If you’re a portrait photographer shooting on Sony’s full frame mirrorless cameras it’s been a very decent month for new lenses. Or maybe not if you and your wallet have a decision to make about which to get! Samyang just announced the AF 85mm f/1.4 FE, and that comes hot the heels of Sony’s own 135mm f/1.8 G Master, as well as confirmation of the rumoured manual focus Zenitar 50mm f/0.95. That set of lenses would give you a nice range of options, for sure.
The new Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE is tipped (by Samyang, obviously) to deliver “stunning resolution, bokeh and excellent AF performance,” capturing subjects in a “delicate and precise manner, even at wide-open aperture.” To achieve this the lens’s design included 11 elements in eight groups, four of which are HR (high-resolution) glass elements, said to allow the lens to be compact, yet able to provide outstanding resolution. Also in the optical construction is one ED (extra-low dispersion) glass element, which serves to cut out colour-fringing and chromatic aberrations.
Combined with the portrait-friendly focal length – which should also appeal to Sony E mount users as it produces an equivalent around 125mm on the smaller sensor – the f/1.4 maximum aperture is of course a big selling point for portrait photographers, and the lens has nine diaphragm blades, so should create smooth and appealing background blur along with its razor-thin depth-of-field.
But of course it’s not just about optical quality, the AF 85mm f/1.4 FE is one of Samyang’s lenses which supports autofocus – the sixth Sony FE lens from the company to do so – and good performance in that area will be vital if you want critical sharpness when using it wide open. The AF 85mm f/1.4 FE uses a Dual Linear Sonic Motor and claims to work well in day or night situations, so you can expect to bring it to bear for low-light shoots, where the fast maximum aperture will also help. The minimum focusing distance is 90cm.
The lens also claims a decent build quality, with weather-sealing to keep you shooting in dusty, rainy or humid environments, and weighs in at 568g. At 99x88mm it’s not exactly petite, but should balance well enough with the bodies it’s designed for, like the A7 III, A7R III and A9. It has a 77mm filter thread, and remember you’re likely to need an ND or two to get the full-what aperture in bright light.
The Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE will go on same later this Spring for around £600.