Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Review

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Review

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8. Lots of glass for the money.

Here’s a quick review of the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, arguably the best, most affordable lens for astrophotography.

Rokinon is the US distributor of Samyang lenses. There are a variety of brand names that the 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens is available under including Samyang, Vivitar, Falcon, Rokinon, Walimex, Bower, Opteka, Polar and Pro-Optic. I’m reviewing the Rokinon branded lens but other than the labeling, it’s identical to the lenses from any of the other brands.

Rokinon Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens ( Amazon / B&H ) 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. With a street price of about $350, it’s arguably the best, most affordable super-wide angle lens that you can buy. But it’s still not without its quirks. In this quick review I’ll give you my thoughts of the lens and show you some of my favorite photos made with the Rokinon 14mm over the last year. Let’s start with the bad and end with the good.

The Quirks

  • It’s manual focus. Not really a huge deal, but some users may be hesitant to transition from the comfort of an autofocus lens to the challenge of manual focus. Some careful use of live view magnification can ensure the sharpest results for your astrophotos.
  • It’s huge. Just look at that front element. That’s a lot of glass. It weighs 1.2 lbs (552 grams) which is pretty hefty but keep in mind that it’s still lighter than the autofocus Canon 14mm f/2.8L or Nikon 14mm f/2.8D lenses which are 1.42 lbs (645 grams) and 1.47 lbs (670 grams) respectively. None of the 14mm’s available seem light, unless you’re looking at a compact mirrorless system lens like the Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R ( Amazon / B&H ), but that lens is Fuji X APS-C only while the Rokinon, Canon and Nikon lenses are all full-frame compatible.
  • The lens cap. The lens cap is a non-standard cylindrical cap that fits over the lens’s built in hood. It’s a typical design found on many full frame ultra-wide angle lenses that are designed with a large front element and built in lens hood. Not unusual but you can’t just slip the cap into your jeans pocket because it’s so large. This is also indicative of the built-in petal hood and bulbous front element which prevented the lens designers from being able to support a filter thread. Unfortunately, they did not offer a rear gel filter slot either.
Rokinon Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens Cap On

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens Cap is rather large due to the built in hood design.

 

  • The focus ring is slow. While it’s well damped and very smooth to rotate, the focus ring requires a lot of rotation to sweep the lens through its entire focus range. This makes quick manual focus adjustments rather difficult, especially since the apparent depth of field of the lens is very large, making small adjustments on close subjects a little bit of a careful process that usually requires zoomed live view. Furthermore, the distance scale on the focusing ring doesn’t seem very accurate so it’s not always advisable to just set the lens to infinity and forget it. For street photography, it’s fine to just stop down with the Sunny 16 Rule and set it to roughly infinity. The depth of field will be large enough in that case to encompass everything from a couple feet away all the way out to infinity. 
  • In the right wrong conditions, it has a crazy lens flare. This isn’t a problem in most shooting conditions, but if you put a bright light source like the sun at the edge of the image, you can make some pretty awesome rainbow flares.
Rokinon 14mm lens flare

In just the right conditions, with a bright light source at the edge of the frame, the Rokinon 14mm/2.8 makes a rainbow lens flare.

  • It has noticeable moustache distortion. Images straight from the camera are anything but. While the lens is a rectilinear (non-fisheye) design, it still has some pretty noticeable wavy distortion at the edges of the frame. Fans of straight lines and brick walls might not be pleased but luckily you can correct the moustache distortion of the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom by using a lens profile via the Adobe Lens Profile Downloader. In landscape situations, it’s not a problem but architecture photographers will likely need to use distortion correction in post processing.

The Goods

  • It’s well built. It features a construction of high quality plastics and a metal mount. It feels good in the hand an it seems like a lot of glass for the money. The focus ring and aperture ring are all very smooth to turn and tight enough to prevent accidental bumps. It feels like the lens could take a beating, not that I would advise it.
  • It’s incredibly sharp, even wide open. I shoot astrophotos with this lens a f/2.8 all the time. It’s super sharp to the point that I rarely ever stop down, except in bright daytime conditions. It’s arguably sharper than Canon or Nikon’s equivalents.
  • It has very low levels of coma (comatic aberration). This trait prevents the lens from distorting pinpoint light sources (like stars) at the edges of the frame. Since it’s such a wide angle lens, apparent motion at the edges of the frame is high so the lens will usually show a little star trailing in the corners when making astrophotos with shutter speeds of 30 seconds or more.
  • It’s bright. The f/2.8 aperture, in combination with the wide field of view of the 14mm focal length make for a great combination for astrophotos. It fares well with a score of 1032 on my Nightscapes Lens Rating Guide. A score of 1000 is my criteria for excellent lenses for Milky Way photography and the 14mm is right there.
  • It’s wide.  I’ve already said it before, but this lens has a huge field of view. On a full frame camera like the Canon EOS 6D (my review of the 6D) , it has a viewing angle of 115.7°. There is only one focal length that’s available for a full-frame camera that’s wider than the 14mm and that’s 12mm but the fastest 12mm lens available for full-frame is the Sigma 12-24mm and it has an f/number of only f/4.5 which is a little bit too slow for most astrophotography applications. This makes any 14mm f/2.8 lens the widest full-frame rectilinear lens I would recommend for astrophotography until manufacturers can develop something faster.
Rokinon Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Astrophotography - Joshua Tree

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 has a super wide field of view. Canon EOS 6D, 14mm/2.8, 30s, ISO 3200

  • It’s cheap. Priced at around $350, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is about $1000 cheaper than the Nikon 14mm f/2.8D and $2000 cheaper than Canon’s 14mm f/2.8L. Unless you think autofocus is worth a $1000 or more extra, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is the better choice.

