As a professional photographer, there will be times where you’d wish you had a wide angle lens. This way, you’ll capture the entire scene, leaving nothing to the imagination.
Our human eyes cover 114 degrees (horizontally) of the visual plane. The Rokinon 14mm comes close to this as its field of view is 115.7 degrees when used with a full-frame camera.
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What Is a Rokinon 14mm?
The Rokinon 14mm Ultra Wide-Angle f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens is a great piece of glass. And there is a lot of it too! Just like every other 14mm lens, it is an ultra wide-angle beast, perfect for landscape, street, and even astrophotography.
The Rokinon 14mm lens is an aspherical lens, meaning it has an aspherical element inside the lens. What this does is decrease the spherical aberration often found in large, bright lenses.
With spherical lenses, the light rays fail to converge on a single point, creating fuzziness due to the lack of focus.
Extra elements can be added to correct this problem but in turn, they increase lens flare and reduce the photographs’ contrast. They also add to the size and weight of the lens, while also altering the colors.
Aspherical elements scream a well-crafted lens. One that creates colorful images full of contrast. It is also lighter and easier to use. A large aspherical element out of glass is much more expensive to make and becomes reserved for the better range of lenses.
All this means that the Rokinon 14mm has time, focus, attention, and money pumped into it.
Rokinon is the US distribution name for Samyang Optics. They are a Korean manufacturer of industrial optics and photographic lenses.
This lens has been branded under the name of Samyang, Vivitar and Pro-optic, to name a few. Different names, but the exact same lens.
The Rokinon 14mm is available in nearly every modern camera mount including Canon, Fujifilm X-Mount, Micro Four-Thirds, Nikon, Nikon AE, Olympus, Pentax, Sony Alpha, and Sony E-mount.
You have no excuse not to own one.
- Two ED lenses – one hybrid aspherical and one glass aspherical
- High-quality anti-reflect layers
- Field of view: Full frame is 115.7 degrees. For crop/APS-C – 92.5 degrees (Canon-89 degrees)
- Minimal focusing distance: 28cm
- Common bayonet mounting.
- Aperture f/2.8 – f/22
- Permanently attached petal lens hood
What It’s All About
Big Glass – Have you seen it?! It’s huge! It weighs 1.2 lbs (552 grams), which is pretty substantial. Yet, it is still lighter than the Canon 14mm f/2.8L (640 grams) or Nikon 14mm f/2.8D (670 grams) lenses
Lens Cap – Because of the non-removable petal lens hood, the lens cap is a massive cylinder. Understandably, it protects the glass, but it is a pain to fit in a pocket. I photograph the street with minimal gear; my Canon 7D and Peak Design Capture Camera Clip. This lens cap makes me want to take my bag.
Manual Focus – This is a completely manual focusing lens. This might be annoying for those who are used to the comfort of auto-focusing. Use this lens with live view mode for the sharpest images.
Lens Flare – Even though the Aspherical lens elements are reducing lens flare, this lens has the potential to create some wild, rainbow-esque lens flares. This isn’t apparent in every situation, just if you let the sun hit the front element.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Like with any lens, there are going to be benefits and drawbacks.
What I do like about this lens is that it is incredibly sharp, at all apertures. It feels well built, to the point where I feel it could handle a few bumps before freaking out and stops working. You always get a few for free.
The lens produces very low levels of coma and therefore keeps comatic aberrations to a minimal.
It is a perfect lens for astrophotography as it is a bright lens. It shoots at f/2.8 and it’s 14mm. They make a powerful duo in capturing the night sky.
It is super wide, mimicking our own human eyes in terms of field of view. What we see is what the Rokinon gives us.
One of the main factors here is that it’s a cheap lens. It’s not ‘cheap’, but a low-cost item for what it offers you. It is $1000 cheaper than the Nikon auto-focus equivalent, and $2000 less than the Canon.
From picking up the Rokinon, I realised the focus ring is slow to move. It is well dampened, and maybe for the videographers in mind, it’s smooth to rotate. Yet, a lot of rotation is needed to move between the range of distances.
This affects the manual focusing somewhat and could force you to use live view mode to focus.
The distance scale doesn’t seem super accurate, which can be a problem if you concentrate on shoot-from-the-hip photography.
Every lens will give you one form of distortion or another, ranging from almost unnoticeable to overly obvious. The Rokinon 14mm suffers heavily from wavy/moustache distortion.
This is a type of barrel distortion that will affect your images, requiring a fix, adding to your workflow.
For more information on lens distortion, read our article here. There is a fix for this distortion via a dedicated program, downloadable here.
Even without the auto-focus aspect, I like this lens! It reminds me of the wide angle lens I used to own, except much better quality. It is also affordable, which makes it a great addition to your astrophotography gear. If you combine this with a full frame sensor, then the world (sky) is your oyster.
You will get the same, wide-angle view as you do from your own eyes, along with a tack sharp quality.
The alternatives to this lens are $1-2000 more expensive, yet they do have an autofocus mode. For me, the only let downs were the slow focus ring and the inaccurate distance scale. Everything else is manageable. It might take a little while to get used to, but it is well worth it.
An Image Speaks a Thousand Words