Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE sample gallery and impressions
The Rokinon / Samyang AF 35mm F2.8 FE is an absolutely tiny full-frame lens built for Sony's E-Mount. Similar in size and specification to Sony's own Zeiss 35mm F2.8, the Rokinon is listed at an MSRP of $349 whereas the Sony is listed at $699 at the time of this writing.
So, by virtue of costing half as much as the Sony, does the Rokinon offer merely half the performance? Not exactly. The AF 35mm F2.8 FE may not knock your socks off, but it's still a solid performer and a great option for budget-oriented E-mount users.
|The Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE mounted on a Sony a7R III.|
Hold the Rokinon 35mm F2.8 in your hand, and you have to wonder if there's any glass in it at all. It weighs over an ounce less than the Sony 35mm F2.8, which wasn't exactly a heavyweight to begin with. It's also very slightly shorter than its Sony equivalent, though both lenses take 49mm filters and can focus down to 0.35m. Unfortunately, the Rokinon omits the Sony's claimed weather-sealing, and the lens mount lacks any sort of gasket.
Subjectively, the Rokinon's plasticky build doesn't have the premium feel of the Sony (nor would we expect it to at the price), but the construction feels solid. The mount is metal, and the included bayonet mount hood offers a bit of extra protection for the front element. The focus ring is damped enough to prevent accidental turning, but it too suffers an overly plasticky feel.
|The Rokinon comes with a compact, bayonet-style hood.|
Optical performance is pretty good, even on a 42MP a7R III. It isn't eye-searingly sharp wide-open, but it's more than adequate. Bokeh is neither buttery nor overly busy, but out-of-focus highlights take on a cats-eye shape near the edges of the frame, which may or may not be to your taste. Sunstars are possible if you close your aperture far enough, but they're of average quality.
Autofocus performance is solid. It isn't as instantaneous as lenses with floating focus elements, but is about on par with Sony's own 85mm F1.8 and 50mm F1.4 Zeiss – certainly, swift enough for general use.
|Though the Rokinon generally exhibits good out-of-focus renderings, there is some green and purple fringing noticeable in the upper-middle of this frame.|
Longitudinal chromatic aberration hasn't been too much of an issue for me, but you can see some green and purple fringing on the high-contrast edges in the upper-middle of the above image. Keep in mind that for our sample gallery, Adobe Camera Raw has a built-in profile for distortion and vignetting corrections. Lateral CA corrections were left off, and the lens seems to control for them fairly well.
It must be said, the Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE is just a fun lens to use. On any a7-series camera, the Rokinon is so small, light and unobtrusive that it basically disappears on the camera body.
Though its F2.8 maximum aperture won't isolate subjects as well as Rokinon's or Sony's F1.4 options, it strikes a great compromise between size, performance, and perhaps most crucially, price. If you've been eyeing the Sony Zeiss 35mm F2.8, we think this Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE is also worth a look.
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