- Small, well-constructed lens with smooth focusing and a nice firm aperture ring
- Good sharpness wide open and excellent sharpness across the majority of the frame when stopped down
- Vibrant color and strong contrast give a bit of ‘pop’ to the images
- Fast f/2.0 aperture is unique in a lens this wide
- Decent bokeh when focusing up close
- Moderate distortion is impressive given the design constraints
- Excellent value
- Pronounced lateral chromatic aberration at all apertures
- Corners don’t ever get truly sharp
- Strong vignetting wide open that only partially improves when stopping down
- Fully manual lens
- Purple fringing on high contrast edges
The Samyang (Rokinon) 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS is not a perfect lens. It’s got quite visible chromatic aberration, fairly strong vignetting and lacks biting corner sharpness. However, for an ultra-wide angle lens with a super-fast f/2.0 aperture, it gets a heck of a lot right. The lens is impressively sharp across the vast majority of the frame when stopped down, and even provides quite good central sharpness and usable edges at its maximum aperture. It renders scenes with excellent contrast and color and even has good bokeh when shooting wide open and close up. The biggest kicker is that it does this at the excellent price of $399, a full $600 cheaper than the other 12mm lens for Sony E-Mount, the Zeiss Touit 12mm f/2.8…and it’s a stop faster to boot!
Astrophotographers will love the fast aperture coupled with usable images wide open, and almost every mirrorless shooter will love having an ultra-wide prime that is quite small and provides excellent image quality. While the lens aberrations are definitely noticeable, the majority of them are quite easily corrected and the overall image quality is on a very high level. If you are looking for a high quality ultra-wide but don’t want to shell out a ton of money, the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 is an excellent option.
Click on an image to enlarge. Due to the lens being a fully manual lens with no electronic contacts, aperture data doesn’t exist for the lens, so I have not stated the working aperture unless I know what it was.