Review: Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

A great lens at an affordable price with gorgeous bokeh

When I started using the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE, I didn’t think I and readers who I share images with on Instagram would adore the image quality this much. Don’t get me wrong, I knew Rokinon lenses are great, but this one seemed to create absolute magic. Photographers who likes bokeh are bound to be astounded by the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE, and those who enjoy contrasty images and very saturated photos will also find they’ll adore this lens. On top of that, you can guarantee it’s going to be sharp. The autofocus isn’t Sony’s but it’s still not at all that terrible. During my time with this lens, I was genuinely shocked because I hate the 50mm focal length. But over time, it started to change me. I still prefer the 35mm focal length, but the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE is an almost perfect lens.

Pros and Cons

The image above was shot through a car window because I liked the scene. That’s what’s causing the flare and the softness. As you’ll see this is a pretty solid lens.

Pros

  • Contrasty images
  • Sharp photos
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Metal feeling build on the exterior
  • Autofocus that works pretty darned well

Cons

  • Autofocus isn’t as fast as Sony’s
  • Really wish it had weather sealing, but the price point isn’t really for that
  • Pretty big

Gear Used

We tested the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE with the Sony a7r III.

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from LensRentals

The Rokinon 50mm f/1.4 AF FE for Sony E is a fast-aperture normal autofocus for full-frame Sony E-Mount cameras. Key features include:

  • Excellent all-purpose lens
  • Great sharpness and clarity
  • Contrast-detection and phase-detection autofocus
  • Nine-blade aperture

The Rokinon 50mm f/1.4 AF FE for Sony E is a fast-aperture normal autofocus for full-frame Sony E-Mount cameras.

Fast Aperture/Normal Field of View. The 50mm focal length offers a normal field of view that’s useful for just about any type of photography. The f/1.4 aperture provides stellar low-light performance with a shallow depth of field. On APS-C models, the Rokinon 50mm will provide a 75mm equivalent focal length.

Advanced Optics. Don’t be fooled; this is an entirely different optical formula from the 50mm Cine DS T1.5. Three aspherical elements help control distortions and aberrations, all while retaining sharpness and clarity at any aperture or focus distance. The Ultra Multi-Coating controls ghosting and flare for a contrasty, color-neutral image, while the nine-blade aperture makes for some nice bokeh.

Autofocus. A first for Rokinon, the 50mm f/1.4 can use both contrast-detection autofocus and phase-detection autofocus for snappy results.

Angle of view: (full frame) 47°
Aperture f/1.4-16
Aperture Blades 9
Aspherical Elements 3
Autofocus Autofocus
Brand Rokinon
Compatibility Full Frame and Crop
Diameter 2.89″
Filter Size 67.0mm
Flare resistance Ultra Multi-Coating
Fluorite Elements 0
Focal Length 50.0-50.0
Groups/Elements 8/9
Hood Included Yes
Image Stabilization No
Item Type Lens
Length 3.85″
Lens Type Normal Range
Low Dispersion Elements 0
Max Aperture 1.4
Maximum Magnification 0.15x
Minimum Aperture 22.0
Minimum Focusing Distance 1.48feet
Mount Sony E
Weight 1.29 lb

Ergonomics

The Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE has an overall really interesting build to it. First off, there’s a giant red ring–which will make you think about Canon. But again, this isn’t a Canon lens. Instead, it’s pretty much a purely autofocus lens. When you look at the metal body, there is a giant focusing ring. But that’s really just to provide ergonomic grip.

Take the lens hood off of the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE and you’ll see that the lens becomes much smaller. For what it’s worth though, I’d keep the lens hood on and mounted for protection.

The mount doesn’t incorporate weather sealing; and by that I mean there is no sort of rubber ring at the mount to aid in this.

Build Quality

The Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE is overall built very solid. Rokinon claims that the exterior is metal, and when you feel it gets cold just like metal. I’m not sure what type it is though. When you grip the lens, you’ll be mostly holding onto that big focusing ring, so the ergonomics are pretty nice in general. What you may miss though is the lack of weather sealing in this lens. If you don’t care about that, then it won’t be much of a problem. At $599 I can’t really complain about the build quality at all. Tamron does weather sealing at $699, and this is more affordable and an f1.4 lens.

