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

Canon-EOS-6D-Review-9

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

Canon-EOS-6D-Review-8

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

Canon-EOS-6D-Review-6

Canon EOS 6D, Rokinon 14mm/2.8, 60s, ISO 3200

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.

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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 )

 

 

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77 Responses

  1. Jf June 28, 2015 / 9:26 pm

    Hi thanks for the post, great pictures!!! just bought the lens using your link! Going to get this baby out as soon as it arrives :) i was wondering did you blend pictures to get thèse results? Or used some lighting? Post processed foreground exposure or if thé sky and ambiant light was enough to light thé whole scène??

  2. Rhea June 16, 2015 / 5:39 am

    Hello Ian,

    I was wondering if the lens would fit on my D5300.
    Thanks !

  3. Bill Mack June 11, 2015 / 12:27 pm

    I have read your articles over and over. I am on the fence on which lens to get. I am interested primarily in wide angle astrophotography with an APS-C T3i. I like the idea of the EF mount in case of upgrade in the future, but the APS-C specific lens is a bit faster.

    Do you see any advantages/disadvantages between the 16M-C f/2.0 and the FE14M-C f/2.8, in my particular case. Which would be better?

    Thanks
    Bill

    • Ian Norman June 11, 2015 / 2:23 pm

      I think on a cropped sensor, the 16mm/2 is the better choice due to the larger aperture.

  4. gino June 10, 2015 / 11:10 am

    hi — I recently bought a copy of the rokinon 14mm 2.8 and I primarily use it only for astro timelapses. I noticed after the final result of the timelapse that there are a number of white specks on my timelapse. I read that if it is due to dust, it would show up as black, however when viewing the entire timelapse the white specks remain in place while the stars move as they’re supposed to.

    1) do i have a bad copy of the rokinon?
    2) is it really dust on the lens or 5dm3 sensor?

    • Ian Norman June 10, 2015 / 12:04 pm

      The white specks are likely hot pixels on your sensor and have nothing to do with your lens. You can re-map the hot pixels to fix this problem on the 5DM3 by placing a body cap on the body (no lens) and enabling manual cleaning mode and turning off the camera after 30 seconds.

      There are a few youtube videos out there about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WJBuGhMnvFo

    • gino June 10, 2015 / 12:54 pm

      Excited to try this out.. can’t believe i missed this ‘suggestion’ on google. Thanks Ian

  5. Kit June 8, 2015 / 1:59 pm

    Hi Ian,

    On your recomedation in this review, and on other similarly glowing reviews, I got myself the Nikon fit of this and am using it with a Fotodiox Pro adapter on my Sony A7. Sharpness from f4.0 and up is fantastic, but at f2.8 it seems to me to be pretty poor! I’m a total amateur and this is the first ‘quality’ and camera I’ve owned, so I’m not confident that there’s something wrong with the lens!

    I’ve uploaded some 100% crops at f2.8, f4 and f8 here: https://kitcarruthers.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/combined.jpg

    Would you mind taking a look and seeing if the f2.8 image (top) would match your expectation of this lens? My feeling is NOT, but welcome your opinion!

    Many thanks, Kit

    • Ian Norman June 10, 2015 / 12:04 pm

      Kit, it seems like your lens is overly soft. I would try to exchange it for a better copy!

    • Kit June 16, 2015 / 9:13 am

      Many thanks for your time Ian, really appreciated!

  6. Dave Lang June 3, 2015 / 6:44 am

    If your shooting DX I’d recommend the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 over this lens. It’s wider, sharp, and can be found used for less than $350. For FX this lens is great but I also use my Tokina 11-16 @ F/16 on my D800 for Milky Way shots all the time.

    • Ian Norman June 10, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      I recommend the Tokina 11-16 for APS-C (DX) sensors over this lens: it has a wider field of view, AF, less distortion, etc. Excellent lens.

  7. Anh Tran May 30, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    awesome review! thank you. im still debating on getting the 24mm 1.4 or the 14mm 2.8. im just starting to get into astrophography but i wanna use a ultra wide angle for both astro and lansdcapes.

    • Ian Norman June 10, 2015 / 12:07 pm

      Start with the shorter lens. It will have the more dramatic field of view which tends to be more desirable for general landscape work.

  8. Suze May 20, 2015 / 11:35 am

    Hi Ian,

    I will be purchasing this lens for a Nikon D5300. The purpose for the lens is primarily landscapes and astrophotography. I have been reading customer reviews of this lens on a number of different sites (buying it on b&h), to make sure this is what I want. I’m seeing people using this lens for a lot of different things. Is this a lens I should add to my “everywhere” bag? Currently, I have my kit lens, a Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6, and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 in my “everywhere” bag.

    • Ian Norman May 22, 2015 / 10:11 am

      I always love having a super wide angle lens available to me so I’d put it in the ‘Everywhere’ bag!

  9. Joey Cannon March 3, 2015 / 12:55 am

    Hi Ian..will this lens work on a Canon 600D?
    thanks
    Great pics .

    • Ian Norman March 3, 2015 / 5:03 pm

      Yes! Be sure to get the Canon EF mount version.

  10. Mathieu January 12, 2015 / 5:16 pm

    Hi!
    Thank you for this review, it was very useful for me.
    I want to buy that lens but I was wondering if the chipped model for Nikon worth the extra money (I have a Nikon D5300).
    Besides the metering chip, are the chipped and normal Lens exactly the same? Are the optics exactly the same?
    Thank you!

    • Ian Norman January 12, 2015 / 9:24 pm

      The optics between the chipped and non-chipped versions of the lenses are identical. If you shoot Nikon, grab the chipped version. It’s much nicer to be able to use it with auto-exposure modes for walkaround use. Obviously it’s not super useful for astrophotography but I’m sure we all like to use our camera gear for more than just shooting the night sky…

  11. Steve Ornberg December 23, 2014 / 8:55 am

    Great review. Based on your site I ordered the 14mm through your B&H link. Love your website and recommended it to all my camera club friends. I am just starting out in astrophotographers so I look forward to trying out my new lens.

    • Ian Norman December 25, 2014 / 4:24 am

      Thanks Steve! Share some results!

  12. Luke Tran December 21, 2014 / 6:10 pm

    Hi IAN,

    I’m using 6D with lens Rokinon 14mm/f2.8 just few days ago . I cannot find out the best aperture for it . Could you please give me the advice. Thank you very much in advance.

    Regards,

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