Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 RF review

Samyang reprises another of its favourite prime focal lengths for its next Canon RF autofocus lens, creating yet another hard-to-resist value proposition.

Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 RF lens
(Image: © Samyang)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Following its award-winning 14mm autofocus ultra-wide for the RF mount, Samyang reprises another of its favourite prime focal lengths for its next AF RF offering, creating yet another hard-to-resist value proposition. It's well made and can hold its own against more expensive alternatives, making it a very compelling option for Canon RF system users looking for a fast prime.


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    Well made optically

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    Weather sealed


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    No in-camera lens corrections

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    Exposure metering and autofocus can malfunction

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If you’re a lens maker then, after the obligatory ‘fast fifty’, the next badge of honour is an f/1.4-speed 85mm short telephoto prime – the classic portrait lens. You just have to do one, but the optical design leaves nowhere to hide. It looks deceptively simple, but there are many challenges related to the large diameter and the need to effectively deal with a range of aberrations – spherical, comatic and chromatic, both longitudinal and lateral – while also delivering high contrast, low flare and a uniformity of both brightness and sharpness across the frame, even when shooting wide-open at f/1.4.

Samyang has built quite a few 85mm f/1.4 primes over the years – in fact, there are at least four different versions in the current line-up – and these have ranged in optical performance from great to brilliant. Samyang has built its reputation on manual focus primes (it still doesn’t make any zooms) that deliver a performance far exceeding what might be expected for the asking price. The cinematography world was pretty much the first to recognise the superb value of Samyang primes – the company now builds lenses specifically for this application with its Xeen range – and photographers soon got the message too. 

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Paul Burrows

Paul has been writing about cameras, photography and photographers for 40 years. He joined Australian Camera as an editorial assistant in 1982, subsequently becoming the magazine’s technical editor, and has been editor since 1998. He is also the editor of sister publication ProPhoto, a position he has held since 1989. In 2011, Paul was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute Of Australian Photography (AIPP) in recognition of his long-term contribution to the Australian photo industry. Outside of his magazine work, he is the editor of the Contemporary Photographers: Australia series of monographs which document the lives of Australia’s most important photographers.