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An Opteka 85mm F1.4 Review

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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: An Opteka 85mm F1.4 Review
    Posted: 29 December 2009 at 03:58
I have always, always fancied the 85mm/90mm focal length on full-frame; whenever I met a Tamron 90mm F2.8 Macro I'd pick it up and take portraits with it because of the very comfortable range.


And so, it is of no surprise that I would end up getting myself a Christmas/birthday present - the Opteka 85mm F1.4!

This is most commonly known as the Samyang 85mm F1.4 - of course, it comes repackaged as a Rokinon, Bower, Polar, Vivitar, etc. However the basic specifications still hold - it is manual focus only, does not come with a focus confirm chip, and has an aperture ring. Interestingly, the aperture jumps from F1.4 to F2.0 then clicks in half-stops until F16, where it jumps to F22.


It also only focuses to 1 meter close, which can be quite far for some people. Fortunately I am not feeling it all that often since I am used to standing further away with the Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 (which, despite its closer 72cm minimum focus distance, will need you to stand further away due to intense magnification of the viewfinder!)

The rear end of the lens protrudes a fair bit - I am not sure if a focus confirm chip could fit in there all that easily without it being pushed out each time you focus to infinity.


The Opteka isn't that big, when flanked by the similiarly-sized Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D). The Zeiss to the right is the big one.


However, when the Opteka's hood is on, it can try to pretend to be the same size as the Zeiss...


From the top, there is a decent amount of recessing - I really don't understand why. They could've made this lens a lot shorter and its filters would vignette less.

Amazingly, it is an internal focusing design - the Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4 ZA and Minolta 85mm F1.4G are external focusing designs. Of course they have the far more convenient minimum focus distances of 85cm!

The current Nikkor F1.8/F1.4 and Canon 85mm F1.8/F1.2 lenses are all internal focusing. The downside of this is that the view widens as you focus closer.

Also, when looking at the lens from in front while focusing, I'm not sure why they didn't allow the focus group to travel further and thus, focus closer.


Here's the Opteka on the Minolta Dynax 7, and the Zeiss 135mm F1.8 on the Sony Alpha 900.


Somehow, the Minolta Dynax 7 look matches the Opteka more.


Though, the Sony Alpha 900 looks porportionate.

The Alpha 900, like the Alpha 200 onwards, unfortunately does not have the Shutter Release Without Lens option in the menu - so you can't use this lens in Aperture Priority anymore! You have to go to Manual Exposure, unless your lens has a chip. It also does not do focus confirm without the chip.

Edited by albnok - 29 December 2009 at 04:07
 



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albnok View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 04:02
And now, for some portraits!


85mm F1.4.


The first picture I took with this portrait lens, was of course, a portrait. You can see sweat! It was a hot day.

Note that initially, Auto WB tended to give a purple cast - I set it to Daylight WB and all was okay.


In office lighting, indoors, it is no slouch - I love how it picks up reflected ambient colors! This is a quality I love in great lenses.


I took it to the streets, where ISO1600 would give me 1/40s. Which would be a decent shutter speed, given the weight of the A900 helping stabilize it.

Yes, SteadyShot does not work here, unless the lens has a chip which tells the body that the lens is at 85mm, and so it can drive the SteadyShot mechanism to compensate accordingly. However in practice, 1/40s was still alright!


Only downside being at F1.4 is the shallow depth of field, making it difficult to pick a subject when street shooting.


On the LRT. I love how contrasty this lens is wide open, compared to my Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original! In hindsight only my Minolta and Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX are weak in contrast - the other lenses I have like the Minolta 24-105mm F3.5-4.5(D) and Minolta 70-210mm F4 beercan</a> are contrasty wide open.

We now cut to a comparison of contrast. I used the HVL-F56AM flash set at 1/16th power 85mm, and set the A900 at 1/200s ISO200, and turned off all the lights, for this:

The Zeiss was set at F2.0 because the F56AM power cannot be set in 1/3rd steps.


The Opteka was set at F1.4, and the F56AM was dialled down to 1/32th power to equalize. I also cropped a similiar region.


The Minolta was set at F1.4, with the F56AM still at 1/32th power. While it did seem to transmit a bit more, it was quite gauzy. The Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM would handle this situation like the above two lenses, with loads of contrast, but that's a story for another day...


I attempted to make a Minolta Dynax 7-STF mode simulation and this is what I got. The lens bodes well for fake STF attempts!

Edited by albnok - 29 December 2009 at 04:08
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albnok View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 04:05

Manual focusing is not easy - you need to learn how to do it. However once mastered you can catch focus pretty quick!


100% crop.

Note that I was using the Sony FDA-FM1AM (A900 Type-M manual focusing screen) to help see depth of field accurately at F1.4. This lens is best used with a Sony Alpha 500/550 that has MF Check Live View, or an Alpha 850/900 fitted with the Type-M screen.

