The 85mm focal length is what most would likely be considered the portrait photographer’s lens of choice, as this lens combines both incredible image quality, artistic blur, and very little distortion. The minimum focusing distance for this objective is approximately 33.59inches or 85.34 cm from the intended focal point. This means that the photographer will have to stand further back than when using another focal length such as the 35mm. The depth of field has the potential for that bokeh and creamy background that many photographers desire for natural headshots.

Samyang 85mm RF 25 of 70

Who Is This Lens For?

The 85mm focal length is highly desirable for photographers who prefer not to be too close to their subjects. Its lack of distortion makes it a favorite of portrait photographers, as it produces slimming effects on subjects. Additionally, the 85mm’s compression combined with its fast f1.4 (or f1.2) aperture creates a desirable, creamy bokeh.

In sports photography, the 85mm is an excellent choice because it offers an intermediate length that allows the user to get closer to the action while still having the flexibility to capture shots of the entire field. Compared to other popular telephoto lenses such as the 135mm or 200mm, the 85mm is a more affordable, compact, and portable option.

Samyang 85mm RF 6 of 70

Why Samyang/Rokinon?

In today’s market, photographers have a wide range of options when it comes to 85mm lenses, and third-party lenses have become increasingly popular due to their ability to deliver high-quality results at more affordable prices. Among these third-party manufacturers, Samyang, a Korean lens manufacturer known for its manual-focus lenses, has recently been expanding its line-up to include high-quality autofocus lenses.

Samyang’s 85mm lens for Canon‘s new RF mount is the first of its kind from a third-party company, and is based on the manufacturer’s extensive experience in producing similar lenses for other brands. Despite offering comparable performance to Canon’s EF version, Samyang’s lens comes at a lower cost, with a price tag below $1,599.00.

By creating lenses for the new EOS R system, Samyang is clearly demonstrating its commitment to staying ahead of the curve and producing quality lenses that will be relevant for years to come. As Canon continues to launch new mirrorless cameras, Samyang is poised to continue developing high-quality lenses for this mount.

As Samyang specifies “Samyang’s RF series is known for its outstanding image quality, since the AF 14mm F2.8 RF was awarded the prestigious TIPA award in 2020 as ‘best mirrorless prime wide-angle lens.’ The new AF 85mm RF also makes no compromise in image quality: A total of 11 elements in 8 groups, with 4 high-refractive (HR) optics and an extra low-dispersion (ED) lens, have been designed to create impressive image quality from corner to corner.”

Samyang 85mm F/1.4 RF Specifications

  • Model name AF 85 mm F1.4 RF
  • Aperture range F1.4 ~ 16
  • Lens optical
    • Construction 11 Elements in 8 Groups
    • Special lens HR 4, ED 1
  • Coating UMC
  • Minimum focusing distance 0.90m (2.95ft)
  • Maximum magnification ratio x 0.11
  • Filter size Φ 77.0
  • Maximum diameter Φ 88.0
  • Number of blades 9
  • Mount Canon RF
  • Angle of view
    • Full Frame 28.9˚
    • APS-C 19.1˚
  • Length 99.5mm
  • Weight without lens cap, hood 582g
  • Weather Sealing o
  • AF/MF mode switch o
  • AF Motor LSM

Build and Handling

As is typical with Samyang’s autofocus and manual-focus lenses, the build quality of this lens is of a high standard. The metal mounting plate and high-quality plastic barrel feel sturdy and well-engineered, with weather-seals providing protection against the elements. Inside, the optical path consists of nine elements in seven groups, including a hybrid aspherical element. The lens is also coated with “Ultra Multi-Coating” to minimize ghosting and flare.

Despite its high-quality build, the Samyang lens is easy to manage and much lighter than the latest Canon 85mm lens. As the first third-party option for the RF mount, it is likely to be compared to Canon’s own offerings.

