Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 EF - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published September 2018

Introduction

Traditionally Samyang (also labelled Rokinon in the US) has been known to provide highly affordable but all manual lenses. However, a little while ago they started their journey into the mainstream by releasing a number of fully-coupled AF prime lenses initially starting with support for Sony E mount. If we can believe the feedback from the community, they have been quite successful so far. In this review, we'll have a look at their new Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 EF lens - targeting Canon EOS customers. While you may argue that the world doesn't need another 85mm lens, there is something special about this one - in comparison to its counterparts, it is TINY albeit that's just relatively speaking, of course. The Samyang lens has a length of merely 72mm compared to the 126mm of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART which may be its most obvious competitor. Weight-wise there's a similar difference. In fact, this lens is smaller and more light-weight than the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD which is a slower lens. At 700USD/600EUR it is also much more affordable than the rest of the f/1.4 league alternatives.

So you may ask yourself, whether there's is a catch because this may sound a little too good to be true. At least on the mechanical side, there isn't too much to worry about. The Samyang doesn't feel "substantial" but it is actually very well built. Of course, it helps that there isn't much that could go wrong anyway. The lens has a constant physical length without outer moving parts. Basic weather sealing is also provided. The focus ring operates smoothly. If anything, the lens hood feels a little cheap (as well as the packaging).

The Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 EF uses a linear, ultrasonic AF motor which is quite fast and silent. Unfortunately, we weren't really happy with its AF accuracy which was way off (back-focus) in our sample. Samyang is offering the so-called "lens station" (optional) for calibrating various parameters including the AF. That may have fixed the issue in our sample but it should have been correctly calibrated in the factory really. The AF was, of course, spot on in Live-View AF mode but that's not a mainstream thing on DSLRs. Similar to Canon's STM, the lens has a "focus-by-wire" system for manual focusing. While this approach may be unloved by some users, we didn't have any issues with this.

Specifications
Optical construction9 Elements in 7 groups inc. 1 hybrid-aspherical element
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.9m (1:9 max magnification)
Dimensions88x72mm
Weight 485g
Filter size φ77mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresWeather-sealing