Cheap 85mm f/1.4 lens alternative

Bower 85mm f/1.4 lens for Nikon (manual focus, aspherical IF, badged also as Samyang, Polar, Vivitar):


Here is the Vivitar version:


The lens sells for USD 350. If you are lucky you can find it on Amazon for less. FYI the Nikon AF version sells for over USD 1200. The manual focus Nikon 85mm 1.4 (discontinued) sells on eBay for over USD 400.

Some reviews of this lens:


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  • Anonymous

    dirty cheap lens for dirty cheap people.

    you can lucky to find a nikkor 85mm 1.4 AIS on for under $350.

  • Chris

    That lens took those pictures? Wow. Seems interesting.

  • A BGN 85mm f/1.4 AIS is more like $450 at KEH.

    • RThomas

      Yes, and one in EX is currently offered at $616… that’s not TOO expensive but still, $350, or $616… hmmm. When I am shooting at f/1.4 I am primarily concerned with getting the 1) shallow DOF or 2) a reasonably fast shutter speed. I’m buying one of these Vivitar lenses ASAP.

  • abouna

    The Nikon does NOT sell for around $1200, that’s the coveted AF version. And I say you’d be nuts to buy this over a used Nikon 85/1.4 MF which often sell for the same price.

    • The Nikon 85mm 1.4 AI-S version was discontinued in 2006 if I am not mistaken, the AF is the current version and it does sell for 1200. I agree that we are comparing apples and oranges (Af vs manual), but this post was about current models.

  • Marc W

    I’d love to see how this goes against the Zeiss. I might be crazy for thinking it might stack up.

  • tibor

    people who have no monney often show better results with “old” cheap lenses than unpassionated chain photographers… this vivitar lens looks awesome but the price is to high for a MF plastic lens for sure. For 199$, I’ll buy it !!!

  • Also, this post from the excellent No Metering group on flickr may be of a little interest:

  • Chad

    I don’t care for posts like this on the front page. I understand that it’s a review and it’s a cheap lens, but I’m not here to look at bargain basement, third party, MF, discount lenses. If you have no news or rumors fine… but I don’t think reviews need to be here. If I were you I’d be modeling my site on a proven winner like that site does one thing and does it very well.

    If you insist on posting articles like this (it is your site after all, do what you want) can you at least give us a few links to full res images?

    • Justin

      I disagree. I think it should be all things dealing with Nikon cameras not just strictly Nikon branded items only.

    • Camera Freak

      I am with Chad completely!

      I come here for rumors about Nikon, we all appreciate that you want to make some money from your site with advertising, but please keep it to NIKON products not junk that you could in theory put on a Nikon.

      Camera Freak

    • Moreover, does review products and software and offers advice.

      I say rock on. Don’t read the articles you don’t have interest in. I, for one, like having content every day. When there are no new rumors you’ve gotta post something.

      • Chad

        MacRumors doesn’t review items on the front page. They may link to reviews, give performance results and come close.. but they do not post hands on reviews of Psystar machines on the front page with suggestions that users may want to try it out.

        The forums gets reviews.. but again, not the front page.

        • Anonymous

          dude, this is a blog not a forum, we don’t have pages, we have a continuous stream. If you don’t care don’t read it. the admin isn’t spamming the site with bull so its not a real problem, get over it.

        • Scroll down. Easy. Much easier than whining about how much you don’t like it. If one post causes you this much grief on someone else’s blog, then perhaps you need to blow the dust off your camera and go shooting instead of finding reasons to make a big ado about nothing.

    • A new Nikon fanboy

      I don’t see the problem with this post.

      It’s about a lens that many people that read NR would consider buying for their Nikons, and one that is not yet widely available in the United States.

      I would never have known about this lens if not reading about it here. Now it’s on my radar.

      I’ll await tests from sources I can trust before buying it, and most likely would look for a used Nikon first. But the lens looks promising, and I am glad I took 10 seconds to read about it.

      Not everyone here is a pro that should buy the best, regardless of price. Times are tough. I have to watch every dollar these days.I still want to have fun. This lens looks fun.

  • QuadraPixel

    I’m not about to get rid of my new favorite lens, my 85mm f/1.8. I love it soooo much!

  • noname lens costing more than nikon’s 85 f 1.8 and even takes uglier pictures. i will pass. besides, f1.4 is not loved for the fact that it is fast lens, but because it have amazing contrast, sharpness and bokeh.

  • Anonymous

    I saw test of this lens. Very poor optical resolution.

    • John

      All the tests i have seen tells that this lens has superior IQ. Just check those links!

      That’s why it’s a bargain.

  • przykawie

    Nice rumor!!!

  • mate00sh

    You can see some photos (and comparision with Canon 1.2 85L) on polish Canon forum (test is in polish):

  • Anonymous

    Yes why not. Why should these independent sites fake lens test? But anyway i would’nt buy the lens, cause i don’t really need it.

  • mate00sh

    Summary of the test:

    + + + price to functionality ratio
    + small vignetting
    + small chromatic aberrations
    + nice bokeh
    + good sharpness across whole image – even when fully opened
    + well made
    + focus ring without stops
    + manual aperture setting is very good when filming with 5dmkII
    + 3 years guarantee (in Poland)

    – lack of focus confirmation on brightscreen
    – lack of AF
    – hard to focus on small brightscreens
    – weak hood mount
    – weaker central sharpness on f1.4 (although acceptable)

    • mate00sh

      I hope that Cichy, who made the test, won’t be angry for translating and posting this here:)

  • Anonymous

    I just wonder how much are they paying to get advertise?

