Dream in Bokeh: Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE II
Dream in Bokeh:
Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE II
Back in 2019, I got the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 MK1 and it got me further into children portraiture. Since then, it was my best choice for outdoor portraits due to its gorgeous bokeh and sharpness. So, I am so happy to try the second generation of this lens, which is the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE II. From using the first one for years, I knew instantly that this lens will produce a gorgeous bokeh that made me fall in love with the first one. I always say the term ‘’dreamy bokeh’’, and by this, Alice in Wonderland theme portrait shoot came to me on a whim. The theme fits as this does create a very dreamy smooth bokeh in which isolates your subject from the background. One of the reasons that I love a good 85mm focal length is the short distance from my subject but still retains a really good subject separation, curiouser and curiouser indeed!
One thing that this lens reminds me of is a classic vintage lens, it adds mood and feeling to my images but at the same time, sharp and crispy. When shooting directly into the sunlight, it creates a haze which adds more mood effect. There may be a mix opinion when a lens creates haze but, in my case, I love to use it purposely for a matte effect on photos, as well as to heighten the dreamy bokeh it already creates, and anyway, photography is playing with light.
In portrait photography, lenses with beautiful bokeh are sought after by many photographers. Right after I had years of newborn photography experience and was ready to venture into a much older crowd, well, not that old at least! I have come to realize that fast auto-focus is also very important in my line of work. I need to capture those split-second poses and I’m so delighted that this lens has a much better AF capability in combination with crispier sharpness, I mean, come on, just check out these images! Because of its lighter build, the handling is very well balanced, especially shooting outdoors handheld for hours.
Now, that is all with portraits outdoors using nothing but natural light. How about using it in a studio with controlled lighting? Well, with flash photography, I think this is when you truly see how sharp a lens is and with these images, I am shooting wide open f1.4 with an ND8 filter which gives me 3 stops down which will equal my exposure to at least f5.6. Shooting wide open for headshots in a studio can sometimes be tricky. Due to a very shallow depth of field, the tiniest movement can render your shots out of focus, but worry not! I got the shots to show you all that this lens is sharp at wide open.
So, now, let’s talk about a more special kind of photography, Infrared Photography. It’s special because this shows us a unique world because human eyes can’t see IR light. Through this photography, we see our surrounding differently such as textures and colours. This lens is performing very well with this as it doesn’t have any hotspot, well, slightly visible when you step down to f16. We have created a video of this on our Youtube channel, which you are welcome to have a peek!
In conclusion, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE II is indeed a better version of its predecessor, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 MK1. When you start you decide to get into telephoto lenses, I must say that this will be a great choice to introduce yourself as this is a short telephoto lens which will give you the opportunity to learn and experiment with different angles as well as learn how to incorporate bokeh into your photographs, definitely, a must-have lens in your bag.