Samyang 135mm F2.0 Review

If you’ve ever been in the market for full-frame telephoto glass, you’ve likely noticed that scoring a lens with a tight focal length can be pretty damn expensive.

However, you don’t have to buy the uber-expensive 135mm G series prime. Nope, you can, instead, get your hands on the Samyang 135mm F2.0 at a fourth of the price tag (by the way, this lens is also branded as Rokinon, but they are exactly the same).

So, at 1/4 of the price, how does this third-party lens stack up against Sony’s flagship telephoto prime?

Let’s find out.

Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?

Samyang 135mm f2.0

- Razor sharp and beautiful images

- Huge but well built

- Manual focus is fun and concise

- Gorgeous bokeh rendering

- A great budget telephoto option

woman with rainy face looking at camera
This lens is a beast.

Build Quality

Size & Weight

First off, before we get too deep, I just want to note that this lens is GIGANTIC. The (Rokinon) Samyang 135mm F2.0 measures a length of 4.8 inches (12.2cm) and weighs a very hefty 30.4oz. Adding the lens hood puts on about another inch.

With that being said, the lens’s main competitor (Sony 135mm F1.8 GM) is about the same size, so it shouldn’t come as a shock. Telephoto primes tend to be pretty huge. It doesn’t fit in my Peak Design 6l Sling, but it’ll likely fit just fine in larger dedicated camera bags.

Is the lens well-built?

Luckily, most of that weight translates into build quality.


Although it’s not metal, the Samyang’s lens barrel is made of entirely high-quality plastics which feel durable and sturdy enough.

It’s certainly not a Zeiss lens, but it’s more than adequate, especially considering the price.

Lens Hood

Even the included lens hood, despite being plastic, feels sturdy.

As a bonus, it’s easily reversible for storage.

Accessories & Caps

The front and rear lens caps are both plastic, but they do the job well enough.

Finally, Samyang even includes a cute little drawstring bag for storage. It’s little things like this that can make a budget lens feel just a bit more premium.

Weather Sealing

On the negative side, there is no weather sealing, which is a bit of a damper, but not very surprising given the price.

As great as it would have been to have weather sealing, I understand why they omitted it. This lens acts as a low-cost entry point for full-frame telephoto photography.

Build to last?

Overall, the lens certainly feels built to last.

Although it may not sport an all-metal build, the high-quality plastics feel quite durable and the heavyweight of the lens certainly lends itself well to a premium and sturdy feel.


As for ergonomics, the lens is quite heavy and long, but the nice rubberized focus ring makes for a nice gripping point for stability.

After a while, though, you’ll start to notice some serious hand fatigue due to the beefy weight of this thing. Definitely bring a camera bag so you can occasionally give your wrists a rest. It feels massive even on my a7iii.


Aesthetically, the (Rokinon) Samyang 135mm F2.0 looks great. It has a gorgeous distance scale and the sleek black barrel contrasts well against the red and white text engravings.

A large ribbed rubber focus ring adorns the barrel, and a nice red ring around the mount ties together the entire look, making for a beautiful and premium-looking lens, despite the low price point.

Image Quality


Now, let’s talk about what everybody is concerned about: sharpness!

To be honest, the Samyang 135mm F2.0 is no slouch, rivaling even its more expensive competitors.

Before we move on, I want to note that my sharpness tests rarely get scientific. I generally just pixel peep to the extreme, so don’t expect any sort of MTF graphs or anything along those lines.

Wide Open

Anyway, when completely wide open, this lens is razor-sharp.

Even the far corners are practically flawless. It’s very hard to find a flaw here, even if you pixel-peep to the extreme.

Stopped Down

Stopping down, ironically, from what I could tell, actually reduces quality very slightly. Corners are ever-so-slightly softer, but it wasn’t noticeable enough to be an issue.

I suspect the reason for this is that the Samyang 135mm F2.0 was designed first and foremost as a portrait lens. Portrait lenses, generally, are used at wide F-stops. Thus, wide-open performance was vastly more prioritized than stopped-down performance.

man posing in tunnel
Stopping down does decrease sharpness somewhat, but you’ll usually be shooting at wide apertures anyway.

