Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA T85NB NX

Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA T85NB NX

The Samsung 85mm f/1.4 is a beast of a lens, but not any larger than other 85mm f/1.4 lenses. How does this beauty perform?

Most review text reused from the NX11 version. Samsung has a nice set of pancake lenses that all measure about 62x22mm, but this lens is by no means a pancake, and flies in the face of the subtle and light paradigm of the NX system being one of the largest and heaviest lenses available, but it is also the largest aperture native NX mount lens.

The build quality is top notch for the NX series lenses. It is a mix of metal and plastics, has a built in distance scale, a well damped focus ring, which I will add is mechanically coupled (not focus by wire), a handy A/MF-MF switch, and a nice large hood.

The lens has 10 elements in 8 groups, with a 9 bladed, mostly circular, diaphragm. The minimum focus distance is standard for the class at 0.82 m (3.2 ft), and the weight is also fairly standard at a heavy 714 g (25.2 oz) without the hood. It uses fairly standard 67mm filters. The lens is very dense, but not terribly large for the class of lens.

Uncorrected RAW

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Comments on the Results

The lens has good contrast and resolution across the frame at all apertures. I only have the uncorrected RAW data here, so don’t compare it to the other lenses corrected values (the camera applies more sharpening than Lightroom by default). Using it at f/1.4 and infinity you will notice some aberrations, but step down to f/2 or f/2.8 and it is just great. The level of detail resolved even at f/1.4 is great.

The lens has virtually no distortion.

Lateral CA is good, but noticeable at smaller apertures. It definitely isn’t a problem though. Longitudinal CA is typical for the class (fairly visible at large apertures).

Purple fringing is visible as with any lens with a fair amount of longitudinal CA. Average for this class of lens. Improves on stepping down the aperture. Lightroom 4.1 allows for correction of longitudinal CA and it does a good job, as long as you don’t overdo it and there aren’t strong colors behind the fringes that will desaturate.

Coma is minor and astigmatism is negligible. The bokeh circles are cats-eye shaped near the edge of the frame at large apertures.

Flare resistance is good for this class of lens. The coatings are extremely efficient at eliminate flares and the deep hood is hardly needed. After testing an older 85mm f/1.8 lens, it really is amazing how good this lens is with flare.

Measured focal length is 88mm at 1:53 magnification.

Pros and Cons

Bottom Line

On the NX20 this lens is extremely sharp, maxing out even the 20 MP sensor in the center from f/2 and the edges from f/5.6, the extreme edges are maxed out on the older NX11, but they are still quite good. On the NX20 there is more difference between the edges and the center, but the edges aren’t worse, the center/partway regions are just that much better.

This is a beautiful lens. The optical performance is excellent, it is sharp across the frame, doesn’t have any serious flaws in performance in any regard. The mechanically coupled focus makes manual focus feel decent, the distance scale on lens is a nice touch, but you can also get a distance scale visible in camera. Focus speed is good, but by design this style of lens is not super fast focusing (the focus throw is very long).

The price is actually fair if you compare it to Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, and even compared to the older 1.4D or Sigma 85mm f/1.4 it is comparable in price. Buy this lens for head and shoulders portraits or general telephoto work because of its excellent overall performance. Buy the lens on Adorama to support the site. If they don’t have it in stock and you are in the US, you can usually order them anyway and it will show up in 3 weeks or so.


The gallery images are © 2011 Eric Tastad, and may only be used for personal evaluation of the lenses. Click the play button and click “visit gallery” in the upper right to download full size images.

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