Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Samyang 85mm f/1.4mm DSLR lens review

A poor mans 85mm??? Maybe, but a very wise poor man!

OMGOMG OMG! A lens without AUTO-FOCUS!!!!

AAAAAGGGHHHH How will I ever be able to take an in focus photo???

Is it even possible?

Well yes,
Yes I can, and Yes you could to. Its not that difficult.
So lets get away from the initial horror of the thought of a MANUAL focus lens and get reviewing it!

I have just bought the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 lens of a guy in a car park.

but you can buy them from

This guy actually:

Top shot is about 30 seconds after I put the lens on my camera (the Fuji S5pro)
Shot at f/1.4  I focused by looking for the little focus conformation spot that you get inside your little eyepiece, in the Nikon and Fuji it is a little green dot to the right of the image that comes on when the subject is in focus
this is a tight crop of the shot above and I am amazed by the sharpness.  This was shot at iso 800 so I have added a tiny bit of noise reduction.

After testing it out I bought it on the spot!

The exact details of the lense (as which are written on the lense)
it is the: AE 85mm 1:1.4 AS IF UMC lens

The closest Focusing distance is exactly 1meter, So you aint going to be getting macro shots with this.
on an aps-c sensor camera (ie a cropped sensor camera) being at 1meter away the effect of the shallow depth of field you can get on diagonal images such as this one is not as blow your mind as it will be on the full frame or any macro lens.

What the effect is like on full frame I have yet to see as I only got this lens a few hours ago and I have been in the cinema watching Warrior before coming home.  BTW Warrior is an amazing film!

Here is a shot with the Nikon D700 at its closest focusing distance shot inside my office

Its focus ring rotates about 100 degrees clockwise and does so in such a beautiful manor that only true camera geeks can truly appreciate and wet themselves with its loveliness.

It is a 72mm front end so you will need to get a big filter or protective lens for the front
And finally it is made in Korea.
And boy is it well made.

I was really expecting a flimsy plasticy piece of crap with a big bit of glass shoved in side it.
yet the body of the lens feels like hard quality metal, the rubber ring for the focus also feels high quality and is very smooth, the way the aperture ring clicks round feels strong yet smooth.

Having f/1.4 means you get a super blurry background and shallow depth of field,

Here are two examples one shot at f1.4 and the other shot at f8 (it wont take a genius to figure out which one was which)

and that brings on the next point, the quality of the blur or also known as the Bokeh,  it is soo fricking smooth and smilky, with no distracting bumps and strange circles in the background, certainly not at f/1.4

Also in this photo below i am shooting on the Nikon D700 and shooting about 5-5 meters away from the subject (Alex) in my work and look at how just a foot in front of his face his computer screen is totally blurred out like it was photoshopped to avoid people seeing what he is looking at! 

When you shoot at near its maximum focus distance, shotting at f/1.4 you still need to be careful with your focus

Here I just tapped the lens off of infinity focus to get it to focus on the tower in the background and you can see some aperture blur on the smelly student in the window.  Thats how sensitive f/1.4 is!

This is another shot at f1.4 of the same thing the second image is just the central 9th crop

again I am amazed by the quality of the image at f/1.4.  it really shouldn't be this good!!!

This is actually a lens where you can walk around all day shooting at f/1.4 and if you are spot on with your focus then you will be getting top quality low chromatic abberation, high sharpness images all day long!

When you get the Focus wrong you really can tell!

What you wont be using this lens for is captureing action.
being that the lens at f1.4 has such a shallow depth of field it will be good for cinematic effect on video but on trying to capture any form of motion or action then you will have to become super  Uber human with your focus skill.  

Lets look at the price spec for this and in comparison to the competition
Canon does not have a 85 f/1.4 but it has an even more insane f/1.2 but that is
Nikon has 2 f/1.4s
the new G-type  with af-s
and the older D-type
and then Sigma has entered the game with their version at the discount price of

So as you can see there is a massive price difference between brands and types within brands. 
but the price difference just got a whole lot bigger  as this lens, the Samyang is 
Under £250  (example here

and lets check the performance specs as well
for that I head over to
the link for the samyang is ( Here)  and the link for the best Nikon is ( here ) and the best Canon is ( Here )

Have a quick look through those pages. and if you compare or correlate the performance difference with the price difference, the Samyang is the best lens in the world it seems!

Preview review

Sharpness and vignetting test on full frame camera

My new photography book. click below

Browse other personalized gifts from Zazzle.

The link for UK photographers check out

For the US buyers click below


  1. Thanks Mr Dom, how much did that piece of glass cost ya? Want one too now and don't have the money...

  2. oooh I am very tempted although slightly scared of manual focus as I shoot children alot :S hmm... this would enable me to buy a lens and go on holiday though... thanks for the review Mr Dom!

  3. I've considered it for a while, reading only great stuff about it. How's the accuracy of manual focusing on lower end body (smaller viewfinder)? The nikon D700 has big ass viewfinder, so it's gonna be probably easier to focus than on lower ends like mine D5000, right?

    If nikon won't release the updated AF-S 85mm 1.8 soon I'm probably gonna go with this one. The glass looks like window!

  4. That looks like a remarkable piece of glass....particularly in relation to the other options available for that kind of insane DOF.
    Need to have words with the missus.

  5. Hi Dom Good Day

    I love my Rokinon 85mm very challenging but i love it if you have a time you can critic some of my work using my Rokinon 85mm heres the link on my flckr

  6. Hi Dom,
    Enjoyed your Samyang 85 lens review. Quick question: Is the Nikon cap a coincidence or did you get the Nikon AE version? If so do you have any comments on the adapter you are using? What brand is it? Any tolerance issues affecting focus etc...

  7. that is crazy, I can't believe some of those are so good shot at 1.4. when I shoot at 1.2 with my Nikon lens everything is so soft and mushy and aberrations etc. WOW I'm impressed

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. this great dslr camera..very nice for holiday travel.

  10. Great test. Did you try the Canon EF 85 mm. I don't know which one to take? I know that the Samyang is cheap but it doesn't have any electrical connection with the body.