Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE – At last.

Scroll down to content

Finally found it. My 50-ish lens. Which is my favorite focal length… -ish. Pickings were slim initially for non-adapted Sony FE lenses in this range, but that is no longer the case.

But first, let me go provide my wish list.

  • Small and light.
  • Sharp wide open.
  • Fast-focusing.
  • Great colors.
  • Great bokeh and focus fall off.
  • That certain something image-wise.

But what of the lenses available before the 45mm came on the market?

Adapted Glass.

I have some favorites adapted, but I am not talking about those right now. If photos were my only consideration the Canon 50mm/MC11 combo would have sufficed most of the time.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

But limited focus options are limited focus options no matter how infrequently used and video functionality was not useful. Sold both.

Not counting adapting legacy glass. Would be happy focusing manually. But add old glass with usable AF on any 35mm M mount or SLR lens, with the TECHART LM-EA7 (My KEH write up link.), and that is a huge win. 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 used with this adapter here.

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Sidebar: Photo subject above, Cognito, is quite the gifted photographer who was recently featured in an FStoppers article and video (below) by Hans Rosemond

…and we are back in 3, 2, 1.

But as much as I love MF and AF adapted legacy and other brand lenses they really cannot replace a good lens originally designed for your camera mount.

So what of the rest? The lenses that were designed for Sony?

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA

Why?

  • By all accounts the best image quality available.
  • That extra bit of light afforded by f/1.4.

Why not?

  • More than I would like to spend on a 50mm lens.
  • Much larger and heavier than I like for a 50mm lens.

Size comparison below. Image links to Camerasize website.

50mm

Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA

Why?

  • The best of the best. Every review and sample image better than the last.

Why not?

  • 50mm-ish f/1.8 lenses do not cost this much in my universe.
  • Behind 50mm my favorite focal length is 35mm. If I am going to deviate from 50mm I would rather a slightly wider lens.

Rokinon/Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE

Rokinon FE 50mm f/1.4

Why?

Why not?

  • Smaller than the Sony and Sigma f/1.4 options, but still not small.
  • Very close. Improved AF speed, but just still shy of where I would like it to be.
  • A bit too noisy and sluggish for video.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

VW Bus

Why?

  • Great value.
  • Small and light.
  • Capable of very good images.

Why not?

  • Looks just like my beloved, and also great value, FE 85mm f/1.8 but:
    • Much more hollow feeling and plasticky.
    • Focuses nowhere near as quickly or quietly.
    • Not very good for video.
    • IQ pales in comparison.
    • No weather sealing like the 85mm.
  • If I had to I could make do. But it is not special. 50mm lenses are supposed to be special.

So the lens of the hour.

The Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE Lens.

img_20190921_122225

Credit where credit is due. Having the Rokinon/Samyang 50mm f/1.4 and Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/2.8 already in my possession I did not initially see the point of this lens for me. Covered, I thought. But then enter Dustin Abbott. He hit me with a one/two punch.

  • His review.
    • In his review I noticed focus speeds better than that of my 50mm f/1.4.
    • He said these magic words, “There’s a lot of the vintage charm that I love from of my legacy glass…” Modern capabilities with vintage charm? Be still my camera nerd legacy glass film camera loving heart.
  • His sample gallery.
    • Proof positive of that vintage charm he mentioned in his review.
    • Got me to thinking that this slightly wider than 50mm focal length might make for a nice compromise between my Rokinon/Samyang 50mm mentioned above and 35mm lens.

So what did I do? The only rational thing. Marched into my favorite local camera shop and sold the 50mm/35mm Rokinon/Samyang twins and ordered a 45mm.

I knew day one that Dustin had not led me wrong.

WIll not rehash the very good review prepared by Dustin Abbott linked above, but I will share a few quicks thoughts.

Fast and silent focusing.

Fastest focusing 50mm lens I have owned yet. On par with the 85mm FE f/1.8 that I love. And like the 85mm I could ask for no better. This shot was taken from the passenger seat at speed.

A7 II/Rokinon-Samyang 45mm f/1.8

Size and weight.

Quite smaller than the 50mm f/1.4. Comparable in size to the FE 50mm, but much better build quality. A perfect compromise between the Rokinon/Samyang 50mm and 35mm lenses I sold.

Firmware update.

I made quite a bit of hay about the Rokinon/Samyang lens dock. Knowing I was going to get this lens I kept it when I sold the other two. And sure enough, there was a firmware update available. Had to download updated desktop firmware and, unlike I described in my post about the dock, the software worked right away without having to copy a local valid dll file to the install folder.

Image quality.

My favorite thing about this lens. To confirm Dustin’s film look assertions and my first impressions I shot some back to back film and digital samples. Below I will show film samples followed by a similar digital shot with the 45mm.

Leica CL 50 JAHRE7Artisans 35mm f/2Kodak Gold 200

Leica CL / 7Artisans 35mm f/2

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE

Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Leica CL 50 JAHRE7Artisans 35mm f/2Kodak Gold 200

Leica CL / 7Artisans 35mm f/2

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE

Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Leica CL 50 JAHRE7Artisans 35mm f/2Kodak Gold 200

Leica CL / 7Artisans 35mm f/2

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE

Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Leica CL 50 JAHRE7Artisans 35mm f/2Kodak Gold 200

Leica CL / 7Artisans 35mm f/2

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE

Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Olympus OM-10 – 50mm f/1.8Kodak Portra 400

Olympus OM-10 / OM 50mm f/1.8

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE

Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Great colors also. And there you have it. Love the way this lens renders. And unlike many legacy and modern lenses, this lens is very sharp wide open.

Rokinon/Samyang FE AF 45mm f/1.8

Further, it has a vintage “wet” or organic look to images in certain light that I really like. Many modern lenses can have a dry, lifeless quality to them that I do not find appealing. Might be technically perfect, but they do nothing for me. The Contax G Zeiss Planar 45mm f/2 is a fine example of what I am on about. Can be seen with the Rokinon/Samyang in the Instagram Volvo shot above and here is another example.

A7 II/Rokinon-Samyang 45mm f/1.8

Video.

Works just fine for video. Smooth, swift, and silent focusing.

Value.

At less than $400 this lens is a no-brainer. Especially since it comes with a zippered case and a hood included.

Why not this lens?

  • Not weather resistant. All I have got. Not a show stopper for me. MIght be for you.

Will wrap up here with a link to an ongoing album.

Final thoughts. Quite simply one of the best all-around 50mm or 50mm equivalent lenses I have ever used at any price film or digital. Others may perform better here or there, but none outshine this lens when all things are considered.

-ELW

 

%d bloggers like this: