Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review

John Riley reviews the new Samyang 85mm f/1.2 bright prime lens for full-frame Canon cameras.

| Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 in Interchangeable Lenses
BUY NOW SAMYANG Premium MF 85mm f/1.2

Handling and Features
Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review: Samyang 85mm 1 2 Premium MF

Samyang are well established as a manufacturer of well made, reasonably priced lenses. The new 14mm f/2.4 and 85mm f/1.2 lenses are a new venture, forming the start of a Premium Lens range where the objective is to produce the highest quality optics. We now look at the 85mm f/1.2, putting it through its paces to see how it lives up to the intent and indeed to see if its quality matches that of the already reviewed and highly recommended 14mm f/2.4 lens.


One image can change us.

A picture, a moment can change the way we feel. Change how we see ourselves. Change our understanding and change the rules. Provoke and change history.

MPB Gear

MPB puts photo and video kit into more hands, more sustainably. Every month, visual storytellers sell more than 20,000 cameras and lenses to MPB. Choose used and get affordable access to kit that doesn’t cost the earth.

Sell the kit you’re not using to MPB. Trade in for the kit you need to create. Buy used, spend less and get more.

Buy. Sell. Trade. Create.

MPB Start Shopping

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Handling and Features

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review: Samyang 85mm F1,2 On Canon 5d Mark IV

This full frame lens is a hefty and somewhat bulky beast, unsurprising with its massive f/1.2 aperture. Weight is a hefty 1050g, but it balances well on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV used for this review. It is available in Canon EF mount only.

The 86mm filter thread is surrounded by a bayonet fit for the generously sized round lens hood. This fits easily and smoothly, with a firm click stop to hold it in position. The hood bayonet and filter thread are on a fixed outer tube, the entire optical unit moving in and out within it to achieve focus. This means that the front element recedes into the lens barrel as we focus towards infinity, making the effective hood even deeper at this point.

The focusing ring is wide and comfortable, being made of a rubberised material. The grip it affords is excellent, but this also means that dust and debris can easily attach themselves. This is not easy to remove. There are clear markings in feet and metres, but no depth of field scale. Focusing is down to 0.8m, a maximum magnification of 0.13x. Apart from a well machined and well fitting metal mount, nothing else adorns the lens.

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review: Samyang 85mm F1,2 With Hood On Canon 5d Mark IV

Optical construction is 10 elements in 7 groups. There are 1 aspherical and two high refractive index elements. The diaphragm has 9 blades, the aim being to improve the bokeh, the smoothness of the out of focus areas in an image. With a short telephoto lens this effect is certain to be enhanced anyway, but a more circular aperture will help.

This a manual focus lens, so ultimately the quality achieved will depend very much on accuracy of focusing. The advantage of having such a bright f/1.2 aperture is that the viewfinder image is also bright, so this will aid our vision. The human eye is not particularly good at finding the point of focus with a lens, but at least at f/1.2 and with a telephoto the image does snap in and out more positively. It will depend on the individual, but for those who are happy with manual focus this lens will seem a pleasure to use. There is a counter argument that says the depth of field is so small at f/1.2 that focusing accurately is actually very difficult, and at that brightest setting that may well be true. Nailing the focus point at f/1.2 can be tricky, but when it's right it is highly effective. At smaller apertures, depth of field will cover small errors anyway and in normal circumstances the lens is very easy to focus.

Apart from focusing issues, if any, then there are no handling problems and the lens is indeed a pleasure to shoot with.

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review: Samyang 85mm F1,2 Rear Oblique View

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Performance

Sharpness is of a very high order, as befits a Premium lens range. Centrally, sharpness is excellent from f/1.2 right through to f/11. Diffraction takes the edge off slightly at f/16 but the results are still very good.

At the edges, we have a very good result at f/1.2 and f/2 and then excellent sharpness from f/2.8 through to f/11. This is still very good at f/16.

Peak performance is at f/5.6, and there is a very impressive evenness across the frame. In fact at middle apertures the edges match the central sharpness very closely.


Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review: Samyang 85mm F1 2 MTF Chart
MTF Chart

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.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV using Imatest.

