Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens Review & Buying Guide for Canon RF Mount

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Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

Samyang has specially designed a range of six autofocus lenses suitable for Full Frame Sony or Canon EOS R hybrids. Announced in May 2020, the Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF available at the low price is Samyang’s second AF lens in Canon RF mount (and more will hopefully follow).

Not too bulky nor too heavy, this 85mm Samyang offers excellent grip. No programmable setting ring here (I’m not a big fan anyway). The only control is the AF / MF switch, well placed in the usual place. As for the design: it is rather very successful. What do you think?

What I find interesting with this Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF is the combination of a large f/1.4 aperture and a compact and rather light build. Which is too rare, because many 85mm f/1.4 are almost “too powerful”… So unfortunately too cumbersome too. Which dissuades photographers from taking them to the field.

To finish the “presentations” its design is quite elaborate, with 11 elements in 8 groups including 4 high refraction (HR) lenses and a low dispersion (ED) glass lens. Its 9-blade diaphragm should produce a pleasant “bokeh”, which I let you appreciate in my example photos.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

On the Autofocus side, “two ultrasonic motors manage the AF while silently and quickly by moving a single optical unit”. Alright: we’ll test that. Seals provide basic protection for the Samyang RF 85mm f 1.4 AF against bad weather: well done.

We can say that the Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF forms a “fabulous team” with the Canon EOS R6. Whose stabilized sensor will bring that little “extra soul’, which will facilitate the work of beginners. Even in female hands, this 85 mm remains of reasonable size and easy to hold.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

Construction, Quality and Design

When you first get started: without being a light weight, the Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF seemed to me “neither too big, not too long”. With 584 gram only, for 9.7 cm long: it remains a size say very reasonable for an 85 mm f/1.4. Thanks to this kind of lenses, we begin to feel the interest of a Full Frame mount Mirrorless.

Unlike the old models of the Korean brand (around 2008), the metal construction has become superb and reassuring: the lens seems solid, built to last. A large plastic focus ring is quite pleasant to use. And the design is very elegant and clean. We are almost in the “premium” for a mid-range price. Add to this that the lens is tropicalized, we notice a rubberized seal at the back of the frame.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

I like to find a reasonable filter diameter of 77 mm at the front: like most Canon EF pro zoom lenses. Which makes this diameter common and inexpensive, besides you probably already have several filters of this diameter.

The AF/MF button placed on the left is firm enough. Once in Manual Focus, a large ring electrically controls the focus. On the Canon EOS R focusing aid “Forks” (a very efficient and attractive device). But we notice the absence of the distance scale, (which normally appears at this time with RF lenses when used in the MF position. Certainly a relative impossibility of communication between the lens and the device).

The good idea is to have this AF / MF button placed in the axis of the “white” mark used to orient the lens when it is mounted on the camera (this is also the case with certain Canon RF lenses). The AF / MF button will serve as a tactile cue (more effective than the white cue), when you want to change the lens in the dark.

And I take this opportunity to recall this little parenthesis that has nothing to do with this Samyang: I noticed that with Canon RF lenses and EOS, I still have a little trouble visualizing the right position lenses when I change them in the dark. This is because the old “raised red point” of EF lenses for reflex cameras has been replaced by a simple red mark, which is no longer “raised” and which I find too discreet. The solution therefore consists in using the AF / MF button as a marker (visual and tactile), instead. See to sticking a small red sticker in the right place.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

A Pleasant Grip

The Samyang 85 f 1.4 AF Canon RF mount is very well balanced: this is important for a lens that you may want to use for street photography (not just studio portrait).

As it does not sting with the nose, it remains suitable for a “low” grip: in prolonged counter or one grabs the handle “like a pickaxe handle” and or one releases with the thumb (placed on the trigger) while framing the screen.

With only 584 gram for 9.7 cm, the Samyang RF 85mm is not too big, nor too long. It is almost twice as light as the incredible Canon RF 85 mm f/1.2 L USM which weighs 1,190 gram and which is a professional tool.

