For the past six months, I have debated on this lens. For one, its a Samyang lens rebranded to Rokinon, Bower, Bell & Howell to name a few (and thus, keep an eye on the various prices as you will find one lower than the other) but the Rokinon price dropped for a few days and it was time to strike.
As I have a good number of prime lenses for portrait, macro and zoom…I wanted a lens where I’m able to capture scenery but also real estate. One that was ultra wide and one that was not a fish eye lens (although you can get a slight fisheye curve using this lens).
So, here is my review of the Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens.
I am familiar with Rokinon products, one of the lenses for my Canon A-1 that my father gave me had a Rokinon 28mm from the late ’70s. And perusing the various photo sites and reading about how the Samyang lens that were rebranded is a newer lens that gives a solid performance, I had to give it a try. It comes in a box, well-packed with styrofoam and comes with instructions.
Inside is the lens, which is heavy and built like a tank and comes with a pouch, lens cover and cap.
I tested this lens on a Canon T3i and at first, I went out and took a picture of my house and the neighborhood. I was happy to see how the ultra-wide lens is what I needed but it’s important to know that the lens is controlled not through the camera but the lens. So you need to turn the lens to access the aperture and the focus ring.
Although I prefer manual focusing over auto (and this is a manual prime lens), I’m so used to focusing on an object and getting what I need. But each time I turned the ring, I couldn’t tell if the picture was good. I had to look on my viewfinder, increase the size to see if it was right or not and it wasn’t. It was blurry.
I was a bit frustrated because I couldn’t get any good photos until I went to a Samyang forum and those who owned Rokinon, Bowers and Bell’s were talking about how they have their aperture set at 5.6 as they found that to be “the sweet spot”.
So, I went back out…set the aperture from 2.8 to 5.6 and sure enough, I was taking clear pictures with this lens.
A few weeks later, I decided to take this lens out for another test as I was traveling to the Bay Area. Scenery, buildings….they turned out great. But I wanted to try this on people. Of course, some people are freaked out when I’m like a foot away from their face but yet, on the viewfinder I’m actually getting their whole body. But I was able to get a few good pictures. Once again, I can’t tell if it’s going to be clear enough because each time I manually focused, everything look the same. So, a lesson I learned is to take many shots because it’s so wide that it’s not easy and I have to advise, if you have an iPad or laptop nearby, it’s good to see your photos and see if what you are getting is right. Or use the viewfinder and constantly increasing the size to see if its blurry or not.
I have only kept at f5.6 and a few others for aperture as many have recommended but have not been able to get great shots at f2.8. But I’m still learning this lens…
For those trying to take pictures of objects or people close-up, here are some test results:
f/4 – If distance is about 6.5 feet
f/5.6 – If distance is about 4.9 feet
f/8 – If distance is about 3.2 feet
f/11 – If distance is about 2.5 feet
f/22 – If distance is about 1.6 feet
First, the build and presentation of this lens is great. As mentioned, the Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens is built like a tank and I was quite pleased. Especially that it came with the two caps and the pouch, which was a nice addition.
Second, I was able to get really nice shots with this lens (which I will post test shots on Amazon).
Third, you’ll need to spend time with this lens. It’s not as easy as a Canon 50 mm prime lens and focus and you get it right via viewfinder or screen. This one, you’ll need to take a few pictures, view the photo to see if its blurry or not and you also want to have good lighting.
As mentioned, like others who used the Samyang and were able to get great pictures at 5.6 aperture but this is a lens that really does challenge you in someways. This is my first ultra wide and not sure how the more expensive ones perform compared to this lens but the good thing is that I was able to take really good photos but I would like to get better photos at 2.8 rather than keeping things at 5.6 all the time.
Overall, it’s a solid lens and for its price, it’s definitely worth it if you are a photographer on a budget.