Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical (full format) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2010

Special thanks to Cornelius Hofmann for providing this lens for testing purposes!


Most of you have probably never heard of "Samyang" - the manufacturer of the tested 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical. It's a Korean company which manufactures a variety of very affordable lenses for the lower end market. Their lenses are also marketed by some other brands 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 200-300EUR/US$ certainly is. Just for comparison - the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM L II sells for more than 1800EUR/2000US$ and the nominally more comparable Zeiss ZE 85mm f/1.4 goes for 1200EUR/1300US$! Sounds insane, doesn't it ?

However, upon first contact you will experience two immediate drawbacks - the lens does not offer AF nor any "native" coupling apart from the Canon EF-compatible mount or in other words: it does not require an adapter (it's available for various mounts - not just Canon). The product image below shots 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 stopped down immediately so 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 construction9 elements in 7 groups inc. 1x aspherical element
Number of aperture blades8 (circular)
min. focus distance1 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:9.5)
Dimensions78 x 72 mm
Weight513 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other features-

Disclosure: When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network and Google Adsense.