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The Phoblographer’s Guide to the Right Rokinon Lens for You

by Chris Gampat on 08/12/2012

Over a very long period of time, the staff of The Phoblographer have reviewed countless lenses. Most notably though, we’ve reviewed a version of nearly ever Rokinon lens produced to date. Because we’ve been generally very happy with the production quality, we’ve compiled a guide to their lenses consisting of the reviews we’ve done.

Looking for some affordable prime lenses with some very good image quality? This guide has you covered whether you’re looking for a Rokinon Lens or Samyang lens.

Contents

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8mm f3.5 (DSLR): B&H / Amazon

8mm f2.8 (Sony NEX, Fujifilm X, Samsung NX): B&H / Amazon

8mm T3.5 Cinema Lens: B&H / Amazon

7.5mm f3.5 (Micro Four Thirds): B&H / Amazon

14mm f2.8: B&H / Amazon

24mm f1.4: B&H / Amazon

35mm f1.4: B&H / Amazon

85mm f1.4: B&H / Amazon

35mm T1.5 Cine: B&H / Amazon

24mm f3.5 Tilt Shift: B&H / Amazon

300mm f6.3 Mirror Lens: B&H / Amazon

Samyang 16mm f2: B&H / Amazon

24mm f1.4

We tested the 24mm f1.4 after falling in love with the focal length during our Olympus 12mm f2 review. Indeed, 24mm is a very cinematic focal length as well as the one that many street photographers have fallen in love with for the intimate feeling it renders images with.

Amongst the highest praises that we’ve given this lens was its superb image quality in the form of excellent sharpness and some of the best color rendering we’ve seen from a lens like this at its price point.

We used the lens on the Canon 5D Mk II, 7D and 5D Mk III and found it to be excellent no matter what body it was on. It was much easier to focus through the viewfinder on the latter two camera bodies: which is something to keep in mind for street photography and candid shooting.

One of the only problems we found with the lens was that the focusing wasn’t as smooth as we’d like; and in our unit we found a bit of tension in the ball bearings. Your copy may differ though. Take a look at our full review for more details.

Get Yours: 24mm f1.4: B&H / Amazon

35mm f1.4

The 35mm f1.4 is one of my personal favorite lenses as I own the Canon version of the lens. This focal length is used by many photographers due to its semi-wide angle field of view that some say nearly mimics the way the human eye sees. So just how much did we like this lens?

Gevon Servo, our Social Media Coordinator, thought that this lens was positively brilliant. It IS THE LENS that made him use manual focus glass more often. He admits though that it isn’t a lens for everyone. Gevon loves the autofocus that his Nikons give him, but this lens made him slow down and pay more attention to his scene: which he feels yielded him better image quality.

If you’re the type of photographer that likes to slow down and study their subjects in order to get the best image possible before you hit that trigger, then the 35mm f1.4 is a major lens to consider. It is sharp and has some positively gorgeous bokeh that you’ll be smitten with.

Be sure to check out our review of the 35mm f1.4.

Get Yours: 35mm f1.4: B&H / Amazon

8mm T3.8 Cinema Lens

rokinon 8mm cine Example Shot 2

The difference between this lens and others is, well, the fact that the 8mm T3.8 Cinema Lens was designed for shooting video. Coming out to an equivalent of 8mm at f3.5, this lens is quite the interesting beast. First off, it does indeed render distorted images; but they can be corrected for in post-production; and if you’re getting a lens like this, you really should brace yourself for a full post-production process to begin with.

On a full frame body, this lens will render an extremely circular image with it becoming more usable once it is on a cropped camera body with an APS-C sized sensor. This is because you end up only using the center of the lens; so in actuality the lens’s nature doesn’t change.

But that isn’t the killer feature still. The cinematography world is raving about the game changing Black Magic Cinema Camera that is nearly everything that every Indie filmmaker wants. With its very small sensor, it will render around a 21mm field of view: a nearly perfect cinematic experience.

Besides this, the lens is very sharp and has grooved focusing and aperture rings to be used with most follow focusing devices.

You can take a look at the review of the cinema lens and see for yourself.

Get Yours: 8mm T3.5 Cinema Lens: B&H / Amazon

 

 

14mm f2.8

Love to shoot wide? If you’re a landscape, real estate or documentary photographer, then the 14mm f2.8 may be right up your alley. As is characteristic with every lens of this focal length, expect a large bulbous front element and a giant lens head attached to it with an even bigger lens cap to protect it. Be sure to also make some extra room to accommodate it in your camera bag.

One of the biggest selling points of this lens should be its image quality. And although we’ve mentioned that for all of Rokinon’s lenses, consider the fact that this lens has a sprinkle of micro contrast, to make your images look a little bit like those from Zeiss. Additionally, it is wonderfully sharp wide open.

It is very wide, so consider using the LCD screen to focus and confirm that your subject is in focus; unless you have a focus confirm chipped version of the lens.

Landscape photographers, and those that love to get up close and personal should consider this lens. Check out our full review.

Get Yours: 14mm f2.8: B&H / Amazon

8mm f2.8 (Sony NEX)

When Sony developed the NEX system, they carefully considered that users may want to manually focus their lenses due to very good focus peaking feature. Indeed, the 8mm f2.8 not only is a small lens to perfectly match an NEX camera’s size, but is also extremely capable and one of the sharpest lenses for the system that we’ve tested so far.

Because of the super wide focal length, this lens will render a near 12mm field of view on an NEX camera. Combined with focus peaking, you’ll always be able to nail critical focus with this lens.

The package will also stay super tiny too without compromising on ergonomic feeling or image quality. Stick this lens on your camera and you may just become addicted.

