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Samyang 35mm f/1.4 (FX)
(aka Rokinon or Bower, 2011-)
© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

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Samyang 35mm f/1.4

Samyang 35mm f/1.4, Rokinon Nikon AI-s version (77mm filters, 23.1 oz./654g, 1'/0.3m close focus, about $500). enlarge. This one came from this link to them at Adorama, also available specifically in Nikon, Canon EOS and Sony/Maxxum mounts. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of those or these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

July 2011      Nikon    Canon    Sony    Samyang    All Reviews

See also:

Nikon 35mm f/1.4 G AF-S (2010-today, about $1,650)

Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-s (1970-today, about $1,000 new or $500 used.)

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX (2009-today, about $200)

 

Optics:
Mechanics:
Ergonomics: (manual focus)
Usefulness:
Availability:
Overall:
Price: $500

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

adorama

 
B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

Ritz Camera

I use Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe. I can't vouch for ads below.

This 35mm f/1.4 lens has superb optics, sharper at the largest apertures than Nikon's enduring classic 35mm f/1.4 AI-s, sharper than the 35mm f/1.8 DX and even a little sharper than Nikon's new $1,650 35mm f/1.4 G.

 

Compatibility       intro     top

It comes in versions to fit Nikon, Canon EOS and Sony/Maxxum. I'm testing the Nikon version here. You can make the usual extrapolations for other brands.

This Korean-made lens is manual-focus only, but has electronic AI-P contacts to couple to every digital and autofocus Nikon for full Matrix metering, EXIF data and exposure controls.

This Nikon-mount version works great with every Nikon camera made since 1977, digital and 35mm, auto and manual focus. (the lens of course is manual-focus only, and works great on AF and digital SLRs.)

Because it lacks a meter coupling prong for cameras made before Automatic Indexing (1977), you'll need to use stop-down metering with Nikon's earliest 1959-1976 cameras, like the Nikon F of 1959 and early versions of the Nikon F2.

It also provides Matrix metering on the FA, F4 and F6.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details with your camera. Look under the AF, AF-D or AF-S, AF-I columns.

 

Samyang 35mm f/1.4

Samyang 35mm f/1.4. enlarge.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 specifications

 

Optics            top

Samyang 35mm f/14. diagram

High Index of Refraction. Aspherical.

12 elements in 10 groups.

One of these elements is aspherical. Two have particularly high indices of refraction.

Unit focus; the entire optical tube slides in and out inside a larger outer barrel.

Multicoated.

 

Diaphragm            top

Samyang 35mm f/1.4

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 at f/5.6. enlarge.

8 straight blades.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Aperture Ring            top

Yes.

Plastic.

Half-stop clicks, except between f/1.4 and f/2 and between f/16 and f/22.

No f/22 aperture lock; you must remember to keep it set to f/22 at all times when used on digital SLRs and most AF SLRs.

 

Close Focus (marked)            top

1 foot.

0.3 meters.

 

Focal Length        top

35mm.

On a small-format DX camera, this lens sees an angle-of-view similar to what a 50mm lens would see on a full-frame camera.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?            top

Yes and no.

Yes, there's a stop, but it's miscalibrated, so you always need to focus manually at infinity. Beware.

 

Focus Scale            top

Yes.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale            top

Yes, nicer than any current Nikon lens, including Nikons' own manual-focus 35mm f/1.4.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index            top

No.

 

Filter Thread            top

77mm, plastic.

 

Caps            top

The caps are great!

The front cap is a big, beefy thing that can be reached from the front or the sides.

The rear cap is a bit flimsier than a real Nikon cap, and work just as well.

 

Hood            top

The bayonet, reversible plastic hood is included.

Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 and hood

Rokinon 35/1.4 and included hood.

 

Size            top

Samyang specifies 83mm (3.26 inches) diameter.

Samyang also specifies:

Length
Millimeters
Nikon
109.0mm
Canon
111.5mm
Pentax
110mm
Sony/Maxxum
111mm
4/3
116.8mm
Samsung NX
130mm

 

Weight            top

23.075 oz. (654.2g), measured, Nikon version.

Samyang specifies:

 
Grams
Nikon
687g
Canon
712g
Pentax
688g
Sony/Maxxum
700g
4/3
720g
Samsung
725g

 

Case            top

Fake velvet pouch, included.

A big sock works better.

 

Made in            top

Korea.

 

Warranty            top

1 Year, USA (Rokinon version).

 

Packaging            top

Single-wall cardboard box.

Glossy printing.

Two thin, hard white molded plastic sheet inner holders.

The lens is in an clear plastic bag, and the paperwork and pouch sit on top inside the box.

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Overall    Bokeh    Cleanliness    Color    Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff

Filters    Flare and Ghosts   Focus   Focus Breathing   Color Fringes

Macro    Mechanics    Sharpness   Sunstars    Survivability

 

Overall      performance     top

Great optics and decent mechanics make this lens a winner.

