So, I'm sure some of you have seen this lens before, it was manufactured by Samyang and released under many different names, off the top of my head I can think of Phoenix, Vivitar, Sirius, Falcon, Cambron and in the case of the lens in this review, Centon!
This lens sparked some interest at the time of it's release
because it was uncommon to find such a wide lens at an affordable price, and
almost unheard of to find a zoom this wide at an affordable price. The lens has
what I would consider a mixed reputation but I will be open minded because this
lens was and still is an affordable option among manual focus lenses.
This lens is pretty well put together, it's all metal and the finish isn't too bad although the inner lens tube suffers from a very slight wobble which brings the perception of quality down slightly. I would say for the money it's a pretty well made lens, in summary perhaps quality parts loosely assembled would be the best way to describe it. The lens has a72mm filter thread even though the front element is relatively small, this sudden trumpet like extension at the end of the lens basically form a built in hood which is a wise move on the lens designers part as you will discover in the next section!
I only really tested this lens stopped down because even wide open the aperture is useless for any kind of shallow DOF effect and for landscape work there's no reason not to stop a lens down for optimum sharpness so my findings are based on using the lens between f/5.6 and f/8.
The good news
is that the lens really delivers in the colour department, it's not often that
the standard set of adjustments I apply to every image have to be tamed back but
it was certainly the case with this lens, the colours are very vivid and
The sharpness of this lens is also respectable, both on micro 4/3 and APS-C sensors there is decent sharpness quite far into the edges as long is the lens is stepped down, I had heard this lens suffers from very poor edge performance but it honestly wasn't bad in my experience, this suggests that the lens only really shows it's flaws in this regard when used on a full frame camera.
Contrast was generally pretty good although it was effected by the flare resistance which can be pretty poor, if the sun or other light source is close to the frame but still outside then the resulting loss of contrast can be bought back with processing but if a strong light source is inside the frame you sometimes get an unsightly flare that can be time consuming if not impossible to remove. It doesn't always happen but when it does it's a real pain and can make attempting some shots pretty much impossible. It doesn't help matters that the flare itself is unattractive, it's not bold or even interesting to look at but rather indistinct and blotchy so it can't even be used as a creative effect, at least not in my experience.
The biggest problem with this lens which has an effect at all times is the distortion, it is severe especially at the widest setting and can be quite tricky to correct fully, this is the biggest weakness of the lens and can make landscape work quite difficult, especially when man made structures are involved.