Budget Manual Focus 85mm F/1.4 Lens

Samyang, Rokinon, Bower, or Vivitar. It's believed they are all the same lens, with a slightly modified exterior and sold under various brands. Who knows what these lenses are being sold as, but then again you might not even care. Rumor mill has it that these lenses are being made out of Korea providing images that can be sharp as Nikon. Of course there's no auto focus features, so with zero electronics on this Manual Focus prime lens it's sold cheaper and can be made to be tack sharp.

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find-price-button Vivitar 85mm F/1.4 Manual Focus Lens

The 85mm F/1.4 is an excellent lens for low light situations, and at the focal length to provide you with that crazy DOF portrait look. The lens may only have been introduced a few years ago, but the Internet is littered with tests/reviews/samples. From Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, web blogs, and camera forums it's been tried and tested to be a solid performer. With manual only features it might also be an easier lens to pull focus with for full time Video shooters.

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find-price-button Vivitar 85mm F/1.4 Manual Focus Lens

For Nikon shooters considering the Budget 85mm, the Samyang and Bower name is designed with an exterior of the traditional Black w/ Gold Highlights. For Canon shooters, the Vivitar branded lenses are designed in all black with a knock-off Canon-like Red Ring accent. For those who aren't quite into the exterior aesthetics, over at Amazon the 'Rokinon' name will drop the price down another $100 dollars. Not bad for the money considering several reviews tested it to be as sharp as Nikon, and another great option for shooters looking for a lens that works well in low light situations. Anyone out there rockin' one? Leave some comments....

rokinon-85mm-1.4
find-price-button Rokinon 85mm F1.4 Aspherical Lens for Canon (Black)







26 thoughts on “Budget Manual Focus 85mm F/1.4 Lens

  1. Steve

    @Emm

    Are you sure these are all the same lens optically?

    The Vivitar looks very different cosmetically, but I have found it for a cheaper price.

    I'd be more confident going with Rokinon because that seems to be the most purchased, but if they are all the same I will go with Vivitar.

    Thanks!

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  3. Alex

    I wonder if you could buy one of those adapter rings with the AF confirmation chips in it, and somehow rig up the chip to this lens (like cut out that square in the contact plate)

    That would make shooting stills awesome..

    I personally shoot everything with older manual Nikkor lenses on my 7d, and i like the AF confirmation that my adapter gives me

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  5. Emm

    Post author

    @j hanna - Those look to be the same lenses (even cosmetically). You'll find a few different prices since Amazon has 'third-party sellers', each seller could have a different price. Sometimes a slightly higher price shown might mean not paying taxes, and if it's shipped from Amazon cheaper and faster and sometimes free 2 day shipping for Prime members. So it could come out even cheaper than the other one that's listed a few bucks lower. Gotta play with the numbers sometimes to see which is the better deal.

    I'm a Prime member and always take advantage of the 2 day shipping and since it's shipped from Amazon I know it's in stock. Some third party sellers take a while to ship, and sometimes after a few days they'll email back saying we ran out and the order was delayed.

  6. I know this post has been out for a while but I just purchased the canon 28mm f/1.8 and now I'm all prime happy.
    I have the canon 50mm f/1.8 (the nifty fifty) that I bought when everyone else bought theres.
    2 great lenses...
    I have a zenitar 16mm that has no autofocus and no digital apeture so it was a great find for 200$.
    BUT
    the 28 and 50 are perfect... is it worth the extra bucks to buy the canon 85mm f/1.8???
    I have a 24-105mm f/4 that I use outside and when i need a long lens....at that point i walk all my lights up close to the subject with no issue....but i still want an 85 prime.
    perfect world emm... rokinon or the canon?

  7. AC

    I already have the Canon 85 1.8. I do mostly videos with my 7D and 5D; wanted to hear some other opinions out there. Being that I already have the 85 in 1.8, is it worth dropping a few more hundred to get the Rokinon 1.4?
    thanx

  8. Gary M

    I've had the Rokinon 85mm for a few months now and agree with Emm as far as the sharpness on a subject and the great DOF.Also at those prices it makes it that more attractive for the quality your getting.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @slicKrox - Hmm, that forum doesn't start out very well, but doesn't really confirm it being F/1.6 in any way. I think they mentioned it was 'sharper' when stopped down a bit, which is exactly how most lenses work. There is a sweet spot a few stops from it's max aperture. A difference in 'what's in focus' to 'what's sharpest'.