Be careful, you'll probably have to fiddle with focus for the best results.

 

Bokeh      performance     top

Bokeh, the character of out-of-focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are, is very good.

In fact, the only 35mm f/1.4 lens with better bokeh is the $1,650 Nikon 35/1.4 G.

Every other 35/1.4, even the $5,000 LEICA SUMMILUX, have much, much worse bokeh.

The Samyang Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 has much better background bokeh at f/1.4 than the Nikon 35mm f/1.4, than the new $5,000 LEICA SUMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH mit floating element group, than the previous $4,500 LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH, and much better bokeh than LEICA's original SUMMILUX 35mm f/1.4 from 1960-1995.

Except for the Nikon 35/1.4 G, this Samyang has the best bokeh I've seen in any 35mm f/1.4 lens. It's much better than LEICA's 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON lenses, too.

Bokeh is the quality of the defocus, not the amount of defocus. Focal length has more to do with defocus than aperture; any 50mm f/1.8 lens like Nikon's superb 50mm f/.8 D will throw things far further out-of-focus.

 

Cleanliness      performance     top

This lens arrived much cleaner than most lenses.

Unlike crappy Sony lenses that arrive with all sorts of microscopic white specs on them, this Rokinon lens arrived perfectly clean.

You won't see this, but I see these differences working under microscopic conditions. I hate it when junkier lenses make me have to spend time spotting-out all the dirt with which they arrive.

This lens arrived clean. Thank you, Samyang (I actually got this one from Adorama).

 

Color Rendition      performance     top

This lens is a little warmer (more amber) than most of my lenses.

 

Distortion      performance     top

The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 has some barrel distortion. It's minor on DX and moderate on FX.

Simple tools like Photoshop's lens distortion filter correct it completely with the values below:

 
FX and 35mm
DX
at 3m (10')
+2.5
+1.3
at 0.3m (1')
+2.5
tbd

 

Ergonomics      performance     top

Samyang 35mm f/1.4

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 at f/5.6. enlarge.

The Samyang 35mm f/1.4's ergonomics are very good.

Focus is a big, fat ring that's half the lens. It's not as nice as the focus of the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-s, but nice enough.

Focus turns in the correct direction on Nikon.

The rear grip section can be a little slippery when mounting and unmounting.

The big plastic front keeps your fingers out of the lens.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)          performance     top

Falloff on FX is somewhat visible at f/1.4, and gone by f/2.

I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.

 

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 falloff on FX and film at infinity, no correction.

f/1.4
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with      performance     top

77mm is generous, any thick 77mm filter works great, even on film and FX.

There's no need for thin filters with this lens.

 

Flare and Ghosts      performance     top

There are none.

Even pointed directly into the sun (I have my blind neighbor do this for me), ghosts are still nearly nonexistent.

Rokinon 35/1.4 ghosts

Pointed directly into the mid-day sun.

 

Focus      performance     top

Focus feels fine. It's more damped than Nikon lenses. The focus ring take up half the barrel, which is great.

There is one big problem: this lens probably won't arrive perfectly calibrated, and probably won't work perfectly with your camera unless you experiment a bit with how much manual offset you need to apply to get perfect focus at f/1.4.

See Usage for more.

 

Focus Breathing      performance     top

Cinematographers worry about focus breathing, which is when the image size changes as focus is pulled back and fourth between different subjects with a fixed camera.

As a unit-focusing lens, the image gets bigger as focused more closely.

 

Lateral Color Fringes      performance     top

None on a Nikon D3 or D7000, which corrects them.

This is better than the $1,650 Nikon 35mm f/1.4 G AF-S, which has just a little lateral color fringing at the corners of FX. HA!

 

Macro      performance     top

Samyang 35mm f/1.4

On FX at 1 foot.

I clean my keyboard every day, and it's still less clean than this lens.

 

Mechanics      performance     top

Samyang 35mm f/1.4

Rear, Samyang 35mm f/1.4. enlarge.

The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 is built of both plastic and metal. It uses plastic for the outer barrels, and seems like it has metal inside.

 

Filter Threads and Hood Mount

Plastic.

 

Barrel

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Plastic, rubber covered.

Printed markings.

 

Focus Helicoids

Feels like metal.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale

Yes.

 

Internals

Seem like metal and plastic.

 

Aperture Ring

Plastic.

Engraved markings filled with paint.

 

Mount

Some sort of metal.

 

Identity

Printed on top of barrel just behind the focus ring.

 

Serial Number

Not found.

 

Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount)

No.

 

Noises When Shaken

A little from the optical assembly moving around inside the barrel.

 

Made in

Korea.

 

Sharpness      performance     top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

Goodness, this lens is sharper than anything from Nikon!

The only big catch is that you need to pay attention to focus to get perfect focus at f/1.4.

