14th September 2015, Singapore – I am sure many of you would have known that recently the Singapore Distributor of Samyang Lenses had sent me many Samyang lenses to my doorstep. Till today, I still think that was a really cool marketing idea keeping me and my subscribers in suspense and doing what no other lens manufacturer had ever done before. That could mean something, the new distributor Alan Photo Trading (Singapore) is doing something right and refreshing and that could also means a fresh renewed interest on this somewhat low profile lens brand.
As the brand name suggest, (and no prize for guessing) Samyang is from South Korea. Although the brand also market their lenses in different other brand names in different parts of the world, Samyang had carved out a good following in Singapore. And the recent rise in Sony’s a7 series mirrorless full frame cameras – Samyang is in the best position to take advantage of Sony’s unique “focus peaking” function. By now, most photographers in Singapore know that all Samyang lenses are manual-focusing lenses – means, there is no focusing motor inside the lens construction and you have to use your hands (or fingers) to manually focus the lens.
At first, this came as challenge to me. Being very used to auto-focusing all these years sure puts me in an awkward position. Looking at all the lenses that were issued to me, I decided to pick up the 85mm f1.4 to start off my series of Samyang reviews. To make things interesting, I roped in a professional portrait photographer to do the review together. He is none other than Mr. Ross Velantine Errol, an acclaimed professional in Singapore.
Now, many would think and will even directly compare the Samyang 85mm F1.4 to the well-known and highly-prized (or priced) Canon EF 85mm F1.2L USM or equally sharp and reasonably priced cult lens Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG. But then again, what are you comparing on? Price? Definitely, since optics are not cheap to begin with but Samyang up the ante by giving you a much sharper lens – except that you have to focus yourself.
Ross shared; “Using the focus-peaking function on my Sony a7s, I find that manual focusing was not that difficult at all. In fact, the focusing ring was smoothing and well-ratio-ed making focusing really easy and accurate. You might argue that you will rather pay more to get an auto-focusing version from other brands but hey, you are paying 4 times more and that is a lot of money. For your Canon 85mm F1.2, I can buy 4 Samyang 85mm F1.4 (and who uses F1.2 anyway?). Try to auto-focus on your AF 85mm at a spot/ scene with 50% light and 50% shadows and see how your AF lens hunt. Using the focus-peaking function, I got my shot in seconds. “
By the way, this current version of Samyang 85mm F1.4 is a MarkII and made for Full frame sensors. The lens had been redesigned and updated moving away from its “Nikon-ish” look from the 1st generation and nothing was compromised in the construction and design of the MarkII. Designed as an 8-blader, the circular aperture produces beautiful bokehs that portrait photographers will die for. The “AS” in the lens model code stands for Samyang’s Hybrid Aspherical Glass, the “IF” stands for Internal Focusing and the “UMC” stands for Ultra Multi-Coatings.
Photo: Professional Photographer Ross Velantine Errol
Ross further shared that; “The lens feels expensive when handled and certainly purposeful. The solid construction of the lens barrel reminded me of a certain Zesis lenses and personally I like the focusing ring very much. Smooth, easy to focus and the ratio is just right. I got my shots easily and accurately every time and this is definitely a joy for me. (Remember I only use Auto-focus lenses until the day I got properly introduced to Samyang). The Aspherical glass promises high contrasts and sharp images and if you look at the lens group construction 9 elments in 7 groups), the aspherical glass are placed very near to the rear lens element so that it is nearer to the sensor and eliminates all ghostings from stray lights right before the light enters the sensor. Quite brilliant if you ask me.”
The lens aperture focuses from a wide F1.4 to the minimum at F22 which is pretty standard and the minimum focusing distance is about 1 meter from the subject making this lens a true blue portrait lens. A meter means you can do head shots portraits at wide open and still get a well-balanced sharp-at-the right-spot-and-soft-at-the-wrong-spots image!
Photo: Shot using the Samyang 85mm F1.4 AS IF UMC by Ross Velantine Errol
Weight wise, it is very manageable at about 100gm (weight varies for various mounts) and the size is very compact at a maximum length of just 570mm (without hood). The Samyang 85mm F1.4 takes 72mm screw on filters at the front and the lens hood is provided in the retail box.
“This is probably one of the best of the best portrait lens that money can buy. And for the asking price, this lens is a great value for money lens. I love it when its mounted on my Sony a7 series cameras, the sharpness at wide open is out of this world.”
I concur with what Ross had said. You won’t find another 85mm F1.4 like this – trust me.
The Samyang 85mm F1,4 is shipped in various mounts – Canon EF, Canon M, Nikon AE (F), Pentax K, Sony A-mount, Sony E-mount, FujiFilm X, Samsung NX, Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds.
Get your Samyang 85mm F1.4 AS IF UMC here.
About Samyang Singapore
Samyang DSLR lenses are exclusively distributed by Alan Photo Trading – a photography retailer and photography equipment distributor for many brands in Singapore. Alan Photo had been serving the local photography community since 1987 and they are one of the top 5 camera retailers in Singapore. A firm believer in honest deals & long term customer relationships, the brand operates on integrity and customer satisfaction. Today, Alan Photo is one of the most recognizable & respected retailers/ distributor for photographic equipment in Singapore. Follow Alan Photo on their Facebook here or visit their website here.
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