It’s worth noting that the RF version of the lens is larger and heavier than the EF version. This is due to the need to adapt lenses to the 54mm RF mount, which allows wider lens elements to be placed closer to the sensor. This reduces chromatic aberrations and facilitates more effective lens arrangements.

Samyang 85mm RF 17 of 70

The onboard controls for this lens are minimal, consisting only of a switch to toggle between autofocus and manual focus and a manual focus ring. The autofocus system utilizes a Dual LSM (Linear Supersonic Motor), which operates quickly and quietly. However, the manual focus ring is electronically coupled rather than mechanically coupled, unlike with an ultrasonic ring-type arrangement. As a result, the focus ring only functions when power is supplied from the camera, such as after a light press of the shutter button.


Like its EF counterpart, the RF version of this lens autofocuses quickly and with high accuracy, even in low-light indoor conditions. The fly-by-wire manual focus ring allows for very precise adjustments, particularly when using a magnified preview in live view mode. While center-sharpness is not exceptional at f/1.4, it improves significantly at f/2 and becomes excellent from f/2.8 onwards. Lateral chromatic aberration is reasonably well-controlled at f/1.4, but may become more noticeable at narrower apertures.

Despite shooting wide-open at f/1.4, the lens produces impressive contrast, and center-sharpness is quite acceptable, although it does drop off somewhat towards the edges. This is not a significant issue for portraiture, and the noticeable vignetting can even be seen as a bonus, as it can be avoided during post-production. When stopping down slightly to increase the depth of field, the bokeh remains excellent, aided by a well-rounded nine-blade diaphragm.

Samyang 85mm RF 35 of 70


Samyang is a relatively new player in the autofocus aspect of lens design, which has been their Achilles heel so far, particularly when compared to other manufacturers with more extensive lineups of EF/RF AF lenses. However, the company has 40 years of experience in manufacturing high-quality glass, and they frequently release firmware updates to address any issues.

Samyang has begun incorporating dual Linear Sonic Motors into their designs, resulting in much quieter and refined autofocus. The AF-S performance produces a small amount of sound, but it is the fastest mode for stills. There is a brief moment where the momentum builds up before the focus occurs very quickly. The overall focus speed in AF mode is actually quite fast, comparable to many other 85mm lenses on the market.

One area where the Samyang lens truly excels is Eye AF. The release of the AF 85mm coincided with one of the most significant highlights for Canon’s new cameras, which included improved focus algorithms and enhanced tracking in the form of Real-Time Eye AF and Real-Tracking. This makes the Samyang AF 85mm an excellent choice for portraiture.

What We Liked

  • Quite compact and lightweight
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Good image quality

What Could Be Better

  • Centre-sharpness isn’t overly impressive at f/1.4
  • No optical stabilizer
  • Ring control, such as Canon´s original


The release of the Samyang AF 85mm / 1.4 RF is a pleasant surprise for Canon shooters. Especially for those ones who already moved to the mirrorless system or to those ones who are still considering and waiting for the new cameras or lenses to be introduced.

For many novice photographers, the high price tag of some brand-name lenses is simply not feasible. Additionally, some photographers prefer not to deal with the bulk and weight of these lenses. This is where the new option from Samyang becomes an attractive choice, as it is more affordable and lightweight. The lens measures less than 10cm in length and weighs 582g without the lens cap and hood.

Despite its lower price point, the Samyang 85mm is still able to capture the finer details of portraiture while delivering a smooth and creamy bokeh with a seamless transition between focused and defocused areas. The lens strikes a good balance between price and build quality, offering solid autofocus performance and near-perfect image quality for portrait work.

Special Note

In combination with the Samyang AF 85mm / 1.4 RF, I did this shooting with the Godox AD200 Pro, the new AD300 Pro, Magbox, and other MagMod´s tools, a set-up that I recommend personally without hesitation for portrait photography.

Check Pricing & Availability of the Samyang 85mm F/1.4 RF Here:

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