PRODUCT REVIEW

XP 35mm F1.2

It is time for another Review of SAMYANGS great manual focus XP lens series! Stephan Forstmann 2018-12-17
Review: Samyang XP 35mm F1.2


 

 

 

It is time for another Review of SAMYANG’S great manual focus XP lens series! Let’s have a closer look at the new SAMYANG XP 35mm F1.2 lens for Canon DSLR-Cameras.
I’ve taken photos for 2 years now with a 35mm lens at weddings and I can tell you that this focal length is one of the most versatile ones when compared to other primes. Portraits, landscape, documentary, street or even astrophotography are perfect to do with a 35mm lens. Also, 35mm lenses are excellent if you want to get a cinematic and more dramatic look in your photos.
I was very thrilled when SAMYANG told me that a 35mm F1.2 lens was added to the XP series!
As always: I don’t take any pictures of test charts nor do I become crazy about vignetting (as it is easily corrected in post production and natural vignetting can even improve a photograph). I use lenses in real life and I fill my camera bag with lenses that have proven themselves worthy in practice and deliver uncompromisingly. I put special value on sharpness at wide apertures and especially look at beautiful bokeh.



Look and feel
 


Samyang XP 35mm 1.2




 
It's  no surprise that the Samyang XP 35mm F1.2 comes in the same cool design of the XP lens series. As on the other XP lenses, you can feel how much craftsmanship Samyang has put into the lens. This premium lens comes with premium haptics – a nice aluminium-body is wrapped around all the high-end glass components of that lens. All this is accompanied by a very smooth running focus ring, so you can focus easily and very precisely.
 






 
As with the other XP lenses, this lens is manual focus only, so you’ll need good eyes, and maybe a high precision focus screen or liveview to achieve critical focus at F1.2 on a DSLR. If you adapt the SAMYANG XP 35mm F1.2 on a Sony MILC, I'd say that you will literally have an easy mode on focussing. Focus peaking helps a lot and will improve your focussing speed by a huge amount!
The SAMYANG XP 35mm F1.2 has an inbuilt autofocus confirmation chip, which helps focussing with Canon DSLRs. The aperture is also controlled electronically. EXIF Data is  available on your photographs too when shooting with the XP 35mm lens.
 





At approximately 1200 g, the XP 35mm F1.2 is quite big and heavy. That’s good and bad at the same time because carrying a lot of weight is always harder, but on the other hand, weight stabilizes your posture when you are taking photos.
Compared to other 35mm lenses with wide apertures (1.4 or 1.8.) there is quite a difference in weight (approx.  50-60%). 



Optical performance

Sharpness and bokeh. This is what the XP series is all about. I own quite a collection of extremely sharp and wide open lenses. Of the lot, the Samyang XP 50mm F1.2 is currently the sharpest lens I own. So I was wondering if the 35mm XP can beat the 50mm XP in terms of sharpness.


 

 

 Sharpness and detail visible on the globe showing Australia

After a lot of photos taken with the 35mm XP, I must say that the 50mm XP still remains the king of sharpness in my collection. But sharpness is on a excellent level at F1.2 and improves to extreme sharpness when stopped down just a bit. Just see my aperture series I shot with the lens further down in my review.
 




A portrait of myself made with the Samyang XP 35mm @ F2.2 using a 5D Mark II and window lighting only.





 
Sadly, I missed focus slightly in this photo. But it still is a great image, thanks to the cool look the 35mm lens produces!

What about corners? I am really impressed with corner sharpness on the 35mm XP! Yep, it’s awesome. It beats the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art’s corners entirely.  You can create awesome photographs at F1.2 with a unique look!


 

 

 The Samyang XP 35mm is an extremely sharp lens – even at F1.2
ISO 100, 1/8000, F1.2 on a Canon 5D Mark II


The lens is so tack sharp, that you can see details of the vineyards when zoomed in. You can also see how sharp the birds are at the image above taken at F1.2 when zoomed in to 100%. I shot the above image without a tripod on the 5D Mark II at 1/8000 of a second.
 


F1.2
 





F1.2
 





F5.6




 
F1.2




 
F1.2




 
F8



What about colors? The colors this lens produces are so easy to fall in love with. No greenish nor purple-ish tint. Everything looks very real.


 


A leaf in the vineyards – showing the awesome colors and bokeh the Samyang XP 35mm 1.2 provides
 



The background blur ist great, while colors remain very crisp!



The bokeh is very dreamy and soft. However if you boost contrast and clarity to maximum in post, you’ll see some “onion-rings” in it.
The 35mm XP lens has some barrel distortion when shot at F1.2. It is visible if you take a picture of tiles or textures with lines. But it isn’t as bad as on other wide angle lenses.




Aperture series
On the next images I went through the whole range of apertures with this lens, so you can see sharpness and vignetting by yourself.
 




F1.2



 

F1.4
 




F2
 




F2.8
 




F4
 





F5.6




 
F8
 




F11
 





F16


As you see in the images at  F2.8, vignetting disappears completely . You will find some  chromatic aberrations at F1.2 in extremely bright areas. But that’s something that can be removed with just a few clicks in post production in Lightroom.
Sharpness gets a boost at F1.4 but even F1.2 is so sharp, that I really can’t complain. Minimum focus distance is 34 cm which doesn’t give the lens any macro use, but it isn’t made for that purpose anyway.



Manual focus

As on the other XP series lenses you will notice that this is a manual focus lens only. So this lens is used best in controlled situations. That means it is for steady subjects. I wouldn’t recommend it for sports – except if you shoot a chess duel – well then it’s okay for sports too. =)
But for portraits, landscapes, steady couple shots and even astrophotography, I wouldn’t matter about the manual focus as the inbuilt AF confirmation helps a lot.
I’ve taken some great photos with all of my XP lenses at F1.2. It may take some practice on Canon DSLRs – but is totally doable! I recommend using a manual-focus matte-screen, 10 times magnification in liveview, and maybe a display-loupe. Or use focus peaking on a Sony A7 III or A9 MILC to get the focus faster, a feature I really miss on my Canon gear. =/


Conclusion

The SAMYANG XP 35mm is an awesome, fast lens with great sharpness and bokeh. You should be aware that this lens will give the best results in in a controlled environment in terms of achieving critical focus. Also, there is some slight barrel distortion when used wide open which may be a letdown for architecture-photographers.
It may be best used in portrait, studio, landscape, astro, and food-photography. Used with high precision and good eyes, this lens will definitely deliver great images. I especially love the colors this lens renders!

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