The Photos

I’ve been using the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for more than a year now so I’ve had the opportunity to shoot with it a lot and I’ve never been disappointed with the photos that it takes. Here are a few example photos from the last year with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8:

Alabama Hills Photography Workshop

Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, 30s, ISO 6400

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Astrophotography - Trona Pinnacles

Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, 30s, ISO 6400

hidden dunes

Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 14mm/2.8 @ f/11, 1/640th, ISO 400

Rokinon Samyang 14mm f/2.8 Astrophotography - Vasquez Rocks

Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 14mm/2.8, 30s, ISO 6400

Conclusions

At such an affordable price, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is a must have lens for anyone serious about astrophotography. Combined with a full frame sensor, it offers a super wide view and excellent sharpness, even wide open. It’s slow focus ring and inaccurate distance scale are minor quirks but a little bit of manual focusing practice with the lens will help most photographers adjust to its use. Given that most full-frame alternatives are at least $1000 more expensive, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is one of the best super-wide astrophotography and landscape lenses available for any interchangeable lens camera system. If you’re trying to decide on what lens you should buy for landscape astrophotography or Milky Way photos, stop right there and buy this lens first.

lonely-speck-logo-icon-16px

If you’re planning on buying the Rokinon f/2.8 or any of the other products mentioned on this review, consider buying through one of the links in the review to help support Lonely Speck. It won’t cost anything extra, but I’ll receive a small commission to support the site.

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC ( Amazon / B&H )

 

 

lonely-speck-logo-icon-16px

37 Responses

  1. ben September 16, 2014 / 2:12 pm

    how have i only just found this website wow ! hours of reading and still got more to go iv just subscribed and was thinking only today what would be the best starter all round lens for astrophotography. Apon reading your review on the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 which i thought was very good however i was also wondering as well as night time/ astrophotography / landscape would this lens benefit for any other use ? keep up the good work

    • Ian Norman September 16, 2014 / 3:49 pm

      It’s hilarious fun for portraits and pretty much anything else where you want a wacky perspective. I personally love shooting super wide angle shots in about any situation so I feel like it’s a lens that doesn’t just stay in the bag collecting dust.

  2. Tracy September 14, 2014 / 11:22 pm

    Thanks for the many tips about this lens, Ian!
    I just ordered this online and I realized that the lens I paid $275 was ‘refurbished’ product.
    Since I have no experience about using refurbished lens, I’m worrying about to return this. What do you think about this? :) (The seller informed that refurbished lens doesn’t have any trouble to use it..But I’m just worrying about it.) Thank you in advance!

    • Ian Norman September 16, 2014 / 3:48 pm

      I wouldn’t be too worried about re-furbished but you should definitely test it out when you receive it to make sure that it’s OK.

  3. Liu Lin September 12, 2014 / 10:20 am

    Excuse me, Ian, I have a very amateur question, is the “Samyang 16mm f2.0 ED AS UMC CS Lens” the same thing as the “Rokinon 16mm f/2.0″ that some guys have mentioned here before?

    • Ian Norman September 13, 2014 / 7:15 pm

      Yes, Samyang is the manufacturer of many lenses that are also branded as “Rokinon”, “Bower” and a few other names. I usually refer to them as Rokinon because that’s the most prominent brand in the USA of all the names that they use. So the Samyang 16mm f/2.0 and Rokinon 16mm f/2.0 are the same.

  4. Paul September 6, 2014 / 6:17 pm

    Hey Ian,
    I’m on the fence for this one or the Rokinon 24 f/1.4 which you gave a higher score to. Having both which do you use more and why? If you could just have one, money not being the concern what would you recommend? A faster lens or a wider fov?

    • Ian Norman September 13, 2014 / 7:17 pm

      I would probably go with the 24mm first as it’s got the more impressive aperture. That’s what I did personally, first the 24mm and then the 14mm.

  5. brooke August 11, 2014 / 7:39 am

    Thank you for the great information! I am going to buy this lens in a few weeks I am beyond excited to get my hands on it and see what magic I can create!

