(Nancy Kaufman) #1
Features Features
Build &

Build &
Performance Performance
Value Value





lthough Samyang has
started making autofocus
lenses, the company is
mostly known for its
high-quality, but reasonably priced,
manual lenses. Most of them are
available in a barrage of different
mount options, but the Nikon F-mount
versions are less manual than most.
They generally have built-in electronics
that enable the aperture to be set from
the body, so you can shoot effectively
in PASM modes. The electronics also
drive the focus assist and confirmation
lamps in the viewfinder, and enable
exposure info to be displayed in the
camera and recorded in EXIF data.
Like most manual focus lenses, the
Samyang 100mm Macro has a long-
travel focus ring that operates with
smooth precision – great news for
macro shooting, where very fine and
precise adjustments are required.

Along with refined handling, the
Samyang delivers very good image
quality. The lack of AF is a drawback in
general shooting, but no real problem
for macro photography. All in all, it’s a
capable lens for close-up photography.

he choice of focal length in
macro lenses has more to
do with working distance
than telephoto reach. As
such, this 85mm Micro has a much
longer working distance, at its closest
focus setting for full 1.0x macro
magnification, than its 40mm sibling.
Another plus is that focusing is fully
internal, so the inner barrel doesn’t
extend as you shorten the focus. The
result is a comfy 14.5cm between the
front of the lens and the subject in full
macro photography, compared with
just 3.5cm for the 40mm lens.
Further benefits over the 40mm are
the addition of an ED (Extra-low
Dispersion) element and VR (Vibration
Reduction). That said, the stabilization
system is worth about three-stops in
general shooting, but of typically little
value in extreme close-ups, where it’s
no real substitute for a tripod.

Levels of sharpness are less
impressive than in the Nikon 40mm,
especially at wide apertures. The
widest available aperture is also
two-thirds of a stop slower than in all
of the other lenses on test, at f/3.5.


f/2.8 ED UMC Macro


The Nikon-fit edition isn’t entirely manual

Nikon AF-S DX 85mm

f/3.5G ED VR Micro


Nikon’s bigger and better DX format Micro

Levels of sharpness are pretty
good overall, and are quite
consistent across the entire
image frame.

It’s generally not as sharp as
the Nikon 40mm Micro, but
gets into its stride at f/8 and
narrower apertures.

There’s practically no colour
fringing at wide apertures, but
it creeps up a little at medium
to narrow settings.

There’s a little colour fringing
towards the corners at f/2.8,
but it mostly dies away when
reducing the aperture.

There’s slight pincushion
distortion, but it’s of a very low
order and generally tends to
go unnoticed.

The 85mm lens produces
slight barrel distortion,
which is entirely absent
in the 40mm Micro.

N-Photo verdict N-Photo verdict

There’s a lot to be said
for manual focusing in
macro photography
and the Samyang is a
good performer.

A good lens but, for a
DX body, we prefer the
full-frame compatible
Sigma 105mm, which is
also less pricey.


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