Why I Love The Rokinon 12mm F/2 Lens

This is the first “Why I Love…” article that features a third-party lens. The Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS CS was the very first prime lens that I purchased for my Fujifilm X-E1 when I was just getting into the Fuji system (you can read my review of it here). It’s the oldest lens in my lineup (not including the many vintage lenses I’ve acquired…). Despite being the first, it’s one of my least-used lenses today. Five years ago I used this lens regularly. I had the Fujinon 18-55mm f2.8-f/4 and this Rokinon 12mm f/2, and I used them about equally. Once I got a few vintage primes, the zoom lens was utilized less frequently (I’m not a big fan of zooms, even though Fujifilm does have some excellent options), and I soon sold it off. Not too long later I sold my X-E1 to buy an X100F. Even though I didn’t have a camera to attach it to, I kept the Rokinon 12mm.

When I once again got a Fujifilm interchangeable-lens camera, I regularly attached the Rokinon lens to it. However, as time went on, I used the lens less-and-less. It has nothing to do with the quality of the glass, which is quite good, especially considering how inexpensive this lens is. The reason why I employ the Rokinon 12mm f/2 lens less frequently now is because of the focal-length. The 18mm-full-frame-equivalent focal-length of this lens is just a little too wide for my current tastes. Still, it’s sometimes nice to go ultra-wide, and I’m glad that I have this lens for those occasions.

The Rokinon 12mm f/2 can turn an ordinary scene into something extraordinarily! The lens is both challenging and rewarding. If you want more dramatic pictures, this lens is an excellent place to start—just shove the glass right into the scene! It’s also an excellent option for astrophotography. Why I love this Rokinon lens is because it increases the drama of the picture, and can be extremely rewarding to use. And even though I use it less now, I’ve certainly got my money’s worth out of it!

Interestingly, Rokinon recently released this lens but with autofocus.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Rokinon 12mm f/2 (manual) B&H Amazon
Rokinon 12mm f/2 (auto) B&H Amazon

Rokinon 12mm f/2 with Fujifilm X-E1*:

Barn by the Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm
Urban Flowers – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm
Little Blooms, Big Blooms – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm
Stars & Salt – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm
Inside The Savage Bus – Delle, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm

Rokinon 12mm f/2 with Fujifilm X-T30 & X-T1:

Evening at Monument Valley – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm – “Velvia
Goosenecks – Goosenecks SP, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm – “Kodak Portra 160
Flowing Farmington Creek – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm – “Kodak Gold 200
Lighthouse Lounge – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm – “Eterna
Sidewalk Tricycle – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm – “Kodak Elite Chrome 200 Color Fade

*Note: the Fujifilm X-E1 pictures were captured before I began making Film Simulation Recipes.

Lens Review: Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS CS


Fujifilm X-E1 Rokinon 12mm f/2 Photography Blog

The Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS CS is a fairly inexpensive ultra-wide-angle lens for crop-sensor cameras, such as Fujifilm X. This same exact lens is also sold under the Samyang brand name. Is it any good? Is it worth buying? Is it for you? Those are questions that I hope to answer in this Rokinon 12mm lens review.

This Rokinon lens has a focal length of 12mm, which is a full-frame equivalent of 18mm when attached to your Fujifilm camera due to the APS-C crop factor. It has a maximum aperture of f/2, which is good, and a minimum aperture of f/22. There are 12 elements in 10 groups, with six curved blades. The lens is made mostly of plastic, but it still feels plenty sturdy. The Rokinon 12mm lens is quite small and lightweight, and overall well designed.

Fujifilm X-T20 Rokinon 12mm f/2 Lens Photography Blog

Rokinon 12mm f/2 Lens

This is a manual lens. You will have to manually focus it and manually control the aperture. The focus ring is slightly stiff but smooth. It does focus just past infinity, which can be annoying. The aperture ring clicks at the different f-stops and is overall pretty swell, as far as aperture rings go. If you are not used to using manual lenses, it will likely take some practice to feel comfortable using this lens.

The Rokinon 12mm is pretty sharp. It definitely fits in well with Fujinon glass. There is some corner softness when wide open, but it’s corner-to-corner sharp by f/4. The center is crisp at all apertures, and seems to reach peak sharpness around f/5.6. Diffraction begins around f/11, but isn’t really noticeable until f/16, and even then it’s not terrible, although I would avoid f/22. While not perfect, this lens is surprisingly sharp considering that it’s a relatively cheap third-party option.

Fujifilm Rokinon 12mm Lens

Fujifilm Rokinon 12mm Lens

This lens produces some barrel distortion, but that’s not surprising since this is such a wide-angle lens, and it’s not as much as you might think. If you photograph a brick wall or straight lines you will notice it, otherwise it won’t affect your pictures. Honestly, I expected it to be much worse than it is.

There is pronounced vignetting at f/2 on the Rokinon 12mm, but it becomes less obvious as you stop down. It’s pretty minor by f/5.6, but I don’t think that it ever completely goes away. Chromatic aberrations can be found in the corners when wide open, but largely go away by f/4. Coma is well controlled, but slightly noticeable at f/2. The lens controls flare fairly well–not necessarily great but far from terrible. Sunstars are mediocre, as is bokeh, although you don’t buy a 12mm lens for the background blur. With a minimum focus distance of about eight inches, you can achieve some background blur when wide-open, but most likely you won’t be using the lens like that.

Fujifilm Rokinon 12mm f/2 Lens

Fujifilm Rokinon 12mm f/2 Lens

What I love about the 12mm focal length is that it is very dramatic. You can really make some interesting pictures with it, but at the same time it can be quite demanding. You have to stick the lens right into the scene, sometimes uncomfortably so. I love the challenge of using this lens, as it can be a lot of fun. It’s especially great for landscapes, street photography and astrophotography. I have used it for both still photography and video. If you want a lens that will help you create striking pictures, this is one to strongly consider, but know it’s not necessarily easy to use.

The Rokinon 12mm f/2 lens is a great ultra-wide-angle option for your Fujifilm X camera. It’s very easy to recommend. Although this lens does have some minor flaws, it’s pretty great overall, and it’s easy to overlook the shortcomings when you consider the price. It has an MSRP of $400, but can often be found for less than that, and sometimes for less than $300. While the 12mm focal length isn’t for everyone, and some people might be intimated by a manual lens, I do think this is one that most Fujifilm X shooters should consider having in their camera bag.

Fujifilm Rokinon 12mm f/2 Lens

Rokinon 12mm f/2 Lens Fujifilm

My affiliate links for this Rokinon 12mm lens are here: B&H  Amazon. If you make a purchase using my links I will be compensated a small amount for it.

Sample photographs, captured using a Rokinon 12mm f/2 lens with a Fujifilm X-E1 and a Fujifilm X-T30:

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Barn by the Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Tree of Broken Glass – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Self – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Tulip Blossom Monochrome – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Bike Jump – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Hustle & Bustle – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Storm Trooper – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Cat Crossing – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Lighthouse Lounge – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Urban Flowers – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Little Blooms, Big Blooms – Lehi, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

Fujifilm X-T30 Blog

Vibrant Nature – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

Fujifilm X-T30 Blog

Tree Stars – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Hiding Rainbow – Coalville, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Stars & Salt – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Sidewalk Tricycle – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Evening Bike – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Nick – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

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Inside The Savage Bus – Delle, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Rokinon 12mm f/2

For more reviews, please visit my Gear page.

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