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Field Review: Rokinon 85mm F/1.4 (Day 4-Video Testing)

by Chris Gampat on 06/28/2011

After testing the lens out for portraits with flash, then street photography and giving our initial impressions, I decided to test the Rokinon 85mm F/1.4 on the Canon 5D Mk II for shooting some street video. This was all done handheld.

Gear Used

Canon 5D Mk II

Rokinon 85mm F/1.4

Canon 580 EX II

The Video

In Use

Back in college, I used to shoot a lot of video. When I graduated, stills paid the bills: so that side just took a step forward into the limelight. It was nice to shoot video again, but shooting video with a DSLR can be tough without a follow focus, a viewfinder or a stabilizer of some sort. And that’s exactly what happened here: I got a lot of shaky video despite keeping my elbows tucked in. The reason for this is because of my focusing the lens in and out to show off what the bokeh looks like.

With that said, make no mistake: the image quality that this lens delivers on the Canon 5D Mk II for video is simply astounding and perhaps one of the best I’ve seen from a lens. I tested out video recording with the Sigma 70-200mm F/2.8 EX OS HSM a while back (see full review here). I really think that image stabilized lenses help with recording, and that’s one of the reasons why I love my Canon 24-105mm F/4 L IS.

If it were an even lighter focal length like the Canon 50mm F/1.8, it might have been easier. Indeed, that is still a great lens and I’ve used it for video previously.

If the 85mm lens had stabilization, it would have perhaps been a bit easier to use.

In Comparison…

The closest thing to this lens would be the Zeiss 85mm cinema prime for video. I had hands-on time with that lens a while back. Here’s what that video looked like.

The problem with this lens was that it was even harder to focus and was designed to be used with a follow focus and on a tripod or stabilizer of some sort. It’s also much heavier than the Rokinon lens and quite a bit more expensive. What you’re paying for though is better build quality, better focus falloff, and T stops vs F stops (which are much more accurate).

But once again, for the price point of the Rokinon, you can’t beat it.

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