Samyang has long been making affordable lenses with decent image quality. The trade-off to get that desirable equation has been cost cutting in other ways, including the exclusion of some features. Frequently omitted are autofocus, image stabilization, auto aperture and certain electronic communications with the camera (minimally, some EXIF info not reporting).
You may be thinking: this is not a Samyang brand lens. While this is not a "Samyang" brand lens, it is produced by Samyang. Samyang used to make their lenses available in a variety of brands, but market demand led to only the top-selling Samyang and Rokinon-brand lenses remaining in its product lineup. So, while this is a Rokinon-branded lens, "Technology by Samyang Optics" is printed right on the side of the lens to clear up any misperceptions. Note that the Samyang-branded version of this lens uses an "XP" designation before the focal length instead of "SP".
The initial press release was for a Samyang brand lens, but ... the Rokinon version showed up first, so that is the brand being reviewed here. Hopefully that clears up any questions in that regard.
More pertinent is what this lens is. Samyang has been making 14mm lenses for a long time and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens has been very popular, offering good image quality at a great price. The new 14mm lens was promised to be a premium offering. That of course caught my attention and the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens gained a position near the top of my to-do list.
Combine a lens company marketing department's press release with a language translation and ... the result is a bit of a hoot to read, but the essence is "... unprecedented resolving power, matched with 50 megapixels photo and 8K video productions", via "... two aspherical lenses, one hybrid aspherical lens, two extra-low dispersion lenses and one high refractive lens" for "... impressive image quality from centre to corner of image." [Samyang] Few would complain about that promise for this lens. Other upgrades that are desirable include the modestly wider max aperture, the auto aperture/exposure and the durable-but-lightweight aluminum alloy housing with the "up"grade in price being the only downside in the eyes of most. While the new lens comes with a 3x higher street price, the higher price can still be considered a modest price in relation to lenses in general. And, discounts already have trimmed a significant amount of the price difference away as of review time.
A primary reason to want this lens is because it has a 14mm focal length and the focal length largely determines the type of photography a (or any) lens is used for. The ultra-wide 114° angle of view presented by the 14mm focal length is both very useful and extremely fun to use.
Photographing architecture is a popular use for a 14mm lens. Buildings are big and working space is often limited by other buildings, trees, power lines, etc., making an ultra-wide angle focal length such as 14mm a requirement for the task. Architecture photography often requires a level camera (or a tilt-shift lens) to keep vertical lines from converging. It is often hard to gain a mid-building height vantage point for such photography, but an ultra-wide angle lens will frequently permit the entire building(s) to be included in a ground-level image captured with a level (both tilt and roll) camera. Unwanted foreground can simply be cropped away.
Interior photography is another scenario where working space is frequently limited and a wide angle of view is needed to capture the entire space. A benefit from using an ultra-wide angle for both interiors and exteriors is that the space appears larger, and larger is typically desired in the real estate field.
Perhaps the most-common use of 14mm is in landscape photography. The world is full of wide angle scenes awaiting your shutter release behind a 14mm lens. Wide angles are especially good for making foreground subjects appear large in relation to background subjects (due to perspective) and they enable capturing a vast background both in the frame and in-focus. When out and about, look for interesting subjects with interesting backgrounds. Then move in close for the killer shot, giving the viewer a sense of presence in the image.
Creating a multi-shot panorama is a common technique used for photographing landscapes. This technique permits a wider overall angle of view to be captured than a lens is otherwise capable of. Very wide angle focal lengths can capture a big scene in one frame and can provide a panorama look (wide aspect ratio) by simply cropping the top and bottom from a single image capture. While the multi-image pano can create an even higher resolution, that resolution may not be needed with today's ultra-high resolution cameras and cropping is much easier than stitching.
Try using this lens for looking-up photos in the forest. Lay on your back amidst interesting tall trees for an easy-to-capture composition that, with each tree trunk becoming a leading line into your frame, looks great.
The night sky is vast and full of interest (and the daytime sky often is as well). The 14mm angle of view can take in much of the sky (sample borrowed from the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens review).
The 14mm focal length can, especially with the interesting perspective it provides, capture artistic types of imagery. Take advantage of perspective distortion by moving in close to make something appear huge in relation to its surroundings. For example, hold the small fish you caught close to the camera to make it appear huge, backing up your big fish story.
