dPS Writer's Favorite Lens: Rokinon 14mm f2.8

dPS Writer’s Favorite Lens: Rokinon 14mm f2.8


“What do you mean it’s a manual lens?”

That is usually the first response I receive when I tell people about one of the favorite lenses I keep in my bag: The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8. I understand their confusion. I never dreamed that I would succumb to the seeming devolution of using fully manual lenses.

Allow me to attempt to dispel the myth that manual focus/aperture lenses are difficult, and ungainly in the field. In mere months the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 has quickly became a workhorse of my photo arsenal – let me tell you why. Grab a tissue, because it is a love story.

Lens Logo

When I say that the Rokinon is a fully manual lens, what I mean is that there is no autofocus, and that the aperture must also be selected manually, using an aperture ring. This is a sticking point for most photographers, who have only used fully automated lenses. Personally, I have used fully manual legacy lenses for years, and have come to love the tangible control they require while I’m shooting. I really feel connected to the experience, more than I do when using an autofocusing lens.

Lens Full

I will still admit, however, that a fully manual lens is not always ideal for every situation. So what type of photography suits the Rokinon best? The reason I purchased this lens in the first place was because I needed a fast, wide-angle lens, that can function as a main piece of glass for my astrophotography work. I find myself aiming my camera toward the sky more and more, so I really needed a quality lens that could serve as my go-to for most, if not all, of my nightscapes.

The wide-angle view, and relatively large aperture of f/2.8, makes the Rokinon ready-made for night photography, but of course, it is also a great tool for ultra-wide landscape shots. Some may find the 14mm focal length to be just a little too wide for a general purpose landscape lens, but it is most definitely capable of filling the role.

The most incredible quality about the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is just that, its quality. For the price, I can honestly say I have never encountered such a well-made lens, that produces tack sharp results throughout its aperture range. My initial test shots surpassed any expectations I could have hoped for from such a budget lens. Reading comments and testimonials from other users of the lens really left me with a healthy dose of, it’s too good to be true, doubt lingering in my mind.

Lens Element

The quality of the build, and the subsequent image sharpness, are virtually on par with lenses which cost literally ten times as much as the Rokinon. I’m not suggesting that a lens with an average cost of $324 will be exactly the same as a lens costing $1,300 – but the gap between price and performance is, for lack of a better word, incredible. The aperture ring is comfortable to use, and produces a click at each f/stop, marking that is solidly satisfying.

Something that I really like about the Rokinon is the focusing ring. I has a very long travel when acquiring focus; meaning that adjusting occurs relatively slowly. This allows you to achieve tack sharp focus while shooting with the lens wide open at f/2.8, and makes honing in on stars very easy without over or under focusing.

Sample 2

A common point of discussion concerning the Rokinon, in regard to its suitability for night photography, is the extreme low occurrence of “coma” when imaging the stars. Coma refers to an optical phenomena called “comatic aberration” (not to be confused with chromatic aberration). Coma is the distortion of small points of light when the light rays enter the lens at sharp angles, which makes small points of light, such as stars, appear to look like comets with small tails. Coma is amplified by imperfections in the lens geometry itself, or in the lens elements, and usually gets worse the further you move from the center of the lens. Yet strangely enough, the Rokinon excels in low coma aberrations, even to the point of OUTPERFORMING higher priced lenses of the same focal length and aperture ranges.

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens is one that I have grown to love in a relatively short time. The majority of my work revolves around landscapes, and shooting at wide-angles, often in low light. The Rokinon fills the requirements of my shooting needs, and then some.

Sample 3

The full manual functionality of the lens could be odd if are not used to shooting that way, but for me I find it in no way slows me down, or hinders the quality of my images – in fact quite the opposite. The build quality, sharpness, low-light performance, and low coma are bundled together at a price that hovers in the $320 USD end of the pool.

In my opinion, if you are looking for a great landscape and astrophotography lens, or if you’re just wanting to get creative with wide angles, look no further than the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8.