But hey, how about some action? I picked up the lens and returned to shoot a rock concert!


Really, it's not that hard! F1.4.


I focused while they were walking! Again, nothing you can't achieve with a bit of practice.

It also helps that I had a few M42 lenses for my A700 before, to practice...


Crazy rain. Yes, the lens got subjected to some inclement weather. 1/640s ISO6400.


The rain killed the generators, leaving the VIP tent in darkness! 1/20s ISO1600.


Woodstock baby! 1/20s ISO6400. I focused to 1 meter, then walked closer until they were in focus.


1/25s ISO1600. I pulled tones out of overexposed red faces to get this.

So the question everybody asks is this - is it worth it? Yes, definitely! It is a stark fraction of the price of an auto-focusing 85mm F1.4! It is great optically, with a decent amount of contrast. (I just have not compared it to the Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm F1.4 ZA - something tells me that if I do, I will be haunted by it...)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tkteo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 04:34
How much did this lens cost you? Is it sold locally (in your part of Malaysia, I mean)?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 04:43
tkteo: I know someone who brings in lenses from the US. It costed me RM1200. Locally in shops around Kuala Lumpur you can only find the Canon and Nikon Samyang variants.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LuisLopes320 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 09:55
Great review =) With direct comparison with Z135 =) and Min50f1.4 that was perfect. I also like that you can accheive focus quite easily ;) You can find it on ebay on different versions, most know is Samyang, but just enter 85mm and search for 1.4 lens on aperture you'll find all results, and they ship it everywhere. It's about 320dollars, or about 220pounds ;)
Love it, i did want to get it, now i'm sure of it =)

Many Many thanks =)
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albnok View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 09:58
Also, there might be a Samyang 35mm F1.4:

http://www.lenstip.com/index.php?art=122

I would buy that no questions asked! Knowing the obscene quality of the Samyang 85mm F1.4 you can bet the 35mm is going to be a winner. Since it is a full-frame wide-angle it should have a better MFD than the Sigma 30mm F1.4's mediocre 40cm. (The Sigma looks nice on FF despite the vignetting!)

I can already see it - 35mm and 85mm F1.4, two primes and that is all! (Of course it would be great if it was a 28mm but what the heck.)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 10:00
LuisLopes320: Bear in mind that even on the A700 I had a Type-M screen installed (you have to go to Sony for that). That helps loads more. The key is to see what is 'around' the shallow focus plane, and use that 'area' to focus as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Frankman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 10:34
Nice review Albanok. I'm impressed at what this lens can do. My only concern is that without a focus screen, it can take a lot of practice to get the focus right, especially in low light.

Just to remind you and others that I've created a listing for this lens in our lens database here. Perhaps you and others who have the lens can leave a few reviews.

And one more favour.. can I "borrow" your first image for the database. It looks pretty sad saying "image needed".

Cheers, Frank
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albnok View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 10:49
Frankman: I'll have to give it a go with my Type-G soon.

Though, the Samyang version would be better suited since it is the main name? I think D-Schap has one. Though yes you can use it for the moment until there is a Samyang shot. :D

P.S. it's albnok (short for Albert Ng and O.K. are my Chinese initials.)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Samsonov Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 10:51
Very informative post albnok, as usual from you, thanks!

I want to comment, in fact ask further questions about this:

"This lens is best used with a Sony Alpha 500/550 that has MF Check Live View.... etc"

Did you or anybody else tried that combo? I am thinking of buying A550 specifically to use with Samyang (and other) MF lenses, using the MF check LV feature.

However...

I think you made a mistake, as ONLY A550 has this feature, A500, at least on paper, does not.

The other thing that bothers me is focal length. In my experience, I use LV in 80% of cases when doing wide angle shots (say, <=30mm), LV helps with framing a lot in wide angle, however when doing 50mm and longer I am much more comfortable with OVF. Thus, I am quite suspicious as to how would 85mm MF + MF LV combo would work. Any comment on this?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tomiZG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 10:59
Thanks a lot for the review! Quite impressed with this lens now, too.
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albnok View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote albnok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 December 2009 at 11:00
Samsonov: Am sure the A500 does have MF Check LV:

http://www.alphamountworld.com/reviews/sony-alpha-dslr-a500-review-and-conclusion#comments

The A500 only loses 7 FPS, VGA resolution, and 2 megapixels.

I have not personally tried it, but I do know that when you use the 7x and 14x magnify mode, handshake is very obvious. It would probably be easier to focus without any magnification. Interesting thing to try the next time I can!

(I remember trying 14x with the Sony 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G SSM - not humanly possible!)

Also, since 1/40s is fine on the A900, I presume I (results may vary) could do fine at 1/60s on the A500.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jumphigh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 December 2009 at 16:23
I have been tempted and did a lot of research on this lens and now I have only 2 questions left
Do we lose DOF function with this lens?
SSS will still be effective(50mm)if not optimal for this lens?
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