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08-20-2012, 05:32 AM   #1
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Comparing Pentax M 85/2 to Rokinon 85/1.4

Currently in my lens lineup, I have a big gap between 50 and 135. I'd like to fill that with a prime with a focal length between 70 and 90. I'm on a tight budget so bang-for-the-buck factors largely. I do have a KatzEye focusing screen and have been exclusively MF for the last 1.5 months.

At first I was lusting after the Pentax M 85 f/2 but just today the Rokinon/Samyang/Bower 85 f/1.4 has also caught my eye. $300 for a new Rokinon would be a bit outside of my budget range (around $225) but I (or my wife) might be willing to spring the extra amount for a new lens. As far as I can tell, here are the pros/cons of those two:

Pentax M 85 f/2 pros:
- Pentax brand, Pentax quality
- compact
- 49 mm filter thread, which is what all of my current lenses have

Pentax M 85 f/2 cons:
- Rare
- Difficult to find in a price range approaching $225 - $250. I'm also very impatient so I'm not very likely to sit around and wait several months for a super deal.
- Completely manual, therefore aperture info not saved in EXIF.
- Cannot be bought new, so no warranty.

Rokinon pros:
- Modern build, auto-aperture
- f/1.4
- Can be bought new

Rokinon cons:
- Bigger/heavier
- Filter thread does not match the rest of my lenses (therefore I couldn't share polarizing filter or lens cap with other lenses in my collection)

I'm operating under the (possibly false?) assumption that image quality and color rendition are somewhat equal between the two lenses, but please let me know if that assumption is incorrect. Currently I am not so concerned about distortion or CA. Are there any other factors which I should be considering?

PS - although I do prefer primes for the speed/price/size, I would be willing to hear any suggestions for zooms that encompass 85 mm.

Thanks in advance!

08-20-2012, 05:47 AM   #2
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I haven't seen a direct comparison between the two. Here's a good review of the Samyang (Rokinon/Vivitar/Bower/Pro-Optic) 85mm f/1.4 which might help you:

Samyang 85 mm f/1.4 Aspherical IF review - Introduction - Lenstip.com
08-20-2012, 06:02 AM   #3
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Optical the Rokinon is the better lens. At least from f/1.4-f/4.0 or so. At higher f-ratios the M85/2 is sharper but in the lower range the Rokinon wins and has the better bokeh.

There is a thread on the M85/2 where a shooter (simbon4o) said he switched from the M85/2 to the Rokinon/Samyang.

The M85/2 is a very nice lens and it's big plus is the small size but if you can afford the Rokinon and will use it mainly with small f-ratios, I'd go for the Rokinon. I have it and love it. I had access to an M85/2 as well and loved it too but I'd give the overall nod to the Rokinon.

Last edited by Class A; 08-20-2012 at 06:23 AM.
08-20-2012, 06:30 AM   #4
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I don't have the samyang/rokinon, but few other 85.
M85/2 is the most compact and lightest in weight of all I currently have.
Like all lenses wide open, f2 is not as good as faster lenses in f2.
The M85/2 is a bit sharper than Super Takumar 85/1.9, but they don't have same optical properties than focal length.

Get one if you can find within reasonable prices.

08-20-2012, 07:13 AM   #5
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The Tamron 90mm is a good lens ,both in AF and manual
08-20-2012, 07:17 AM   #6
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I have the M and wouldn't be without it. It has phenomenal IQ (note, not just sharpness, but colour and contrast too) and is very small, so it's invaluable for travel. I'd love a Samyang 85 too, but it wouldn't be able to replace the Pentax. Two 85s would be an expensive luxury.

They are quite rare, but a search doesn't have to be passive - put up wanted ads in photo forums and you might find someone with a lens to sell. The lack of warranty is not an issue - the M will already be 30 years old or more, and if it's survived this long, it will survive a good while longer. Obviously you need to check it's in good condition before buying.
08-20-2012, 07:24 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies so far. My main photographic interests right now are candid portraits and action shots of family, mostly my 3 year old daughter (we'll also be adding a baby boy in Nov). I think most of my use would be at < f/4 range, so the Rok is looking more like it might be a better choice, despite the size. And all of the M 85's in good condition on ebay right now are more expensive than the $300 I could get the Rokinon for.