Use caution when including people in the 14mm frame as the just-referenced perspective distortion may not be appreciated for portraiture – step back and use this lens to capture environmental portraits. People participating in sports can be captured using ultra-wide focal lengths. Lenses such as this one are especially great to use for remote cameras at the starting line, finish line, in the goal, over the basket, etc.
When you need to back up farther, but simply can't, 14mm might be the right choice.
Considerations must be made when using a 14mm focal length with flash. Since 14mm is wider than most flashes natively cover, a diffuser (either built in or accessory) or bounce flash (or similar) will be required to avoid an only partially lit scene.
To see how 14mm fits into the neighboring focal lengths, I'll borrow a comparison example from the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens review.
The Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens is a full frame lens and though the above discussion focuses on this lens being used on a full frame camera, it also has great use on a smaller-sensor APS-C (1.5x/1.6x FOVCF) model where the angle of view provided is narrower, similar to that of a 22mm lens on a full frame body. While the 22mm-like angle of view is considerably less extreme (between the 20mm and 24mm focal length examples above), many of the uses are the same. That said, with far more APS-C options available to cover this focal length, the competition is considerably higher.
While there are many APS-C lenses covering the 14mm focal length, few of them have an aperture this wide. Also few are the number of full frame 14mm lens options with an aperture this wide. Until the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens arrives (coming soon as of review time), this Rokinon lens holds the full frame 14mm wide aperture title and only one other lens wider than 20mm, the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone/Firefly Lens, shares this max aperture.
It is unlikely that you have seen many lenses of any focal length advertised as having an f/2.4 max aperture. Canon cameras (minimally) do not even report this aperture, showing only full 1/3 aperture stops with this lens being indicated as an f/2.5 lens (note: we state f/2.4 on the test results to avoid confusion). While most will consider that tiny difference irrelevant, either of these apertures gives this lens, for a short period of time, not only the widest available max aperture in a 14mm full frame lens, but the widest available max aperture in a full frame lens wider than 20mm. There are many f/2.8 options falling within a mm or two of 14mm and one is the max-aperture-sharing Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone/Firefly Lens, so this lead is perhaps not as dramatic as it sounds.
Allowing more light to reach the sensor permits freezing action, handholding the camera in lower light levels and/or use of a lower (less noisy) ISO setting. Low light venues such as churches beg for wide apertures. Those photographing stars seem to never be able to get a wide-enough aperture.
In addition to allowing more light to reach the sensor, increasing the aperture opening permits a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur. However, an ultra-wide focal length is not going to be a first choice when a strongly blurred background is a high priority. Here is an example of the near-maximum background blur this lens can produce:
It is not hard to recognize the subjects in this image.
Especially after Samyang's announcement promises, I was anxious to see how well this lens performed optically and especially in regards to sharpness (contrast and resolution).
What we are see is that, wide open at f/2.4, test results are a bit soft, but they do not appear to degrade into full frame corners. Stopped down to f/4, this lens is very sharp in the center with little/no improvement seen at narrower apertures.
As is often the case, corners lag the center in showing optimal sharpness and f/5.6 brings another nice bump in sharpness in the periphery. Corners are looking very nice at f/5.6 and even a touch better at f/8.
In addition to our standard lab tests, I like to share some real world examples. The images below are 100% resolution crops captured in RAW format using a Canon EOS 5Ds R. The images were processed in DPP using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "1". These examples are from the center of the frame.
Increase the sharpness setting and the f/2.4 results are not bad. The results at the only-slightly-narrower f/2.8 aperture show improvement and at f/4, the results are very sharp.
Moving out to the extreme full frame corners (the bottom left in this case), we again see confirmation of the test chart results.
Especially at/beyond f/5.6, even the extreme corners of an extremely-high resolution DSLR camera are sharp. All corners performed similarly on this lens, showing proper alignment.
As I'm sure you noticed in the just-prior sharpness example, the image corners get brighter as the aperture narrows. Wide angle full frame lenses always show peripheral shading when full frame imaging sensors are behind them and the max-wide aperture is in use. In this case, there is a rather-substantial 4 stops of shading. Stop down to f/2.8 and the still-quite-noticeable 3.5 stops is normal for equivalent lenses. Just over 2-stops of shading remains at f/4, about 1.5 stops show at f/5.6 and a still-slightly-noticeable 1.5 stops remains through f/16.
Vignetting can be corrected during post processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty. Vignetting can also be simply embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Your choice. I don't correct vignetting in most of my images.
Mount this lens on an APS-C body and ... there is little to worry about in regards to peripheral shading. The about-1-stop of shading in f/2.4 corners will be, at most, barely noticeable in most images.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists. While one might expect extremely wide angle lenses to show stronger amounts of lateral CA, this lens performs remarkably with very little color fringing seen even in the extreme corner of an EOS 5Ds R image as shown below.
Another relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration, but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
In the 100% resolution crop samples shown below, look at the blur in front of and behind the plane of sharp focus. In this sample, we see the specular highlight fringing colors remaining similar, a positive attribute in regards to the just-described aberrations.
One of the most troubling effects seen in images comes from flare and with an angle of view this wide, it is easy for bright light sources, including the sun, to get into the frame. As with most similar lenses, the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 readily shows flare effects. If not embraced, flare effects can be very destructive to image quality and it is sometimes extremely difficult to remove these in post processing.
I'm on a continuous search for the perfect night sky lens and while I'm not counting on finding complete perfection anytime soon, excellent new candidates keep emerging and this lens is one of them. One of the biggest challenges to be overcome for a night sky-favored lens is the corner performance – keeping the stars in the corner of the frame rendered as the point-light-sources they are. Coma and astigmatism are the common culprits affecting these results. Coma is generally recognized by sharp contrast towards the center of an image transitioning to long, soft contrast toward the image periphery. Coma is most visible in wide aperture corners and significantly resolves when the lens is stopped down.
The above 100% resolution crop was taken from near the corner of the frame. While there are some issues at work here, the results are not bad in relation to other lenses.
One of my biggest complaints about the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens is the significant mustache/wave distortion it exhibits. I hoped to see a big improvement in the new lens in this regard and while there is definitely a noticeable improvement, strong barrel distortion remains present. Straight lines running parallel to the frame borders are going to show a noticeable amount of curvature.
Most modern lenses have correction profiles available for the popular image processing software programs and geometric distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens in the first place.
As discussed previously, wide angle lenses are not the best choice for strongly blurring backgrounds and the quality of that blur (referred to as "bokeh") holds a lower importance, but we should at least take a look at the results. The two samples below show are 100% crops of the background blur this lens creates at f/8, where the lens' 9-blade aperture are influencing the results.
While these are not the smoothest results I've seen, they are not likely to be much of a factor.
This 9-blade aperture translates point light sources into a nice 18-point star burst effect when used at narrow apertures such as the f/16 opening used for the example below.
An image quality factor worth mentioning is the electronically controlled aperture in this lens. This is a very nice upgrade from the manual aperture found in the older 14mm f/2.8 lens and the camera does a far better job at determining proper exposures with the premium lens. The EXIF information stored in the image files includes the educationally-valuable aperture setting.
Overall, this lens is a decent performer. While the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens' wide open results are a bit soft, many of the uses for this lens need a narrower aperture for depth of field purposes and stopped down modestly, this lens becomes very sharp. Distortion, flare and vignetting performances are not amazing, but the control of lateral CA is quite good. Note that I returned our first copy of this lens due to a slight misalignment issue that generated uneven corner image quality. The reviewed lens appeared properly aligned with all corners showing equivalent performance.
This is a manual focusing lens – autofocus is not available. While MF-only simplifies a lens from a design and construction (and testing) standpoints, it limits the lens' usefulness for certain applications. Most will find wider angle MF-only lenses easier to use for focal length-appropriate purposes than telephoto options as the generally-deep DOF allows more room for error. Still, I struggle to manually focus lenses such as this one at wide apertures and very close distances using a viewfinder lacking MF aids (primarily, a split prism).
While this lens includes a focus confirmation chip (many of the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lenses do not), I do not find DSLR focus confirmation lights to be accurate enough to count on. Fully zoomed Live View manual focusing or the equivalent (such as using a tethered laptop) is the ideal way to focus this lens. Use a narrow aperture and this can utilize a set-and-forget focus setting (just make sure the ring is not inadvertently changed).
Of primary importance in a MF-only lens is the manual focus ring. The Rokinon 14mm f/2.4 Lens' MF ring features a very long 232° of rotation and makes precise focusing very easy at both minimum focus distance and also at infinity.
