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Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Lens Review

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Samsung 85mm lens, with a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture and silent focusing motor.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Samsung NX 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA
Price : £800
Rating :
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
NX 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA

This telephoto prime lens for Samsung NX mirrorless camera sports a fast f/1.4 maximum aperture and a silent focusing motor that allows manual focus adjustments to be applied at any time.

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Handling and features

Due to the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture, this lens is quite large when paired with a mirrorless camera, although it remains reasonably lightweight at around 450g, and so balances fairly well on the Samsung NX20 body used for testing.

Autofocus is very quick for a lens of this type, locking onto static subjects almost instantly with enough accuracy to make good use of the shallow depth of field created by the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture. The manual focusing ring has a smooth action and is well damped, which makes applying fine focus adjustments relatively straightforward. It can be grabbed at any time during autofocus and adjusted manually. Closest focus is 81cm, which is fairly typical for a lens of this type.

A 67mm filter thread is supplied, which does not rotate during focusing. This makes the lens ideal for use with graduated or polarising filters. High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens' construction and the lens mount is metal, which helps to convey an overall impression of good build quality.

Samsung NX 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Performance

At maximum aperture, sharpness across the frame is already good and stopping down the aperture improves clarity across the frame, reaching very good levels by f/2 and excellent levels by f/2.8. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved between f/4 and f/8 where sharpness in the centre of the frame is outstanding, and approaching that level towards the edges.

Resolution @ 85mm
Resolution @ 85mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Samsung NX20 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled, with extremely low levels recorded at wider apertures. This low level of CA increases as the aperture is stopped down, but still doesn't reach the point where fringing may be too much of an issue, even at f/16.

CHromatic aberration @ 85mm
Chromatic aberration @ 85mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Samsung NX20 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is incredibly well controlled for a lens with such a bright maximum aperture. At f/1.4 the corners are only 0.524 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/2.

Very little distortion is present in images taken with this lens. Imatest could only detect 0.51% pincushion distortion. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make applying any corrections in image editing software a straightforward affair.

Contrast is good with this lens although shooting results in a visible reduction. Light sources just outside the frame can cause flare quite easily if the supplied hood isn't used, so it is probably a good idea to leave it attached at all times.

Samsung NX 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA Sample Photos


Value for Money

Samsung currently have a virtual monopoly on lenses for their NX system, as there are very few third party manufactures producing lenses for their cameras. This lens is available for around £800, which certainly isn't cheap, but is quite reasonable for an 85mm lens with an f/1.4 maximum aperture.

Samyang currently produce a manual focus 85mm f/1.4 lens, which can be picked up for around £240, which is certainly a lot cheaper if you can live without the convenience of autofocus.

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Verdict

The sharpness this lens delivers is excellent, and although the price may be high when compared to other Samsung NX lenses, it isn't when compared to 85mm f/1.4 lenses from the likes of Nikon or Sony.

Those looking for an excellent quality telephoto lens for their NX system camera, ideally suited for low light shooting and for creating shallow depth of field effects, as you may do when taking portraits, might not have that many options to choose from. However, this lens should certainly not be overlooked.

The Samsung 85mm f/1.4 lens has good sharpness at the maximum aperture, and is excellent when stopped down.

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Pros

Good sharpness at maximum aperture
Excellent sharpness when stopped down
Good build quality
Low chromatic aberration

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA NX Cons

May be too bulky for the most compact NX system cameras
Can be prone to flare

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Samsung NX 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA Specifications

ManufacturerSamsung
General
Lens Mounts
  • Samsung NX
Lens
Focal Length85mm
Angle of View18.8
Max Aperturef/1.4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalent130.9mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus82cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
Blades9
Elements10
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsPouch & Lens Hood
Dimensions
Weight696g
Height92.2mm

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