The Rokinon (same as Samyang) AF 14mm F2.8 Lens for mirrorless cameras (Canon RF and Sony E) review time started out with great hope. Samyang has been creating 14mm lenses for a long time, and this lens was tuned to the optimized mirrorless lens mounts. Additionally, this was one of the first third-party lenses supporting AF to become available in the RF mount.
When the to-review queue reached this model, I brought the lens in with little regard aside from attending the basic testing workflow. Then things went sideways. Jump to the image quality section of this review to cut to the chase.
The ultra-wide 14mm angle of view should be the primary reason to purchase this or any other 14mm lens or to select it for use. Focal length drives subject distance decisions, and those distances determine perspective.
When moving back is not an option, 14mm may be a great choice. With even modestly longer focal lengths, you can't move back far enough to fit everything in the frame that 14mm takes in.
The 14mm focal length finds frequent use in architecture, real estate, landscape, and nightscape photography.
Architecture subjects are frequently large, and fitting large subjects in the frame often requires an ultra-wide-angle focal length. Photographers chasing architecture will likely find coverage of the 14mm focal length mandatory for the kit.
Real estate is also large, and in the real estate world, larger generally means more valuable. With an ultra-wide-angle lens, you can make real estate appear large by using an ultra-wide angle of view to push the background deeper in the composition, hopefully generating more walk-throughs that sell more properties. The latter point is what gets both realtors and photographers paid.
In a sense, real estate and architecture are products, and 14mm is useful for some product photography applications, such as vehicle and aircraft interiors.
Extreme wide angles can differentiate your work from the crowd, but care must be taken to create compelling extreme wide-angle compositions. An ultra-wide-angle of view pushes the background away, making it considerably smaller in the frame relative to close foreground subjects. Ideal compositions will incorporate an interesting close foreground subject and a complementary midground and supporting background to complete the composition. The 14mm focal length is extremely useful for landscape photography, and implementing the attractive foreground subject against a beautiful background concept creates stand-out imagery.
While considering this lens for landscape photography use, understand that the bulbous front lens element precludes standard threaded front filters, namely circular polarizer filters (neutral density filters are accommodated via a rear filter holder). Companies such as Fotodiox offer a filter solution for this type of lens, but the filter holder and filters are enormous. That circular polarizer filters can create uneven filtration at 14mm reduces the desire to use such, and that issue minimizes the lack of support.
A 14mm wide aperture lens can be a great night sky option. The extremely wide angle of view takes in a vast portion of the visible milky way, and the deep depth of field at this focal length encourages the inclusion of foreground elements, a differentiating element of a milky way image. I'll talk more about the f/2.8 aperture soon, but that feature is adequate for nightscape use.
All focal lengths are useful for photographing people, but don't let this lens's ultra-wide-angle of view tempt you to get too close to people, as it will enlarge their noses via perspective distortion. Also, remember that a person closer to the camera can appear much larger than a person farther away. Although this effect may sometimes be desired, use caution when photographing groups at 14mm.
Wedding photographers will love how this lens enables capture of the entire venue. For example, photograph the bride and groom coming down the aisle, large in the frame, with the rest of the ceremony small in the frame behind them.
This focal length is an excellent option for attaching to a remote sports event camera, capturing the start of a race, capturing the finish of a race, covering the goal, mounting over the basket, etc. This focal length will also capture the big image of the arena and will work for the overhead shot of the MVP sports figure being mobbed for interviews after a big game.
The 14mm angle of view promises to spur your creativity, and this focal length can prove very interesting when used for movie recording.
I'll pull a focal length range example from another ultra-wide-angle lens, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G Master Lens.
A mm or two change at the very small focal length numbers makes a big difference in the angle of view. The 12-24mm lens at 12mm clearly takes in a wider angle of view than the 14mm focal length, but 14mm frames considerably wider than the 16mm and longer options.
APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle, and that fact means a scene is framed more tightly, with 1.5x and 1.6x being the angle of view multiplier for the Sony and Canon models. As estimatable in the previous illustration, the 21mm or 22.4mm full-frame equivalent angle of view is quite narrower. Still, the uses for this angle of view are plentiful, with landscape photography and portrait photography perhaps benefiting the most from the difference.
As of review time, very few zoom lenses have a maximum aperture opening wider than this one, and none of those cover this lens's focal length range in a Canon or Sony mount. So the relatively wide f/2.8 aperture is a strong feature advantage this lens holds vs. the zoom lens options.
That said, f/2.8 is a relatively common 14mm prime lens maximum opening, and wider prime lenses are available.
Wide apertures are useful for stopping action, both that of the subject and the camera, in low light levels while keeping ISO settings low and noise levels quiet. Additionally, wide apertures benefit AF systems, enabling better low-light performance.
Even when photographing under bright light conditions, wide apertures are useful for creating a strong background blur that makes a subject stand out, isolated from an even highly distracting background. That said, ultra-wide-angle lenses are not optimal for creating a strong background blur.
A wide aperture dictates a large lens element size, which can mean higher cost. Still, this lens is not large, heavy, or expensive.
The Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 Lens (and all other Rokinon/Samyang lenses produced to date) is not optically stabilized. Omitting the optical stabilization system reduces the size, weight, complexity, and cost of a lens.
While image stabilization is a very useful feature, the low 14mm magnification tends to keep details within their pixels, even at longer focal lengths, making stabilization less necessary. Additionally, Canon and Sony take care of that omission with IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their latest mirrorless cameras. The IBIS viewfinder image is stabilized, and sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.
With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS, a slight impediment to working quickly, such as going from tripod to handheld.
Then this review ran into a brick wall, and I'm not talking about the focused-on brick wall often used for wide-angle lens image quality testing.
In the center of the frame, this lens produces somewhat soft image quality at f/2.8. By f/4, the results are noticeably improved – reasonably sharp. An only slight improvement is realized by stopping down further.
Many of the uses for a 14mm lens, including architecture, real estate, landscape, and nightscape photography, require sharp corner image quality. The clarity of your view through the viewfinder, especially when viewing an enlarged live view, depends on the lens's optical quality. With this lens mounted, I could see the blurry image periphery this lens delivered while attempting to precisely frame the test chart, even in the unenlarged view. Despite that concern, I continued with the test.
Upon looking at the image quality results from this lens, my first thought was that I had made the wrong decision and wasted hours testing a severely misaligned lens. However, all four corners appeared similar, making me second guess the first thought.
So, I reached out to a friend, Roger Cicala, at Lensrentals:
"Is the Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 RF for Canon RF extremely soft in the periphery at the wider apertures? The one I just received delivers some of the worst corner performance I’ve seen."
"Well, I can do a long version, but "yep". Also a lot of field curvature, so you may get some improvement in edge performance by focusing off-axis."
The next feeling was relief – I had tested a normal-performing lens. Then I faced the reality of having to spend days completing this review with no hope of selling enough copies of this lens to fund that time spent. Sometimes saving you money, time, and frustration becomes my job.
At f/2.8, this lens delivers a strong midframe and peripheral blur. The blur slowly decreases to just bad at f/11, and despite diffraction blur increasing, f/16 continues to bring corner image quality improvements (though not enough to matter).
What is going on? Let's pull a midframe sample crop from the image quality tests. The f/2.8 sample was too blurry to discern anything from, but the f/4 result begins to clarify the problem.
Notice how the sagittal lines on the right and the portions of the numbers having the same line direction appear sharp while the tangential lines are strongly blurred? Astigmatism, lines in opposing directions being focused at different focus distances, would explain this problem.
Even if field curvature is involved, there is no way to focus the lines in both directions. Thus, determining when the corner is most in focus is extremely challenging, and every result is blurry.
The resolution chart is brutal/merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured using an ultra-high resolution Canon EOS R5 with RAW files processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to 1 on a 0-10 scale.
Indeed, the natural details show this lens in a better light. The results are quite usable at f/2.8 and rather good at f/4.
Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused as seemed best (a frustrating task) in the corner of the frame to capture these images. These are the best result sets out of many tests.
Stopping down significantly to f/11 brings on, at best, usable corner sharpness, but what is the point of f/2.8 in that case? There are few niches that require a 14mm lens that delivers an out-of-focus periphery.
Rant over for now – let's try to find some redeeming qualities for this lens.
This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA).
When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, a lens can be expected to create peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings. Wide-angle, ultra-wide aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide open, and the about-3.5-stops of shading in the f/2.8 corners is that, but not unusual for this lens class.
Stopping down to f/4 reduces the vignetting by a stop to 2.5-stops, with little change realized at narrower apertures. A strong, about 2-stops of shading remains at f/16.
APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just under one-stop of corner shading showing at f/2.8 will seldom be visible even in images with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.
One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.
Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. 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 most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.
With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.
Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a worst-case example. The image below is a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an EOS R5 frame showing diagonal black and white lines.
Only black and white colors should appear in these images, with the additional colors indicating only a minor presence of lateral CA.
Notice how sharp these tangential lines are? Let's turn the camera 90° and focus again.
Again, the corner performance appears decent (this is an f/8 capture). The problem is that the two line directions cannot be simultaneously focused.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. 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 observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. 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.
The example below looks at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.
While there is some color separation showing here, it is not especially strong for a wide-open aperture.
Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings.
Rokinon utilizes Ultra Multi Coating (UMC) to combat flare, and the moderate 14-element count is somewhat helpful in this regard. It is easy to get the sun in a 14mm frame. So, good is that this lens produced relatively few flare effects even at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, but those produced were strong.
Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality. Thus, high flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.
Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.
The image below is a 100% crop taken from the top-left corner of an R5 image captured at f/2.8.
That performance is terrible.
This lens shows strong barrel distortion.
Most modern lenses have correction profiles available, and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced.
As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and wide-angle lenses are inherently disadvantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 and f/8 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.
All three examples are 100% crops. Unfortunately, wide-angle lenses are not known for producing great bokeh, and these examples are not stellar, featuring a mottled fill pattern.
Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round, and that is the shape we're looking at here. These upper left quadrant examples are further cropped slightly and reduced in size.
The elongated shapes further reinforce the corner image quality issue we have been discussing.
A 7-blade count diaphragm will create 14 point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens is capable of producing a decent star shape, as illustrated below.
The example above was captured at f/16.
Here is the optical design responsible for the results we have just reviewed.
The bottom line is that this lens is scarred by poor peripheral image quality. Those using a 14mm lens typically desire corner-to-corner sharp details, and this lens does not deliver those. In addition, most other optical results are not stellar.
Driven by a stepping motor, the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 Lens's AF system is reasonably fast. While the distance change does not happen at a fast rate, the amount of change required by the 14mm focal length is small, decreasing the overall lock time to usually fast. The focusing is internal and practically silent.
As usual, focus lock times increase in low light, but with adequate contrast on the subject, this lens focuses in very dark environments.
A 14mm lens does not challenge an AF system like a long telephoto lens set to the same aperture and subject distance, but I found this lens to consistently focus accurately. That requirement is paramount for an AF system.
Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This behavior is referred to as focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing adversely impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone very critically framing while adjusting focus. This lens significantly changes subject size through a full extent focus distance adjustment.
This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without accessing the menu system.
The non-rubber-coated focus ring is nicely sized, ideally damped, and smooth. The 180° of linear rotation provides a nice manual focusing experience.
This lens does not support the EOS R5's focus distance display. The "Focus distance disp" menu option is disabled, and the message "Not available with the attached lens" displays if that option is attempted.
With a minimum focus distance of 7.9" (200mm), this lens has a 0.12x maximum magnification spec. While that number is low, low is characteristic for lenses in this class.
|Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens||7.9"||(200mm)||0.15x|
|Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.08x|
|Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 Lens for Canon RF and Sony E||7.9"||(200mm)||0.12x|
|Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 Lens||7.9"||(200mm)||0.15x|
|Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||10.6"||(270mm)||0.10x|
|Sony FE 14mm F1.8 GM Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.10x|
|Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.11x|
A subject measuring approximately 9.7 x 6.5" (246 x 164 mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum focus distance.
