Review: Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP Lens (Canon EF)

The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP isn’t the fastest wide angle lens on the market these days, but Rokinon is touting it to be one of the company’s very best. The lens is part of the SP lineup, which Rokinon is branding as the creme de la creme of their lens lineup. These lenses are designed to take on the likes of Zeiss. That’s a bold statement, especially as Zeiss has been a premium lens maker for far longer. But Rokinon also isn’t charging Zeiss prices. When you consider that, the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP seems to be a very attractive option. With a metal exterior body and a giant rubber focusing ring, the Korean lens manufacturer seems to be doing what I’d like to believe is a great job. Then I took some time to really try the lens–and I’ve seen just how far Rokinon has come.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fantastic image quality
  • Lots of precision with the focusing ring; and the result is a long focus throw
  • Great colors, much unlike a lot of what Rokinon was doing for years
  • Not very large
  • Feels nice in the hand

Cons

  • I’d appreciate weather sealing
  • Wish it were a lens with a faster aperture

Gear Used

The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP was tested with the Canon 6D and Canon 6D Mk II.

Tech Specs

This chart was taken from the Samyang listing of the lens. Samyang and Rokinon lenses are the same.

Ergonomics

The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP is a lens with very little to it in the way of controls. Some may say that makes its use more simple. But in reality, it may drive people who are not used to manual focus a bit insane. The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP is minimal with its exterior. There is a focusing scale, but Rokinon chose not to include an effective depth of field scale this time around. Why? Honestly, I’m really not sure; they’re  helpful and useful.

Turn to the side of the lens and you’ll see no switches of any sort. This lens is designed with a metal exterior and a big rubber focusing ring. Pretty much nothing else is going to get in your way. Mind you, the lens hood is built into the body and the lens cap goes over the lens hood.

Build Quality

Rokinon should be praised here. They’ve done a fantastic job with the build quality as it is astronomically leaps and bounds better than much of their other glass. This lens incorporates metal and rubber into the exterior design. It doesn’t seem like it’s weather sealed though and so that would be my last wish on top of perhaps autofocus abilities. When you hold the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP, you’ll be amazed in the same way that you probably were when Sigma launched their Global Vision program. The jump in quality is really, truly that high.

Ease of Use

The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP is an interesting lens to use on Canon DSLRs. Like Zeiss, you’re best off pre-selecting a focusing point, half pressing the shutter button, moving the focus point over a subject, focusing the lens and waiting for focus confirmation which can be seen with the AF point illuminating and the confirmation in the bottom right corner of the viewfinder. Due to the long focus throw though, you’re best off pre-focusing the lens out to a certain distance away and then fine tuning it by bringing the viewfinder to your face. If you’ve ever shot large format cameras and lenses together, it’s a very similar process.

With all this said, I wouldn’t really recommend this lens be used by amateur photographers who don’t understand manual focus and won’t shoot in the PSAM modes. In fact, I’d say that you should just stay in manual and aperture priority.

Make sure you bring a lens cloth with you: the front is bound to get smudges from your hands.

Focusing

Focusing the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP lens is a manual ordeal. Though Rokinon has been implementing autofocus into some of their lenses lately, this isn’t one of those. As stated before, the best thing to do is to pre-focus the lens as it as a long focus throw. Otherwise, you’ll sit there cranking away at it for a very long time. As stated earlier, I’m not sure why Rokinon didn’t give this lens a zone focusing scale.

Image Quality

Despite my gripes about the usability of the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP, one thing I really can’t argue about is the image quality. This lens is sharp through and through. Plus it delivers colors like no other lens out there. Zeiss, Tamron, Tokina and Sigma all have their own specific look and if anything, I’d have to say that the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP lens has a look to it a bit like Canon’s rendering but with the slightly matte look Tamron can give you at times.

Bokeh

Now, the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP is a wide angle lens. It isn’t the fastest aperture wide angle prime lens out there but it surely is possible to get bokeh with it. The best way to do this is to focus to the closest distance and set the aperture wide open at f2.4. The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP has nice bokeh, but if you really wanted some sort of beautiful dreamy bokeh, you should go for something like the company’s 85mm f1.2 lens.

Color Rendition

My favorite thing about the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP is the color rendition. My testing makes me set the white balance on my cameras to either 3200K or 5500K. With everything that I used, the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP delivered a very cinematic look to its colors. It’s gorgeous and lucky for them, there are tons of photographers that are seriously looking for that aesthetic to their lenses. Maybe they should pick this up.

Chromatic Aberration

Photo without that light

In my tests, I surely found distortion; but that’s all correctable in Capture One. Otherwise, I didn’t find any major issues with things like fringing. What some folks may complain about simply because they have nothing better to do than to bicker online about things, is the flare. You can see in the image above that there is a bit of lens flare on the corner.

Same photo, with the light and the flare

That flare is coming from the light on the left. Personally speaking though, I really like the look of this light. It’s a beautiful aesthetic and when I went to ensure that the lens was clean it indeed was. This lens flare is organically part of what the lens was designed to do.

More lens flare

Here’s how it also looks. Again, I THOROUGHLY ENJOY the look of lens flare. I can’t see how someone may not like this look.

Sharpness

Something that I can always say that Rokinon does very reliably is create sharp lenses. Rokinon does this without tricks like micro-contrast, saturation, and vignetting. Nope, instead the lens is just pure pixel for pixel sharpness. To get the most of this, I recommend using high resolution cameras and flashes. But even then, it’s hard to not be amazed at how sharp this lens is without all that stuff.

Extra Image Samples

Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP Conclusions

Likes

  • Fairly lightweight
  • I appreciate that this lens makes you carefully create photos due to its use design
  • Metal and rubber is a nice addition for Rokinon lenses
  • Great image quality

Dislikes

  • I’d still like autofocus if you’re not going to give me an effective depth of field scale.

I want to get something straight here: I REALLY, REALLY like the Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP. It outputs great images on Canon sensors and I can imagine how fantastic it would be on Sony sensors. Rokinon has stepped their game up a whole lot in regards to build quality. The lens is sharp, has nice bokeh and delivers a very cinematic look to it. But where Rokinon is killing me is with the fact that there is no depth of field scale. Instead, you need to use Live View or the actual focusing points. That for me is a major bummer. Rokinon should implement autofocus into this lens or at least give it an effective depth of field scale beyond the focusing scale. Then it would be nearly perfect.

For many photographers out there, you may enjoy or want something like the Sigma 14mm f1.8 lens due to its faster aperture for astrophotography. And I’m not going to hold you back for that. The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP is instead designed more for its look that targets a certain segment of the population. I happen to be part of that segment.

The Rokinon 14mm f2.4 SP gets four out of five stars. Want one? They’re under $1,000 over at Amazon.