Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Review

4.0
November 29, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is a portait prime lens for full-frame and APS-C DSLRs. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 is a much more affordable alternative to the Nikon and Canon equivalents thanks largely to being manual-focus only. Read our in-depth Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC review complete with full-size sample images.

The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is a very fast portrait lens for Canon, Nikon, Four-thirds, Pentax and Sony full-frame and APS-C DSLRs and Samsung NX compact system cameras. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 is a manual focus lens constructed of 9 lenses arranged in 7 groups, with multi-layered and anti-reflexive UMC coatings to help prevent ghosting and flare. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is available now priced at around £240 / $299.

Ease of Use

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCThe Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCThe Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens, isometric view

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCThe Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens, isometric view

For such a fast portrait prime, the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC isn't actually too big and bulky, measuring 8cms in length and wighing in at just over 500g. While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body or even Samsung NX body, it won't balance that well - as demonstrated by the images above, it's a better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the 5D Mark III.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCThe Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens fitted with the supplied lens hood

Build quality is very good, despite Samyang being a relative newcomer to the lens market. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC feels solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the filter thread appear to be made from plastic.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCFront of the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCFront of the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCFront of the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens

The focusing ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. As this is a manual focus lens only, there's a distance scale that runs from the closest distance of 1m to infinity (there's no depth of field scale though). Note that the action of the focusing ring is very stiff, much more so than the company's 35mm and 28mm lenses that we've recently tested, making it difficult to quickly and precisely focus on your subject.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCRear of the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens

 

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCFront of the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens, isometric view

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMCThe Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens, in-hand

At the base of the lens is an aperture ring, adjustable in 1 stop (1 EV) intervals, which has a definite clicking action.

The lens is supplied with a detachable petal shaped lens hood, lens caps and soft lens bag. The filter size is 72mm. Focusing is performed internally so the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC doesn't change length and the filter thread doesn't rotate, good news for filter users.

Note that the Canon version that we tested doens't have any electronic contacts for transferring exposure information to the camera body - there is a Nikon AE version available that can do this.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens - the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

Light Fall-off

With the lens wide open at f/1.4, you can see some noticeable light fall-off in the corners. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/4 or smaller.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

Macro

The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC is certainly not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 1m from the film/sensor plane. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Close-up performance

Bokeh Examples

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. One of the reason to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background, which is normally very hard to do with an ultrawide lens. Samyang was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 8 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC
   
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Samyang 85mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

lens, prime, telephoto, portrait, f1.4, people, 85mm, mf, manual focus, samyang, Samyang 85mm f1.4 ED AS UMC Review, 85 mm

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