera might not know what to do. With that said, this isn’t a lens for the faint of heart; you’ll need to be an expert to use it. However, I have to comment on just how fun it was to use. Super wide-angle lenses are excellent creative tools.

Focus

This is a manual focus lens. And sadly, there are no communication contacts with this one. That makes things more difficult. Sometimes you’ll think things are in focus, but they’re not. You’ll need to use a combination of focus peaking and magnification to get the focus critically sharp. Zone focusing is also an option. In that case, it’s best to just stop the lens down and focus it out to halfway in the focus range. You’ll then get pretty much everything you want and need in focus.

Image Quality

One of the most extraordinary things about the Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF is how well it controls distortion. I mean, look at that photo above. If you’re good at posing people, you can use it for portraiture. But beyond that, the Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF exhibits beautiful colors. Combine that with a good sensor, and you don’t have a lot to complain about. It’s also quite sharp. Admittedly though, I’ve seen sharper lenses. Let’s take a closer look!

Bokeh

You shouldn’t expect to have the best bokeh from the Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF. After all, it’s a wide-angle lens. But if you focus closely, you can get some nice hazy bokeh. Still, I wouldn’t buy this lens for that. There are other options out there with fast apertures.

Chromatic Aberration

First off, let’s tackle distortion. There isn’t a whole lot. And what’s there is pretty well controlled. If you aren’t happy with it, then you can edit it in a program like Capture One. There’s little to complain about as far as distortion goes. And in some ways, I’m sad about that. I like the distorted look of some lenses. It’s less sterile.

On the other hand, the Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF brings on the lens flare! And oh man, is it nice! If you’re complaining about it, I think you should reconsider this lens. It has character, and we shouldn’t rob this lens of that.

Color Rendition

Rokinon and Samyang lenses have always had very saturated colors. And this lens is no exception. I’m delighted with it.

Sharpness

In the photo above, you can notice some distortion for sure. But still, it’s very well controlled. What’s also lovely is the sharpness. Is it the sharpest 14mm we’ve tested? No. And we’re okay with that. Again, it’s about the character for us.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

Dislikes

  • Come on, Samyang and Rokinon, it’s time to fully weather-seal your lenses
  • No lens contacts

I’m pretty torn on the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 II MF, which is also the Samyang version of the lens. For the most part, it’s the same old Samyang I’ve always known. You get good sharpness with excellent colors and character at an affordable price point. But it’s 2020, and they need to step it up. I’m perfectly fine with manual focus lenses. But give us weather sealing in each and every lens. Also, provide us with autofocus contacts on all the lenses. That’s the most frustrating part about these lenses. Otherwise, it makes getting the perfect photo a bit too difficult. Yes, manual focus lenses make you work harder for the shot, but because of contrast and design, it’s sometimes not always accurate. I wish I didn’t have to repeat this about otherwise fantastic lenses.

The  Samyang 14mm f2.8 II MF receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon. They’re pretty affordable.