Samyang – Rokinon 35mm f/2.8 – The smallest full frame E mount lens

There is a small, but growing list of lenses that I have bought, sold, and then bought again. Why? Two reasons:

  1. Left a mount system and then returned needing to pick up my favorites from the last go around.
  2. I was wrong about a lens.

The Rokinon (Samyang) 35mm f/2.8 fits in the second group.

How was I wrong this time? Thought I would prefer the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 over the Samyang and having both made no sense to me. On paper the 50mm should have been a slam dunk.

  • Brighter aperture at f/1.8.
  • 50mm is usually my favorite prime focal length.

But after some time with the 50mm I began to miss the 35mm because:

  • The 50mm is considerably larger than the 35mm. The Samyang is so small that the camera can be stood up on any flat surface for video with little risk of tipping.
  • The focusing is louder on the 50mm even though it is a native mount.
  • The 35mm has internal focusing where the 50mm’s front element moves back and forth quite a bit.
  • In my experience the 35mm is the faster focuser as well.
    • Seems to vary by camera model. The a6000 did not get along with this lens as much as the A series cameras I have tried. May be due to the age of the a6000.
  • To my surprise in practice I missed the wider 35mm. Found myself backing with the 50mm, which can be very awkward in tight spaces.
  • The 35mm is better suited to video dues to it’s wider focal length and swifter/more silent focusing.

Video sidebar: This makes for a small and very capable video setup. On a whim at an event I set the camera on a high flat surface and with the 35mm focal range, relatively silent autofocus, and using my phone as a remote I recorded a speaker and it came out great.

The size difference was the last straw however. An A7 body with the Samyang is quite the compact, unassuming combination. Found myself wishing I had the 35mm instead on a recent vacation.

Full frame 35mm size comparison.
Full frame 35mm size comparison.

Then luck struck. Went to the camera shop and my lens was being returned that same day by the person who had bought it since he was switching systems. Hoping for a stroke of luck I had brought my 50mm and the trade was made on the spot.

Psst. They give you an awesome lens case.

20180408_170441-01

Immediately realized the right choice was made. Had done this lens wrong by using it primarily on the a6000 before. Every bit the compact excellent performer I remembered on the A7. Unless you require weather sealing and a Zeiss badge (Not judging. I understand completely.) it is my opinion that there is no reason to choose the slightly larger and considerably more expensive Sony 35mm over this one. And for that spend you may want the consider the larger, but considerably brighter Samyang 35mm f/1.4, which matches the spec if not the pedigree of the Sony f/1.4.

As a bonus this lens is very sharp wide open and I really like the colors it produces. Bokeh is pleasing to my eyes also. Well done Samyang/Rokinon. Running errands I was able to grab the shots below, in silent shooting mode by the way, and was paid no mind in the process. Had wanted an RX1Rii previously. But with this set up I am close enough in size and weight that I can let that go.

35mm_RX1Rii_Comparison

Here is a link to an ongoing gallery and below are some sample shots.

Happy shooting.

-ELW