Eric L. Woods

Rokinon/Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE: Completing a lens trio.

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The process that led me to purchasing this lens has a bit of déjà vu.

Reminds me of when I bought a portrait lens to round out a prime trio very recently. Like that lens I had not seriously considered this one until the prospect of a proper lens trio arose. And like that lens I ended up liking this lens far more than I expected to. But I am getting ahead of myself.

This is also not my first go around with a Rokinon/Samyang prime trio. I once had their f/1.4 variants (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

But there was a problem. The size and weight of these lenses worked against one of the things I liked about moving to mirrorless. Sat beside Tamron’s f/2.8 zoom lenses covering the same focal lengths in my bag these lenses did not see much use. For example take a look at this comparison between the Samyang 35mm f/1.4 and Tamron’s 28-75mm f/2.8.

Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FETamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III
Dimensions (ø x L)2.99 x 4.53″ / 75.9 x 115 mm2.87 x 4.64″ / 73 x 117.8 mm
Weight1.42 lb / 645 g1.21 lb / 550 g

The prime is larger and heavier by a good margin. Not ideal. Add in the relatively diminutive A7c and these lenses were not seeing much use at all. In hind sight while ignoring the fact that Tamron had a similar 35mm/45mm/75mm f/1.8 trio I gave Canon a spin when the RF 50mm f/1.8 STM was released.

RF Blog Post Product Shots

As stated in a recent post on the Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8 I was happy with the Canon set up… mostly.

As I also mentioned in that same post a conversation at my local camera shop followed by lens releases and a sale (and I will add a change of heart) led to me coming back to the FE mount.

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

Change of heart

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

The 45mm f/1.8 is a hit.

Rokinon/Samyang 45mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

So back to the 75mm f/1.8.

Below are my thoughts on the 75mm after initial testing.

Accessories.

  • 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 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

Size and weight.

The Canon 85mm f/2 STM is small for a full frame portrait lens. The Rokinon/Samyang 75mm is significantly smaller still which is nice. It is lighter and nearly identical in size to the Sony Zeiss 55mmf/1.8, smaller than the Sony 85mm f/1.8, and significantly smaller than all of the Rokinon/Samyang f/1.4 primes. This change to the smaller Rokinon/Samyang f/1.8 primes was immensely evident the first time I picked up my camera bag after the switch. This is the way prime lenses are supposed to be in my universe. Not larger and heavier than zoom lenses.

Firmware update.

I made quite a bit of hay about the Rokinon/Samyang lens dock. Even though I was down to one compatible lens I kept it when I sold the other two. And sure enough, there was a firmware update available for this lens out of the box so it came in handy once again.

Video.

Smooth, swift, and silent focusing. Did great in my first test.

Value.

At $399 regular price this lens is a no-brainer. I picked up a copy on sale for $299. This rings in at $300 less. than the Canon 85mm f/2.

What about that 85mm f/1.4?

Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 FE

The Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 is a great lens. Anyone who has one or buys one will be well served. But the 75mm f/1.8 better serves my purposes better with its smaller size, weight, and price. Plus the 75mm produces equally pleasing images to my eyes.

Ergonomics and aesthetics.

Had previously said that I thought that the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary was a good size, look, and fit for the A7c.

Sony A7c

While still true I with their lighter weight, small size, brighter aperture, and red highlight the Rokinon/Samyang line of lenses are as good of a fit if not even better. The switch that allows aperture control with the focus ring on the 75mm (And the 35mm I am not picking up since it sits a bit on top of the 45mm for me.)…

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

…that will also be on the 24mm f/1.8 is a nice touch as well. I like that Rokinon/Samyang keeps tweaking its offerings with each new release.

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

Image quality.

Same as the 45mm. Great colors. Love the way this lens renders. And unlike many legacy and some modern lenses, this lens is very sharp wide open.

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

Many modern lenses can have a dry, lifeless quality to them that I do not find as appealing as older glass. They might be technically perfect, but they do nothing for me. The 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25

7Artisans 75mm f/1.25

…or Pentax 77mm f/1.8 Limited

Night Light

…are fine example of what I am on about. I love the way those lenses render an image. And that same look can be seen with this lens.

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

Wonderful bokeh. To the point that I do not miss having a brighter lens.

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

Autofocus

This is one of the swiftest focusing portrait focal length lenses I have ever used. I put it up there with my previous champion, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8...

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

…(Yet another excellent FE mount choice by the way if you must have an 85mm lens.). The shots below were taken on the fly of moving subjects while I was moving so any blur is attributable to my movement. But the subject was found quickly each time. These shots would have been missed with many other lenses I have used.

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

Low Light

A great low light performance as well. While other lenses I have used struggled to find focus this lens is rock solid focusing in low light and delivers great results. Some quick night time drive through test shots below.

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

Why not this lens?

  • Not weather resistant. But neither was the RF 85mm f/2. At this price point and this size and performance this is a small concession.

I close with a few Rokinon/Samyang 75mm f/1.8 samples shots (Ongoing album here.) and final thoughts below.

Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Taken arms length at dusk through a passenger window using AF-C as my son approaches the car. Every shot was in focus.
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Touch focus test.
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Touch focus test.
Low Light - Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Low Light - Rokinon/Samyang 75mm F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens
Rokinon/Samyang F1.8 Auto Focus Compact Full Frame Lens

Final thoughts.

I have learned an important lesson. I do not need the most expensive gear or the most impressive specs. Portability with a side benefit of affordability is much preferred for my purposes. Your mileage may vary. While I spent a bit more trying other gear to learn this I see no other way this could have been confirmed.

Quite simply one of the best portrait length lenses I have used. All the best attributes of a portrait lens while exhibiting the size, weight, and AF speed of a 50mm lens. All at a very reasonable price. What is not to like? There are a lot of great portrait lenses out there, but while others may perform better here or there, none outshine this lens when all things are considered in my opinion.

-ELW

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

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