Now if only my FA 35 would sell so that I could fund the purchase of said lens...
08-20-2012, 07:57 AM   #8
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I have the M85/2 as well as the (1967) Takumar 85/1.9, and Leica Summicron-R 90/2 and Elmarit 90/2.8. While optically the Leica lenses are better, I often get more pleasing results with either of the Pentax lenses, because I find they handle and focus faster. The size and convenience of the M85 is worth a lot. The optical differences are less important than the overall "package" in getting great results.

08-20-2012, 08:33 AM   #9
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The M85/2 is a real thing of beauty. It needs a good hood, which increases the contrast and sharpness wide open.
08-20-2012, 12:02 PM - 3 Likes   #10
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Hi! I have switched from M85 to Samyang 85 1.4 and the short story is like this:

M85 is smaller, nicer to touch it and in some conditions something like magical .

The Samyang - sharper wide open with less fringing then even top class lenses like Canon 85 1.2, Nikkor 85 1.4, Sigma 85 1.4, Nice and smooth render but sometimes when the magic of the M85 appears the samyang is a little boring without any bokeh only defocus. And the samyang renders colors much better. About sharpness - M85 is sharper from 5.6 to 11 a little more but only a little.


And the samyang is a little wider like 83mm or the M85 is actually 87mm.
The focus with the samyang is much easier when focus on distance but it appears that focusing the resolution table is another thing I didn't succeed to focus with the samyang better without liveview.
I have head to head comparison in bokeh but it is in PEF on my HDD and still not uploaded... no time for this.

Here is something that is impossible to be done with M85:
08-20-2012, 12:40 PM   #11
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Thanks for the detailed reply simbon4o! What is it about the picture that is impossible for the M85/2? Combination of fast shutter speed and DOF?
08-20-2012, 02:12 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChooseAName Quote
Thanks for the detailed reply simbon4o! What is it about the picture that is impossible for the M85/2? Combination of fast shutter speed and DOF?
Тhe shutter speed you can compensate with ISO, the smooth render of the lens - no. And of course the OOF is much more with 1.4 than 2.0(even 2.8 because at 2.0 the M85 will make the umbrella blue because of the strong fringing).

PS here is one example of magicness of the M85. The bokeh is a little PPed to become more smoother but only a little. It is F2.0 shot.

Last edited by simbon4o; 08-20-2012 at 02:22 PM.
08-20-2012, 04:05 PM   #13
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Nice shots Simbon4o. Going by your test shots i can see why you would favour the Samyang. However my experience with the M85/2 wide open would show a blue cast/fringe equal to f4.0 on your chart and decrease more using a deep hood & with a resulting greater sharpness. The sensor plays a large role with this colour cast, my K20 will always produce a strong magenta and blue cast whilst there will be almost none on the K-r sensor, all else being equal.

Last edited by DreTAX; 08-20-2012 at 08:43 PM. Reason: error
08-20-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by simbon4o Quote
Hi! I have switched from M85 to Samyang 85 1.4 and the short story is like this:

M85 is smaller, nicer to touch it and in some conditions something like magical .

The Samyang - sharper wide open with less fringing then even top class lenses like Canon 85 1.2, Nikkor 85 1.4, Sigma 85 1.4, Nice and smooth render but sometimes when the magic of the M85 appears the samyang is a little boring without any bokeh only defocus. And the samyang renders colors much better. About sharpness - M85 is sharper from 5.6 to 11 a little more but only a little.


And the samyang is a little wider like 83mm or the M85 is actually 87mm.
The focus with the samyang is much easier when focus on distance but it appears that focusing the resolution table is another thing I didn't succeed to focus with the samyang better without liveview.
I have head to head comparison in bokeh but it is in PEF on my HDD and still not uploaded... no time for this.

Here is something that is impossible to be done with M85:
Thanks for sharing the test results. I have both M85/2 and Rokinon 85/1.4 and I still prefer the M85 at f2. It has great colours rendition, something the Rokinon can't produce. Make sure you use a hood with the M85/f2. I always have the hood on and will not leave home without it.
08-20-2012, 05:49 PM   #15
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One thing no one has mentioned is that the rsamyang is internally focused. This means it changes (reduces) focal length slightly when you get really close. The M85 is a traditional focus whe the whole group moves in and out
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