If you’re used to roaming around with the excellent RF 25-105mm f/4 L IS USM zoom (700 gram) You’ll notice that the Samyang 85mm is a bit shorter and a bit lighter. Which will encourage you to use it almost as often as your basic zoom. The diameter of its barrel is a few millimeters larger. The two share the same diameters of filters and 77 mm lens caps which are interchangeable and it is much more practical like that. The Samyang is also delivered with an excellent “clip” cap like the barrel cap.

But (soon), it will above all be necessary to compare the size of this Samyang RF 85 mm f/1.4 AF to that of the recent Canon RF 85 mm f/2 Macro IS STM, which is offered at exactly the same very low price. Canon’s RF 85mm f/2 only opens at f/2; but it is even lighter, with only 500 gram (it is 14% lighter). A very good surprise and it’s nice to see that Canon has finally understood what most photographers expect. Canon has decided to give a real successor to the ancient (and much appreciated) EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, we will see it soon.

It is therefore a safe bet that this Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM will be an essential lens and a strong opponent for the Samyang RF 85mm AF. It will probably benefit from two very interesting advantages: the integrated IS stabilization (at least for beginners). And a minimum focusing distance of only 35 cm which will significantly increase the background blur (the bokeh increases by reducing the focusing distance), while the Samyang is satisfied with 90 cm, which I find could be improved.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

Beautiful metal construction for the only two Samyang AF in RF mount, with the exception of the focusing ring which remains in rigid plastic (no rubberized feel unlike Canon).

I still want to specify (before going to the tests), that I have for my EOS 5D R a Canon EF 85mm f/1.4 L IS USM lens (950 gram for 10.54 cm long) that I like much. Which is also one of the most recent professional EFs and one of the most efficient and which I also compared with the Samyang, by placing it on the EOS R, thanks to the adapter ring.

The addition of this EF / RF ring unfortunately increases its weight by an additional 272 gram. We thus arrive at a total of 1222 gram (i.e. more than double the weight of the Samyang). Add about 2.4cm of ring length, which when mounted on an EOS R: brings the total length to around 13 cm (so around 3cm longer than the Samyang). Faced with this rather long and somewhat unbalanced assembly towards the front: we can see the interest of the new RF versions which benefit from new optimized optical formulas. What a long way since 2017.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

The weight and length savings allowed by the Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF or Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM, are really welcome. And I will probably sell my EF 85mm f/1.4 L IS USM therefore. Combined with the incredible advancements in AF (with eye tracking) on ​​the very latest generations of Full Frame hybrids, it has almost become a cinch to shoot super-wide aperture portraits. While not long ago: it was still a difficult exercise, even for professionals.

Ultimate and final comparison (just for the sake of form): the Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF is almost twice as light as the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art which weighed 1,131 gram for a length of 12.6 cm, and which was very (too) imposing. Yet it was one of the best 85mm f/1.4 reflex that I have tried: but I now find it totally outdated.

No Stabilization in the Lens, Okay?

Of course, this Samyang RF 85 mm f/1.4 AF does not have any stabilization device in the lens (unlike the small Canon RF 85 mm f/2 Macro IS STM). It will therefore be more comfortable on the EOS R5 and R6, than on the EOS R.

However, I tested it on both devices and personally I do very well without stabilization (I was used to the old Sigma 85mm f/1.4 unstabilized). Since I know how to respect the rule of “One on the focal”. You should be fine too, because you are not more stupid than me. It will suffice to forbid you speeds lower than 1/100 sec. And “breathe well”, before triggering by blocking your breathing, feet a little apart.

As you can see from these few examples below: I was able to take very sharp images at reasonably low speeds, up to 1/25 sec freehand (without a foot): the first on the left. However for a very clear landscape, I preferred to “ensure” while remaining at a more traditional 1/200 sec (right image). You can also click on it to assess the sharpness. For this purpose, I exported these images in 3000 pixels. On the enlarged view, a second click on the round button (visible at the top right of the image) will suffice.

