Lens Review: Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS CS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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