SAMYANG HAS LONG HAD a reputation for delivering high-quality optics at affordable prices, and its VDSLR range in particular has helped to introduce a range of creatives, from photographers moving into filmmaking for the first time through to students having to operate on a tight budget, to the considerable benefits of dedicated cinema lenses.
Like so many other optics specifically aimed at the filmmaking fraternity, the VDSLR range is manual focus only, reflecting the fact that this has traditionally been the way that those in the motion industry have preferred to work. With AF systems found in hybrid mirrorless cameras now becoming so advanced and reliable, however, it’s encouraged the latest breed of filmmakers, particularly those that are single person operations or who are producing vlogs, to look closer at what autofocus might have to offer.
It’s to cater for this growing market that Samyang’s newly announced five-strong V-AF family line-up has been developed. While the theme of value is still very much centre stage, with prices that are well below those that rival products might carry, the filmmaking credentials of the new lenses have been enhanced by the fact that they’re designed so that not only are they lightweight and compact – they measure just 73x70mm and weigh in at less than 300g – but there is also a distinct family feel running throughout the entire range.
“This is something that’s hugely important for filmmakers,” comments Nathan Plant, a technical product specialist for Holdan, the exclusive distributor for Samyang products in the UK. “This is because there’s an overriding requirement for continuity amongst those who are working on motion projects. If you swap out one lens for another you need to be certain that the look of the images will be exactly the same, and so every one of the five members of the V-AF family is colour matched.
It means there’s nothing that can jar when it comes to the editing stage. “Crucially every lens in the lineup has also been designed so that it’s exactly the same in terms of weight, size, design and maximum T-stop of T1.9. This means that when you’re working on a shoot where the camera might be mounted within a rig, you can take one lens out and swap it for another and it will exactly fit into the set-up without any adjustments needing to be made. All of the controls will be found in the same place and so each lens will feel exactly the same to operate. With a selection of focal lengths available that will ultimately include a 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 45mm and 75mm, the idea is that those who choose to invest in the entire family of five lenses will ultimately have all of the optics they need for their shooting requirements in one outfit.”
Creating a System
The new V-AF system is starting off with the launch of the 75mm model, designed for Sony E-Mount full frame cameras. This is set to be priced at an affordable £529, and will be quickly followed by two more lenses in the series by the end of the year, with the full line up of five optics expected to become available by the end of 2023.
It’s an exciting prospect, and it’s clear that the needs of the target audience have been closely considered throughout, since there are
clever little features built into the design that have been included with the express purpose of making life easier for the professional filmmaker.
For example, there’s a tally light included on the front of each lens that illuminates to let the user know when recording is in progress. Why might you need to know that fact? Well, if you’re a vlogger that happens to be recording a piece to camera then it gives you the considerable reassurance that everything is working exactly as it should be. It’s also a useful check for a filmmaker to make should they have a camera setup in a remote position and they want to know quickly that their B-footage is being safely recorded.
Intriguingly there are also contacts visible on the front of the lenses, suggesting more is yet to come from the Samyang designers. Everything is still under wraps at the moment, but it would be no surprise to hear of further developments down the line that tap into this facility.
While AF is going to be a huge deal for a great many filmmakers out there, and those that have tested out the system assert that this is going to be reliable enough to change the working lives of many of those who might otherwise struggle to cope with a manual way of working, it’s always good to have the manual option to hand should that approach be preferred. Consequently, each of the lenses in the V-AF line-up also comes with a manual focus option just the click of a switch away, while there is also substantial gearing built into the design, which means that it’s easy to add a follow focus to the set up and to work in the traditional way if this is preferred. And, of course, should a lens need to be swapped in and out of the rig then you know for sure that the incoming optic will line up precisely with the follow focus unit to save valuable setting-up time.
“The addition of AF now gives professional hybrid photographers the option to come at things from the opposite direction,” says Nathan. “Whereas once the approach might have been to have fitted a still lens to give the potential to use its AF capabilities, now it’s possible to work with a dedicated cinema lens that offers that same facility, and which will also do a great job if you happen to be shooting stills. Ultimately it’s going to give you a far better result across both disciplines than a photo orientated lens costing the same amount would be able to do.”
Exciting times indeed, and it’s a sign of forward-thinking companies such as Samyang looking ahead and broadening out the choice for an emerging professional hybrid sector that is now looking ever closer at motion as a service that can be offered to their clientele.
More information: ❚ holdan.co.uk
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