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Lens

A Design Specifically Intended for Full Frame Hybrids

We would have possibly appreciated that the lens hood (in plastic) was a little shorter and secured by a latch. However it holds really well in place. The red border is reminiscent of the L Series lenses (Luxury) from Canon: Samyang could have refrained from using this “code”, normally reserved for professional models (but we will forgive them for this little daring).

The design of the Samyang 85 f/1.4 AF Canon RF Mount is a specific design for Full Frame hybrids. And this is not a variation of a lens designed for SLRs. Moreover, there is a Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Autofocus EF mount for EOS SLRs, but it has a very different: it is strangely “very short”.

When we see the Autofocus range offered by Samyang (especially in Sony FE mount): we hope that in Korea, we hurry to offer variations of these lenses for Canon RF.

A bit like Sigma already offers, I suppose that this lens should be able to receive Firmware updates (accessible on this page), thanks to a physical accessory: the Samyang Lens Station RF (link here at Samyang and available here at Amazon). A base similar to this Samyang Lens Station Sony E mount.

General Image Quality

The geometry is quite good: hardly a slight barrel distortion effect. This is usually not a concern on 85mm lenses. Chromatic aberrations (if any) are inconspicuous enough to appear invisible.

The sharpness in the center of the image is already good from the largest aperture (f/1.4). And it becomes downright excellent from f/2.8: that’s reassuring. And on the edges, the quality is also quite good at f/1.4 and gradually improves, peaking at f/11. Beyond that it starts to soften a bit because of diffraction.

Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

Of course, there is a lot of vignetting in the corners at the widest opening, but it is quite clear all the same. The vignetting (which is easy to correct in post-processing) gradually fades and disappears completely at f/5.6.

As you can see from the bottom line views, closing at f/8: there is a lot of detail everywhere. Including on the edges of the image. And a little less on the view at f/16 where the diffraction starts to be a little noticeable.

Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

Considering the quality of this sharpness: to make the landscape I will tend to prefer the resolution of 30 mega pixel of the EOS R (above) in order to exploit the sharpness of the lens, preferably to the 20 Mpix of the ‘EOS R6. This is because I know how to control my minimum speed and deal with the non-stabilization of the sensor on the EOS R.

And because I also know how to overcome the small ergonomic flaws of the EOS R ( Test of the Canon EOS R and the RF 35 mm f/1.8 IS). I recall in passing that I have personalized the keys, for example: the Exposure Memorization key allows me to change ISO. And the AF / On key allows me to alternate On-Shoot and AI-Servo Modes. However, I would recommend all beginners to prefer the EOS R6 (for its exemplary ergonomics), rather than the EOS R.

Do not expect to escape on this 85mm Samyang the phenomenon of “focus breathing”: remember that this is an effect of change of field angle (or change of focal length) when changing the focus distance point. If you want to escape it, you’ll have to spend a lot more than that and go for the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM. It will especially be the videographers who will pay attention to this “detail” (this remains a detail for photographers).

There is also a little flare, facing the sun, but here is a fault, which will please some. I let you discover some images below, taken with the Canon EOS R of 30 Mpixels. I have not carried out any scientific tests on the test pattern, my final opinion being that it is “quite clean enough for what I want to do with it”.

No Correction of Vignetting in the Box

Apparently the boxes EOS R EOS EOS R5 and R6: do not propose fixes vignetting, chromatic aberration, or geometry for JPEG taken with this model 85mm. Unlike Samyang 14mm f/2.8 AF RF mount.

What I don’t find annoying, as I work in RAW. However, those who film, or work in JPEG will prefer a Canon model, in order to benefit from these improvements “in camera”.

You can see below on the first 4 images: that the presence of the Samyang RF 85mm f/1.4 AF is well detected by the EOS R6. But that image corrections are not available to that.

