First off I have history with the Rokinon/Samyang AF lens firmware upgrade process. Had two of their lenses (50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/2.8) that were behind on firmware and rather than buy a lens station I sold the lenses. Sounds extreme, but hear me out. My issues:
- First and foremost why do I need to buy a lens station? Why not just upgrade through the camera like civilized people? And $99?
- If a lens station is needed for some reason then it should be given away free with the lens. Seriously, why am I paying to upgrade your lens to get the latest and greatest performance?
- Found the whole Rokinon or Samyang thing unnecessarily complicated matters and triggered my self diagnosed low-grade OCD. These are obviously the same lenses/company. Just plain why? Will one station/firmware work with all like spec’d lenses? They must have their reasons for doing this I suppose. At least they did not carry their MF third wheel Bower brand over to the AF side.
- Before buying a lens station I tested the lens manager software download from both the Samyang and Rokinon download pages (why?) and they both errored out. Slightly different exe name, but the same error.
With that, I lost patience with Rokinon/Samyang and sold them both.
Then a trade storm hit recently. Had a gear sell-off windfall after I secured a lens I long dreamed of owning (more on that later) and both lenses (I sold to them) were still for sale at my local camera shop. Missed the Samyang 35mm since I sold it (My own flickr gallery did me in on this one.) and after trying an abundance of other 50mm lenses for Sony FE the Rokinon was looking good to me again.
Given the issues I had with the firmware update process above I assumed that I would just soldier on as is. Here are the questions and answers that got me from no firmware to firmware in order answered.
Why is the lens station so expensive?
Answer: Sale happened.
The lens station now has a reduced price of $59. Seems permanent. Still not thrilled that I have to buy it, but I find $59 an easier pill to swallow than $99. Especially considering that both lenses had updated firmware that promised further AF improvements.
- While serviceable the 50mm does momentarily hesitate before focus lock on the A7III. While just fine on the A7III the 35mm tends to be a bit sluggish on the a6000. Any improvement would be welcome.
Why won’t the lens manager software launch on my computer?
Answer: Bad dll.
This one was very important because without the lens manager software the lens station would be useless. The fix was an IT old school simple fix. The error thrown referenced urlmon.dll.
The fix found on this (Fred Miranda forum page) was a simple one. Grab a good copy of the dll from the system32 folder and copy it to the lens manager app folder. That did the trick. Hopefully, that does not happen to many, and it should not, but there is the fix if you need it.
Will a Rokinon lens manager work with a Samyang lens?
One would think so, especially since the Lens Manager software is Samyang branded no matter where you download it from (Seriously. Why?), but I never assume. Happy to report it works just fine on both brands. So it should work in reverse also.
How is the firmware update process once everything is set up?
Answer: Pretty slick actually.
After what it took to get the lens manager software working I was not optimistic. But everything was well labeled and worked as billed.
As mentioned earlier the software downloaded from the Rokinon website is Samyang branded also.
Was able to quickly connect the lens, load and update the firmware. Tried out the AF and MF settings and they worked as billed also. My lenses focus just fine so I did not mess with them.
Are the improvements worth the trouble and expense?
Will create a short write up about each lens, but both the 50mm f/1.4 and the 35mm f/2.8 saw significant improvements. Focus accuracy was never an issue with either lens, but the 50mm could stand to be faster on the A7III and the 35mm could stand to be faster on the a6000.
Both were already fine lenses (50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/2.8 that has been traded for the 24mm f/2.8 since this post. Have since also added the excellent 85mm f/1.4.). This whole process took them both from very good to great. If after reading what went into this you are willing to give it a go you will be rewarded with an even better lens experience.