What you’ve all been waiting for…here are some images shot using the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8! All images shot with a Sony A7r and processed using Adobe Lightroom CC.

Sample 1

Sample 4

Sample 5

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Adam Welch is a full-time photomaker, author, adventurer, educator, and self-professed bacon addict. You can usually find him on some distant trail making photographs or at his computer writing about all the elegant madness that is photography. Follow his blog over at aphotographist.com and check out his eBooks and Lightroom presets!.

  • Jas

    I have to say that I’d never heard of the lens before seeing this post! It looks so beautiful, I’d love to own it for a bit to try it out. Manual lenses don’t scare me, although I’ve never used one digitally, only on old large format cameras. Thanks very much for this!
    Jas | Jas Poole Blog

  • pedro boldt

    Thanks for your view on this lens. Yes, Rokinon or Samyang made good lenses.
    I work with the Samyang 1.4/85mm (is the same manufacturer) of course also manual lens, its a lovely and extreme sharp lens, also on f: 1.4.
    And, next will come out the F:1.2/50mm !!!!!

  • CSARmedic

    Adam, when using this lens how do you deal with the need for filters?

  • thomas

    Hello Adam,
    I wonder since you love the 14mm so much, before buying did you thought about the Rokinon 12mm f2 instead? What made you not buying the 12mm? I am wondering since my 16mm is not wide enough and 14mm doesnt seem to gain much more. Also since you were talking about speed, the 12mm is even faster.

  • Skyreiter

    An absolute steal of a lens! Surprisingly sharp, even at f/2.8. I love it for shots in the woods and close ups of flowers, or anything where you want near/far perspective. Can’t say enough good about it!

  • Good question, Thomas. As far as I know, the 12mm f2 is only available for cropped sensor(aps-c) e-mounts for Sony. My main body is an A7r are which has a full frame sensor. But like you said, the 2mm difference in focal length wouldn’t be much of a difference for my uses and the same for the aperture.

  • A downside to the permenantly attached lens hood is no threads for screw-in type filters. Slot-type filters such as GND’s might be possible with some adapters I’ve seen but I haven’t tried any myself as of yet.

  • MattmanAlpha

    I have to agree. My 14mm is a welcome addition and a very modestly priced one to my camera bag! If it’s not focused on my subject, I know what/who to blame!

  • Michael Hansen

    I wholeheartedly agree, I purchased the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 for my Fuji XT1…and absolutely love it! The full manual functionality of the lens, wasn’t even a speed bump.

  • JeffB

    2mm at that range is significant. you will feel the difference.

  • F N

    You should see the performance of my 16mm F2.0 (for everthing)… is the most sharp lens you could find in a APS-C format 🙂 it is my favorite lens (by far)…

  • I agree with you Jeff that the 12mm and 14mm will have a slight difference. However, keep in mind that there is a crop factor of 1.5 to consider between Sony aps-c and full frame sensors. So the 12mm on a Sony aps-c sensor should be roughly an 18mm equivilent.

  • Terry Gardner

    Great! Aperture adjustment is where it belongs. On the lens. Seems to be a great value.

  • Sri R

    I wanted to ask this question for some time. I would like to know you opinion on Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 vs. a Canon FD 20mm f2.8. Of course people would immediately jump at the 14mm vs 20mm. The reason for my question is that I am using a Sony A7II with builtin image stabilization. With a proper adapter, I can use either of these lenses. So at this point I am looking for comments on the IQ, any possible CA and other drawbacks on either of these lenses; in short, I am looking for a comparison between the two lenses.

  • MadGaz

    I own the Samyang 8mm, it’s just such a good lens and teamed up with my Sony a6000. … well what a team.

  • pjwelch

    This is my favorite lens for astrophotography! The manual focus allows you to set infinity on the ring, rather than trying to focus on a star (very difficult) or find a far-away object to focus on (sometimes not available in dark locations) – no more guessing! It also takes stunning timelapse images with such a wide view and sharpness to the edges. This image was a 15 sec exposure of the Milky Way up in the mountains. Definitely worth the money!!

