Eric L. Woods

Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE Update: Photographers plan, Lens companies laugh.

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I was pretty pleased with myself the last time I wrote about this lens. Started the post with:

Finally found it. My 50-ish lens.

Then… I sold it.

But let me be clear. There was nothing wrong with this lens. I really liked this lens. In that first post above I pointed out how it created really pleasing images. Went on to list what I really liked about the lens:

  • Small and light. (Reminded me of SLR lenses.)
Cameras
  • Sharp wide open.
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE
  • Fast-focusing.
  • Great colors.
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8
  • Great bokeh and focus fall off.
A7 II/Rokinon-Samyang 45mm f/1.8
  • That certain something image-wise.
  • And I am adding great low light performance.
Samyang/Rokinon FE AF 45mm f/1.8

It then went on to crush it shooting a wedding reception.

Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception

So what was the issue?

No set available at that time. I like sets.

  • Three comparably sized, priced, styled, and aperture’d lenses please and thank you.
  • One wide, one normal, and one portrait length lens while we are at it.
  • Will take a 35mm at the wide end but would prefer something wider. 20-ish would be nice. This will come up again later.

Rokinon/Samyang was not alone. At that time Sony themselves did not offer an f/1.8 prime trio. When it came out the Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8 was a lens in isolation. There was no wide or portrait f/1.8 at that time.

I gave the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 a go hoping they would flesh out their lens options.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary

But when they did that line up was not for me. They did offer a wider 24mm prime at least. A pity about that f/3.5 aperture though. Especially considering the price north of $500.

What next?

Decided to go back in time and revisit Rokinon/Samyang again with their f/1.4 trio (35mm/50mm/85mm). Great lenses. Great images.

Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
35mm
Rokinon FE 50mm f/1.4
50mm
Rokinon/Samyang AF 85mm f/1.4 FE
85mm

Then I remembered why I sold the 35mm and 50mm the first time when I sat them next to the Tamron zoom trio. Look at this size and weight comparison between the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.4 and the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8.

Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FETamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III
Dimensions (ø x L)2.99 x 4.53″ / 75.9 x 115 mm3.19 x 5.87″ / 81 x 149 mm
Weight1.42 lb / 645 g1.78 lb / 810 g

Add in the relatively diminutive A7c and these lenses were not seeing much use at all. Seeing no other f/1.8 affordable lens trio options on the horizon in Sony FE I gave Canon a spin when the RF 50mm f/1.8 STM was released.

RF Blog Post Product Shots

Was happy… mostly.

Prerequisite EOS RP is fine. I still contend that it is a great camera. It did lose some steps to the newer A7c. No surprises.

  • No worry battery life.
  • Better AF.
  • IBIS. Key since the 50mm f/1.8 STM does not have IS.

But I was good. The STM lenses made it worth using the EOS RP.

I held on to the small and featherweight Rokinon/Samyang 24mm and used it a lot on the A7c still. This led to a conversation at my local camera shop followed by lens releases and a sale.

Conversation

  • Was talking with Wilson and Graham at my local camera shop. I mentioned that the 35mm was nice but it would really be nice if Canon released an f/1.8 STM prime in the 20-28mm range. Then Graham said it. “I doubt that they will. If they do it will likely be large and expensive.” Thought about it for a moment and the man is right. A 24mm or a 28mm would be nice since I have always considered 35mm a little close to 50mm.

Lens Releases

  • Sony released a 20mm f/1.8 lens. Nice size and weight, but a bit more money than I want to spend. Additionally while Sony has a great 85mm f/1.8 option their 50mm f/1.8 is not to my liking. Other than being f/1.8 primes these lenses have little in common image quality, design theme, and price point wise. Would rather Sony take a page out of Canon’s playbook on this one. Pass.
  • Sony also released an interesting compact prime lens trio but they are not what I am looking for. The size is right, but I am looking for brighter apertures and lower prices. Additionally rather than a 40mm and a 50mm I would have preferred a lens in the short tele range. Pass.
  • This is when Rokinon/Samyang really upended my plans by swinging for the fences with the newly announced FE 24mm f/1.8.
    • Great specs at f/1.8 with weather sealing.
    • Great image quality in early tests and sample shots.
    • Small and lightweight given those specs and image quality,
    • Added tricks like auto infinity focus for astrophotography.
    • Priced at hundreds less than other options.
    • Hello Rokinon/Samyang. I see you.

Sale

Welp. Once these bits of information converged the purchase happened.

Will be waiting a bit for the pre-ordered 24mm f/1.8 but that is no issue since I have the 24mm f/2.8 variant that is not going anywhere to hold me over.

Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

Really liking the 75mm f/1.8 and there will be a write up once I have a bit more time with it.

Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

And the 45mm is just as great as I remember.

Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

To easily fund the purchase I already traded the Canon RF gear. I have had enough experience with Rokinon/Samyang that I had no qualms about the sale. Now that the trade has been made there are other advantages.

Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
GORDON PARKS PHOTOGRAPHERS COLLECTIVE HARLEM AND SOHO-VILLAGE PHOTO WALK
  • The Sony cameras do focus faster than the RP. I cannot use age as an excuse since the similar vintage A7III is noticeably better at AF. Things like stills Face and Eye AF always being active regardless of mode rather than being a dedicated mode that has to be chosen on the RP.
  • The RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is definitely the least expensive lens mentioned in this post, but the three Rokinon/Samyang lenses are the same price combined while the 45mm and 75mm are on sale. This is especially impressive when you consider the fact that the 24mm is weather sealed and considerably wider than the RF 35mm.
  • 24mm, 45mm, and 75mm offers a better focal length spread than 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm.
  • And there is one thing I failed to mention last go around. Rokinon/Samyang includes lens hoods and cases for their smaller lenses and lens hoods and bags for their larger lenses. Canon charged $40-$50 for their hoods and no cases were offered. And the cases are very nice color coordinated ones at that.
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

In summary I consider the move from RF STM lenses to Rokinon/Samyang trio to be a wash lens wise with the added benefits of consolidating to a Sony only mirrorless solution again. A lateral move functionally with benefits

I close with a few more recent Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8 samples shots (Ongoing album here.) and below I have copied the text from my first review for this lens with updates. A 75mm post will be coming soon followed by a 24mm post once I receive it.

Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

Size and weight.

A little larger but comparable in size to the RF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

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.

Image quality.

My favorite thing about this lens. To confirm Dustin’s film look assertions (more on that here) 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. Even better at the current $299 sale price. Especially since it comes with a zippered case and a hood included.

Why not this lens?

  • Not weather resistant. But neither did the RF 50mm f/1.8.

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

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