SAMYANG XP 85mm f1.2 – Lens Review
From the Samyang lens Global site.
” Samyang 85mm F1.2 is a premium manual focus photo lens designed for high resolution photoshoots. In pursuit of image quality itself, this new lens is equipped with the most advanced optical technology among Samyang Lenses. With over 40 years of research and development in optics, Samyang integrates the essence of history and introduces a signature lens line-up.
It has the unprecedented resolving power, matched with 50 megapixels photo and 8K video productions. The resolving power contains abundant pixel information, allowing photographers the freedom in post-production to create unique image of own. It enables you to capture life-long memories in everlasting image quality. Bokeh, out-focusing, starburst effect creates unforgettable image.
The F1.2 of 85mm is, by far, the brightest lens in existing full frame DSLR lenses, securing the fast shutter speed. It has ten elements in seven groups, applying one aspherical lens and two high refractive lenses. The aspherical lens minimises the aberration and unnecessary light dispersion. Two high refractive lenses effectively adjust the path of light and deliver maximum amount to the sensor for clear and vibrant image. This optimal performance creates impressive image quality from centre to corner of image. Also, the minimised aberration enhance the clarity of image, creating more impressive image than your eyes can see.
Aluminium alloy metal is adopted for maximum durability. With a sleek yet unprecedented design with flowing curves, this signature line-up is a one-of-a-kind lens. The usability is maximized with considerate diameter in 95mm.”
Samyang XP 85mm f1.2 lens, hood and pinch cap.
I’ve had the Samyang XP 85mm f1.2 lens for a while now and have been testing it on a variety of subjects from portrait to astrophotography and have to say like the newly released Samyang 14mm f2.4 XP lens this is built to very high standards not only in build but performance.
This lens is big, solid with quite a bit of weight to it, given the amount of glass I’m not surprised. The body is made of Aluminium Alloy metal, with smooth modern lines and smooth rubber focus ring grip, it also has etched markings, scale etc. I really like the direction Samyang are going with these XP lenses they look fantastic, they feel rugged and ooze quality. But how does the Samyang 85mm XP f1.2 handle? how does it perform? What features do we have?
Samyang 85mm f1.2, smooth modern looks!
One omission I immediately noticed from the new XP line is the manual aperture control, I love this feature in Samyang’s lenses as it is fantastic for time-lapse but Samyang have gone with in camera aperture control for the new XP lenses it works very well, fast with absolutely no issues on my Canon 6d, nothing really to say its flawless.
We have an aperture range of f1.2 – f16 with 9 blades. F1.2 allows an incredible amount of light in and allows you to blur out backgrounds and get really creative with shallow depth of field, this is a portrait photographers dream lens. The out of focus areas look nice and smooth as you see in the following examples.
Samyang XP 85mm f1.2. at f1.2, smooth out of focus areas, shallow depth of field, look at the sharpness in the eye.
Samyang XP 85mm f1.2 at f1.2, 1/320, iso 800. Taken in a dark coffee shop the fast f1.2 really helped capture this image and smooth out the distracting back ground.
Although the lens is a manual focus lens we have focus confirmation, so when you half press the shutter on my 6d and manual focus on your subject you will get focus confirmation in the form of audible beep and the focus point will light up red, It is very accurate. This is a good thing as the depth of field at f1.2 is super shallow and this really helps to get your main point of interest in focus. The distance scale on the lens barrel seems accurate (tested at 1m and infinity). The operation of the manual focus itself feels smooth and slightly dampened and the rubber ring despite being smooth is grippy.
The lens hood is plastic, large and does a great job of keeping stray light off the front element, not once did i notice any flare or stray light in my shots. The hood is removable and reversible when not in use it does exactly what it is intended to do.
We have a front filter thread that accepts 86mm screw in filters or filter holder adapters. The front lens cap is centre pinch type making it easy to remove and replace with the lens hood in place.
The end of the barrel closest to its metal lens mount has a nice raised pattern giving good grip when twisting to attach or remove the lens. While we are mentioning mounts the Samyang XP 85mm f1.2 is only available in Canon EF mount at this time. (suitable for Canon full frame and aps-c cameras)
The next three images I took to show sharpness at f1.2 the first being the full frame, second a 100% centre crop, third extreme left bottom corner 100% crop.
