Samyang Premium MF 85mm f/1.2 Review
This full frame lens is a hefty and somewhat bulky beast, unsurprising with its massive f/1.2 aperture. Weight is a hefty 1050g, but it balances well on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV used for this review. It is available in Canon EF mount only.
The 86mm filter thread is surrounded by a bayonet fit for the generously sized round lens hood. This fits easily and smoothly, with a firm click stop to hold it in position. The hood bayonet and filter thread are on a fixed outer tube, the entire optical unit moving in and out within it to achieve focus. This means that the front element recedes into the lens barrel as we focus towards infinity, making the effective hood even deeper at this point.
The focusing ring is wide and comfortable, being made of a rubberised material. The grip it affords is excellent, but this also means that dust and debris can easily attach themselves. This is not easy to remove. There are clear markings in feet and metres, but no depth of field scale. Focusing is down to 0.8m, a maximum magnification of 0.13x. Apart from a well machined and well fitting metal mount, nothing else adorns the lens.
Optical construction is 10 elements in 7 groups. There are 1 aspherical and two high refractive index elements. The diaphragm has 9 blades, the aim being to improve the bokeh, the smoothness of the out of focus areas in an image. With a short telephoto lens this effect is certain to be enhanced anyway, but a more circular aperture will help.
This a manual focus lens, so ultimately the quality achieved will depend very much on accuracy of focusing. The advantage of having such a bright f/1.2 aperture is that the viewfinder image is also bright, so this will aid our vision. The human eye is not particularly good at finding the point of focus with a lens, but at least at f/1.2 and with a telephoto the image does snap in and out more positively. It will depend on the individual, but for those who are happy with manual focus this lens will seem a pleasure to use. There is a counter argument that says the depth of field is so small at f/1.2 that focusing accurately is actually very difficult, and at that brightest setting that may well be true. Nailing the focus point at f/1.2 can be tricky, but when it's right it is highly effective. At smaller apertures, depth of field will cover small errors anyway and in normal circumstances the lens is very easy to focus.
Apart from focusing issues, if any, then there are no handling problems and the lens is indeed a pleasure to shoot with.
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