You might ask what a picture of a yet to be released lens is doing at the top of this blog because I seldom write about camera equipment.
Samyang is among other things a company based out of South Korea. Since 1972 they’ve been manufacturing all manner of optics. It has only been in the last ten years that they have begun to specialize in camera lenses, specifically designing and manufacturing their own.
I remember ages ago when I first heard about Datsun, now Nissan, Toyota and Honda. Their cars weren’t the best. My youngest sister had all kinds of problems with her then new Honda. Fast forward 40 years and these once fringe auto manufacturers are now mainstream and considered to be the “establishment”. Now it is THEY who are expensive and fraught with problems just like North American vehicles used to be. In step a few companies like Kia from South Korea and what they are doing seems similar to what happened many years ago with the Japanese autos. Built as good and more affordable they are stealing business from the Japanese, North American and European vehicle makers.
That is exactly what is happening to camera lenses. I’ve used Canon equipment exclusively for over thirty years. I have no particular allegiance to them. Their gear was as good as Nikon and at work we got a great professional discount from Canon. A few years ago I bought my first Nikon lens, a 14-24 and with an adapter used it on my Canon camera body. I bought the lens because there was nothing comparable to it made by Canon. It was a bit of a hassle to not have autofocus or to have to manually stop the lens down but the lens was so much better than my Canon 16-35 that it was worth the extra effort. I am not a camera equipment fanboy. I use what I find is the best compromise between quality and price.
A short while back my interest in astrophotography was piqued. When shooting the night skies it is best to have wide lenses with fast maximum apertures. When photographing points of light like stars lens quality is quickly noticeable. Round stars become elongated or fuzzy. The solution? Buy a fast Canon or Nikon lens that is well corrected for around $2000. The problem is that Canon or Nikon for that money can’t seem to make well corrected lenses for that or any amount of money.
In steps Samyang also marketed as Rokinon or Bower. Doing what the Japanese automakers did in the seventies they are producing lenses that are equal in optic to the mainstream biggies, Nikon and Canon at about a THIRD to a QUARTER of the cost!
I now have three of these lenses. They don’t have autofocus, that would bump up the price but autofocus isn’t needed when shooting at night. The quality although not perfect is equal to or in some cases better than those made by Nikon or Canon. Go figure, a two thousand dollar Canon lens that is NOT as good optically as a South Korean lens for four hundred dollars.
Samyang has just teased this lens and already I know that I will be buying it before I even know the price. Why? Because based on past experience it will be cheaper and as good or better as Canon or Nikon’s lenses. There is always something better like the recently released Zeiss 85mm f1.4 but FOUR FREAKING THOUSAND DOLLARS for a lens that doesn’t even have autofocus? Crazy. Just like high end stereo equipment there will always be someone who will buy it and good on them.
I blogged a while ago about how slow Canon and Nikon have been to adapt the new economics of photography. Their businesses are suffering. Everyone seems to take pics with their phones these days, same with video so like newspapers who buys the larger, clunkier and more expensive gear? Less and less of us. Canon seems to be more into video these days and the lens that I was always waiting for a version of Nikon’s legendary 14-24 has still not been even teased this many years later. You’ve got to adapt and give the customer what they want or they will move on just like I did. I am waiting for the day that Samyang starts producing their own camera bodies. :)
What was probably the most impressive display of northern lights in the past few years was obscured by clouds last night. Again! It seems that almost every time a great night is forecast for the aurora, clouds seem to make their appearance. That’s what makes shooting them so appealing. If it was too easy, it wouldn’t be as desirable.
The foothills and mountains of Alberta are forecast to be warm and sunny next week and I am finally taking off to the mountains. My next post will probably be with pics from then. I am finally getting interested in getting out for some old fashioned Alberta landscapes.