Photo n° 10: In Video Mode on the EOS R6 as on the EOS R: I noticed that the Correction of distortion in the camera is indicated as “not available” (in 4K mode as in Full HD). While Chromatic Aberration Correction and Vignette Correction, are well marked as “Available”.

Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

A Minimum Focusing Distance of 90 cm

The average focusing distance of 90 cm, would perhaps be the small weak point of this lens. Especially for photographers who appreciate very tight portraits. Cutting off heads is moreover something that I am often criticized for, but I am not shocked (well each his style).

It will therefore be necessary to do with these 90 cm which frustrate me a little (without being prohibitive). But in any case nothing prevents to crop your images afterwards. If you want a higher magnification, then it will certainly be necessary try the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM, which is offered at the same very low price. This Canon 85mm only opens at f/2 (note that it is also 14% lighter than the Samyang: with only 500 gram). Logically: at 90 cm from your subject it will therefore produce less bokeh at f/2 than the Samyang at f/1.4. But it will probably produce a lot more, as soon as you get closer to your subject, up to 35cm for the Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM.

I have personally compared with my Canon EF 85mm f/1.4 L IS USM, which has a focus distance of 85cm (which was already 10cm better than the 85mm f/1.2 L USM II). Well: these 5 small centimeters, it’s not a big difference on paper. But you can feel it a bit when you shoot it, so I let you imagine if the focus distance drops to only 35 cm.

Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

I focused on the Canon logo of the EOS R6, each time approaching as close as possible: just before the AF stopped working. Besides the difference in magnification of the subject (which is not huge), it also seems to me that I noticed a bit more “marked” bokeh in the background. It’s light, but it’s theoretically normal: the greater the distance focus is reduced, the more the blur increases.

Aperture f/1.4 VS f/4

why would you need to supplement your 24-105mm f/4 with an 85mm wide aperture? Well, the answer is possibly below:

Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

Efficient Autofocus

The AF system of this Samyang is rather fast, ultra precise and very quiet, which makes it really pleasant to use. The AF works perfectly with the eye detection and tracking system of the Canon EOS R and EOS R6 with which I tested and it’s pretty great for portrait lenses. We do not have the impression that this is a lens of another brand. What a long way Samyang has come since that time when they only produced manual focus lenses.

Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

Conclusion

Bokeh galore, sharpness more than enough, a weight and a size contained, a reasonable budget and an efficient autofocus: for most photographers this is the program of an excellent lens. And for me too.

We will therefore easily forgive the Samyang 85 mm: a minimum focusing distance not exciting, a strong vignetting at large aperture (which is very easy to correct if necessary) and a certain sensitivity to Flare in the face of the sun (is it really? a defect? ​​It is even sought after by some).

For owners of EOS R or RP (the first generations without a stabilized sensor), it will be more difficult to ignore the lack of stabilization in the lens. Although: with a little method and know-how, we will always get by. If you are more of a beginner and do not have sensor stabilization (EOS R or RP): then the Canon Rf 85 mm f/2 IS STM will tempt you, because it is stabilized.

Precisely, the latter was not available at the time of my Samyang test, but clearly these two 85 mm there, are aimed at the same audience. And the choice between the two is going to be difficult.

Samyang 85mm

See The Price & Buy it on Amazon

The availability of this 85mm Samyang, just like that of the 14mm ultra wide angle, is therefore “to be considered” for Canon EOS R users. Along with the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM, the new Canon RF 85mm f/2 IS STM and RF 600 and 800mm (announced this July)…

It is true that we do not yet have a very wide choice of “cheap” fixed objectives so far. Certainly on the entry-level zoom side, we are a little more spoiled with two RF 24-105 mm and one RF 24-240 mm… But often the amateurs of fixed focal lengths will be forced to use EF lenses, mounted on the EF / RF adapter ring… Except for the 85 mm.