Check out our full 8mm f2.8 (Sony NEX) review.

Get Yours: 8mm f2.8 (Sony NEX, Fujifilm X, Samsung NX): B&H / Amazon

35mm T1.5 Cine

Rokinon Cine 35 mm Above shot of lens

Rokinon makes very affordable optics for cinematographers. In fact, the Cine 35 T1.5 is very affordable when put up against many of its other competitors. The barrel is made very solidly and there are tons of markings that are easily read by your focus puller when on set. To that end, the focusing is also very smooth and was simple to get used to. But if you’re a Canon cinematographer using a DSLR, we recommend sticking with Magic Lantern due to the focus peaking feature. This can help deliver the best results: otherwise this is an easy win for Sony!

But how are the optics? While understandably soft wide open, you’ll want to stop this lens down to T5.6 for the best effects.

A 35mm lens is an essential to any cinematographer after perhaps a 24mm lens. Take a look at what Thursten Kent did with ours in the review.

Get Yours: 35mm T1.5 Cine: B&H / Amazon

8mm f3.5 (DSLR)

Fisheye lenses can be extremely fun if you give them enough time and let your mind’s creative freedom explore into territories that it hasn’t before. Still, even then they are very specialized lenses. The Rokinon 8mm f3.5 is also one of those lenses that will force you to think outside of the box: it made me do so!

Part of being a reviewer means that we need to have the products adapt to our workflow and thought processes, but it also means embracing creativity and being experimental with the products we get. When I reviewed this lens, I didn’t use fisheyes often. However, I was able to get some awesome results with it. The sharpness and color rendition is unparalleled, and your images will have lots of resolution for you to play with in post. The only flaw we found was that the focusing distance scale didn’t work out exactly the way it should have. If you can get around that though, then get ready for some really creative images.

So besides landscape photographers, who uses fisheyes? Well, event photographers looking to capture craziness happening throughout an area. Additionally, some extremely creative portraits have been done with fisheyes. Another good idea: sports. Find any skaters around your area, and approach them for portraits while getting down under them with your fisheye. Add some flash in the mix, and you’ll find a way to really make the photo.

This lens may be in your future, but be sure to first check out our review of the 8mm f3.5 (DSLR).

Get Yours: 8mm f3.5 (DSLR): B&H / Amazon

7.5mm f3.5 (Micro Four Thirds)

Dear Micro Four Thirds users: get ready to have a lot of fun. The 7.5mm f3.5 was a lens that I tried to use super seriously to capture images like what I have done with the other Rokinon fisheye lenses, and I personally failed. Where I found the lens to succeed though was with using the art filters that come standard with Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras.

When I tested the lens, I used it with older cameras; and the newer ones will only render much, much better images and also have features that can unlock much better potential from this lens.

Before you decide if it’s right for you, check out our review of the 7.5mm f3.5 (Micro Four Thirds).

Get Yours: 7.5mm f3.5 (Micro Four Thirds): B&H / Amazon

85mm f1.4

Portrait shooters: consider the 85mm f1.4.

The 85mm f1.4 is extremely sharp and renders the best bokeh we’ve seen on an 85mm f1.4. Those that want more than what Canon and Nikon can offer in their f1.8 versions, but don’t want to shell out tons of money for Sigma’s version or Nikon’s version can consider the 85mm f1.4 from Rokinon if they can live with manually focusing the lens. If you have an AF confirmation chipped version, even more power to you! You’ll be extremely happy with the way that this lens renders skin tones as well. They are extremely life like!

Check out our full field review, and see for yourself why the lens is really that great.

Get Yours: 85mm f1.4: B&H / Amazon

16mm f2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 16mm f2 review images (4 of 9)ISO 1001-80 sec

Samyang and Rokinon are essentially the same brand with a name difference signifying differences for sales and distribution for Europe and America. The lens is designed for APS-C DSLRs and mirrorless cameras and vignettes quite heavily on a full frame camera. In terms of sharpness, it is just like every other Rokinon lens out there: top notch.

Due to how wide the focal length is, it is a bit tough to get any bokeh but once you do you’ll fall in love with the creaminess. Color rendition is also very true to life.

As with any Rokinon lens, use focus confirmation if available with your mount, or Live View combined with focus peaking.

See our full review here.

Get Yours: Samyang 16mm f2: B&H / Amazon

Rokinon 300mm f6.3 ED UMC CS

julius motal the phoblographer rokinon 300mm image 3

So what is a mirror lens used for? Most folks use them for astrophotography due to their affordability, small size and the quality. Mirror lenses don’t offer the sharpest in image quality, but they offer cool effects in the fact that their bokeh can sometimes render donut shaped areas. For creative reasons, this is reason enough to spring for it.

Once again though, we need to emphasize that this isn’t a lens that you go to for sharpness. Instead, use it for creative purposes.

See our full review here.

Get Yours: 300mm f6.3 Mirror Lens: B&H / Amazon

Rokinon Tilt-Shift 24mm f3.5 ED AS UMC

AbramGoglanian_ThePhoblographer_Rokinon24mmTS_ProductImages (5 of 5)

With this tilt shift lens, you’ll have no reason for a fake effect in post-production. Rokinon’s first tilt-shift lens is  winner in our book due to how much it can correct distortion, sharpness, color rendition, and the beautiful out of focus areas that you can get due to the tilt-shift mechanism. Our only qualm was really the build quality as the plastic exterior could mean that the extra stresses put on the lens may not hold up so well.

See our full review here.

Get Yours: 24mm f3.5 Tilt Shift: B&H / Amazon

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