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Published on April 24th, 2013 | by Rita

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Wide, Prime World: Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Aspherical Lens

In the world of prime lenses there are a handful of names everyone recognizes: Nikon, Canon, Zeiss. With that recognition often comes a very hefty price tag, which leaves most non-professional photographers looking for good alternatives. Rokinon, a South Korean company (who also market under the names Bower, Pro Optic and Samyang) recently started offering the Rokinon fully manual 35mm f/1.4 aspherical lens, at an extremely attractive price point.

For the purpose of evaluating this lens, I was shooting on a Canon DSLR with a cropped sensor, and a full frame SLR. Note: on a cropped sensor camera youʻll not get a true 35mm field of view like you will with a full frame, but somewhere between 52mm and 70mm depending on what camera youʻre using. This lens is available with mounts for Sony, Olympus(four-thirds), Pentax, Samsung NX, Canon and Nikon, the last of which comes optionally with a focus confirm chip.

Right out of the box this lens is impressive. Itʻs got a very solid build and feel. It comes with the standards youʻd expect: end cap, lens cap and tulip lens hood. Mounting it to my camera took a moment, because the threading is a bit different than the red mark, but once I figured out how it fit it went on smooth as silk.

Because this lens is fully manual users must be comfortable shooting in a manual setting. The aperture ring is very well marked, and very easy to adjust. There is no focus confirmation, except with the Nikon mount, due to the lack of electronics. The diaphragm opens and closes as you set the ring, so youʻll experience a darkening in your viewfinder with smaller apertures. I found it best to compose with the aperture open all the way, and then set my aperture and exposure by my light meter.

I did not experience any serious vignetting, even with my aperture at its widest, on my cropped sensor DSLR. On my full-frame EOS 1 the vignetting is a bit more pronounced until around f/2.0. The depth of field is very thin at f/1.4, and can take a little practice if youʻre not used to shooting that fast, but once you get the hang of it photos are very nice, with a pretty round bokeh. Colors are bright and crisp, and the contrast with this lens is top-notch. True to itʻs aspherical name, all of my photos were free from distortion or fish-eye effect.

My use did not include video, but because the lens is so quiet (again, no electronics), I could see how videographers would quite enjoy this lens. When put up against comparable lenses on the market, ranging in price from $500 up to $1800, this lens easily performs right up there with the best of the bunch, and is well worth the money if youʻre comfortable with a manual lens. Available now, online and in stores, for around $450.

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About the Author

Professionally in healthcare, and semi-professionally a photographer, former student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and full-time student of human nature, Rita has been writing for Truly Net for many years. Born and raised in the Midwest, she spent years on Oahu, and has formed some very strong opinions about all things knitting, pie, and the best places to climb. She really enjoys good food, music and friends, and is perfectly willing to write about, and photograph any or all of those things.



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