Review: Samyang 300mm NCS CS lens

October 26th 2017, 22:29 | Written by Konstantin Koll

I've added the Samyang 300mm NCS CS lens to my camera bag for this year's summer vacation. Read on to find out why this lens is not for me.

What happened so far

I'm the proud owner of a Sony NEX-F3 camera, and my camera bag contains three lenses right now: the Sony SEL-1855 OSS kit lens that came with the camera, the SEL-50F18 OSS portrait lens, and the Samyang 12mm NCS CS wide-angle lens.

I was missing a telephoto lens, so I bought the Samyang 300m NCS CS lens for this year's summer vacation to Santoríni—a beautiful place that deserves awesome photos to be taken home!

Overview

I'm very happy with my Samyang 12mm NCS CS lens, so it was natural to choose Samyang for my new telephoto lens. I went all in, and bought the Samyang 300mm lens. Lenses with such focal lengths are usually very large and heavy, but Samyang employs a trick: the lens uses mirrors to lengthen the distance the light has to travel to the focal point, similar to very large space telescopes. This allows for a rather small case and lightweight lens—this was very important to be, as I have to carry my photo equipment all day in my backpack when travelling.

The Samyang 300mm NCS CS lens is a “manual lens”: the aperture and focus have to be set manually on the lens itself. Though the lens does mechanically fit the NEX camera body, there are no electrical contacts; the camera thinks it has no lens attached. Remember: you'll have to enable the “Release without lens” option in the camera setup to get this lens working at all! That's the reason why the Samyang 300mm lens sets you back only 240€: true e-mount telephoto lenses with autofocus can easily cost well north of 2000€!

Image quality

There was a moon eclipse in early August—the perfect occasion to put my new telephoto lens to the test! It's naturally dark when moon eclipses happen, so I took a tripod with me. I found it very hard to take decent photos at dusk with this lens: the focal length is so large that even the slightest movement of the camera would blur the picture. I managed to take two decent shots of the rising moon out of several hundred! I'm still very pleased with the image quality of those photos that did turn out great, though, but handling a 300mm telephoto lens requires some serious skills.

I've had the Samyang 300m lens with me on Santoríni. I've taken a few shots with it in broad daylight, and it was much easier than before. However, I still needed lots of attempts to take a crisp picture, even with a tripod under the mediterranean sun! But I also noted something different: while 300mm focal length is great for some settings (like taking a photo of Firá from Oía some 5km away), the magnification is too large most of the time. I bought this telephoto lens to take some great pictures of the cruise ships in Santoríni's volcano caldera, but they wouldn't fit in a single photo. I ended up using my SEL-50F18 OSS portrait lens for these shots. I would have been far happier with a much more versatile focal length of about 200mm.

In conclusion, the Samyang 300mm NCS CS lens has its applications, but it's just not the right choice for me. It's up on eBay right now.

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