Samyang may have started out with specialised low-cost manual focus prime lenses, but now it’s moving into mainstream photography with a series of autofocus lenses for top camera brands.
The latest is the AF 85mm f/1.4 EF for Canon full frame DSLRs. It will fit Canon’s APS-C models, where it offers an equivalent focal length of 136mm.
85mm prime lenses are popular with portrait photographers because they allow a comfortable shooting distance and natural-looking features, while a fast maximum aperture is helpful for shooting in low light and creating attractive background blur.
The Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 EF achieves both, but as well as being less expensive than Canon’s own offerings, it’s also unusually small and light for an 85mm f/1.4, which should make it easier to carry round and use over extended periods – it weighs just 485g and is only 72mm long (not including the lens hood).
It doesn’t have an image stabiliser, but it does have autofocus via what Samyang describes as an “upgraded” dual LSM motor.
The optical construction includes 9 elements in 7 groups and uses “hybrid” aspherical glass. You also get Ultra Multi Coating to eliminate ghosting and flare and weather sealing to cope with hostile shooting environments. The minimum focus distance is 90cm.
Canon makes an EF 85mm f1.8 USM that’s a little cheaper than the Samyang but half a stop slower and not one of its L-series lenses. The next step up from Canon is the new EF 85mm F1.4L IS USM, which has built in image stabilisation, but is much larger and costs way more at about £1,379.00/$1,599. If f/1.4 isn’t fast enough, you can get Canon’s massive EF 85mm f1.2 L II USM (not stabilised) for £1,729.00/$1,849.
More information: Samyang website