The Rokinon/Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE ($500) and AF 35mm F1.4 FE ($800) represent the South Korean manufacturer’s first foray into the autofocus lens market. The 50mm F1.4 is a steal compared to Sony’s own Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA ($1400). So what do you sacrifice, and is it worth the savings? In short, it’s enough to say this lens is no gem in a bargain’s disguise. But it’s not a bad piece of glass either.
The housing is made of metal like the Planar T* and the build quality is reassuringly dense – nothing rattles around when you shake it (a very scientific test indeed). It’s a little bit smaller than the Planar T* (the filter ring is 67mm vs 72mm), as well as lighter (645g / 1.4lb vs 778g / 1.7lb). But the Planar T* is by all accounts a large, heavy prime, meaning the Rokinon too feels hefty to lug around. It left this reviewer yearning for the comparably tiny/light-weight Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA instead.
|The Rokinon/Samyang AF 50mm F1.4 FE, shot wide open. ISO 100 | F1.4 | 1/5000 sec|
Photographers considering the Rokinon AF 50mm are likely doing so because of its F1.4 maximum aperture. Wide open, it’s not terribly sharp, but photos shot at F1.4 are certainly usable, especially if you add more sharpening in ACR or Photoshop. As you’d expect, sharpness improves as you stop down (until you hit diffraction territory). For a full stop aperture progression, head to the end of our gallery.
There’s a considerable amount of longitudinal chromatic aberration (purple and green fringing), and it can be really distracting around high contrast edges – see the second image in the gallery. While this can often be removed – to an → continue…