Samyang 35mm f/1.4 (FX)
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.
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.
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.
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. enlarge.
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.
Samyang 35mm f/1.4 at f/5.6. enlarge.
8 straight blades.
Stops down to f/22.
Aperture Ring top
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
Focal Length top
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
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
Filter Thread 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.
The bayonet, reversible plastic hood is included.
Rokinon 35/1.4 and included hood.
Samyang specifies 83mm (3.26 inches) diameter.
Samyang also specifies:
23.075 oz. (654.2g), measured, Nikon version.
Fake velvet pouch, included.
A big sock works better.
Made in top
1 Year, USA (Rokinon version).
Single-wall cardboard box.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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).
This lens is a little warmer (more amber) than most of my lenses.
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:
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 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.
77mm is generous, any thick 77mm filter works great, even on film and FX.
There's no need for thin filters with this lens.
There are none.
Even pointed directly into the sun (I have my blind neighbor do this for me), ghosts are still nearly nonexistent.
Pointed directly into the mid-day sun.
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.
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.
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!
On FX at 1 foot.
I clean my keyboard every day, and it's still less clean than this lens.
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, rubber covered.
Feels like metal.
Seem like metal and plastic.
Engraved markings filled with paint.
Some sort of metal.
Printed on top of barrel just behind the focus ring.
Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount)
Noises When Shaken
A little from the optical assembly moving around inside the barrel.
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.
With its straight 8-bladed diaphragm, this 35mm f/1.4 should make 8-pointed sunstars on bright points of light.
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.
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.
* 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.
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 (PDF).
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