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is well under control centrally and very acceptable at the edges. Most images show no signs of colour fringing. If deemed necessary, further reduction of CA can always be made in software.


Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Lens Review: Samyang 85mm F1 2 CA Chart
CA Chart

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 Canon EOS 5D Mark IV using Imatest.

There are no signs of flare under any circumstances, the coatings, design and excellent lens hood all playing their part.

As expected of a short telephoto, there is a small amount of pincushion distortion, measuring +0.571%. This is a commendably low amount and easily corrected further in software if required. It is unlikely that further correction will be necessary for most images.

Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus areas in an image. With a telephoto lens and its differential focusing the effect is enhanced anyway. The smoothness of the bokeh is excellent and the defocused backgrounds make the perfect backdrop to portraits in particular. Although the depth of field at f/1.2 is miniscule, and hence the focus point difficult to hit on the eyes, when it is achieved the results are beautiful.

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Sample Photos

Value For Money

The Samyang 85mm f/1.2 lens is priced at £899, and is available in Canon EF fit only. The only competition is from Canon themselves, with the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM at £1649.

Given that there are no other 85mm f/1.2 optics the only other alternative is to look at 85mm f/1.4 lenses, of which there are plenty for most marques, but if that f/1.2 aperture is what we want then the Samyang offers a very keenly priced alternative to the Canon.

To put pricing in perspective, for Canon we have the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 IF MC (£259), Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (£1199), Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 (£1379) and Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 (£3299). These are also available for other marques.

To complete the picture, Nikon users have the choice of the above lenses, plus the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G at £1349. Sony users have the Sony 85mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T* (£1109) and, for the mirrorless cameras, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master (£1649).

Even against the f/1.4 lenses the Samyang f/1.2 is looking very good value. For more options have a look at the Top 10 Best Samyang Lenses or the Top 27 Best Portrait Lenses.


Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Verdict

Samyang have here a great lens. Superb performance, substantially less cost than the one alternative or most of the f/1.4 alternatives and, provided we are happy with manual focusing, a really viable option.

Of course, the question of whether or not the f/1.2 aperture offers much advantage over f/1.4 is another matter and then it depends on the type of shooting we do and what we want. However, in this case the quality is so good that the brighter aperture equally well offers no disadvantage and Samyang are offering us a very attractive lens at a very attractive price.

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Very low CA
  • Flare free
  • Good handling
  • Well made
  • Smooth bokeh

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Cons

  • Manual focus only
  • No weather resistance

Overall Verdict

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
Focal Length85mm
Angle of View28.52°
Max Aperturef/1.2
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size86mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnification0.13x
Min Focus80cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

View Full Product Details

Buy Now


Sell or trade used photo and video kit with MPB

With MPB you can get a free instant quote for the kit you want to sell, including a trade-in all-in-one transaction - no need for callbacks or waiting for an email quote. Then, if you decide to sell, MPB will pick up your kit with a free insured DPD collection and you’ll get paid cash into your account within days. MPB will also keep you informed about the status of your gear at every step of the way and the whole process is carbon neutral.

Sell your unwanted gear with MPB

Amazon US Logo

We don't have the latest price however the link below will take you to the most relevant items.

Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 SEARCH
MPB Logo

We transform the way that people buy, sell and trade in photo and video kit.

Highest price recorded £899.99 the lowest price £472.52

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.


Other articles you might find interesting...

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Lens Review
Sigma AF 23mm f/1.4 Lens Review - X Mount
Sigma AF 100-400mm f/5-6.3 Lens Review - X Mount
Nikon Z 70-180mm f/2.8 Lens Review
Nikkor Z DX 24mm F/1.7 Lens Review
Fujifilm XF 8mm F/3.5 Review
Best Third Party Nikon F Lenses (DSLR)
Astrodesign & Samyang Join The L-Mount Alliance


