SLR Gear, an offshoot website of the Imaging Resource, one of the web's most-trusted resources for all things digital photography, has just posted an in-depth review of the Samsung 85 f1.4 ED SSA lens, which is among the company's elite line of optics for its NX-mount cameras.
So, does the 85 SSA live up to its premium billing? Short answer: yes.
Optically, the lens is a bit of a mixed bag. In terms of sharpness, the lens is a bit soft when shot wide open. To correct this, stop down to f2.8 or f4 to get good sharpness. On the small end of things, diffraction limiting is minimal, only showing up at f22 and slightly at that. As for vignetting, chromatic aberration, and distortion, all are virtually nil. Of these figures, the lack of vignetting is most impressive, with SLR Gear only measuring about a quarter stop of falloff in the corners, which is beyond good for a f1.4 optic.
Mechanically, the lens is top-tier, being of all metal construction. Both the zoom and “i-Fn” ring are rubberized and move smoothly. As for what the 'i-Fn” ring is, it is a multi-function ring whose purpose can be assigned by the photographer. In essence, it's a custom function button on the lens. As for optics, the lens consists of 10 elements in 8 groups, with one element being low dispersion (hence the 'ED' in the name). The lens also features a 9-bladed, rounded diaphragm. As a final touch, the lens is fully weather-sealed, employing 8 gaskets in all to keep out junk. Don't forget to partner this lens with an equally protected camera, though!
As for focus, AF is by way of a Super Sonic Actuator motor, essentially a ring-type sonic drive. In operation, the lens is accurate and quiet to focus, though not overly fast (probably thanks to all of that glass that has to get moved around). Additionally, full time manual focus is another function.
Overall conclusion? A good one, with the only real gripe besides size (obvious at first look) is the wide open softness. However, this one shortcoming is easily remedied and, at least for portrait use, razor-sharpness is not always desirable, anyway.
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