Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Lens Review for Canon RF
With the release of the EOS R5 and R6, Canon have made their mark on the full-frame mirrorless camera market.
If you’ve recently purchased one of these cameras, there’s a good chance you’re now on the hunt for a wide aperture, affordable, RF mount telephoto lens.
Enter the Samyang (Rokinon) 85mm f/1.4 – a fast portrait lens the makes an excellent addition to your Canon mirrorless camera.
After testing out this lens for a few weeks, I’m very impressed with how much quality it packs into such an affordable package.
It’s the perfect lens for the portrait or wedding photographer who wants to get incredible bokeh but doesn’t want to pay nearly three thousand dollars for the Canon version!
Read on below to find out why the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 is one of the first lenses I recommend for the Canon RF mount!
Table of Contents
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Specs
- Affordable native RF mount
- Great image quality
- Wide aperture
- Fun lens flare
- Compatible with Camera IBIS
- No Optical Stabilization in lens
- Focal Length: 85mm
- Maximum Range: f/1.4 – f/16
- Lens Mount: Full Frame Canon RF
- Minimum Focus Distance: 2.95′ / 90 cm
- Optical Design: 11 Elements in 8 Groups
- Focus Type: Autofocus
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Filter Size: 77 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L): 3.46 x 3.84″ / 88 x 97.5 mm
- Weight: 1.28 lb / 583.8 g
Build & Ergonomics
After unboxing the Samyang 85mm f/1.4, I was quite impressed with the build quality. Instead of cheap plastic like I see on a lot of “affordable” lenses, it uses professional-feeling materials.
As I expected, the fast f/1.4 aperture does make this lens quite heavy, but I think it still matches nicely with the weight of the Canon R5/R6.
Although it has a plastic barrel, the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 feels very durable. Additionally, the textured surface of the focus ring gives the lens a very nice feel.
The mount and focus ring have a firm but smooth feel, much like you would expect from a much more expensive lens.
With the lens hood attached, it does make for a large form factor but this should be expected for the wide f/1.4 aperture.
The 77mm front filter thread matches many of the popular RF lens offerings so it will allow you to swap polarizers or variable ND filters easily.
One other feature to note is the inclusion of the auto/manual focus switch. Often this switch is omitted from cheaper lenses but I appreciate that Samyang included it. Having a tactile switch is very handy instead of diving into the menus for manual focus.
Overall, this lens feels very durable and rugged. It includes weather/dust sealing and feels tough enough that it would survive a drop.
I appreciate that Samyang is making affordable lenses with good quality so you don’t feel like you’re making big sacrifices in durability or features to save money.
Focus performance is where the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 impressed me the most. It felt very snappy and easily locked onto subjects.
Combined with the Canon R5 or R6, this lens is super quick to grab focus and I almost never miss a shot. Gone are the days of big clunky lenses that hunt for focus despite their low light performance.
I often used the continuous autofocus mode and found that this lens tracked subjects very well. I could move around and reframe while staying locked on to the subject.
With a wide aperture of f/1.4, the Samyang 85mm is able to lock on in very dark situations. Combine that with the high ISO performance of the latest Canon RF mount cameras and you have an excellent lens for low light shooting.
In the past, I had the impression that non-native lenses had slower autofocus but this lens doesn’t slow me down one bit. It feels equally fast to the other native RF mount lenses I use.
Overall, you can expect great performance when it comes to autofocus on the Samyang 85mm f/1.4!
Another area that impressed me about this lens was the image quality. This lens also has character to it – something most modern lenses are missing.
Many lens designs as of late are nearly perfect with no flare, excellent color/contrast, and supreme sharpness. This leaves no room for a look/feel to the lens. I really appreciate that Samyang made a departure from this formulaic approach.
The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 certainly has plenty of sharpness and contrast to keep up with expectations but it also has some fun character. Specifically, I really like the slightly desaturated color and fun lens flare. Especially in a portrait lens, character like this sparks creativity and fun.
Saturation and contrast can always be added later in the image, but when a portrait lens is too sharp and contrasty it can sometimes be unflattering. You may not want to reveal every micro flaw in a face and this lens strikes the perfect balance.
Also, getting interesting lens flare can sometimes be tricky. When lens flare is distracting, you don’t want it, but when flare can be controlled and create a specific look, it’s very fun to play with. I think the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF strikes the perfect balance here too.
As expected, the bokeh on this lens is awesome.
I often shoot wide open at f/1.4 because I really enjoy the background blur. It really focuses your attention on the sharp subject and isolates the viewer’s attention.
If you want excellent bokeh in an affordable package, this is the lens for you.
Lastly, when it comes to chroma and distortion, this lens is very well controlled and I don’t have any complaints.
Overall, I really liked the “feel” of the images from this lens. They were not quite so scientifically perfect and had just enough character to spark my creativity and joy!
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Samyang 85mm f/1.4, using a Canon R6.
Value for Money
At around US$600, this lens is excellent value!
Sure, you can get a native Canon 85mm f/2 RF lens for a similar price – but you won’t get the same low light performance or bokeh as the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF. Additionally, you’ll be missing out on some of the character of this lens (see the section on image quality above).
This lens is great value for the portrait photographer who wants a high-quality RF mount lens but doesn’t want to pay nearly $3,000 for the Canon 85mm f/1.2 RF.
At less than 25% of the cost of the Canon 85mm f/1.2, I don’t think you’re making many sacrifices. The difference in bokeh between f/1.4 and f/1.2 is not substantial and the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF has excellent features/quality.
If I were shopping for affordable RF lenses, the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF would be on my list for sure!
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF Review | Conclusion
As a gear nerd and camera/lens reviewer, I try a lot of camera gear. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF stood out to me for a few different reasons.
First up, it offers excellent value. The quality is superb for the price, and the features are impressive (fast aperture, durability).
The most important attribute that makes me really enjoy this lens, though, is the “character.” I own lots of lenses that are perfect but this almost makes them seem boring. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF strikes an excellent balance here.
Don’t worry, it is “perfect” enough to keep up with modern expectations, but it has a look to the images that I really enjoy. Also, it’s not like one of those “vintage” lenses that’s actually just old and blurry!
If you want an awesome and affordable portrait lens for your Canon RF mount mirrorless camera, I highly encourage you to check out the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 RF.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.