Many years ago, Rokinon wasn’t as much of a household name amongst photographers as they are moreso today–and I would never have thought that they’d come out with a 135mm f2 lens. They were associated with the likes of Vivitar–and indeed it took a long time for them to erase that history. Today, they’re regarded amongst the photography community as being synonymous with a budget Zeiss option.
In fact, that’s kind of what the Rokinon 135mm f2 performs like.
The Rokinon 135mm f2 is a lens that sports a 9 bladed aperture, a plasticky exterior, 11 glass elements in 7 groups and can come with a AF confirmation chip. The lens can focus as closely at 2.6 ft. For $549.00, there honestly isn’t a whole lot for anyone to complain about–especially if you’re very serious about portraiture.
Pros and Cons
- Stunning image quality on every front
- Very precise focusing ring
- Kind of big, but that’s natural for a lens like this
- Rokinon needs a new exterior. I’d pay extra for metal for sure
The Rokinon 135mm f2 was tested with the Canon 6D, Alienbees Einstein E640, and Westcott six foot umbrellas.
Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the lens.
|Filter Thread||Front: 77 mm|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.2 x 4.8″ (8.13 x 12.19 cm)|
|Weight||29.28 oz (830 g)|
|Package Weight||2.55 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||7.716 x 5.197 x 5.118″|
The Rokinon 135mm f2 is a lens that in many ways embraces the looks embodied in a natural evolution of the Rokinon lens. It looks serious, but could surely be much more serious looking.
We start the ergonomics tour with the front of the lens. Here, you’ll find that massive 77mm filter thread. There are no brandings or markings on the front. For what it’s worth, you’ll want to keep the lens hood on to protect it from dings and scratches.
Move to the top of the lens and what you’ll find is the manual focus ring, the distance scale and the aperture ring. All of these highly complicated markings aren’t Cuneiform, but instead depth of field and distance scale markers. With a lens like this, you’re best off just using an LCD screen to focus along with a good, solid tripod. However, focusing with the distance scale can give you a decent idea of where you should be, but fine tuning should be done with an LCD screen unless you’ve got perfect vision.
Since this is a manual focus lens, it doesn’t offer any other controls on it. Both the Canon and Nikon versions have an aperture ring; and so you’ll control the aperture that way unless you’ve got a Nikon camera body.
Rokinon’s lenses are all pretty similar: they have a very plasticky exterior, an aperture ring, a rubberized manual focus ring, and that’s all. For the price point, you really can’t complain but you’d also want better build quality externally when other third party competitors are making lenses with lots of metal for an affordable price point.
Of anything, this is probably this lens’ weakest point when speaking comparatively. In real life use, it’s really not that bad.
Ease of Use
135mm lenses are best used with the camera on a tripod and this one is no exception. To get the absolute best portraits, I really, really recommend shooting on a tripod and not handheld. Add into this the fact that the lens is a manual focus optic, and that when you turn the focusing ring you’ll also be shifting the camera/lens around. For that reason, a tripod lets you do the least amount of work and helps you get the results you really want.
The Rokinon 135mm f2 lens is a manual focus lens. Because of this, you’re best off using it with a tripod if you’re aiming for precision in your images. Considering that you’re probably buying this lens to shoot portraits, that’s exactly what you’re going to need.
Most of the times that I review a Rokinon lens, I find the image quality to be incredibly, superbly razor sharp and overall quite unique an beautiful to what Rokinon themselves are trying to do. Indeed, for well under $1,000 you’re scoring yourself a super sharp, bokeh filled lens with very little contrast. In fact, you’ll want to dial it back in if you want a sharper look and if you want a more Kodak Portra or CineStill 800T look, then you’ll keep it as is.
When looking at the bokeh, you’re surely going to get something beautiful and rather creamy. All the circular bokeh balls that you’re all in love with are present. You’ll have to expect this with a 135mm lens.
These two shots aren’t at all done comparatively, but they’re the closest I can offer at the moment. Zeiss and Rokinon both have nice bokeh with their 135mm f2 offerings and it’s only when looking at them side by side will you sit there and complain about one vs the other. When your clients are simply looking at their images, they won’t care about any of this.
Pixel for pixel sharpness has never been a major priority for this site since everyone using these lenses are bound to do some sort of post-production to their images. The sharpness though is indeed there. You’ll for sure spend lots of time doing extra retouching because of it.
Using the Canon 6D, this lens was found to be a bit too cool for my liking. I personally tend to reach for more warm colors. For what it’s worth though, Kodak Portrait and CineStill 800T lovers will be smitten with this lens and when it can render.
In my tests, I couldn’t find any fringing straight out of the camera that was worth talking about. To that end, I should also hit home on the fact that it’s 2016 and all this is easily fixed in post-production.
Extra Image Samples
- Build quality
The Rokinon 135mm f2 is a lens that belongs in the hands of every aspiring portrait photographer. It will teach you things about composition, focusing on details, being very careful with the elements of a scene, etc. Plus, it’s pretty affordable at $549. It’s a beautiful lens and it’s highly capable of delivering beautiful images. But for what it’s worth, my major complaint has to do with Rokinon’s build quality. I’d really like metal to be part of the exterior.
The Rokinon 135mm f2 received four out of five stars. It’s an exceptional lens, though the build quality is a bit lacking. If that isn’t a problem to you, get it. Want one? Check out Amazon for the latest listing.