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Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 RF Lens Review

John Riley reviews the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF - Samyang's latest 85mm lens for the full-frame Canon EOS RF system, with a bright f/1.4 aperture, and competitive price.

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Samyang AF 85mm F/1.4 RF
This new lens from Samyang is for the Canon EOS R-mount full-frame mirrorless system cameras. It offers a classic focal length that has always been thought of as the ideal portrait lens – longer than the standard 50mm and therefore giving an increased working distance for portraiture and the improved facial modelling that follows. The fast f/1.4 aperture also means that selective focus is easy to achieve and backgrounds can be thrown out of focus. Let's see how this works out in practice, using the 26MP Canon EOS RP full-frame body.


Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF Handling and Features

Samyang AF 85mm F/1.4 RF
The lens is chunky, but weighs in at a very modest 584g. A bayonet fit round lens hood is provided that clips securely into position and shows no sign of being able to be accidentally dislodged. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 77mm filter thread.

A wide manual focus ring is provided and this has an excellent ribbed finish that gives a solid and reliable grip. The manual focus action is rather firmer than most electronic rings, but not excessively so. Focusing is down to 0.9m, or 2.95 feet, a maximum magnification of 0.11x. This minimum focusing distance is as traditional as the 85mm f/1.4 specification is and does not approach the close focusing that zoom lens users have come to expect. No doubt there are good optical design reasons for this, but we are left with the feeling that it would be nice to be able to close in just a little more.
Samyang AF 85mm F/1.4 RF
The only other control is an AF/MF switch, which is self-explanatory. No IS (Image Stabilisation) is included, which may not be a deal-breaker for a short telephoto lens, but it is something that we are becoming increasingly used to finding, even on relatively inexpensive kit lenses. The usual recommendation is that for an 85mm lens the slowest handheld shutter speed should be around 1/85s, probably 1/100s or 1/125s. However, for the most critically sharp images, some sources suggest upping that speed to double that, say, 1/250s. This also depends of course very much on how steady the photographer is.

Optical construction is 11 elements in 8 groups, including 4 HR (High Refractive Index) and 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm has 9 blades, promising improved bokeh. The lens uses Samyang's UMC coating, already well-proven across their lens range.
Samyang AF 85mm F/1.4 RF
AF is achieved using a DLSM, Dual Linear Sonic Motor, which is fast, silent and accurate. One very welcome feature is the splashproof and dustproof weather sealing. Overall, the lens seems to be very well made.

A fast 85mm lens is a wonderful beast, the viewfinder image showing superb clarity and snapping very cleanly in and out of focus. There is one small point that is inherent in the overall design of the Canon R system and that is that when the camera/lens combination is placed on a flat surface it wobbles from side to side. This means that using such a surface as a camera support is not an effective technique. It is a consequence of the small size of the camera body and the very wide, chunky barrel of the lens.

Other than that, the lens is a beauty to handle and operates smoothly, efficiently and effectively.

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ChrisV 14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
10 Jun 2020 11:43AM
Looks like this is based on the Sony FE design. Would be interesting to compare between the marques - the Sony of course benefitting from IBIS, so there’s and obvious immediate advantage there.

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