Pro

  • Aesthetic design
  • Anti-runoff construction
  • Fast and precise autofocus
  • Excellent Pique
  • Negligible distortion
  • Fairly reduced flare
  • Controlled vignetting beyond f/2.8
  • Nice bokeh
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Minimum distance of M.AP. medium (90 cm)
  • No integrated stabilization
  • No programmable ring (not that annoying)
  • Strong enough vignetting at f/1.4 (easy to correct)

Here is a very nice lens which is not too expensive: as there are not many in RF mount, this Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF could become a must for Canonists… Especially since its design is a great success.

Its very wide aperture of f/1.4 is an excellent asset, combined with a very good general sharpness. Some owners of EOS R or RP (this first generation being devoid of stabilized sensors), may regret the absence of a stabilization device integrated in the lens. Although: with a little method and know-how, we will always get by.

On the other hand, owners of EOS R5 and R6 will benefit from the stabilization of the sensor. The autofocus of this 85 mm, proved to be very effective: as much with the EOS R, as with the EOS R6. It is really a very positive point.

Note that the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF does not have an adjustment ring (programmable). This does not bother me at all since it is now easy to program many keys on the EOS R. As for the EOS R5 and EOS R6: they already have three knobs (front, top and rear).

I have not been able to compare (for the moment) this Samyang model opening at f/1.4, with its main competitor: the Canon RF 85 mm f/2 IS macro STM which only opens at f/2, but has of two interesting advantages. A shorter focusing distance and on-board stabilization (which can work “in conjunction” with the stabilized sensor of the EOS R5 and R6).

The average focusing distance of 90 cm, would perhaps be the small weak point of this Samyang 85 mm f/1.4 AF. Especially for photographers who appreciate very tight portraits, or for photo enthusiasts gastronomic for example. But that will not bother everyone.

In the end, I really enjoyed this lens and recommend it to you.

Appendix

A Little History of Samyang: Do not confuse Samyang Optical Co. Ltd: the manufacturer of lenses whose origin dates back to 1972 ( history of the company here). With Samyang Food, which is a of the biggest ramen maker in Korea: another Korean institution.

Their first lens for SLR cameras was an 85mm in 2009. The first 14mm f/2.8 manual for reflex (which I had bought in Canon EF version) had made the Samyang brand widely known in Europe (called Rokinon in the USA) from 2010.

From 2014 Samyang also offered Micro 4/3 lenses. Then from 2018 a full range of Mirrorless Full Frame lenses is under development.

Technical Specificities

Focal length85 mm
Opening rangeF1.4 – F16
Image Coverage24x36mm
Field of view28.9 °
Focus Range0.90 m to infinity
No. blades diaph.9
Construction11 elements in 8 groups, 4 high refraction (HR) lenses, 1 extra low dispersion (ED) lens.
Max magnification0.11x
Length99.5 mm
Diam. max Diam. filtered88 mm 77 mm
MountCanon RF
SealsYes
AF / MF switchYes
Weight582 gm without caps and lens hood.

See the Price & Buy on Amazon

TECHNICAL SHEET

Sensor coverageFull format (full frame – 24x36mm)
Opening rangeF1.4 – F22
Optical construction11 elements 8 groups
Minimum focus distance0.9m
Field of view28.9 ° FF
No. of diaphragm9
Weight568gm
Guarantee2 years
Filter diameter77mm
Accessories includedPlugs, Carrying case, Sun visor
Focal85mm
FocusAutofocus (AF)
Photo By - Samyang 85mm
Photo By – Samyang 85mm

Rating: Samyang 85mm f/1.4 AF Canon RF Mount

CONSTRUCTION AND FINISH81%
HANDLING AND ERGONOMICS88%
DISCRETION, COMPACTNESS, SILENCE AND WEIGHT82%
GENERAL OPTICAL QUALITY86%
IMAGE SHARPNESS90%
AUTOFOCUS RESPONSIVENESS AND SPEED95%
FEATURES AND VERSATILITY80%
OPTICAL RANGE (OTHER LENSES IN THE RANGE)90%
PRICE RELEVANCE92%