- 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.
11 thoughts on “Review: Rokinon (Samyang) 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS (Sony E-Mount)”
Also have this lens and agrees with Jordan’s findings; this lens has quality and personality! Also use it on my A7R. Gives me a 19,4 excellent mpix image, equally great results even printed at A2 size (420x600mm)
I am VERY interested in your observation regarding the use of this lens on the A7R. Specifically, I would wish to sqeeze out an effective 15mm or 16mm equivalent field of view, set up for landscape subjects, on any current or future full frame camera to which this lens can be mounted or creatively adapted. Stopping down within this lens’s sharp range of aperture settings before significant diffraction limits set in is no problem. Can you advise me if gaining this ‘bonus’ utility from the Rokinon 12mm would be a practical option, on occasion, for IQ-sensitive subjects? Thanks!
I agree, I think its a great lens….good image quality like the 8mm fisheye lens, which I also have, but without the distortion. I posted some examples on DPReview recently. If you put the work in with this lens the results are great.
Hi Jordan, I wonder whether you had the opportunity to compare it with the SEL1018 which can be had used for about 600 Euros? Regards, Chris
Hi, I need advice please, I’d like to create a bokeh effect so that my subject can pop using this lens.
I found very often myself in fairly small rooms let’s say 5m by 5m. I need a very wide angle because I’m using the apsc of my newly purchased a5100. I’m shooting video and I have to add to that that there is crop on movie mode on the Sony camera which is weird, but anyway, since I want to shoot myself as the subject framing the shot using the smart remote control app I need a very wide angle not to worry about going out of frame and focus on my task as the subject.
Using a calculator I found 12mm is already enough at 1.5m of the subject. In fact a 14mm work be good enough. I’ve also calculated that I get out of focus elements at around 3.5m with this f2 lens.
How far should the background elements be in this configuration to get a slight bokeh. Can you obtain this effect indoors with such a wide angle? If not how wide should the lens be?
Thanks a lot
There has been a lot of response to this lens since its release in 2014 – and rightly so. As a fully manual sub for the pricey Zeiss optics, the Samyang outperforms wide open and with more lens speed – just what we look for in a superwide. As an 18mm on my a6300, it is becoming a ‘normal’ lens for my urban landscape shooting. Set at f5.6-8 and infinity, I can concentrate fully on the composition. Watch your foregrounds unless you plan to crop toward a panorama perspective.
I slipped a wide rubber band around the focus ring to make it easier to finess close focusing. Otherwise, this lens is faster and sharper than most, light and compact for extended walks and easy to correct in LR.
Can you compare this lens to Sony 10-18 ?