Optical Quirks & Flaws

When it comes to optical quirks & flaws, this lens has very few.


To start, distortion is a non-issue.

Most telephotos don’t suffer from any sort of warping, and this one is no exception.


As for vignette, we do see a slight darkening of the corners at wide F-stops, but it’s nothing bad.

It’s easily fixed with a single click in post-processing.

Chromatic Aberration

Next, chromatic aberrations are also aren’t a problem.

Even in an extreme situation (branches against a sunny sky), I couldn’t notice any CA that wasn’t easily fixable in post.

Flare Resistance

Finally, the lens does suffer from a bit of flaring, but it’s fairly artistic flare.

Loss of contrast isn’t bad, and you can generally avoid it by making careful use of the lens hood.

Or just embrace the flaring! I love a bit of drama in my backlit portraits.

Portraiture & Bokeh

Since most photographers will use this as a portrait lens, I want to talk about just how amazing the bokeh is.

It looks absolutely spectacular. It’s bubbly, smooth, and the sense of subject isolation is fantastic. The contrast between the focused and defocused areas of an image is great.

Getting precise focus, even for still subjects, was quite difficult, however, since the depth of field is so razor-thin. More on that in a minute.

Already interested in checking it out?
Samyang 135mm f2.0
The Samyang 135mm F2.0 offers excellent sharpness and a sturdy build for a reasonable price.

Focusing & Other Notes

Manual Focus

As stated prior, the (Rokinon) Samyang 135mm F2.0 is an entirely manual lens. The aperture ring is clicked and the large focusing ring is well-dampened and feels great to use.

The depth of field is razor thin, however, so it can be a bit of a challenge getting precise focus, but that comes with practice. Luckily, the focus throw is huge, so locking down precise focus is made a bit easier with that.

This is the type of focusing ring that definitely requires some practice, and I suspect even seasoned manual focus users will struggle for a bit, as every manual lens has a different learning curve.

Still, with some practice and with the help of Sony’s excellent AF assists, such as peaking and magnifier, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Overall, quite a pleasant MF experience. Challenging, but rewarding and fun. I especially liked the inclusion of a physical depth of field scale.

Video/Cine Version

Another interesting note is that Samyang actually has cine/video version of this lens.

The video version uses T-stops instead and features a geared focusing ring along with a de-clicked and geared aperture ring.

I’m not a videographer so I can’t really speak on whether that lens would be good or not, but I thought it was interesting that they made a stills version and a video version of this lens.


Finally, I want to mention astrophotography. A lot of astro enthusiasts swear by this lens. I don’t have a ton of knowledge of shooting the night sky, so I’ll just refer you to this article from my friends over at AstroBackyard.

All I can speak on is that coma performance is great, and the lens has a long enough focal length to apparently capture nebulas and other large deep space objects.

night sky milky way with building silhouette
This lens is also pretty good for astro!

My Final Thoughts


I generally like to give recommendations of alternatives at the end of my articles, but it’s hard to beat this lens if you’re shopping on a budget.

Sigma 135mm F1.8

First off, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 is incredible. It’s sharp as heck, features great autofocus, and is overall fantastic.

It’s, however, nearly triple the price of the Samyang.

Sony 135mm F1.8 GM

With the Sony GM lens, you’ll get similar (if not better) image quality, fabulous AF, and incredible build quality.

Once again, however, the Sony lens is nearly quadruple the price of this Samyang lens.


Like I’ve been praising throughout the article, the Samyang 135mm F2.0 simply cannot be beaten for the price.

If you’re OK with manual focus and the lack of weather sealing, there’s very little reason to purchase the more expensive alternatives. Combining the excellent sharpness with the beautiful bokeh and solid build quality makes this a very mighty lens at quite a thrifty price.

If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, I’ve included purchase links below. Thanks for reading. 🙂

An Incredible Budget-Friendly Telephoto
Samyang 135mm f2.0
Although lacking autofocus, the Samyang 135mm F2.0 offers incredibly competitive sharpness along with a very budget pricepoint.

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