The focus ring, with a bit of bulge in the middle and a smooth rubber surface, is somewhat unique, but it works great. It is adequately-sized, smooth, very nicely damped and has no play. An extensive range of focus distances are printed on the ring (in both ft and m). The minimum focus distance and most-infinite (past infinity focus usually) focusing distances are hard stops, meaning that focus setting marks are repeatable (especially useful for video recording). Subjects change size only modestly over the focus range, but the focus ring must be turned significantly for a noticeable change to be realized.
The Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens reaches a new low for its class in terms of maximum magnification. Those needing to make tiny subjects huge in the frame at 14mm may not find the 0.08x spec, reached at the minimum focus distance of 11" (280mm), to be adequate. This class of lens seems to have a wide range of close focusing capabilities as illustrated in the table below.
|Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.16x|
|Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens||7.9"||(200mm)||0.15x|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.25x|
|Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone Lens||11.0"||(280mm)|
|Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.15x|
|Nikon 14mm f/2.8D AF Lens||7.9"||(201mm)||0.15x|
|Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.08x|
|Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens||9.4"||(240mm)||0.20x|
|Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens||10.8"||(274mm)|
|Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||10.6"||(270mm)||0.10x|
|Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.20x|
|Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.11x|
Often, a lens' minimum focus distance can be reduced via extension tubes. However, on lenses this wide, even a 12mm extension tube reduces the minimum focus distance too much to be usable. With the lens focused to infinity, the maximum focus distance appears to be somewhere closer than the front lens element.
The Rokinon premium f/2.4 lens shows a significantly improved design over the older also-Samyang-built f/2.8 models as seen in the comparison below.
The manual aperture ring is gone, replaced by a grip surface. With no switches, much of the remaining lens barrel is devoted to the focus ring.
This is a fixed-size lens. The front element remains in fixed position inside the built-in lens hood. While the lens housing is said to be made of aluminum alloy, the hood is constructed of thick, semi-rigid plastic. The hood is substantially-sized, but that gorgeous large convex front element lies just inside of its protection and care must be taken to protect it from impact.
Aside from the flex in the hood (which can be a positive attribute, absorbing impact), this lens appears solidly made.
This lens is not weather sealed, so care must also be exercised in that regard. An externally-visible lens mount alignment indicator would be a nice to have feature, though a red dot on the rear-facing mount suffices.
This is a relatively small (especially the barrel) and modestly-weighted lens that falls into the middle of its class in these regards. Here is a lens size and weight comparison table:
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens||41.7 oz||(1180g)||4.3 x 5.2"||(108.0 x 132.0mm)||2015|
|Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens||22.8 oz||(645g)||3.1 x 3.7"||(80.0 x 94.0mm)||2007|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens||27.9 oz||(790g)||3.5 x 5.0"||(88.5 x 127.5mm)||82mm||2016|
|Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone Lens||24.2 oz||(686g)||4.5 x 3.9"||(114.0 x 100.0mm)||95mm||2016|
|Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens||34.2 oz||(969g)||3.9 x 5.2"||(98.0 x 131.5mm)||2007|
|Nikon 14mm f/2.8D AF Lens||23.7 oz||(670g)||3.4 x 3.4"||(87.0 x 86.5mm)||2000|
|Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens||27.9 oz||(791g)||3.7 x 4.3"||(95.0 x 109.4mm)||2016|
|Samyang 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens||19.5 oz||(552g)||3.4 x 3.8"||(87.0 x 96.1mm)||2012|
|Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens||40.6 oz||(1150g)||4.0 x 5.2"||(102.0 x 131.5mm)||2016|
|Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||41.3 oz||(1170g)||3.8 x 5.0"||(95.4 x 126.0mm)||2017|
|Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens||38.8 oz||(1100g)||3.9 x 5.7"||(98.4 x 145.0mm)||2014|
|Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens||33.4 oz||(947g)||4.0 x 3.9"||(102.3 x 100.2mm)||95mm||2016|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
This lens is not a burden to carry on a camera and use for long periods of time. I carried the Rokinon 14 with me on a couple of trail runs without an issue (a couple of images shared in the beginning of the review were the result of this).
Here is a visual comparison of some of the above lenses:
Shown above are the following lenses:
The same lenses are shown below, all with their hoods in place. Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens to other lenses.
