Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical (EOS) - APS-C format Review / Lab Test
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published April 2011
Note: we reused some of the corresponding full format review due to some similarities.
Special thanks to Cornelius Hofmann for providing this lens for testing purposes!
We reviewed the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical already a year ago on a full format DSLR but given the popularity of the lens we don't really want to skip an analysis in the APS-C format scope.
Samyang is a Korean company which manufactures a variety of very affordable lenses. Till a few years ago they covered the low-end market but they are slowly moving up the value chain now with highly competitive and unusual lenses such as a 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, a 14mm f/2.8 ultra-wide lens, the already mentioned 85mm f/1.4 and as of the time of this review they're about the ship their brand new 35mm f/1.4. Samyang lenses are also marketed by some other companies such as Vivitar, Walimex, Opteka and probably a couple more. That alone may not be overly special but an ultra-large aperture 85mm f/1.4 lens sold for around 300-300EUR/US$ is almost a sensation.
Upon first contact you will experience two immediate drawbacks - the lens does not offer AF or any "native" coupling apart from the Canon EF-compatible mount - or in other words: it does not require an adapter but that's it. The product image below shows the back-view of the lens - you may notice the lack of electric contacts here. Consequently you have to focus manually - either by checking the viewfinder image or, probably a better idea with respect to the potentially very shallow depth-of-field, by using Live-View. The aperture is not controlled by the camera but directly on the lens using an aperture ring just like back in the old days. The camera is naturally unable to display the selected aperture so both the viewfinder as well as the EXIF data will only show f/0.0 here. The aperture will also be stopped down immediately as soon as you apply changes to the setting so consequently the optical viewfinder will show you a darker image at smaller aperture settings.
Now apart from these shortcomings - what are you getting for so few bucks ? Well, surprisingly ... quite a bit! The build quality is nothing short of excellent thanks to a combination of metal and good quality plastic parts - the lens puts many of the genuine manufacturer products to shame here actually. There's no wobbling whatsoever. The focus ring operates as smooth as silk (dampened) and the aperture ring has distinctive clicks in 1/2EV steps (except at f/1.4->f/2 and f/16->f/22). The lens features an internal focusing (IF) mechanism so the physical size remains constant during focusing and the big front element does not rotate.
|Optical construction||9 elements in 7 groups inc. 1x aspherical element|
|Number of aperture blades||8 (non-circular)|
|min. focus distance||1m (max. magnification ratio ~1:9.5)|
|Filter size||72mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||barrel-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied|