Samyang Optics have recently announced another XP lens in their line up the NEW XP 50mm f1.2 this is hot on the heels of their other recent lens the AF 14mm f2.8 EF (Review here). At this stage the XP 50mm f1.2 is Canon EF mount only, I can’t say if it will also be made in other mounts.
Lets start this review with some information straight from the Samyang Optics website,
An Expert Portrait Lens for Dramatic Moments
This lens, built for DSLR cameras, has a resolution of more than 50 megapixels for photography and 8K for video. The XP 50mm F1.2 manual focus lens enables you to capture those dramatic moments in perfect image quality with a bright F1.2 aperture. In particular, it optimizes for portraits, capturing the delicate change of the eye at the time of a portrait, right down to a strand of hair, and bright and beautiful skin color. You can express unconstrained depth with the bright aperture, while the 9 blades also deliver beautiful bokeh, starburst, and out-focusing effects. Also, you can even achieve high image quality in low light conditions and indoors thanks to the fast shutter speed.
Excellence in Performance
Produced from a total of 11 lenses in 8 groups, you can minimize distortion and various aberrations while producing crystal clear resolution. The special optic lenses, aspherical lens, and high-refractive lens deliver sharp and vivid images to camera sensors by effectively tuning the light path. Also, flare and ghost effects can be well controlled thanks to the ultra multi coating.
So this is a new lens designed for the high resolution of modern cameras. Anyone that has used an XP lens will be used to the high image quality, level of detail the XP lenses can resolve and the great built quality, the XP lenses are in quite a different league to the standard Samyang lenses, there are three lenses in this line up now, the other two are the XP 14mm f2.4 and the XP 85mm f1.2 I’ve been using these other lenses for a long time now mainly for astrophotography I will link the reviews at the bottom of the page.
This following review is my limited real world experience using this lens, it will not be technical, it contains image samples and my thoughts.
When this lens arrived I was quite surprised as I had no idea it was being sent, I was also quite surprised that it wasn’t an Auto focus lens given all of their recent lenses have been.
Opening the box and pulling out the lens I was met with the familiar look and build quality of an XP lens, that smooth black metal body, excellent build quality and the weight, this is one solid piece of glass! I really like the XP lenses and will be using them a lot this astro season. I also quickly noticed that this lens has an f1.2 aperture and 86mm filter thread just like the XP 85mm f1.2, so Samyang have been consistent with this line but interestingly this lens is actually bigger than the XP 85mm f1.2, well it is longer and heavier. A quick turn of the focus ring, felt smooth and dampened, just like the XP 85mm. I really don’t have anything negative to say about this lens when it comes to looks, feel, build and operation.
Manual focus Lens.
Although this lens is manual focus like most of Samyang’s lenses it is not a fully manual lens, the lens has aperture controlled on the camera body, it communicates exif data and we also give focus confirmation. The focus confirmation works perfect, I used this a lot and did not once miss the intended focus point.
A month of using this lens.
I have had the XP 50mm f1.2 for about a month and have managed to test it out in quite a few different situations. The first week I had it I was in Melbourne so I went for a walk to Hosier lane, an awesome laneway famous for its graffiti, always a great spot to get a few images, here are a few shots from that shoot with my thoughts.
As a general walk around lens the XP 50mm f1.2 is very capable at resolving fine details, it is also fantastic for picking out and isolating subjects while blurring away distractions, the out of focus areas are pleasing to the eye. Take a good close look at the above bus image, there really is a lot of sharp fine detail in that shot.
A lot of buyers of this lens will be buying it for shooting portraits, 50mm is a good focal length and f1.2 is fantastic for isolating the subject and blurring distracting elements. I’m not a portrait photographer so I used this lens the way I would use it for portraits.
Hosier lane is always full of people taking selfies and portraits, she asked me to take a picture with her phone so I asked if I could grab a shot for this review.
This guy was on his lunch break totally wrapped up in his phone, I used the fast aperture of f1.4 to shoot past and through the distracting foreground and isolate him. Some nice detail at f1.4 in his shirt, apron and hair.
Shardae was modelling for make up artist Torianne Rodwell, Torrianne and I got talking so I asked if I could grab a shot or two. No I’m not a portrait photographer but I can see why they like fast lenses like the XP 50mm f1.2, it just melts away everything distracting, isolates and brings attention to the subject. I’d really like to shoot more like this and improve my skills, looking at the detail in this image I think the lens is doing quite well wide open at f1.2
Shardae and Torrianne are both in Melbourne if you need a model or hair and make up artist get in touch with Torrianne through Instagram @toriannerodwell
The following are some shots and 100% crops to show how the lens performs. As usual it is a full image, and then crops.
