Samyang – also known as Rokinon – once concentrated on cheap, decent-quality, manual focus lenses across many mounts. In the past year, they have broadened their mirrorless lens lines to include wider-aperture and higher quality lens designs, now reaching an inflection point where they are providing some of the standard f/1.4 prime and f/2.8 zoom professional gear once the realm of camera makers themselves, and – more recently – the third party makers Sigma and Tamron. Critically, Sigma and Tamron have yet to wade into Nikon’s or Canon’s new mirrorless mounts, leaving Samyang a leading third party lens maker.
And today, Samyang starts pre-orders for a new 24-70 f/2.8 standard zoom that sports a theoretical MTF chart that would have it at the very top of the category in image quality. The lens will be offered in Sony E mount for $1,000.
As an experiment, Camnostic acquired the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 in Canon RF m0unt. This is an autofocus lens sporting all the RF mount contacts. The image quality is slightly better than our Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM lens, and slightly worse than the Canon 85mm f/1.2. The Samyang autofocus is zippy, but slightly slower than the Canon f/1.2.
We might have expected that the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) was tp be a bit lesser in the third party lens, perhaps due to a lack of additional accelerometer data input from the lens. But we are able to take full one-second shots at 85mm with stitching on fabric showing absolute clarity. In the Canon’s display the hand icon shows without the plus indicator showing that there is not extra help being provided by the lens, but this does not appear to be negatively affecting performance.
The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 build quality is not quite as nice, using a very light and perhaps overly-smooth plastic, less apparent weather sealing, and ring dampening that shows slightly more lax tolerances. But none of these slight inferiorities rise to a level that most would classify as a significant difference between choices.
To our surprise, the lens that will be sold after this experiment is the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L. It is the better lens, but not nearly justifying a $2,000 price difference.
Samyang is proving that third parties can play successfully in Nikon and Canon mounts, and until Sigma and Tamron opt to join in those markets, it appears to have the third party, autofocus, professional market to itself.