Its a little hard in the first image to see just how sharp the lens is at f1.2 but you can see the slight vignetting at this aperture, this would be fairly easy to correct in post if needed but it is there. In the second image you can see the XP 85mm f1.2 performs very well in the centre at f1.2. In the third image you can still see the lens is showing a lot of detail but it does soften a little at the very extreme edges, still pretty good performance for f1.2.
Samyang XP 85mm f1.2. 85mm, f1.2, 1/750, iso100
100% crop centre of frame from above image
Extreme bottom left hand corner.
The next three images is the same test at f5.6. Settings 85mm f5.6, 1/45, iso100. You can see in the full image the vignetting seen at f1.2 has totally disappeared, this actually happened a lot earlier in the aperture range (I noticed it at f2.8) I will repeat this test to see the exact aperture the vignetting disappeared. The second image again is a 100% centre crop this time at f5.6, sharp thats showing some fine detail. Third image is the extreme bottom left corner again a 100% crop at f5.6, very sharp fine detail softening a little at the very extreme corner, in reality this is a couple of millimetres in to the frame from the edge.
Samyang XP 85mm f1.2. 85mm f5.6, 1/45 sec, iso100
100% centre crop from above image
100% extreme bottom left hand corner
CREATIVITY/SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD
One thing I love is what you can do with a fast lens such as the XP 85mm f1.2, blurring out backgrounds, creating interesting out of focus areas, isolating subjects etc.
The above shot was taken pretty close to the lenses minimum focus distance of 0.8m f2.2, iso200, 1/13. This totally threw the lights I had placed behind the sphere out of focus, fun and interesting to play with! Note the shape isn’t caused by the aperture but the shape of the actual light sources.
Below is pretty much the same shot this time taken at f8, 1/6 of a second. As you can see the image is quite different, I think it demonstrates just how much a fast lens can throw a background, it’s highlights and details out of focus to remove distractions or for creative effect, the XP 85mm f1.2 is brilliant for this.
Above the image was shot at f3.2 the lights were about a metre behind the model. You can see here the out of focus highlights are nice and round and quite nice to look at, the in focus areas are razor sharp.
Above 85mm f2.2, 1/500 iso400 very sharp where it should be, nice smooth background isolating the model.
I couldn’t do a review without some mention of the lenses astrophotography capabilities, this is such a fast lens it does lend itself to this quite nicely.
I did find there was a small amount of coma in some the at f1.2 along with a little bit of softening and vignetting at the edges, pretty common with a fast lense like this. Stopping down improved this considerably but the XP 85mm f1.2 is still very usable for astrophotography at f1.2 I know this will be my main use for it.
One thing I did note was the amount of light the XP 85mm f1.2 can pull, for instance in the below example I could shoot the Carina Nebula in a single image on a tripod and get some good detail, this is untracked simply shot off my tripod, details 85mm f1.2, 5sec, iso3200. I can see this opening up quite a few shooting opportunities for those without a star tracker or eq mount, I already have some projects in mind I simply couldn’t do without this lens!
Single exposure, Carina nebula shot with the Samyang 85mm XP f1.2 lens. 85mm f1.2, 5sec, iso3200 shot straight off my tripod no tracker.
Samyang XP 85mm f1.2. 85mm f2, 2.5sec, iso3200 5 images stacked in photoshop.
Above the Southern Cross, Coal Sack nebula, and Southern Pointer Stars taken as multiple images stacked. This was shot straight off my tripod, I really can’t wait for the Milkyway core to become visible again so I can shoot it with the Samyang xp 85mm f1.2.
Samyang are doing a great job with their new range of XP lenses, I was really impressed with the Samyang XP 14mm f2.4 and the XP 85mm f1.2 is another fantastic lens. It’s well built, super fast and the image quality is fantastic. Portrait photographers will love this lens for its shallow depth of field and smooth out of focus areas and pleasing bokeh. Low light photographers will love it for its light gathering abilities. For me personally I’m extremely keen to use this when the milky way core re appears in Australian skies, I can see this being fantastic for static (off the tripod) astrophotography along with night time-lapse and video, I’ve already got a number of projects in mind that this lens can help me achieve.
At the moment the lens is only available in Canon EF mount suitable for Canon full frame and APS-C cameras RRP$1399 here in Australia.