I finally got an opportunity to take the Rokinon out for a test drive. I have to admit that I created the opportunity. Tomato, tomato. And it was fun! I indeed needed some time to work around the total Manual “chaos” some people talked about on the Internet, but it took me just a few shots to realize what I was supposed to do with those rings. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Out of the box, this lens looks actually very well build, it’s metal and plastic, which you don’t get to see that often anymore, it has a metallic mount, which actually feels and looks really solid, smooth rings… I have no complains at all about the build of this lens. The only cheap thing about it is the hood cap. It’s big, plastic-ish, very light, it just feels weird. But you need it, the lens sticks out and if you walk around without the cap, you’re bound to mess it up. Overall, the lens looks actually really good and I like that big eye looking around.
I took a lot of time to read comments, reviews, tests, and what not, trying to figure out how everyone else was using this lens. The only thing that I still need to test for is the sweet spot. f/5.6, f/8? Somewhere between the two. I don’t know yet. What I do know is that if you’re used to shoot everything in Manual, you won’t have a problem, at all.
That’s how I was basically doing it: I wanted the shots to be sharp so I kept playing between 5.6 and 8. I read a review stating that the sharpness in the center was very good in the center at f/5.6 and on the sides at f/8. So basically it doesn’t really matter that much I suppose. Depends on what you’re shooting and the composition you’re going for. Once I decided what aperture to choose, I tested the focus ring. I was confused a little only through posts and reviews, I feel a lot more comfortable with the lens in my hands when I want to drive test. So I started with 1 foot (0.3m) and went from there.
Logically enough, anything that’s beyond 10 feet (3m) will be tack sharp if you set the ring just before the infinity mark. If you want to shoot a close-up, set it to 1 foot. After a few hours, I actually started having a better “spacial understanding”, I would evaluate the distance and set the focus ring to the first thing on the foreground. If I wanted the background to be sharp, I’d put it at the infinity mark. So there you go. With that in mind, you can either play around on the focus scale, or just leave it to whatever you most often shoot and never touch the lens ever again. I’m a whole Manual freak, I love MF and shoot 99% of the time in Manual, I touch everything all the time, so I played around like crazy with this lens, and I just love the experience.
I love choosing my composition with this lens. If you put the horizon right at the center of your shot, everything in the middle will be straight, everything on the sides (up – down, left – right) will be distorted. Since it’s a stereographic lens (read this), distortion will be different from a “regular” fish-eye lens. And it makes it that much fun and interesting. Did I mention you get 180 degrees shots with this baby? Well, you do!
Here are some (sometimes stupid) shots, nothing too artsy, I was looking for CA, fringing, flare, so on so forth.
I’ve done some minor PP on them, the main thing I see right now is the lack in contrast sometimes, CA is present, as it is with any other fish-eye lens,
Nice sharpness on the tower, f/8, infinity.
As I previously said, straight in the middle when centered, curved on the sides. Noticeable CA on the flower, nothing too hard to PP.
Once again, nice sharpness in the center. I cropped this one because it was at work, but the handbag is nice!
You can actually shoot the whole ceiling with this lens. Set on infinity, sharp ceiling. Same issues as before (CA and all).
Flare is controlled. You don’t get a lot of “spots”, rather “lines”. It’s a nice effect in my opinion. Spots are still visible on other shots.
Nice sharpness. You can definitely have fun with composition as you can see. Again, lines rather than spots.
Same as before. Sharpness is actually sometimes pretty much impressive for this lens. I can definitely see potential here.
Nice color, nice sharpness. Since you get 180 degrees shots, always be careful with your feet. You’ll see what I’m talking about. But the effect on this one is pretty cool I think.
Piata Victoriei is a huge place. The Rokinon can catch it all in one shot. Same thing as before, straight in the center, curved on the sides. Don’t get anything on the extremities of your shot and you’ll get a “regular” ultra-wide angle lens shot.
Watch for the feet!
Sharp, visible CA, I had to boos the contrast again. But other than that, very nice I believe.
So there you go, you get the idea. If you need a wide-angle lens, and don’t have the big bucks, go for this one, it’s a cool little rock.