The focal length of 85 mm is most likely the portrait photographer’s lens, as this lens combines both incredible image quality as well as artistic blur and minimal distortion.
The minimum focus distance for this lens is approximately 85.34 cm from the intended focus. This means that the photographer has to step back further than when using a different focal length, e.g. B. 35 mm.
The depth of field has the potential for the bokeh and creamy background that many want for natural headshots.
Who is this lens for?
The focal length of 85 mm is often a must for photographers who have the space to work with and who do not want to be particularly close to their subjects during shooting.
For portrait lovers, the small distortion gives the subject a slimmer look. In addition, the compression achieved by the focal length of 85 mm in combination with the depth of field of fast 85 mm lenses with 1: 1.4 or 1: 1.2 led to a coveted smoothest bokeh reproduction.
In other areas of photography, such as sports, an 85 mm is a large intermediate length that can bring the user closer to the action on the sidelines without restricting the ability to record the rest of the action. Compared to other popular telephoto lenses such as 135mm or 200mm, an 85mm lens is a much cheaper, more compact, and more portable option.
Why is it worth thinking about Samyang?
There are many 85mm lenses on the market and third party lenses are becoming increasingly popular with photographers as they can deliver excellent results at cheaper prices.
Korean lens manufacturer Samyang is known for its range of manual focus lenses.
For some years now, however, the company’s attention has been drawn to expanding its range of high-quality autofocus lenses.
Samyang’s 85mm lens is the first third-party lens to offer a lens with this focal length for the new lens Canon RF mount, based on their many years of experience in producing similar lenses for other brands.
The cost is also a fraction of the Canon version, which is priced at around $ 2,700.00.
The company is clearly thinking about the new EOS R system, a promise that will spear for this brand in the coming years. We saw the launch of Canon’s first cameras – the Canon EOS R and RP – and the most anticipated camera of the year, the Canon EOS 5R, with rumors of other models like the 6R. Therefore, Samyang looks forward to continuing to develop quality goals for this mount.
As Samyang states:
The RF series from Samyang is known for its excellent image quality because the AF 14 mm f / 2.8 RF 2020 was awarded the renowned TIPA Award for “best mirrorless prime wide-angle lens”.
The new AF 85mm RF makes no compromises when it comes to image quality either: a total of 11 elements in 8 groups with 4 high-index (HR) optics and a lens with particularly low dispersion (ED) were developed to achieve impressive image quality from corner to corner.
Build and operate
This version is typical for Samyang autofocus and manual focus lenses and has a high standard of build quality. The metal mounting plate and high quality plastic cylinder feel solid and mature, complete with weather seals. Inside, the optical path is based on nine elements in seven groups and includes a hybrid aspherical element. “Ultra multi-coating”Also used to keep ghosting and torches to a minimum.
The Samyang is easy to use and is only a fraction of the weight of the latest Canon 85mm.
As already mentioned, this is the first option from a third-party manufacturer and therefore the first point of comparison.
It is worth noting that the RF version is larger and heavier than the EF version of Samyang. Something completely normal to adapt lenses to the 54 mm HF frame. The large diameter of the RF mount allows wider lens elements to be placed closer to the sensor, reducing the need to bend the light beams, as is the case with smaller diameter lens frames. This minimizes aberrations and enables more effective lens arrangements.
The integrated controls are limited to a single autofocus / manual focus switch and a manual focus ring. The autofocus system itself is based on a dual LSM (Linear Supersonic Motor) that works quickly and practically noiselessly.
In contrast to an ultrasound ring arrangement, the manual focus ring has an electronic coupling rather than a mechanical coupling. The result is that the focus ring only works when the camera is powered, for example after you press the shutter button lightly.
Just like its EF counterpart, the HF lens can be automatically focused quickly and with very good accuracy even in dim indoor lighting conditions. The manual fly-by-wire focus ring enables very fine and precise settings, especially when using an enlarged preview in live view mode. The center sharpness is not particularly impressive at 1: 1.4, but better at 1: 2 and excellent from 1: 2.8, enough for portraits. Lateral chromatic aberration is fairly well controlled at 1: 1.4, but can be quite noticeable with narrower openings.
The contrast is impressive, even when opened wide at 1: 1.4, and the center sharpness is fairly acceptable, although it drops off more than usual at the edges. This is not a real problem for portrait painting, and the noticeable vignetting can also be seen as a bonus and avoid this gradual post-production. If you stop a little to increase the depth of field, the bokeh stays great, supported by a well-rounded membrane with nine leaves.
Samyang is still new to the auto focus aspect of lens design. So far, this has been mainly their Achilles heel, especially given that the range only includes two EF / RF AF lenses and there is still a long way to go to get other manufacturers for these mounts.
However, the company has 40 years of experience manufacturing high quality glasses. Corrections were notorious and firmware files are available for updates.
For example, Samyang has started integrating two linear sonic motors into its design, resulting in a dramatically quieter and more refined auto focus. There is a bit of sound associated with AF-S performance. If you want the fastest speed for still images, this is the way to go.
There is a pause of fractions of a second, during which the momentum increases and the focus then takes place very quickly. Overall, the focus speed is quite high in AF mode. The focus speed is roughly on the level of many 85mm lenses available on the market.
Eye AF is outstanding. Samyang got a boost as the release of the AF 85mm coincided with one of the key highlights for the new Canon cameras. Samyang brought improved focus algorithms along with improved tracking in the form of real-time eye AF and real tracking, making it a perfect choice for portraits.
What we liked
- Very compact and light
- Relatively cheap
- Good picture quality
Which would be better
- The center sharpness is not particularly impressive at 1: 1.4
- No optical stabilizer
- Ring control, like the original from Canon
The release of the Samyang AF 85mm / 1.4 RF is a pleasant surprise for Canon shooters. Especially for those who have already switched to the mirrorless system or are still thinking about the introduction of the new cameras and are waiting for it.
Many photographers cannot afford the high price of the only other option available on the market, the original Canon lens. Others don’t want to struggle with its size and weight.
Therefore, this new option from Samyang will be very attractive because it is smaller, lighter and more affordable. The length is less than 10 cm and weighs 582 g without the lens cap and hood.
It’s perfectly sharp enough to capture the subtleties of portrait painting while delivering a soft and creamy bokeh and smooth transition between focused and defocused areas. The Samyang 85 mm offers a good balance between price and quality, offers good auto focus performance and image quality that is essentially almost perfect for portrait work.
In combination with the Samyang AF 85 mm f / 1.4 RF, I photograph the images in this test with the Godox AD200 Pro, the new AD300 Pro, the Magbox and other MagMod tools, a facility that I personally have no hesitation for recommend portrait photography.