The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).
While Rokinon brand lenses (made by Samyang) are not historically known for their overall build quality (or service support). However, this lens's construction, including the all-metal exterior, seems nice.
The focus ring is just slightly raised in the otherwise straight barrel design — and straight includes the mount end on this one.
This lens has a single switch — for AF/MF selection. While the low-profile switch's feel does not exude high quality, it works fine.
Rokinon indicates that this lens is weather-resistant (not waterproof), and the rear gasket seal is obvious.
While not the lightest 14mm available, the Rokinon AF 14 for RF and E is a relatively lightweight lens, easy to carry and use for long periods.
|Model||Weight oz(g)||Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens||22.8||(645)||3.1 x 3.7||(80 x 94)||2007|
|Rokinon SP 14mm f/2.4 Lens||27.9||(791)||3.7 x 4.3||(95 x 109.4)||2016|
|Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 Lens for Canon RF and Sony E||18.5||(523)||3.4 x 3.8||(86 x 95.3)||na||2019|
|Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 Lens||17.1||(485)||3.6 x 3.8||(90.5 x 95.6)||2018|
|Sony FE 14mm F1.8 GM Lens||16.2||(460)||3.3 x 3.9||(83 x 99.8)||na||2021|
|Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||41.3||(1170)||3.8 x 5||(95.4 x 126)||2017|
|Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens||33.4||(947)||4 x 3.9||(102.3 x 100.2)||95||2016|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Rokinon (Samyang) AF 14mm F2.8 Lens for Canon RF and Sony E Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.
Here is a visual comparison:
Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Rokinon (Samyang) AF 14mm F2.8 Lens to other lenses.
As usual for its class and as mentioned earlier in the review, this lens does not have filter threads, as the bulbous front element interferes with such. However, a rear filter holder accommodates gel filters.
Notably not supported by the rear filter holder are circular polarizer filters. The alternative is to use a filter attachment system with very large filters.
Also, as usual for its class, this lens has an integrated petal-shaped lens hood. For the ultra-wide 14mm coverage facilitated, this rigid plastic hood provides a reasonable amount of protection from both impacts and from bright light.
Ultra-wide-angle lenses with a convex front lens element and built-in hood get a 3-dimensional cap that surrounds the lens's end.
How such caps attach varies, with some utilizing a friction fit for securing in place. Unfortunately, that design is usually deficient, with the cap frequently sliding off, especially when the lens is removed from a case. The better-designed caps clip onto the end of the longest petals of the hood as this cap does.
This design requires a specific alignment for the clips to connect, and the clips must be depressed during installation (they do not snap on with pressure). Note that the bottom lens cap release can unlock when the mounted lens and camera are placed on a level surface with a bit of pressure.
Rokinon (Samyang) includes a quilted, modestly padded case in the box.
It is hard to call a lens with optical performance this poor a good value at any price. Otherwise, the price is relatively low.
The Canon RF mount version of the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 Lens is compatible with all Canon EOS R-series cameras.
The Sony E mount version of the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models.
As previously mentioned, Samyang is the manufacturer of this lens, and it is available in Samyang or Rokinon brands. Rokinon provides a 1-year limited warranty.
The reviewed Samyang AF 14mm F2.8 Lens for Canon RF was online-retail sourced.
Sometimes my job is to tell you which lenses not to buy. Aside from for those in a small niche, the Rokinon (Samyang) AF 14mm F2.8 Lens for Canon RF and Sony E mirrorless cameras is a good option to avoid.
Primarily, this lens is hindered by the very soft peripheral image quality. I like to say that all lenses have a niche, but that feature makes this lens's niche is tiny. If 14mm is your desired focal length, the subject will always be in the center of the frame, and a blurred border is always desired, you may be in the small niche this lens is optimal for.
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