Samyang 85mm F1.4 AS IF UMC A-mount lens review by Vitruvius

reviewer#11639 date: Jan-26-2014
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 16-50mm f2.8 SSM
price paid:$320 CDN new
positive:- Beautiful
- Hefty
- Feels like a serious lens
- old school manual control is great for smooth focus pulling in video
- No additional video cropping when you start recording video
- IQ is GREAT but CA only clears up by f4 or by post editing software
- bokeh is very nice
- focus peaking on Sony cameras makes this a much more usable lens
negative:- Very slight lose fit to camera in axial orientation.
- a fair bit of CA at f1.4
- focus lubrication hardens in the cold
- No AF confirm chip to enable SSS = No stabilization in photo or video
- lens hood is very cheap but not as bad as I feared from reviews
comment:Note; The version I have is by Bower, bought at Henrys in Canada.
The whole lens rotates a fraction of a degree every time I change focusing direction. Doubtful that this has any impact on IQ, but it is very annoying to have 'click click' when I am fine tuning the focus.
I was surprised to find so mush chromatic aberration at f1.4. Sharpness, CA, and vignetting are all Perfect at f4, but that isn't the point of this lens. So count on some CA correction in post when shooting wide open. I am surprised I didn't read this in the many reviews before I bought it, but it is verified in the lens data at DXOmark.
Focus throw is actually quit far which is both good and bad. It allows for very accurate focusing which is essential for lens with this aperture but it also means that it is almost impossible to pull a full focus all the way without shifting your grip half way through. Focus throw on my 16-50 is way too short for accurate manual focusing near infinity.
I spend a couple hours a day out in the cold and usually carry my gear with me. I found that around -20 Celsius the focus lubrication virtually freezes. Focusing in the cold with this lens is like sucking a McD's shake through a straw.
A very inexpensive AF confirm chip on this lens set to 85mm would really help by allowing the in body steady shot stabilization. I am still thinking of adding this myself. However, the lack of AF confirm chip ALSO means that it does not do the additional stabilization crop when you start recording video! Ya! A lens that does not change focal lengths when you start recording video?!?! What genius!
Front and rear lens caps are like the hood; cheap. But they don't really impact IQ unless you forget to take them off.
Focus peaking REALLY helps add a lot of value to this lens. Peaking does work with focus magnify as well but not as much peaking shows up in the magnify views.
Verdict - I love this lens but it isn't perfect.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 38
  • sharpness: 4.83
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 4.53
  • distortion: 4.71
  • flare control: 4.34
  • overall: 4.62 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania