Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Started Mar 25, 2009 | Discussions
evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

On a lark I bought one of those Korean Samyang 85/1.4 manual focus lenses that are popping up here and there, variously badged Samyang, Polar, Vivitar Series 1 and possibly others, usually priced around $350. Mine is the Vivitar Series 1 badged version, shipped quickly and correctly by B&H as always.

I wasn't pining for an 85, but I had been looking at AIS 85/1.4 lenses on the used market just because it's a gap in my manual focus Nikon collection, so when I saw this lens I thought I'd give it a try for the fun of it.

It showed up on a gloomy, rain on and off sort of day, and I was too busy with work to play with it much. I shot it here and there between calls when I had some time, and I shot the kids with it a bit in the evening.

It feels well-enough constructed, solid, with a nice smooth focus that takes about 150 degrees to throw it from its minimum focus to infinity.

My first impressions are that it's surprisingly sharp for a cheap lens, even wide open, though contrast suffers when it's opened up. It does seem to produce quite a bit of CA at f/1.4 on high contrast areas (see the coins in the last shot below). Stopped down the contrast picks up and it seems pretty sharp.

First a quick snapshot of the lens, hood, pouch and lovely purple box:

All the images below were shot hand-held at f/1.4 and are just meant as quick examples from my D200 with this lens. I apologize for not shooting the dpreview standard test set of a brick wall, a cat, and so forth

My daughter Zoe:

My son Ben on the run, caught floating here along with some rain drops:

Some change and a twenty dollar bill on the patio (unmodified D200 jpeg, just resized by flickr):

100% crop:

I'll have to play with it some more when I get time, but there's a quick look at it in case anyone out there is considering it . . .

Greg

yslen Regular Member • Posts: 353
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

thats impressive... i've seen a few of these on ebay
are they all the same, do you know, regardless of how they are branded?

Rumpis Veteran Member • Posts: 3,089
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and reasonably priced option. Just curious how consistent is quality. You definitely have a good one.
And your pictures are very nice

-- hide signature --

Rumpis
http://foto.pudele.com/ - Low intensity blog about
photography, Nikon and some other stuff interesting to
me. Just for fun. In Latvian.

Duckie Senior Member • Posts: 2,185
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)
-- hide signature --

As a quick and dirty set of samples, I'll venture to say this could be a very good lens!! Imagine what happens if you shoot raw and have the proper time to really flex its muscles!

 Duckie's gear list:Duckie's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 950 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

It's been reported elsewhere that they are all the same lens, and from the listings I looked at I'd tend to believe it as well, as they all list the same technical information and look roughly the same, for the most part.

Greg

yslen wrote:

thats impressive... i've seen a few of these on ebay
are they all the same, do you know, regardless of how they are branded?

OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Thanks, Rumpis.

I have to admit I'm a bit surprised at just how sharp this lens is at f/1.4--I'd seen a review that suggested it was very sharp, but had my doubts until I shot it a bit:

http://www.jsvfoto.com/Home/faqs/nikkor85mmf14aisvspolar85mmf14/nikkorpolarreview

I'll get more chances to play with it and really work out the details soon enough.

Greg

Rumpis wrote:

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and reasonably priced option.
Just curious how consistent is quality. You definitely have a good
one.
And your pictures are very nice

MWeston Contributing Member • Posts: 791
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Not that your shooting circumstances have been ideal, but color looks drab.

This is one area where I would expect a cheap third-party lens to fall short.

OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Yeah, I'm really not sure how well it does with color rendition or overall contrast from the little I played with it yesterday. The light was suboptimal to really tell too much--in the shot with my son running, you can see rain drops caught in the plane of focus along with him . . .

It does seem to resolve quite a bit of detail at f/1.4 though (look closely at the low contrast but detailed twenty dollar bill crop), so the applications of some curve adjustment or some light high pass sharpening may be all it really needs.

I guess I'll know better when I get time to play with it some more.

Greg

MWeston wrote:

Not that your shooting circumstances have been ideal, but color looks
drab.

This is one area where I would expect a cheap third-party lens to
fall short.

bgD300 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,552
Doooood, send it back

That shot of the brick wall is just sooooo out of focus. You must have tremendous front focus problems with it.

-- hide signature --

EXIF is embedded in photos
Zenfolio site - http://www.puntagordanaturally.com
RF Stock Portfolio - http://www.dreamstime.com/resp129611

 bgD300's gear list:bgD300's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7100 Nikon D90 Nikon D300 Nikon 1 V1 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR +16 more
cornstalker Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)
-- hide signature --

everyone seems to be forgetting the most important question - do they make those scooby doo crocs in adult size??!!??

derknipser Regular Member • Posts: 301
Re: Doooood, send it back

350 bucks for a manual focus third-party lens without CPU? Wooooow.

I just purchased a Nikkor 45/2,8 AI-P which is also a manual focus one, but have CPU and can be used with the lovely handy D40 (for metering). And for this one, I paid 330 bucks (from UK).

THIS is a deal, I guess. But not this korean thing ... :-))))

But nevertheless: Have fun with it.

Mario

sgnirts Forum Member • Posts: 68
Re: Doooood, send it back

Proper use of humor!...most excellent.

bgD300 wrote:

That shot of the brick wall is just sooooo out of focus. You must
have tremendous front focus problems with it.

Nikonparrothead Veteran Member • Posts: 5,685
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Nice stuff and clearly it's an outstanding bargain at $350.

Given that the manufacturer isn't losing money at that price point, one wonders how much more it would cost for an AF version.

-- hide signature --

'Nice pen, bet you write good stories with it.'

 Nikonparrothead's gear list:Nikonparrothead's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 Canon PowerShot S95 Fujifilm FinePix X100 Nikon Coolpix A Panasonic LX100 +14 more
Deleted17 Senior Member • Posts: 1,899
Looks like they reverse engineered the Nikon 85 1.4...

Other than the high iso noise in the first shot, I like what the lens does. Did you by any chance have the sharpness turned up in the shot of the little girl, or did you add sharpness in pp? It looks a bit oversharpened...

Iconel New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Inexpensive Korean 85/1.4 arrived today (photos)

Image quality looks great. Your kids are adorable too. Let us know how it performs as you use it more. It would be a great knockaround lens given its price and quality.

aroundomaha
aroundomaha Senior Member • Posts: 2,275
Hmmm something to consider

I've spent more money on something and not been as impressed as I am with these off the cuff examples. Much better than I would have thought. Thank you for sharing. Its what makes reading this site worthwhile.
-----------------------
Aroundomaha
http://www.aroundomaha.com
http://aroundomaha.smugmug.com

 aroundomaha's gear list:aroundomaha's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm F3.5-5.6 O.I.S Panasonic Lumix G 25mm F1.7 ASPH +2 more
OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Doooood, send it back

LOL--it's manual focus, so clearly it was my mistake there.

OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Nice catch . . .

lol again, good catch. Ben's a big Scooby Doo fan. Though adult wearing of Crocs should be banned, IMO.

Greg

OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Really? I wasn't super impressed with that one . . .

I had one and ending up selling it when the prices went nuts (made a nice profit, IIRC, though not as nice as if I'd waited a bit longer). I'd take this thing over a 45/2.8 any day, FWIW.

Greg

derknipser wrote:

350 bucks for a manual focus third-party lens without CPU? Wooooow.

I just purchased a Nikkor 45/2,8 AI-P which is also a manual focus
one, but have CPU and can be used with the lovely handy D40 (for
metering). And for this one, I paid 330 bucks (from UK).

THIS is a deal, I guess. But not this korean thing ... :-))))

But nevertheless: Have fun with it.

Mario

OP evilgreg3000 Contributing Member • Posts: 562
Re: Looks like they reverse engineered the Nikon 85 1.4...

The noise is my fault (well, I guess the D200's sensor too) not the lens--I underexposed and had to curve it a bunch brighter (and subsequently desat it down a bit to compensate). That made it noisy, so I did a pass of blurring noise removal and a bit of USM. On the full size it didn't look oversharpened, but on the flickr-resized link I posted I see the effect a bit along the edge of her chin.

The twenty dollar bill shot was completely unmolested though, straight from the camera.

Greg

DeSono wrote:

Other than the high iso noise in the first shot, I like what the lens
does. Did you by any chance have the sharpness turned up in the shot
of the little girl, or did you add sharpness in pp? It looks a bit
oversharpened...

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads