Three Months With The Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f2.0

Three Months With The Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f2.0

Three months ago, I got myself the new Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f2.0 NCS CS lens for my Fujifilm X-E2 and in the time since I’ve been using it a lot, both locally around here and in trips to Greece and Ireland. Even though I specifically selected this lens for its qualities with respect to astrophotography, I’ve been using it for all kinds of landscapes and more, including close-ups, street and even cat photos!

While I don’t do real reviews and I have no test charts to shoot or any way to measure sharpness, light fall-off or distortion, I still wanted to give you my impressions of using it in the field and show some of the images I got out of it. If you just want the punch line, here it is: I like this lens, I like it a lot. If you want to know more, read on.

The Physical

At just 258g, this thing is pretty lightweight for a superwide f/2.0 lens, but it feels solid and has a metal mount, so it looks robust enough. The aperture and focus rings are made of plastic, but the former has the right amount of resistance and well-defined half-stop clicks, whereas the latter is smooth but not too easy to accidentally move. They are both stiffer than the typical Fuji lenses’ ones and that’s a good thing. The front element is quite bulbous, so I typically put a protective filter (67mm thread) in front of time and remove it only when shooting into the sun. The petal hood is light-weight plastic and tends to come off at times, so be careful.

On my X-E2, the mount has a little bit of wiggle room, but this hasn’t caused any problems in practice and especially no light leaks during long exposures.

The Optical

It looks sharp enough to me, that’s all I can say about sharpness. I am sure you will find MTF charts online.

It has almost no chromatic aberration. Yay!

It has a bit of barrel distortion, easily fixed in Lightroom or Photoshop.

It tends to vignette at large apertures. Again, easily fixed in post and I most often shoot it at smaller apertures anyway. Do you know that most people who complain about vignetting in lenses add an artificial vignette to many of their images in post?

It handles flare extremely well, much better than some Fuji lenses. There’s a few images in the gallery below that were shot directly into the sun; judge by yourself.

It’s made for taking photos of starry skies. At f/2.0 and 12mm, you can image the Milky Way with a 20s exposure at ISO 3200, or even 1600 and get plenty of very well-defined stars, even in the corners. Focus on the infinity mark, not at the hard stop, which is beyond infinity, and you’ll be fine.

What about the damn bokeh? Yes, you can blur your background if you focus real close at a large aperture. I don’t do that often, but when I did, the quality of out-of-focus highlights seemed good enough to me.

The Handling

It’s manual focus, of course. I would most often use it in MF on a tripod anyway, but with the Fuji’s focus assist tools, focusing while hand-holding it is a no-brainer. If you want critical focus, open it up to f/2.0, focus, then stop it down again.

I already mentioned how the rings feel.

Photo Tour in Sardinia, Italy

Conclusions

I got this little beast for €319, shipping included and, in three months, I’ve taken and kept about 1,500 photos with it. I’ve probably been using it more than any other lens I have and I definitely recommend it to anyone.

That said, I just ordered the Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 and I think I will using it mostly during my upcoming cruise in Croatia. Why? Because there were times I felt limited at 12mm and wanted a narrower field of view and I need a good, wide-angle walkabout lens. I am also lazy and I appreciate auto-focus, especially when I am on a walk. I might just stuff the Samyang in my bag, since it takes up so little space, but only if I decide to carry the tripod too.

Check some of the images taken with the 12mm below (click on them to enlarge).

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There are 27 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: Three Months With The Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f2.0 | Ugo Cei › Von TOMEN
  2. William Miller at 10:09 pm

    I just bought one. I am going to try my hand at astrophotgraphy. The lens, at least my copy, is noticeably sharper at 2.8 than 2.0 (as with most lenses). Do you find the benefit of the extra stop of light gathering ability outweighs the benefit of increased sharpness when shooting the stars?
    Thanks

    • Ugo Cei at 10:29 pm

      William, this is a trade-off that has to be accurately evaluated. By stopping down to 2.8, you’d have to double your ISO and that would negatively influence clarity, if not sharpness. Unfortunately, where I live I get very few chances to shoot starry skies, so I didn’t have many chances to take lots of images at different settings and compare results.

  3. Alessandro at 3:37 pm

    Ciao Ugo, not sure whether to write in italian or english. anyway, I’m really considering buying this lens for my Fuji X-E1. Mainly landscape shooting and some street photo. Any downside ?!?

    Alessandro

  4. Ugo Cei at 5:41 pm

    Hi Alessandro.

    The downsides, in my opinion, can be found mostly in its fixed focal length and the manual focus. If you’re not bothered by them, grab it!

  5. Luke at 2:45 am

    Your photos are stunning! Absolutely stunning. I’m strongly considering this lens for my Sony NEX-6. I think you might have just about settled the matter for me!

  6. Hessel at 8:36 am

    Awesome pictures, especially the lighthouse, the milkyway and primordial climb. I’ve just bought this lens myself and the lens showed a weird haze at the bottom of the pictures. Have you had any issues with your lens or do you know what might’ve caused it?

    • Ugo Cei at 9:11 am

      I had no issues so far. Do you get the haze at all settings or maybe only in long exposures? What camera are you using?

      • Hessel at 9:56 am

        I am using the Sony A6000, and i didnt see it in all photo’s but it was visible at some shorter exposures aswell. Now I changed lenses and then changed back and I think the haze was gone.

        • spdavies at 5:24 pm

          Don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but I have experienced this at times on other lenses. It turned out to be moisture condensation on the rear element of the lens. It happened early mornings when I put a cold lens on an already warmed up camera body. That’s why it goes away when the temperatures acclimate.

          • spdavies at 10:43 pm

            Sorry for the repetition – after reading further, I see I answered this concern several months ago.
            Senility is a bitch . . .

          • Hessel at 12:06 pm

            Thanks for the reply! Now I understand why that happend.

  7. Zen at 9:15 am

    Stunning photos – the last one is my favourite. I’m about to go on a mountain climbing trip and I am having a hard time deciding between Fuji 10-24mm and this lens. Guess I’ll give the Samyang a shot after all!

  8. SDavies at 1:03 am

    The haze mentioned above may have been caused by condensation on the back lens element.
    I’ve noticed it at times when putting a cooler lens on a warm camera body.
    Made me crazy until I figured out what it was.

  9. Martin Smith at 3:19 pm

    Ugo, Thanks for the review. Mine arrived at my office just a few hours ago – cant wait to get out and play! Looking forward to taking it to Tenerife in August

  10. Pingback: The 5 Best Fuji Lenses for the X-T1 – A personal recommendation
  11. Adrian Mulligan at 11:09 am

    Hi Ugo, thanks for your review, I ordered this lens a few days ago..cant wait to try it, It so happens I only live 5 minutes walk from “Bad Eddie” ….small world!

    Btw! Great photos you have too!

  12. Andrew at 8:05 pm

    Wonderful images! This lens is really tempting. I really wanted to get more into landscape and architectural photography and so far the widest lens I have is the 18mm on my fuji :/ I was contemplating either this or maybe the 10-24mm XF lens? What are your thoughts? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  13. Donna at 1:40 pm

    I enjoyed reading your experience and wish I knew a third as much. Your pictures are spectacular. I bought the Rokinon 12mm (not the CS) for my new Sony a6000. Looking through viewfinder I could see no difference when focusing other than red flaring edges. Maybe I need better eyes? Thanks if you could give me a quick answer. I don’t want to rob you of valuable time.

    • Ugo Cei at 7:59 pm

      Hi Donna and thanks for the compliments. I am not familiar with the way focus peaking works on the Sony, but I reckon you should see red edges where the edges are in focus. Of course, with such a lens and a small aperture, everything will be pretty much in focus.

  14. Ugo Cei at 7:57 pm

    The 10-24mm is a fantastic lens and is also very suitable as a walk-around lens, if you like shooting wide. It is definitely more versatile than the Samyang/Rokinon and since I bought the Fuji, I relegated the latter to shooting starry skies.

  15. SallyIV at 11:00 am

    Ciao!
    Glad to see you also had a small gap (wiggle) in the mount. Highly irritating and gives the systems a bit of a tacky feeling, but apparently it is OK.
    I have by the way the same experience with adapters for Canon Fd / M42 (I use T1 and M1), but not with the Fuji Leica adapter.

    Hmm, does Fuji cheat the dimension on the drawings to 3rd pary ;-)?

    -J!