Does Samyang's fast prime for mirrorless cameras represent a bargain at under £300? Michael Topham gives it a thorough test
Samyang 50mm f/1.2 AS UMC CS review – Build and handling
First impressions out of the box are very good. For a lens under £300 you might imagine the build quality to be an area where compromises have been made, yet it feels reassuringly solid in the hand and is constructed to a standard that exceeds expectations.
The plastic used on the outer barrel and filter thread is of high quality, but just as I mentioned when I reviewed the 21mm f/1.4, the focus and aperture rings could benefit from being rubberised to offer slightly more grip when it’s used with gloves. When you’re not wearing gloves, however, the finely grooved rings provide adequate grip and are easy to find from behind the camera.
The aperture ring notches and clicks when it’s rotated, and users are provided with 1/2-stop adjustment between the aperture settings, meaning it’s easy enough to locate f/1.8 between f/1.4 and f/2, for example. If you shoot more video than you do stills, Samyang also produces a de-clicked version of the lens in the form of the 50mm T1.3 AS UMC CS Cine (£329), which has an identical optical design and is available in the same lens mounts.
The manual-focus ring offers a consistently smooth motion across the focus range, but switching over to the 21mm f/1.4 and back again made me realise that the manual-focus ring on this lens has greater resistance and requires slightly more effort to turn. For the purpose of testing, I coupled our X-mount sample to the Fujifilm X-Pro2 with which it felt well matched and nicely balanced during a prolonged spell of shooting. It’s a lens that, from my experience, feels best paired with larger mirrorless models. When I paired it with the petite Fujifilm X-T10 it had a tendency to make the camera feel more front heavy and not quite as well balanced.
The aperture settings and focus-distance markings are printed on the barrel rather than engraved, but didn’t appear to rub off easily when they were scratched with my fingers.