Rokinon 14mm Ultra-Wide Angle F/2.8 IF ED UMC - school
Brought to you by the photographers at SmugMug

Photos and review by Ryan Welling, a proud member of our SmugMug QA team. Thanks to our friends at BorrowLenses.comfor supplying the gear for these reviews!

What motivated you to rent this lens?

I primarily shoot landscapes and I’ve been wanting something wider than what I currently use. I’ve been researching wide angle lenses for a while now and while I appreciate the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II, that’s a lot of money for a branch of photography that doesn’t make me a lot of money.

I normally shoot with a Canon 6D and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, however, I needed something wider and wanted an extra stop on the aperture, just in case.

The Rokinon 14mm seemed to fit the bill as it was wider than what I have now, a stop faster, and loads cheaper than the alternativeI wanted to use this for astrophotography, but  it was wicked cold up the canyons.

How did the Rokinon 14mm stack up against your normal lenses?

I’ve never used a fully manual lens before, so I went into it with a little trepidation. I have a tendency when I’m going out shooting to have not planned the trip very far in advance so I’m usually rushing to the beach or up the canyon just in time to catch the light. When I went out to test this lens, I built in plenty of time because I didn’t know what to expect.

However, it doesn’t take long to get acclimated to controlling your lens manually, and you find that using it quickly becomes second nature. Just flick the aperture ring, manually focus (with live view zoomed in), and you’re all set. Once you use it more than a couple of times, it doesn’t take any longer to adjust the aperture on the lens than it does to adjust it in-camera. I shoot landscapes manually as it is, so in the end, adjusting to the Rokinon was just like getting used to any other new lens.

It weighs more than a nifty fifty, but no more than any other good prime lens. I’ve heard stories of copies (Either Rokinon or Samyang branded) not being that sharp but I found mine to be relatively sharp throughout the aperture range. Like any lens, there is a sweet spot and with it being a moderate fisheye, it certainly wasn’t tack sharp in the corners, (it reminds of the 1st version of the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L in that respect) but I was very pleased with how sharp it was overall, especially considering the price.

The vignetting can get really bad on this lens.  If you're a fan, like I am, then it's great but if you're not, be prepared to build a profile in LR to get rid of it.  This is SOOC.<br />
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Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake

The vignetting can get really bad on this lens. If you're a fan of this look, like I am, then it's great but if you're not, be prepared to build a profile in Lightroom to get rid of it. The above photo is straight out of camera at Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake.

SOOC, vignetting on the Rokinson isn't that noticeable in this above version. The edges in this photo are not sharp, although some of that may be due to the movement of the grass by wind.

Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake

The above photo was taken with the 16-35 f2.8L (the first version, not mark II), and you'll notice the edges on this are rather soft, too.

I noticed that the corner sharpness on the Rokinon was comparable or slightly worse than this example, depending on the aperture at which you're shooting. 

You'll notice the wicked 6-pointed starburst from this lens. It's super chunky and one of my favorite qualities of this lens.

Utah Olympic Park, Bobsled and Luge Track, Site of 2002 Winter Olympics.

For comparison, here's a starburst on the moon  taken with the Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II

What did you enjoy most about the Rokinon 14mm?

I like that this is a manual lens. I normally shoot in manual mode and there was no appreciable difference between using the Rokinon and shooting fully manual with any other lens. However, the main benefit to me and my experience level is that its manual nature forces me to think   more about how I’m shooting. I’ve been shooting at least semi-professionally since 2008; I understand the ratios between aperture, ISO and shutter speed, but there is something about not being able to fall back on the camera that pushes me just a little more.

It forces me to slow down a little and make sure I’ve got everything set before I take the shot.

I found I was chimping less because I spent more time thinking about what I needed. This slow down also forced me to think about other aspects of the shot as well; I was already in a more pensive state, might as well think about the composition again or consider what my vision for the shot is, one more time.

Figure out the sweet spots and this lens is awesome.<br />
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5 exposures, -2ev to +2ev, compiled in Photomatix and finished in LR4<br />
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Antelope Island

Once you figure out the sweet spots, this lens is awesome.

Antelope Island: 5 exposures, -2ev to +2ev, compiled in Photomatix and finished in Lightroom 4

Who's Ryan?

Photographer since 2008; Browncoat, actor, geek, former semi-pro PC gamer.

I speak French, I don't like spiders, and I am a fan of the Oxford comma.

Photo by Chris Skopec. Salton Sea.

Photo by Chris Skopec.

Salton Sea.