Presuming you can nail focus, it's perfectly sharp and contrasty, even at f/1.4! It's astounding.

 

Sunstars      performance     top

With its straight 8-bladed diaphragm, this 35mm f/1.4 should make 8-pointed sunstars on bright points of light.

 

Survivability      performance     top

Since the optics move on their own inside the barrel, once you attach a filter, the optics and their focus and aperture mechanisms are completely shielded from outside abuse.

Since there are no complex AF geartrains, and no complex AFS motors or clutches, I'll bet you that this lens will outlast any of Nikon's AFS or G lenses. Only the Nikon Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-s is tougher.

 

Usage         top

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Focus calibration is this lens' downfall. These Korean lenses have sloppy quality control for focus adjustment, but if you know how to work around this, you can score a bargain.

The infinity stop isn't. On my sample, I had to turn it to a slightly closer distance for perfect focus at infinity. Astronomers beware.

On my Nikons, the electronic focus confirmation dot was off. This is as expected for a third-party lens; Nikon plays a lot of tricks to keep spherical-aberration induced focus shift to a minimum.

With this sample, I need to pull-in focus manually such that the left and center focus-confirmation dots (the "> 0" indicators) flicker on and off at about a 50/50 ratio. This let me pull-in the focus just the right amount manually for perfect focus every time.

With a simpler camera with only one big focus confirmation dot, focus the lens just a little closer until the dot just starts to turn off — but that's for my sample of lens; yours may be different.

Nikon' AF fine tune won't help you: it only adjusts AF, but since this is manual focus, sadly it doesn't apply.

Your sample of lens and sample of camera will probably vary; be sure to test it before you go off shooting.

There is no aperture lock at f/22, so with AF and digital SLRs, be sure to leave it at f/22, otherwise you'll get an "fEE" error

Since f/22 is a stop smaller than any of Nikon's other f/1.4 lenses provide, you may have to set it to f/16 or larger to clear the aperture-ring feeler pin on most Nikon SLRs when mounting it to a camera.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

Samyang 35mm f/1.4

Samyang 35/1.4 and Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-s. enlarge.

 

 
Samyang
Anni
2011-
2010-
2009-
1970-
1956-1963
Coverage
FX, 35mm, DX
FX, 35mm, DX
DX only
FX, 35mm, DX
35mm only
Filter threads
77mm plastic
67mm plastic
52mm plastic
52mm metal
43mm metal
Focus modes
Manual
AF & MF
AF & MF
Manual
Manual
Works on rangefinders?
no
no
no
no
Yes
Works on manual-focus SLRs?
Yes
no
no
Yes
no
Works on 35mm AF SLRs?
Yes
DX only
Yes
no
Works on DSLRs?
Yes
Yes
DX only
no
Close focus
1'
1'
1'
1'
3'
Weight
654g
600g
197g
381g
160g
Optics
12/10 ASPH
10/7 ASPH
8/8 ASPH
9/7 CRC
7/5
Sharpness
Superb
Very Good
Excellent
Good
Good
Bokeh*
Poor
Fair
Distortion, FX
+1.3
+1.5
+2 (on DX)
+1.5
zero
Diaphragm
8
9 rounded
7 rounded
9
9
f/minimum
f/22
f/16
f/22
f/16
f/22
Sunstar points
8
18 soft
14 soft
18 sharp
18 sharp
Price

$1,000 new

$500 used

$700 used

* Every LEICA 35/1.4 has only fair bokeh. This means today's $5,000 LEICA SUMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH mit floating element group, the $4,500 1994-2010 LEICA SIUMMILUX-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH and even LEICA's original SUMMILUX 35mm f/1.4 from 1960-1995 all have only fair bokeh.

 

I'm astounded that this Samyang lens is a little sharper than even Nikon's newest $1,650 35/1.4G in the corners at f/1.4. Likewise, this Samyang is devoid of any lateral color fringes, while the $1,650 35/1.4G has just a little bit.

The Nikon 35/1.4 AI-s sells for the same price used as this Samyang sells new. The Nikon has far better mechanical quality than any of the other SLR lenses, but if f/1.4 performance is critical, it's not as contrasty and not at sharp at f/1.4 as the Samyang

Stopped down, all these lenses are just as sharp.

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specifications   Performance   Usage   Compared   Recommendations

The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 is a manual-focus-only lens. It's amazingly sharper at f/1.4 than any other Nikon 35mm lens, including the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 G that costs over three times as much, but only if you know how to use it.

For action photos, I need autofocus, and for that, I use a zoom or the 35/1.8 DX on my DX cameras.

For where and when you can take the time to focus precisely manually, this Samyang lens is a total winner.

 

More Information      top

Samyang's Technical Data

Samyang's Technical Data (PDF).

Samyang, Korea.

 

Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links to Adorama, Amazon, eBay, B&H, Ritz, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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