    • rwpl

      oh stop it :] you are getting a bit borring

    • Millions and millions of dollars – I can’t even count them… I didn’t get paid a penny if this will make you happy, I found this interesting and I posted it.

      • Phoggy

        Thanks for posting this! I think it’s really interesting.

    • Anon, and one more thing: no reason to post the same comment 3 times – I will consider this as spam and will ban you. Consider yourself warned.

      • Stefan

        Admin, I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of those people with their comments – they have nothing else to do but complain, please ban him/her.

    • HD

      Anon, you have not idea how online advertising works, so I suggest you stay quiet.

    • joe

      Anonymous, relax dude – what’s your problem? Why do you care about other people’s money? I bet you work on Wall Street… DO you have a clue what does it take to run a site like NikonRumors?

  • Ghargh

    As far as I know it won’t meter on camera levels below D200/300, think it’s worth noting

    • RThomas

      It is worth noting… using a manual focus lens on, say, a D70 is a bit difficult. People like me who grew up using (and still own) hand held light meters have no real issues with this process, but it can be inconvenient.

  • RThomas

    Ignore the haters. I am glad this was posted here, because otherwise I would probably not have heard of it. I shoot in low light (club shows and street photography) with both digital and film Nikons, and sometimes I really need fast lenses. Until now I haven’t even considered an 85/1.4 but now I might be able to give one a try. Thanks!

    • I know that there are readers that will be interested in that lens – that’s why I posted it and I will continue to write about interesting Nikon related topics. if you notice some people are more concerned how much money I will make from the advertisement… Vivitar, if you are reading this – it is a good idea, please send me a check.

      • RThomas

        This Vivitar lens and a Sigma 20mm f/1.8, and me and my D300 will be very very happy. 🙂

  • A new Nikon fanboy

    Looks like it’s also being branded “Rokinon.”

    Cameta has it on their ebay site for $300.

    • here is the link for the Rokinon on eBay

  • David

    I wonder if it’s really made in korea or not and who’s the real OEM behind it among all these brands, I’ll be interested into seeing what other offering this manufacturer has to offer.

    (Is it me, or does it looks like a sigma lens?)

    • David

      Looks like it’s really made in korean by Samyang (part of japanese cie Seikou now?)
      And they OEM lens for other brands too…hmmm

  • jimmy

    I’d choose a quality nikon 85mm 1.8 and lose 2/3 stop over this crummy 1.4 lens anything day for $350.00

    • RThomas

      I agree with you regarding the quality of the optics, it is certainly important; but I have to say that the difference between f/1.8 and f/1.4 is noticeable when the difference in shutter speed is 1/30th and 1/60th (or going to a higher ISO with the noise issues that presents). Sometimes the most important thing is simply getting the shot.

      For more than a year I shot low light with the very good AF-Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, and my main issue was subject motion. So, I finally got the AF-Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, and I have to say, I can see the difference. Check out to see a few examples (not much there at the moment, I’m finishing graduate school and therefore I have no life).

  • Max

    It is 85mm f/1.4 but it is MF-only! The problem is current DSLRs are not made for MF. The bright focusing screens are not very usable for MF. When you have super thin DOF, it is a tough situation.

    Old MF cameras such as Minolta x-700 has split prism focusing screen that helps a lot with MF.


  • One of the fellows on the Vivitar 85mm f1.4 Flickr group has a Nikkor 85mm f1.8 as well as a Samyang/Polar lens. He said the Samyang/Polar was sharper wide open (Philcozz).

    Here are his comments:

    There’s some new pictures up by evilgreg3000 of his kids that show how well it works outdoors. Once the grass gets greener out here in Seoul, I’ll post some more portraits up (both on my site and on the Flickr group).

    And as for getting paid by anyone to review the lens…I’ve yet to receive a penny. I’ve just had plenty of people email me saying thank you for the review. To which I say to them, “You’re welcome…and if you could, please buy some prints so I can pay for Grad School and still buy some more lenses!” ; )

    For those of you who are interested, I’ve modified the settings so it’s possible to download the original images from the review. Just make sure you shoot me an email if you’d like to post them elsewhere.

    And Nikon Rumors, thanks for the link. I for one love to read about new things, even if they’re not rumors. I hadn’t come across that review from Poland before. My dad will love it (he’s Polish)!

    Keep up the awesome work you do on this site. I enjoyed reading about the D5000…certainly a cool toy, and that wasn’t a rumor (at least it wasn’t a rumor last week).

    And that D750 with swivel screen…don’t we all wish! But why is the swivel screen still on the bottom? Do Olympus and Canon have some sort of patent on side swivel screens? Strange. In any case, happy shooting to all! Spring is here, and it’s a great time to be shooting some pictures.

    I may give macro a try with my Polar lens. I had no idea you could mount this to an extension tube and still have it work (see that DPReview link). Should be interesting!

    Kind Regards,

  • YuT

    It’s also known under Rokinon brand.

  • YuT

    And also can be known as Opteka 85mm f/1.4

  • David

    Does anyone know where to get this lens in the EU? If I buy it from the US the tax would be far too high.

  • Didier

    @admin: thanks for this link and your excellent work

    The same maker makes also some other lens (800mm Mirror etc…) which could also have their use. in Europe you can get them from Poland:

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