LenShepherd Avatar
LenShepherd 15 4.7k United Kingdom
18 Nov 2016 8:42PM
To the best of my knowledge there are no current DSLR's which display an f1.2 lens viewfinder brightness or depth of field effect wider than f2.2, whatever the widest aperture of the lens.
While live view displays the narrower depth of field of an f1.2 lens at f1.2 on the rear monitor it "averages out" monitor brightness electronically so that 2.8 normally has the same liveview screen brightness as f1.2.
With this in mind my advice is do not expect to see a brighter screen or narrower depth of field effect than f2.2 using a 24x36 format DSLR or f2.5 with a crop sensor DSLR using this f1.2 lens.
The rest of the review seems fine.
johnriley1uk Avatar
18 Nov 2016 10:54PM
I'm not so sure that our eyes are good enough, as mentioned in the review. Suffice it to say that at least on the 5D Mark IV the viewfinder image is bright and snappy. The live view image is of course the same brightness, but it has enough pixels to make focusing as accurate as manual focusing can be expected to be.
LenShepherd Avatar
LenShepherd 15 4.7k United Kingdom
19 Nov 2016 8:43AM

Quote:I'm not so sure that our eyes are good enough, as mentioned in the review. Suffice it to say that at least on the 5D Mark IV the viewfinder image is bright and snappy.

Nobody is disputing the viewfinder can be bright and snappy.
What some seem not to be aware of is the viewfinder exit acts like a second aperture and has the effect of limiting what can be seen through it.
There are small variations between models and brands as to what the limit is, but it is typically f2.2 on 24x36 digital and f2.5 on a crop sensor body.
Bright and snappy the viewfinder image should be, but not brighter than with an f2 lens.
A possibility is you may not have compared the brightness of a viewfinder first with an f2 lens and then with an f1.4 lens.
All that is needed is to look through the viewfinder with an f1.4 lens attached, to operate depth of field preview, to gradually stop down the lens from f1.4 and to note the aperture setting at which the viewfinder starts to get darker and the depth of field effect increases. You can confirm your result by setting the aperture at f1.8 on the Canon body, pressing depth of field preview and noting if the screen darkens. If you perceive no change in brightness (as I am sure you will not) between f1.4, f1.6, f1.8 and f2 maybe you will update your review.
Even the original OM1 viewfinder showed no brightness difference wider than f2.
johnriley1uk Avatar
19 Nov 2016 2:54PM
It's not really relevant in one way to the lens, which is what was being reviewed, but I have had a look at what you are saying and run a few impromptu tests. To be more scientific I would want to actually measure the brightness in some way, but by eye I can observe that with the camera and lens combination and with my eyes I can observe a slight difference in brightness between f/1.2 and f/2, just about. The effect becomes larger with smaller apertures, but then again the response of the eye also varies and the mix of rods and cones changes with light level. It's interesting, but in a practical sense it doesn't alter how the lens focuses and whether or not it is easy or difficult to see that point of focus. More to all things that meets the eye? The conclusion I reached asks the question as to whether there is any advantage over an f/1.4 lens, but as before I can't see any disadvantage so the lens remains excellent value for money. Many thanks for raising an interesting issue. As an afterthought, I can add that I have never in my life been able to judge DOF with a 35mm-format screen, and that hasn't changed. For me, it's just too small for that.
ChrisV Avatar
ChrisV 16 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
20 Nov 2016 1:25PM
Could it be the best camera to use this lens with would actually be a Sony A7? (I was going to say A7II, but autofocus doesn't matter in this case). You'd match the IQ and have the benefit of peaking to nail the focus point at extreme apertures.
johnriley1uk Avatar
20 Nov 2016 3:08PM
It will be interesting to see if Samyang bring out a version for Sony FE fit in due course. For now, it's Canon EF only. The 14mm f/2.4 is available in more mount options.
ChrisV Avatar
ChrisV 16 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
21 Nov 2016 9:09AM
Yeah I know that John - I meant with a mount adapter. The A7II is reported to handle some of Canon's glass better (more detail in most cases, better DR and noise handling and faster focus) than native bodies. Though you won't get AF (obviously), focus peaking would be a big advantage with this lens. You'd get that too with other mirrorless+adapter, but it's pretty pointless
Going to a smaller format with such a large optic
f_alao Avatar
f_alao 6
2 Mar 2017 9:11PM
hello I have a question. Can this lens be used with the sony a7R mark ii?

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.