Monday, November 20, 2017

Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 Wide Angle Lens Review

If you're on a tight budget, but want to expand your lens collection to open up more creative possibilities, the Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 wide angle lens might be your best option. It's a solid, dependable performer that can deliver dramatic images in a variety of situations, and is available for most cameras at a price that even the most frugal photographer won't find prohibitive.

At 14mm this lens is super wide on a full frame camera, but with an APS-C sized sensor your field of view will narrow down to a little over 20mm. Still very wide, but this is definitely a lens that is most dramatic on more expensive cameras. With that said, few lens can truly be considered ultra-wide on APS-C cameras. Only once you get down in the 8-11mm range do lenses really fall into the ultra wide category on crop sensor cameras like my Canon 80D. However, such wide lenses are largely fisheye lenses that greatly distort images. For some shots this is the party trick you need to stand out, but for most photography you want to keep your straight lines more or less straight, and for that you  need a rectilinear lens such as the Rokinon 14mm. That's not to say this lens is distortion free; you will find some here, but it's not overly offensive, and is relatively easy to correct in post processing. For less distortion in such a wide lens you'd have to look at glass three times or more the price!

One feature this camera does have that is surprising to find in such an affordable lens is a wide f/2.8 aperture. This means you can get shallow depth of field, and (more importantly with such a wide lens) can capture more light. This means you can get brighter photos at lower ISOs, and that's what you need if you want to get those amazing astrophotography shots of the Milky Way. The Rokinon 14mm is perhaps one of the best lenses you can buy for astrophotography, as proved by this timelapse GIF:


It's also my favorite lens for videos where I'm filming myself talking to the camera. Since it's so wide I can have the camera really close to me, and that way I'm closer to my microphone so that I get clearer audio. It makes it a lot easier to operate the camera during solo vlog style videography. This is another circumstance when the wide aperture comes in handy, as it adds a bit of background separation that will make you stand out. The one problem with this is that there is no autofocus, so that it can be tricky to get the focus exactly right when trying to film oneself. However, since it is so wide all you need to do is raise the aperture and set the focus to infinity. That will get you sharp shots
of all but the closest subjects.

The build quality is remarkably solid - the lens is mostly made of metal, with the focus ring and aperture dial being the only major plastic components, and even they seem sturdy enough. The one caveat to this is that the lens is very heavy, though it must be said that there is something extremely satisfying about an especially heavy lens. The Rokinon 14mm is no slouch when it comes to image quality either - it's tack sharp and doesn't suffer overly much from chromatic aberration and color fringing.

A final, minor caveat has to do with the lack of electronics in this lens. This lack of electrical components means that it can't interface with your camera to record meta data that can be useful in post processing and in the operation of the lens (for example, my Canon 80D requires me to press a button confirming that I've attached a lens before the video mode will turn on). However, a model with a confirmation chip will run you nearly double the base price, and the quirks associated with the lack of electronics just takes some getting used to.

In conclusion, the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is an amazing lens and an amazing bargain. It's a versatile tool that has the potential to greatly expand the creative potential of any photographer or video creator.

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link):