Eric L. Woods

Fickle files: Rokinon/Samyang released the excellent 35mm f/1.8… & I rebought the f/1.4.

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A tongue in cheek declaration I make from time to time is:

If you are looking for photography to make sense you may not be doing this right.

I say this only half jokingly. Early on I used to try and make “sensible” gear decisions about a craft that makes little sense to many. This led me to doing things like purchasing less than ideal equipment to try and save some money or making myself sell one item before securing another item. In the end this always ended with me trading the lower gear for better and repurchasing the gear I had sold.

So what does this have to do with the recently released and well reviewed Sony FE mount Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.8?

Well I am about to tell you.

I have been here before not only generally but almost specifically as well.

Normal Focal Length

  • Had a Rokinon/Samyang FE 50mm f/1.4 that I really liked and it was a great value.
Rokinon FE 50mm f/1.4
50mm f/1.4 first go around.
Roof
  • Talked myself into selling it for reasons I have used before.
    • I had other 50mm focal length lenses.
    • It was a bit large and heavy.
    • Some other reason that escapes me.
  • Later on Rokinon/Samyang released a similar focal length, slightly slower aperture 45mm f/1.8 that cost less and I bought it.
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8
  • Really liked the lens. Absolutely nothing wrong with it but something kept nagging at me. Lightness is usually a plus but this was a bit light for my liking oddly. Eventually sold it for reasons.
  • Later figured it out. I actually preferred the older, larger, slightly slower focusing but brighter 50mm f/1.4.
  • Bought my exact same 50mm f/1.4 back from my local camera shop used for around the same price as a 45mm f/1.8 new. And I am much happier with it. Turns out I prize aperture specs over size and weight. As a bonus firmware upgrades since I last owned it had improved AF performance by a noticeable margin.
Rokinon 50mm f/1.4
Rokinon 50mm f/1.4
Olympus
Rokinon 50mm f/1.4
Rokinon 50mm f/1.4

Portrait Focal Length

After that the Rokinon/Samyang 75mm f/1.8 was released. But as attractive of a proposition as that lens was it did not stand a chance because I am utterly smitten with the Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 that had already displaced another lens I really liked.

Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 FE
Senior Prom
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE

Slightly Wide Focal Length

Then a release came that almost caused me to repeat the first normal focal length scenario above.

Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/2.8
Burlington
Bikes
Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
  • Talked myself into selling it for reasons I have used before.
    • I had other 35mm focal length lenses.
    • It was a bit large and heavy.
    • Some other reason that escapes me.
  • Later on Rokinon/Samyang released a similar focal length, slightly slower aperture 35mm f/1.8 that cost less and I…

Hold on a minute. This is where I caught myself and realized I had been here before. Finally. Remembered that “I actually preferred the older, larger, slightly slower focusing but brighter” options and skipped over the newer, smaller, slightly slower lens purchase part since I knew where this was going to end up. Instead since the time I wrote about a prime 24mm/50mm/85mm trio I reacquired a fourth…

  • Tried to buy my exact same 35mm f/1.4 back from my local camera shop, but it had been sold. That caused a moment of pause. Then I went to my online camera shop and found a Like New condition set up box, paperwork, store warranty and all 35mm f/1.4 used for a great price. And like the 50mm I am very happy with it. It serves as further confirmation that I prize aperture specs over size and weight. As a bonus, similar to the 50mm, firmware upgrades since I last owned it had improved AF performance by a noticeable margin.
Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Night Shots
Night Shots
Night
Night
Sony A7c

This is not to say that the new lenses are not worth considering. They are great lenses. This is more about knowing what your own personal preferences are. Just as I lean to aperture spec and heft others may be willing to sacrifice a bit of light for a smaller size, weight, and purchased new cost. Especially if you own a smaller body like the A7c the newer f/1.8 35mm, 45mm, and 75mm trio make a lot of sense. And all are great values when compared to the Sony f/1.8 options. And with cases like the Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8 it is a far better lens than the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 in my experience for not much more spend. If it were not for the brighter options these would be the prime lenses I would won.

If you are like me the older, brighter trio makes a lot of sense. While they are more expensive than the Rokinon/Samyang f/1.8 trio purchased new they all cost considerably less than any of the f/1.4 options from Sony (Around $1,000 less per lens.) or Sigma (Hundreds less per lens.). And since these f/1.4 lenses have been around for a while you can usually score the 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm f/1.4 lenses used. Often for prices rivaling the newer lenses, and that will save even more.

Not all roses.

In addition to the larger size and weight there is another consideration for one of these lenses. All three focus plenty quickly for stills. While the newer 35mm and 85mm have updated focus tech the 50mm does not and it is a bit more chirpy. While I would have no reservations about using the 35mm or 85mm for video the 50mm, while not loud, is noisy enough that I would be concerned about focus noise in quieter settings even with an external mic. There were focus speed concerns previously but the most recent round of firmware for the 50mm really closed the gap. I also noticed that the 50mm focuses more swiftly on certain bodies (a6000/A7III/A7c) than others (A7II) in my experience. Still very usable but the difference was noticeable shot back to back. Might not have noticed in isolation.

Future trouble

Currently I am getting along just fine with the Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/2.8

Sony A7c
Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/2.8
Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/2.8
Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/2.8

…but this whole scenario may happen again if Rokinon/Samyang see fit to release a 24mm f/1.8 or f/1.4. Perhaps both? If they do I might add. The compact nature of the 24mm f/2.8 is very compellling and I know I would regret letting it go. We’ll see. If they do these will be more of a threat to my wallet than the newly announced f/2.0 35mm and 65mm Sigma Contemporary lenses. As much as I really like the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 I am not looking for any Sigma siblings. So for now I am safe.

Until the next round of Rokinon/Samyang releases anyway.

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