When you see a convex front lens element and a built-in hood, the expectation is that the lens is not going to accept standard-threaded front filters and that is the case with this lens. Also missing is a rear drop-in filter holder. This means that filter options are limited to very large externally-mounted models offered by third parties. The lack of convenient circular polarizer and neutral density filter access will give some landscape photographers pause, but no other 14mm option accepts standard threaded filters. That is a sacrifice required to get to 14mm or wider focal lengths at this time.
This lens comes with a relatively large semi-rigid plastic lens cap that clips over the lens hood. The cap works well, but it bears mentioning that wear marks readily show on the lens hood. The marks mostly wipe away for me at this point, but the dust is indication that the raised ribs in the cap are wearing down. Whether or not this wear becomes a problem in the long term ... requires long term use to determine.
Rokinon includes a drawstring lens pouch with this lens. The fabric pouch has a fleece lining with a thin layer of padding between it and the outer fabric layer. The pouch bottom is similarly constructed, but a relatively thick piece of foam is included to provide the extra protection it needs. While I doubt the construction cost was very high, this pouch is more protective and therefore more useful than most similar pouches included with a lens.
One way to look at lens value is to compare the cost to what the lens can do for you. In this case, I find it easy to justify the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens purchase. Having 14mm covered in my lens kit is quite important to me.
The other angle to approach lens value determination from is to compare it with other models that can provide the same or similar functionality. In this case, the Rokinon falls in the middle of a very wide price range of 14 and 15mm f/2.4-f/2.8 lenses. For the price of the Rokinon f/2.4, roughly three Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lenses could be purchased. The Rokinon f/2.4 is a better lens, but those on a budget might have a hard time accepting that price difference. Similarly, the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens costs roughly 3x more. The Zeiss is in a different class from most lenses, especially from a build quality perspective, but once again, that is a big price difference.
So, like a good politician, I talked around the value answer, or at least the second part of it. But, hopefully I've provided you a picture of where this lens falls in the value perspective.
The Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens is available in Canon (reviewed), Nikon F and Sony E mounts. My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third party lenses. Since Rokinon reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer electronics and algorithms, there is always the possibility that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Usually a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update, but this cannot be guaranteed. That this lens lacks most features, especially AF, means that issues are less likely to develop. Rokinon provides a 1-year limited warranty.
The review lens was obtained online/retail.
There is currently only one other manual-focus 14mm prime lens on my radar and that is this lens' sibling/predecessor, the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens. As mentioned, the f/2.8 lens carries a much lower price tag than the premium-oriented f/2.4 lens, so the big question is: is the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens worth the price difference over the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Lens?
While there is no doubt that the Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens is the better lens, the decision factor comes down to features and image quality. The Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4, with its electronic aperture, plays much nicer with a camera's auto exposure system and that attribute definitely adds value. That the f/2.4 version has a modestly wider aperture is also of value to some.
The image quality comparison at f/2.8 shows the two lenses performing closer than their price tags would predict. Though the f/2.4 still has strong barrel distortion, the amount of distortion is less and it is less complicated than the f/2.8's mustache/wave distortion profile. The f/2.4 also shows a strong amount of peripheral shading at wide aperture settings, but in the f/2.8 comparison, it has over 1 stop less shading than the f/2.8 lens (night sky photographers take note). The f/2.4 has 9 aperture blades vs. the 6 in the f/2.8 lens. The premium lens has a weight penalty, weighing 27.9 oz vs. 19.5 oz (791g vs 552g), and it is a bit larger.
The other two 14mm prime lens options available at review time are the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens and the Nikon 14mm f/2.8D AF Lens. Both of these lenses cost significantly more, but both also feature AF. The Rokinon provides a much better manual focusing experience and has a modestly wider aperture while the Canon and Nikon lenses are modestly smaller. The Canon and Nikon have much less geometric distortion and have about 2x higher maximum magnification specs. The Rokinon has more aperture blades (9) than the Canon (6) and Nikon (7).
In the Canon vs. Rokinon 14mm image quality comparison, the Canon is a somewhat sharper, especially in the center of the frame at f/2.8. But, the Rokinon shows considerably less lateral CA in the periphery. Stop down and the sharpness difference becomes significantly reduced. The Canon shows less flare.
While my experience with the Nikon 14 is limited to our standard test results, the Rokinon is sharper with less lateral CA. The Rokinon has about .5 stops less peripheral shading and shows modestly less flare.
At this time, the 14mm prime lens to watch for is Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens. We will be reviewing this lens as soon as it becomes available. Known is that the Sigma will have a considerably-wider aperture and a noticeably higher price tag.
Several full frame format zoom lenses cover the 14mm focal length. These include the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens and Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Lens. Only the Nikon approaches the Rokinon's f/2.4 max aperture, stopping just short at f/2.8. The zoom lenses are noticeably larger and heavier, and their price tags are at least as accordingly large. These zooms are of course AF-capable and have greatly-increased versatility via the zoom range.
Think a stopped-down prime lens will have a huge image quality advantage over a zoom? Especially over the least expensive of the three? Think again. Check out the Rokinon vs. Sigma 14mm comparison at the widest matching aperture, f/4. These two lenses are similar in sharpness. The Sigma shows less flare and has considerably less geometric distortion, though the Sigma's focus shift should be understood.
The Canon 11-24 L is a significantly-higher-priced lens, but it impresses in the Rokinon vs. Canon image quality comparison. Once again we see the zoom showing increased lateral CA, but the Canon wins the image sharpness comparison. The Canon loses the vignetting comparison at f/4 (by about a stop), but handily takes the distortion and flare categories.
The Nikon and Rokinon appear similarly sharp at f/2.8 with the zoom again showing more lateral CA. The Nikon has even more barrel distortion (perhaps this otherwise highly-regarded lens' greatest weakness) than the Rokinon, but shows less flare and has slightly less vignetting at f/2.8.
The 15mm focal length is not as wide as 14mm (see the focal length comparison earlier in the review), but often a 15mm lens can get the same job done. And, there are a couple of manual focus 15mm rectilinear prime lenses available.
First up is the ultra-premium Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens. Few lenses are built like a Zeiss Milvus lens and few have price tags as high. The Zeiss is sharper in the center at f/2.8, though the Rokinon turns in better corners (note that this is the third Zeiss lens we've tested and the corners we are seeing are not meeting expectations). The Zeiss has less distortion and shows less flare. The Zeiss is heavier and considerably larger, but it is an amazingly well-built lens, likely to far exceed the Rokinon's life expectancy. The Zeiss 15 has front filter threads to its advantage and the removable lens hood is metal.
The other 15mm prime lens to consider is the great-value-priced Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone/Firefly Lens. While the Blackstone and Firefly are technically two different lenses, they share many key components including the optical design. We tested the heavier, stronger-built Blackstone version. The Rokinon vs. Irix comparison shows the Irix lens turning in sharper results at f/2.4 (the Irix lens shares the f/2.4 max aperture advantage of the Rokinon). Stopped down, the results from the two lenses become more equivalent. The Irix has less distortion. The Irix lenses are larger, but even the heavier Blackstone version is lighter than the Rokinon and they accept threaded front filters. You will like the Irix prices considerably better.
As is often the case, there are a lot of lens options to consider for your wide angle needs (especially for the APS-C format) and I didn't mention all of them here (such as the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens). Look at the list in the tables above and use the site's comparison tools for your decision-making process. But, make sure that you have this approximate focal length covered in your kit as it is both highly useful and lots of fun to use.
Rokinon/Samyang has long been the source of great value lenses. The Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens introduces a premium grade option to the lineup, one that includes a wide, electronic-driven aperture that regularly delivers accurate auto exposures. This well-built (at least seemingly so), nicely-designed, relatively small lens is a joy to use and, especially if stopped down modestly, it turns in excellent image sharpness. Distortion, flare and vignetting performances are not amazing, but the control of lateral CA is excellent.
Photographers need to remember that this is a manual-focus-only lens, but manual focus is often sufficient at 14mm and this lens provides an excellent manual focus experience. A manual-focus-only lens may sometimes slow you down in the field, but it may also force you to create your images with more deliberation. And, properly-composed 14mm images are worth pursuing as they can be striking.
While most will not find a 14mm lens to be the most-used option in their kit, having a 14mm lens available is nonetheless important (and fun) and the Rokinon/Samyang SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens is worth considering for this purpose. Fortunately, the price tag of this lens will not scare away enthusiasts.
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