Astrophotography: Samyang 35mm f/1.8 Tiny Prime

When it comes to camera gear, in my view the lighter and more compact the better. This is one of the main reasons I have never entirely jumped on the Full Frame bandwagon as I generally reserve the use of my Full Frame gear to astro related imaging and elect to go with a much more light, compact and discrete Micro Four Third setup for daytime shooting. These days there are some very small primes available for full frame, however generally not with what I’d consider a sufficiently wide aperture (f/2 or wider) required of untracked nightscape imaging. That was until recently when Samyang introduced their new line up of wide aperture f/1.8 Tiny Primes for the Sony E-Mount Full Frame. First came the 45mm and 75mm offerings, then the 35mm was released which I just had to have being one of my favourite focal lengths to shoot with.

There are certainly good 35mm options already available for Sony FE which have the same or even wider aperture. For a slightly higher price I would be able to get the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 which would let in approximately 66% more light. If cost was no object, then there is the brilliant new Sony G-Master f/1.4 or Sigma f/1.2. Surely any of these would be the better choices? Normally I would agree, however given I already carry a LOT of gear around to my night shooting sessions, any minimisation I can make here is a win and as such the size and weight savings here came out on top. How much weight are we talking? Well, at just 210 grams the closest competition to this Samyang is the Sony 35mm f/1.8 at 280 grams, however it is also bulkier and close to twice the price. A recent head to head review by Chris Frost also showed that the Samyang compared very favourably to the Sony offering.

Samyang 35mm f/1.8 Tiny Prime wide open on an Sony a7R

So with my new Samyang Tiny Prime on my 36MP Sony a7R in my bag, I head out into the night to put to the test it’s ability to capture the night sky for untracked astrophotography. Being an untracked test I shot the sky with a wide open aperture, a scenario which very few lenses do well in due to how demanding it is of the optics. For exposure I usually kind of split the difference between the NPF and 500 rule, however for this I stuck to the NPF rule as I absolutely wanted to avoid having star trails impact the image and my ability to evaluate its performance. I tried to keep the video light and on track as to who this lens appeal is for and also to how it performs for the common lens aberrations which impact astrophotography performance.

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