  • Bruce Joseph

    I recently purchased this 14mm f/2.8 lens as well, and was very impressed by its sharpness, depth of field, and bokeh. Manual focus and aperture are no problem It has a chip to indicate “in focus” on Nikon and Canon DSLRs. This was taken in a slot canyon in Page, Arizona at with a Nikon D700 at f/2.8. 1/60sec, hand held. I wish I had used my tripod.

  • Frogbum

    Agree….. I have the same lens but as a Rokinon 8mm f3.5. Use it on my Nikon D5100 – fantastic photos.

  • Shawn Earle

    Is it worth putting on Nikon D600 or will there be Vignetting? If i remember i think someone said it was a full frame lens? Anyone used this lens on full frame without problems?

  • Jens Rueckert

    Actually I was looking for a good quality manual fisheye for my fuji gear. I found the Rokinon/Samyang 8mm and was amazed by its IQ and built-quality. Then I found a 12 mm Rokinon for a bargain and just wanted to test it but kept it. Great, sharp and well-built lens. Superb IQ.
    I’ve heard many positive things about the 14mm but I wanted the 2mm more. And now I am looking already for a 85 1.4 as well as 50 1.2. As I am mostly using manual focus and vintage Canon FD and Fl Lenses which IQ is great in mho I am looking forward to a comparison of the FD 50 1.2, the Fl 55 1.2 and the Rokinon 50 1.2 on my Fujis.
    Always the light you want and all the best!

  • Michael

    Very sharp, and I’m picky. I shoot with a Canon 6D and own some nice L lenses, just so my comments have context. Suggest you spend plenty of time experimenting as the focus ring is inaccurate. Shoot with foregrounds at different distances to see what the focus ring says. My usual settings when foreground is >3 feet away: focus ring 7 or 10 feet, aperture f11 for max dof, not infinity focus. 7′ for indoors, but f5.6 when I want everyone around the dinner table to be in focus ( but try to keep people away from the corners – distortion. Same for all WA lenses really). For foreground that’s 3′ away, focus ring 3.5′, and foreground 2′ away, focus ring @ 3′. Yep, the focus ring is inaccurate. And long, straight, unbroken lines may disappoint because of odd distortion. Rarely a problem for me, but I’m just a hobbyist.

  • Patrick Larson

    It’s a full-frame lens. Works on my D610.

  • Shawn Earle


  • Tery LeFebvere

    Pretty awesome lens – This is also my astrophotography lens. 🙂

  • Also love this lens, been using it a lot for astrophotography (the reason I bought it) but recently started using it for timelapse and such as well:

  • Dan Williams

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/69b933d788b1bcdf37d16b0bf495a5ca2fe59dbc60b236b6ca8df5ef01d0ec90.jpg Yes, i’m impressed too. the lense definitely has a nice solid feel and high quality build. i’m liking it so far!

  • Robert

    I have the Rokinon 8mm ‘ Fish Eye ‘ Manual lens and LOVE it !!….Once you get used to the Manual Focus it’s actually EASIER than the Auto Focus….I have it on a Canon 70D……The Canon Fish Eye is about $ 1,300.00 , this one is $ 250.00….

  • Bhavesh Patel

    I have the same lens with the AF chip notification… however i struggle to get tack sharp images. I use canon t6i . Can somebody guide me.. what mode thry shoot. ..how do they achieve focus this sharp.. what in viewfinder tells u u got sharp focus..

  • Bhavesh Patel

    Bruce thats an amazing image. i just posted a query about this same lens with AF chip. Can u guide how did u shoot this image? Which part u focused on..what was ur aperture..how did uknow that would get u sharp focus?

  • Bruce Joseph

    Thank you for your compliment. I focused on the curved center structure (The nose, for lack of a better description). It was shot at f/2.8. The depth of field is incredible, even at that aperture. I have been very pleased with the quality of this lens.

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