Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE – Tiny but Super Wide

For over 20 years we shot with Nikon cameras and one of our most beloved lenses was the Nikon 20mm f/2.8D lens. This lens was heavily used in our travels for many years until 2014 when the elements separated inside the lens, giving it a milky haze when used on our new Sony Alpha cameras. The cost of repair, unfortunately, was almost the same as a replacement. cry Although we still used the magnificent Sony FE 16-35 f/4 zoom lens – click to read the post which covered this focal length we still wanted a light prime lens that approximately replicated the 20mm focal length. (keep in mind that there are 2 of us – therefore if one of us was shooting with the 16-35 lens the other would only have the option of 24mm on the Sony 24-105mm lens or the Laowa 15mm lens – read post). Alas, the lenses produced by most lens manufacturers until recently were either too large, too heavy or too expensive.

At the end of August 2019, Samyang announced the AF 18mm f/2.8 FE lens (for Sony Mounts) as an addition to their ‘Tiny’ series of AF lenses. The lens has been designed for Sony FE  – Full Frame sensor cameras but can also be used on Sony APS-C cameras such as the a6xxx series. On an APS-C camera, the focal length would equate to 27mm making it a wide-angle lens but not an ultra-wide-angle lens.

But would it be a good lens? We already have the Samyang  AF 35mm f/2.8 ‘Tiny but Mighty” lens and absolutely love it so would the 18mm be just as good?. Fortunately, a Samyang Ambassador here in Australia had acquired a pre-production copy and was quick to release a review of the lens on his YouTube channel. The lens looked great based on his pre-production copy of the lens, so we were keen to get our hands on one before a trip to Japan in November. Luckily, we received our copy 10 days prior to our departure, which gave us enough time to order and receive our *GOBE UV 58mm filter – read post (Pro Level). We always attach these to all our lenses.

* Click here to receive a 15% discount on all GOBE products just enter ‘widescenes’ in the coupon code box at checkout.

The Lens

The lens comes with a small case which gives it some added protection although we do not use it in the field as space in our camera bags is at a premium. It also comes with a plastic lens hood which we always attach to our lenses when using to give added protection to the front lens element. Check out the pictures below with the lens hood. The hood will extend the length by a couple of centimetres. 

Below is a short video about the lens –

Specifications

Here are some of the key specifications of the lens. Other specs can be found on the Samyang website –

Aperture Range f/2.8 – f/22
Min. Focus Distance 0.25m (0.82ft)
Filter Size 58mm
Mount Sony FE
Angle of View Full Frame – 100.1º
APS-C – 76.2º
Length 60.5mm
Weight 145g

 

Verdict

We spent 3 solid weeks in Japan during Autumn with the lens and really pushed the AF 18mm f/2.8 FE hard on our Sony A7Riii cameras. To sum it up in one word would have to be OUTSTANDING. This lens is an absolute cracker!!! It is sharp as a tack from f/2.8 all the way to f/16. Softening of the image begins at f/22 due to diffraction. As the lens is so light it is a dream to use in low light and allows you to handhold at extremely low shutter speeds (using in-body SteadyShot). The angle of view is perfect for landscapes, travel and even street photography although for dedicated landscape shots we would still prefer to use our Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 or Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero Distortion lenses.

Below are some of the images we took in Japan with the Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE lens.

Kyoto – Sony A7Riii + Samyang AF 18mm f2.8 FE – Shot at f4 / 1 sec / ISO 200

Koyasan – Sony A7Riii + Samyang AF 18mm f2.8 FE – Shot at f4.5 / 1/320th / ISO 12800

Kyoto – Sony A7Riii + Samyang AF 18mm f2.8 FE – Shot at f11 / 15 sec / ISO 100

Kanazawa – Sony A7Riii + Samyang AF 18mm f2.8 FE – Shot at f2.8 / 1/30th / ISO 5000

Click here to see all our images from Japan

If you are interested in joining us for an “Autumn in Japan” Photography Workshop from 12 November to 23 November 2020 then visit our website for more details by clicking on the image to the left.

Max 6 spots available.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic lens and worth every penny. If you love ultra-wide lenses that are light, sharp and inexpensive then this lens really is a no brainer. The only negative with this lens is the lack of weatherproof sealing. The lens currently costs AUD$679 in Australia but with links below, it is USD$329 at the time of writing this post.

If you are interested in purchasing this lens or any of the other ‘Tiny’ lenses then click on one of the links below.

Samyang AF 18mm f/2.8 FE – Tiny but Super Wide – Buy here on Adorama / Buy in Australia
Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 FE – Tiny but Wide – Buy here on Adorama / Buy in Australia
Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE – Tiny but Mighty – Buy here on Adorama / Buy in Australia 
Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE – Tiny but Premium – Buy here on Adorama / Buy in Australia 

Other equipment mentioned in this post can be purchased at the following links –

Sony A7Riii Mirrorless Camera – Buy here at Adorama / Buy in Australia
Sony FE 16-35 f/4 lens – Buy here on Adorama / Buy in Australia
Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero Distortion lens – Buy here on Adorama / Buy in Australia

If you liked this post you may also like to read our reviews of the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE – Tiny but Mighty and Samyang 12mm F2.8 ED AS NCS Fisheye lenses. To read any of our other reviews click here

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