Bell & Howell 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical IF MC. If you’re looking to purchase this lens I always check Adorama and Ebay for good deals. It helps me if you purchase it through one of these links here in this review. When you purchase through these links it financially enables me to devote time to develop this site further. Thanks for the help! -Todd
This is a Samyang lens rebadged as a Bell & Howell and can also be found in other names like Rokinon, Bower, and Pro Optic.
18.1 oz (513g)
Rubber on Metal.
1 foot (3.5 meters).
8 blades stopping down to f/22.
Mine came in Canon EOS Metal Mount.
f/1.4: Nicely sharp wide open but lacks contrast and has a fair bit of chromatic aberration.
f/1.8: Sharpens up like crazy with lots more contrast and hardly any chromatic aberration.
f/2.2: Very sharp with great contrast and no chromatic aberration.
f/2.8: Better yet, with great color.
f/3.5: And better
f/4.5: Probably the sharpest stop.
f/5.6 Onward: Oddly you see a fraction of diffusion set in at f/5.6 and quickly gets worse and is really bad by f/11 onward.
Not a whole lot of vignette and quickly clears by f/2.5 and gone soon after.
Bokeh is really great and smooth and only a very tiny bit distracting.
A little bit of Barrel Distortion but not too bad.
On MF Camera
Optics: ★ ★ ★ ★
Mechanics: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ergonomics: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Usefulness: ★ ★ ★ ★
Availability: ★ ★ ★ ★
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
On AF Camera
Ergonomics : ★ ★ ★ ★
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Out of 5
This lens is actually a Samyang lens but has been labeled as many other names like Bell & Howell, Rokinon, Bower, and Pro Optic. They are all completely identical but just badged differently. The Samyang seems to be the most expensive. Look around and you will find better deals just looking under the other names.
This is a fantastic little lens and worth every penny. It is built well in many mounts and produces really sharp images with nice smooth bokeh. This lens is really fun to use and I like the idea of an inexpensive lens because I don’t have to worry about damaging it. Just holding the lens you can tell it is built well. It also feels great on the camera. For the price take advantage of using it hard and not having to worry about electronics. If you want to get a 85mm and are on a budget then buy this lens! You know you are getting a great lens for a good price!
A couple things I did not like about the lens is the fact that it is only manual focus. Shooting at large apertures can get a little difficult to nail the focus which can almost defeat the purpose of spending the money on a f/1.4 lens. However you can get some decent split focus screens in many DSLR models for shooting manual focus lenses on Ebay. I always have one body with one.
The other thing I noticed which was really odd and not expected is that the lens quickly suffers from optical diffusion which can be noticed already at f/5.6. This strange phenomenon takes a fair beating on the lens and is pretty bad by f/11 and almost unusable around f/16-22. This makes shooting at small apertures pointless and not very good for landscape photography. This lens was obviously designed for large aperture & portrait work because it can shoot a nice blurred out background.
Shoot large apertures lots like me? Then you will have no problem and will love this lens.
I do a lot of moving around and take photos of unpredictable moving subjects so I prefer the autofocus of the Canon 85mm f/1.2 and Sigma 85mm f/1.4. If you are doing photos where you can take the time to manual focus and want great optics for a fraction of the price then this Bell & Howell 85mm f/1.4 is the way to go. I did some comparisons with the Canon here and Sigma here if you would like to see a good fight and this winning Bell & Howell lens. If you decide to buy this lens make sure you look for the other names like Rokinon, Bower, Pro Optic, and Samyang.
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My hopes are to take the time to continue developing this website with more test photo based reviews. If you are ever interested in purchasing this lens or other photography equipment please do so through these links here in this review. I always check Adorama and Ebay for good deals. This helps support my family and allows me to take more time for the site. The best part is this site is free for you and I link good deals I find!
Sometimes these links will actually give you better deals then typical retail prices! I personally buy from the links I have listed whether looking for new gear or fun old stuff. I can personally attest to their good & safe service from years of experience. Thanks again to you, our readers, for supporting us! -Todd