Testing the Affordable Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and 14mm f/2.8 for Portraiture

Fast glass is more affordable than ever before, with brands pushing quality and lowering prices to attract photographers away from the big names. But how good are they?

Around six or seven years ago, I needed (read: wanted) an ultra-wide-angle lens for a project and a trip. I hadn't used one before, and the more I searched, the more I realized why: they're expensive. Or rather, if you want one that has a wide maximum aperture for low light, then you should expect to pay some money for the privilege. Then I found Samyang (also goes under Rokinon) and their offerings at a significant discount from my camera brand's lenses. There was a trade-off, however. The lenses were manual focus and the front element of the UWA lens was so bulbous that filters were borderline impossible.

Things have moved quickly in the last seven years though. Now, not only is there a wider selection of these sorts of lenses, but they come — for the most part, at least — with autofocus. They are marginally more expensive than they used to be, but that's a fair exchange. In this video, Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge heads out with the Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 RF, Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 RF, and Canon EOS R6 to see how they perform with natural light portraiture.

To my eye, the results are superb, and with a little tweaking in post to eke out some extra contrast, the results are beautiful. It doesn't hurt that the model is stunning and photographing Indian traditional dress and henna is a lot of fun though!

Do you own any Samyang or Rokinon lenses? What do you make of them?

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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