Before I begin my “review” of the Rokinon / Samyang 35mm 1.4, I want to tell you: I am not a technical guy. I don’t quantify myself by pixels, sensor size, camera attachments, or any other techno mumble jumble. I am all about “Does it Work!”
To me that is absolutely the most important thing about technology these days. Sure I know my shit. But I also don’t care about the specs, I care about the experience. With iPhones in our pockets able to produce amazing results, it is a luxury to invest in a Mirrorless or DSLR system these days. Believe it or not, photographers are now the minority when it comes to who buys high end gear, with mobile devices taking over 90% of the market. So when I make a purchase that is the price of my phone I am going to be damn critical of the quality and overall performance. This is an investment in my very specialized future and I don’t want to buy sell buy sell. I want to keep and stop researching.
All that being said, let’s talk, in the most nontechnical and practical application way about the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm 1.4 Auto Focus Lens for Sony FE.
So I am of firm belief you should only have to buy what you want once. Spend a little extra and get the thing you want! But I am also not against a good deal over hype. After doing a ton of research on 35mm 1.4 lenses for the Sony system I came up with the two I thought were, by reviews and sample images, the best of both worlds. But WHOA look at the price difference!
The Rokinon / Samyang was less than half the price of the Zeiss 1.4!!! I was drooling thinking, this could finally be the compromise I was willing to make on a focal length I don’t need for many use cases other than weddings as I am a 50mm guy.
Well, I pulled the trigger after many sleepless nights reading review after review saying such amazing things about this lens.
Better than the Sigma Art.
Just as good as the Zeiss, if not better!
Better Autofocus than Zeiss, I use the Rokinon at all weddings now over it!
This guy was ultimately who won me over with his review. Sadly he is actually sponsored by Rokinon, but we will get to that later.
So of course I was super excited I found a bargain on such an iconic focal length and for half the price of the Sony Zeiss!
From that point up until it arrived and I put it on my camera were the last times I ha that elated feeling.
The first photo I took, was of my Microphone on my desk. What the chromatic aberration hell?
WHAT THE FUCK? Sorry for the language but this is not just SOME CA this is image ruining. When run through post and looking at those areas they are pixelated to hell on my 42 megapixel image from the A7Riii because it had to “fix” so much and the end result was not even close. No amount of color shift and post could fix what this lens was doing.
This guy downplayed the CA by cropping into small areas. The real problem is it is covering the frame.
So if this wasn’t bad enough, the entire time I am wondering if something is wrong with my camera because the Lens is taking so much time to focus, We are talking nearly an entire second or more to grab focus, Doing a horrible breathing effect each time you switch subjects. That means it Goes out of focus, goes in Focus, then locks focus. I am almost 100% positive it was using contrast detection as well instead of Sony’s amazing phase detection.
Not only that but each focus click, you heard a very distinct CACHUNK CACHUNK sound coming from the motors. I decided to throw it in Manual focus and see if maybe the wheel needed some break in, that is where I really got upset. The ring feels like they put it on the lens body without any thought, as it was making a scratching noise as I turned it. The metal was not smoothly rotating nor properly aligned so it was almost as if it was rubbing the body of the lens.
I shot these shots of the sky while I was crying inside from what was happening.
Sure most reviews said it made a nice sun flare, what they forgot to tell you was because of the chromatic aberration hell, it also made horrible sun flares and filled them with the same color problems. (ignore the dust spec on these photos, I was too pissed to fix it) There is no use case where I could use these photos. Ever.
God forbid you try high ISO, that Magenta and Green fills your grain as if it was a virus invading the entire camera body.
At this point I already had a return put in to the seller, but I figured, why not ride the train as it wrecks while I can, and decided to go test out the Bokeh!
That pattern gave me a seizure that I now need to pay a hospital bill for, way above the price of the lens itself.
This onion ring and outer green halo on the Bokeh made me sick to my stomach, which was already not too happy after my seizure. I mean COME ON!
Sure the Bokah balls may be LARGER than the Zeiss as pointed out in every review. But when it looks like this, I wish it were smaller. MUCH SMALLER. And the defining ring around it makes it so busy it hurts. Add on top of that the CA in any high contrast area, shit in any area, and you get a very ugly result.
One thing they didn’t bullshit about in the reviews was the creamy fall off. But at this point, what is the point? Every aspect of this lens is horrible except for anything not 5 inches from the screen or completely out of focus! And forget about updating the firmware, because the damn lens needs a docking station that is not available anywhere in the states and if you can find it expect to pay 100-150$ which makes this “budget lens” no longer a steal.
So there ya have it, my real world experience with the Rokinon / Samyang 35mm 1.4 Autofocus Sony FE mount lens. I am not going to go into size, weight, comparison to Zeiss, I am just going to end it here, for my sanity and yours, because truly, with everything up til now, do you still care?! For all those reviewers out there not nailing this thing to a cross as a way to literally piss your money away on something that, by the way, drops to about 2/3 of what you paid for it after buying(unlike other lenses in this category), you disgust me.
So here is my final unbiased, un-sponsored view of this lens:
If you are a sadist and want to see more examples just walking around and snapping with this lens you can go here: https://imgur.com/a/anW01