Ease of Use

Rokinon’s instructions in the box are pretty hysterical as they even tell you about how to connect it to your camera via using the dot system. But photographers interested in a lens like this will enjoy knowing that you basically mount it to the camera, choose a focusing point, autofocus, shoot and enjoy. If you prefer to zone focus, then you’re really out of luck with a lens like this. However, Rokinon has a lot of options to can help you in that regard. This though is surely an autofocus lens.

Of any Rokinon lens that I’ve used, this one has to be the easiest and most pleasant.

Autofocus

Further, the autofocus is pretty darned quick. Perhaps the only time I found it to be slow was when focusing on a face with a portrait, but even then it wasn’t terrible. Plus I had to activate Eye AF anyway afterwards. I’m not sure I’d use it for tracking and moving subjects; but that also has to do with the Sony a7r III and the fact that this is a third party lens. I’d surely use it for more stagnant subjects like for portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, etc. I’ve used it for candid moments, but those had very little activity happening.

Image Quality

Wow, that’s really what I need to say first and foremost about the new Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE. It’s sharp, contrasty, has gorgeous bokeh, no major aberrations, and is really gorgeous. The lens has a bit of character to it, but I sort of wish there was more of it such as more lens flares, etc. Most photographers who aren’t looking for that and instead want something technically pleasing they can pixel peep will enjoy this lens.

Bokeh

The bokeh from the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE is mighty gorgeous due to the nine aperture blades in the lens. Photographers who thoroughly enjoy bokeh will really like this. As one person who I lent my camera to said, “I enjoy the fact that you’re nice and sharp and then suddenly there’s this big blur.” The bokeh here is creamy and fantastic for portraits. In fact, I think the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE is a great portrait lens partially for the fact that the bokeh will really help separate your subject from the rest of the scene.

As far as bokeh is concerned, I really don’t have a lot of complaints. When you combine this with the color rendition, you really can’t complain.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests, I wasn’t able to find any sort of purple fringing. Some of Rokinon’s previous lenses have had this and I always found it to be a bit annoying. But in this case, there isn’t any. In addition to this, it keeps distortion down and you’ll therefore need to do less work in Lightroom or Capture One.

Color Rendition

The Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE renders images to be very saturated. I almost want to say that it’s Sigma level of saturation, but perhaps it is just a step down from that. The colors are gorgeous all around and when you combine this with them also being so contrasty and striking no matter what, you’re getting a scene so great that you’ll be perfectly fine with the JPEGs as they come out of the camera. In fact, pretty much every image in this review just had white balance adjustments and maybe an exposure fix here or there. But when it comes to color, Rokinon has created a color that rivals even Zeiss.

Sharpness

The sharpness from the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE is very, very good. Even at ISO 6400, portraits come out looking super, duper sharp. At f1.4 this lens is quite sharp and when stopped down to f5.6 or f8, it gets better but not by a whole lot. I’d say this lens is on par with Sony’s own 50mm f1.4 when it comes to sharpness though.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Bokeh
  • Sharpness
  • Colors
  • Autofocus speed
  • Metal build

Dislikes

  • Not really a whole lot. But weather sealing would have put this lens over the top.

I’m in love with the Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE, and that’s hard to do because I have an ongoing hatred of the 50mm focal length. Rokinon truly nailed it here. Want better build quality? You’ve got it, this lens has a metal exterior. Not only that, but it feels uniquely like a Rokinon lens and not like a Sigma, Tamron, or Zeiss. There is no weather sealing, but I’ll excuse that. Rokinon’s optics have always been top notch and this is no exception. The colors are bold, the contrast is there, the images are sharp, and the bokeh is gorgeous. All of this is thanks to the very good autofocus capabilities.

The Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE deserves five out of five stars and our Editor’s Choice award. Want one? They’re only $599.