  6. bmills July 20, 2014 / 5:40 pm

    I hope this isn’t too much overlap with the previous question, but…I’m debating between this lens and the Rokinon 16mm f/2 for a Nikon D7000. I’ll use it mostly for astrophotography but I’ll still use it for great wide-angle landscapes during daylight and other non-astrophotography stuff. Is the extra $50 worth it for slightly less FOV but a full stop faster? Or should I pocket the $50 and be stoked on a wider, albeit slightly less bright, lens that will still give fantastic results? My current fastest wide angle is 18mm on the 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 so either lens is a MASSIVE upgrade. BTW, love the site and I will for sure be clicking through to B&H from your links to the lens I buy!

    • Ian Norman July 20, 2014 / 9:06 pm

      Tough question bmills. Just like the last question from Elia, it’s sort of a price question. Since you point out that the 16mm/2.0 is only $50 more than the 14mm/2.8, I might be inclined to go with the 16mm/2.0 instead. The extra stop of light will definitely make the difference in making a cleaner exposure and as far as FOV, if you want to have more you can always stitch together two frames from the 16mm for a larger FOV.

  7. elia July 13, 2014 / 9:06 am

    What advice between 16mm f2.0 and 14 f2.8 for sony a58?

    • Ian Norman July 13, 2014 / 10:32 am

      For the price, the 14mm/2.8 is a better deal but for astrophotography performance, the 16mm/2.0 will be a full-stop better at gathering light. If you’re on a budget, grab the 14mm, if you want the best results, grab the 16mm.

  8. Dark Knight! July 9, 2014 / 2:05 pm

    Do images have information about s-stop and aperture setting?

    • Ian Norman July 9, 2014 / 3:29 pm

      Only the Nikon mount version is available with the AF/AE confirmation chip that communicates f-stop and aperture information.

  9. T_rell July 7, 2014 / 7:57 am

    Ian: Have you done any testing with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC Lens for Sony E Mount (a7 or a7R)? I was thinking about buying this lens but before I make a $400 mistake I thought I would ask first. I’m just curious of the image quality using this lens on a mirrorless camera opposed to a DSLR. Thanks,

    • Ian Norman July 9, 2014 / 3:30 pm

      The image quality on a mirrorless camera should be identical to an SLR. I’m getting an A7s to review soon so check back for some sample images.

    • T_rell July 9, 2014 / 5:40 pm

      Thanks Ian for the reply. I went ahead and made the purchase using the link you supplied for B&H. I went ahead and ordered the Rokinon 14mm it should be here Monday. I cant wait to test it out.Thank you for lonelyspeck.com its a great website and I cant get enough of all useful content on here.

    • Jim August 13, 2014 / 4:50 pm

      T, did you get the 14mm? I’m also thinking of getting one in the next couple days for my NEX-7, but I’m moving on to an A7r at some point so want it to work full frame.

    • T_rell August 14, 2014 / 5:24 am

      Jim: I did get the 14mm and really love using the focus peaking on the Sony A7. I almost prefer it now. I don’t think you will be disappointed if you get this lens. I was a little hesitate at first as well, but for the price you cant beat it. The one thing i have noticed is it is a little soft around the edge at 2.8 but i was kinda expecting that.

      Ian: The sample images with the A7s are amazing as usually.

    • Ian Norman August 14, 2014 / 11:13 am

      Thanks t_rell!

  10. Sarah Galvin June 3, 2014 / 8:05 pm

    It is possible to buy UV filters for this lens to use on a Nikon D7000?

  11. David April 29, 2014 / 8:28 am

    Wicked, thanks a lot. I loved your Milky Way ETTR tutorial on youtube!

  12. David April 28, 2014 / 6:05 pm

    Hey Ian. I have the Canon 17-40mmF4L for my Canon 6d, and for astrophotography, I wanted something with a wider field of view and a wider aperture. So I won an ebay auction for this lens, but after doing some further research, I’ve read a few people write that this isn’t truly 14mm – that the field of view is more comparable to 14mm. Can you comment on this?

    • Ian Norman April 29, 2014 / 8:13 am

      I haven’t heard that the field of view is not truly 14mm but I’ve seen comparisons with similar lenses like the Nikon 14-24mm and the fields of view seem very similar.

  13. Chris April 23, 2014 / 9:02 am

    I notice in your lens guide and above you only seem to recommend this lens for full frame cameras. Is there any reason you wouldn’t recommend this for APS-C sensors?

    • Ian Norman April 23, 2014 / 10:19 am

      Nope, it’s still a great lens for APS-C sensors! There are some other options like the 16mm/2.0, 10mm f/2.8, Tokina 11-16mm/2.8 or 12mm/2.0 for mirrorless cameras that I would recommend first if you’re shooting with an APS-C camera because they’re dedicated APS-C designs. The 14mm f/2.8 is still great on an APS-C sensor but it’s doesn’t have that “WOW, that’s wide” feel like on a full-frame.

  14. Burak March 24, 2014 / 7:05 am

    Are those example photos single shots? Any stacking or noise reduction?

    • Ian Norman April 8, 2014 / 10:01 am

      All the examples are single shots without stacking. Noise reduction is just the standard default applied by Lightroom (color noise reduction only).

Leave a Reply