by Fabian Chaundy | 5th February 2016
The Xeen cinema lenses released last year constitute the apex of Samyang’s catering towards filmmakers. Now, two new models have joined the Xeen family. A few years ago, Samyang’s affordable and all-manual photo prime lenses, became incredibly popular among budget filmmakers. Shortly after that, the Korean manufacturer built upon this initial success and continued to improve their range by featuring de-clicked aperture rings, focus gears and T-stop scales, and the Cine DS line of primes was born. Fast forward to 2015, when Samyang released their Xeen cinema lenses. Check out Richard’s article, from last August, which reveals why they are such a big deal. With an initial line-up of 24mm, 50mm and 85mm, the Xeen range offered a usable yet somewhat limited variety of focal lengths. However, promotional material on the Samyang page had been hinting at the imminent release of 2 new additions to the Xeen line. Well, they have finally been revealed. So, what new focal lengths can we expect from the new Xeen? Samyang is filling the centre gap with the standard and versatile focal length of 35mm. Landing between the 50mm—useful but potentially a little tight in certain situations—and the 24mm, which leans toward the wide angle side, the 35mm focal length will certainly be a welcome addition to the range. The other newcomer fills the gap at the ultra wide-angle end of the spectrum. With the release of a 14mm focal range rated at T3.1, we can see that Samyang’s Xeen range really reflects their previous Cine DS line rather than introducing completely new concepts, at least in what respects to focal lengths and T-stop rating. But Samyang couldn’t wait to leave us wanting for more. Upon revealing these two new additions, a new mystery lens has been added to their promotional material. Although it has been known for a while that there would be a sixth Xeen lens, initial speculation tended towards telephoto, perhaps a 100mm or 135mm. However, as you can see, we might see something quite different indeed. A strong contender for the new upcoming wide angle Samyang Xeen could be an 18mm, a focal length until now not available anywhere in the Samyang catalogue. There are of course other rectilinear wide-angle cine lenses in Samyang’s VDSLR range that they could draw inspiration from. The are, however, designed for APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensors. All in all, considering the excellent build and image quality of the first three Xeen cinema lenses, we have nothing but high hopes for the new additions to the family. Be sure to check out Richard’s first impressions review for the low down on Samyang’s Xeen cinema lenses.Read more
by Richard Lackey | 19th October 2015
Recently I’ve been able to shoot with the new XEEN cinema lenses and I’m happy to say I’m very impressed. Here’s my first impressions. At this price point the XEEN’s are exactly what I expected coming from the company behind the popular Samyang VDSLR primes… great value for money. However, one question seems to plague the minds of would-be XEEN buyers, so I want to address it right now. Aren’t these just rehoused Samyangs? Not really. The new XEEN’s may share the same internal optical design, but new coatings have stepped it all up a notch. You’ll see noticeably less flaring and better contrast. Everything else has been built from scratch. Where Samyang “cinemized” their stills lenses with focus and iris gears, and de-clicked iris, the XEEN’s are purpose built cine lenses. All of the compromises you had to make with the crossover cine-style photo lenses are gone with the XEEN line. The first review I read of the XEEN lenses before testing them myself was by Frank Glencairn on his blog: A first quick look at Samyang’s new Xeen Cinelenses I basically want to say “what he said”, as my experience of these lenses is pretty much identical. I guess consistency is a good sign. Focal Lengths The first of the XEEN primes are the 24mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5 and 85mm T1.5, which I consider a great start as far as focal lengths are concerned. I’ve read the opinions of some that three lenses do not comprise a workable set, but I disagree. As far as I’m concerned an entire feature could be shot on a 24, 50 and 85. Sure, more options are fantastic, but when it comes down to it these cover the basic necessary focal lengths for most shots. Housings The XEEN housings are fantastic, built to precision tolerances of quality materials with a high-end finish. Markings are readable both sides. The position of focus and iris gears are unified across all lenses as is the 114mm front diameter making lens swaps fast and easy. Mechanics These lenses feel fantastic, there is no play whatsoever and perfect resistance in both focus and iris movement. The 200 degree focus throw is a bit less than you’d expect from other cinema primes but it’s plenty. I really liked the responsiveness and smoothness of pulling focus on these lenses. As far as build and mechanics are concerned I couldn’t ask for more regardless of price. Performance These lenses are tack sharp. Like really, really sharp. Easily sharp enough for 4K+ and they will cover full frame. Saying that, they do have a very cinematic feel. There is a bit of focus breathing. It was enough to annoy me, but that’s really just a personal thing. It’s not bad, and considering the price point and everything you get it’s forgivable. All things considered, it’s easy to justify the added investment in a set of XEEN cinema primes over the less expensive but still hugely popular Samyang VDSLR lenses if you can make that jump. XEEN have delivered on all that these lenses promised when the announcement first became public. These are some very capable professional optics for anyone wanting to purchase an affordable set of cinema primes. I’d like to thank BHM Store in Dubai for the lenses to test, they distribute Samyang / XEEN in the UAE: www.bhmstore.comRead more
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