Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 Lens Review
Before leaving on a trip to England, I decided to add a lens suitable for landscapes to my outfit. I chose the Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 in a Nikon lens mount due to its affordability and quality.
I’ve had the lens for about a year now, and here are my thoughts on this not-so-little gem.
The Technical Objective Bits
Focal Length: 14mm
Maximum/Minimum Aperture: 2.8/22
Focus Mechanism: Manual Focus
Tested Mount: Nikon F mount with AE Chip*
Available Mounts: Canon, Nikon, Fuji X-Mount, Micro 4/3rds, Olympus, Pentax, Sony Alpha, Sony E-mount
Minimum focusing distance: 28cm
Angle of view on 35mm: 115.7 degrees
Glass: 14 elements in 10 groups
Weight: 814.2 grams
*The lenses from this manufacturer are completely manual for most camera mounts, but Nikon is a special cookie and has a version with a chip that communicates with the camera and allows the camera to control the aperture. My recommendation for the Nikon version is not particularly higher due to this, but you should take it into consideration if you are using a different mount.
The Subjective Review Bits
This lens is a tank.
For it’s size, this 14mm packs a lot of glass in it. The 800 or so grams of weight are very noticeable. For hauling around, this might be an issue, but I haven’t had a problem with it for shooting. I almost always end up using a tripod with it.
The mount is steel, and the barrel feels like plastic albeit a very tough one.
Shooting with the Rokinon 14mm is very nice. The focus ring is silky smooth and a breeze to precisely focus with. The distance markers printed on the barrel are also great for quickly dialing in before moving to the viewfinder or live view.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Now, with the details out of the way, I can discuss the unique intricacies of this lens.
This lens is cheap. This lens is sharp.
However, that quality and low price point come with some caveats. These lenses are manual, there is no autofocus. This can be a huge deal for many photographers.
Personally, I have not found it to be an issue. This lens is really meant for landscapes and astrophotography. When shooting these kinds of images I am usually using a tripod and manually focusing with live view anyways.
On top of this, the kind of distortion you get in images (particularly when shooting close to subjects) is weird to put it plainly. Across parts of the image it twists in odd shapes. There are ways to fix this in post-processing, but it is not as straightforward as other lenses. Rokinon could really do well to release correction profiles for Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
Unless the intention is to make a humorous or goofy picture, it is probably best to avoid shooting close to the subject on any 14mm lens.
This lens is really a unknown gem. Rokinon value is tough to beat. If autofocus isn't a concern, the 14mm f/2.8 will take incredibly sharp photos at a fifth of the price of first-party lens manufacturers.
It truly shines when taken outside and used at night though. Just take a look at what I was able to get just walking out to my friends backyard on a clear night.