kv0925: (photo lens)
[personal profile] kv0925

So I finally got that Yongnuo 35mm f/2 lens I mentioned a while back--it took the slow boat from China, literally! I made a point of trying it out over the weekend, so I thought I'd share some of those photos with a little review and some notes on the lens' performance.

So the short version first: if you can score it for somewhere near the $65 I paid, it's a great value. Even the MSRP of $120ish is reasonable, really.

As I'd read, it does *feel* like a cheap lens--it's mostly plastic (with a metal mounting ring, which helps), and there's simply a cheapness to it. If you've ever played with Canon's (or presumably Nikon's) low-end 50mm f/1.8 lens, it's a lot like that in design and build. When I shake it, there's a very slight rattle from the focusing ring, that sort of cheap. Even so, I'm not concerned the thing will fall apart or anything like that, at least under normal circumstances.

But the optics are what matters most, and really I have no complaints there. Reviews I read noted softness away from the center, but since I'm still using crop-sensor bodies I'm not really seeing that. Center sharpness, and even overall sharpness, look fine to me. I can count eyelashes when I zoom in on a well-focused portrait like the one above, and that's good enough. I'd say the autofocus is also plenty quick and snappy, though there's no full-time manual, and the focusing ring itself is small and not-ergonomic. Those things aren't a surprise at this price.

Some more images and notes under the cut!

The bokeh is pretty decent, thanks to a 7-blade aperture. That was always a weak point on Canon's plastic 50mm, which is 5-bladed. I think their 35mm f/2 (of which the Yongnuo is essentially a knock-off) is 5-bladed as well.

This is at f/2.5--I think it's a touch soft wide open, so I generally shoot a couple notches below that.

Minimum focus distance is around 1.2 feet, which at a 35mm focal length means macro isn't really on the table. But not too bad, either--I don't think I cropped this in much, if at all.

I took the girls to Free Comic Book Day at our favorite local comics/collectibles shop, where I always enjoy making portraits of the figurines. Nice detail on this one. The wacky lighting means I usually go B&W for these.

Contrast, color, detail.. nothing to complain about here.

If there's a weak point, it would have to be susceptibility to flare. There's a bit evident in this shot, which I managed a bit in post, and you can also see a bit in the portrait up top. But other shots looked like this:

Again, this could be mitigated in post a bit, but I wanted to illustrate. This was on a sunny day with no lens hood (the lens doesn't come with one)--I'm sure a hood would help prevent this. Not a deal-breaker, just something to be aware of.

So yeah, for $75 or so, assuming you're not in a hurry to get it, I would definitely recommend one of these. It's a nice walkaround focal length (more or less equivalent to a 50mm on a crop-sensor camera, and a bit wider full-frame), and the f/2 makes it more useful indoors as well. Worth checking out!

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