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f1.2
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f1.2 centre, 100% crop
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f1.2 bottom left, 100% crop
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f1.2 bottom left corner, 200% crop, not bad.
At f1.2 the XP 50mm f1.2 seems to perform well. Ignore the motion blur in a few leaves, it was quite a windy day. We can see a bit of vignetting in the corners of the full image.
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f1.4 full image
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f1.4 centre, 100% crop
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f1.4 bottom left, 100% crop.
Again ignore the motion blur on the right, that left bottom corner is sharp! We can still see some vignetting in the corners of the full image.
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f2
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f2 bottom left corner, 100% crop
I skipped the centre crop in the above examples as I think the first two examples were enough to show it’s a sharp lens in the centre. Vignetting seems to have improved.
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f2.8
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f2.8 bottom left corner, 100% crop
At f2.8 everything is sharp , vignetting is gone.
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f4
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f4 bottom left corner, 100% crop
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f5.6
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f5.6 bottom left corner, 100% crop
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – at f8
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 – f8 bottom left corner, 100% crop
looking at the above images we can see that the lens is quite sharp wide open at 1.2 but like any fast lens gets sharper as we close down the aperture. At wide open apertures we are seeing a bit of vignetting, it is gone by f2.8.
I thought I would shoot something that shows vignetting a little better, a flat concrete wall, no post processing, just conversion to jpeg.
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 at f1.2
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 at f1.4
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 at f2
Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 at f2.8
The above examples show vignetting a little better, wide open there is quite a bit of vignetting, getting better until at f2.8 the vignetting is gone. Is this an issue? for some maybe but for most it wont bother them, fixing in post or just using the vignetting to help frame their subjects.
Astro photography is the subject I will personally use this lens the most, 50mm is quite a good focal length for panoramic and detailed sections of the “milky way” The lens is also fast, that f1.2 aperture captures a lot of light that will help me lower iso when using a star tracker, this should allow me to pull plenty of detail from the sky.
The fast f1.2 also allows for astro photography straight from a standard tripod. Using the 500 rule (see my basic night sky photography tutorial) I can easily pull enough light with exposures of up to 10 seconds, I shot all of the following tests straight from my Benro Travel Angel tripod so people can see what they can do with gear they already have and of course this lens. I will do a another specific astro review once the Milkyway core is more visible and I can capture it higher in the sky.
The Southern cross (Crux) Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 at f1.2. Settings 50mm, f1.2, 8sec, iso 3200
200% crop, centre
200% crop top left corner
At f1.2 we can see a bit of coma in the stars and purple fringing, the fringing would be correctable in post and the coma is pretty well controlled for an f1.2 lens. There is also some star movement due to the shot being un-tracked and shot straight from a tripod. These are 200% crops so pretty extreme and showing us detail at a level we wouldn’t usually see, this is good performance.
Samyang 50mm f1.2 at f2
200% crop, centre.
200% crop, top left corner
At f2 coma is extremely well controlled any pilling of stars is caused by star movement not the lens, awesome!
The following are examples shot at various apertures along with 100% top left corner crops. No post processing, only jpeg conversion.
100% corner crop at f1.2
100% corner crop at f1.4
100% corner crop at f1.8
100% corner crop at f2
100% corner crop at f2.8
As you can see from the above un-edited images at all apertures coma performance is really good, there is some trailing due to star movement but actual coma in the stars there is very little, we can see a small amount at f1.2 and f1.4 by f2 it is totally gone. Personally I think all apertures are very usable and can’t wait to get out there and test this properly on my Skywatcher Star adventurer, it will be fantastic for pulling detail from the sky. For those without a star tracking mount you will be able to great results straight off your tripod with this lens, I can see it being a nice option for shooting astro time-lapse.
I thought I would touch on the topic of bokeh from this lens, we have already seen some examples in the above shots and it renders out of focus areas quite well and pleasing to the eye, here are a few more examples shot with the lens wide open.
The Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 lens performs well, I think it will be popular with portrait photographers where the focal length and f1.2 aperture are desirable. The lens although big is also suitable for a general 50mm and have no doubt it would be an excellent short telephoto lens where capturing maximum detail is important. The other area I think this lens will be great is Astro photography, the lenses coma performance is very good, this is the area I will use this lens the most.
The Samyang XP 50mm f1.2 will have an rrp of around $1399 here in Australia.
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