  10. slicKrox

    I'm really interested it this solution, but when I started to search for more info in reviews, I found some tests and opinions, that Vivitar 85mm f/1.4 (middle one) actually is more like ~f/1.6-f1.8, not f/1.4. "Becouse of cheap construction and not perfect glass. I don't know how much truth there are. I get this info from here:
    http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=654126 (here are tests and comparison with other lenses)

  11. Not really a comment here, just more of a fist bump for all the fantastic info you have on the site. Keep it up. . .you're saving a lot of people tons of money!!!

  12. John

    Emm, no such luck I'm afraid :) Quoted from Samyang.pl:

    "Expected retail price of the product will amount to €389", so I'm guessing like 400 bucks for you Americans.

    Which isn't too bad considering it's "almost" one grand cheaper than Canons counterpart. Let's just hope it has the same buld and image quality as the 85mm.

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @CareyD - I hear the 'end' result might be the same. But I too like the finish of the Vivitar.

  14. VERY interested in this. I love the aesthetics of the Vivitar (being I shoot on a 60D), but I'd love to hear from the gang on whether the $100 bucks over the Rokinon (1/3rd less!) is worth it when it comes right down to it.

  15. John

    For video work this lens is a no brainer. Great sharpness, rugged build, ~140-150 degrees focus throw with fairly nice damping, Full Frame compatible and so forth.

    Standing in line for their 35mm 1.4 coming feb next year!

  16. elbee

    I have the Rokinon 85mm version. It is very SHARP wide open, which surprised me for a lens at this price. The glass and build quality are solid and I highly recommend this lens.

    It is a full frame lens.

  17. Bill

    Thanks for the writeup, emm -- I'm looking for a fast piece of glass. I have a Panasonic GH2 on order and the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 is an incredible lens, but doesn't fit into the budget right now. Even though I wish it was wider, this lens is an affordable alternative. Here are a couple of interesting videos from someone using it with a GH2 at 160ISO, 1/50 sec shutter,1080/24p and 24Mbps :

    Car dashboard at night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRaDSORwmKI&NR=1

    Fire engines at night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFPgLNmFcfI

  18. I am just getting my feet wet with video but I had a Vivatar 85mm f1.4 when I was shooting Nikon and I loved it. The reviews and the price were just to hard to pass up. None of the local stores in Arizona carry these lenses so I bought it solely on the reviews and examples posted online. I was not dis-appointed. A lot people are a little nervous about buying these lenses but if you can get past the non AF, where they are manufactured and the name you will be getting a lens that might produce the best images in your bag.
    I am looking for another one in the Canon mount because the result are absolutely amazing.

  19. Mark

    Hi Emm,

    I have the Bower version of this lens and I can confirm that this is great lens to have in the bag. It gives a great deal of control over the DOF and as stated this wide aperture is also a must for low light. I just used it to film a contest spot for Zippo lighters. I keyed all the lighting off of the one candle light that was being lit by a Zippo candle lighter. The 85mm at 1.4 allowed me to get sufficient exposure. I then used the Z96s to fill the rest.

    The lens does have a long minimal focal distance of just over one yard. This only becomes a problem if you are working in tight quarters. On the definite plus side, the focus ring turn is fairly linear and long making pulling focus a lot easier than many Canon lenses where the difference between two focus positions may be only a millimeter of rotational travel on the focus ring.

    Of course as a full manual lens you need to set the aperture as desired keeping in mind that you may need to use ND filters to keep your shutter speed conformed to proper rate for your frame rate.

    All in all given its reasonable price you truly can not go wrong with having this lens in your arsenal. When you think about the cost of the Canon 85mm 1.2 at roughly two grand, this "cannon" of glass does a pretty good job for the money or lack there of...

    Mark

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