April 20, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Rokinon 24mm F2.8 AF Sony E – Review 2020

The Rokinon 24mm F2.8 AF Sony E ($399.99) is one of the smallest prime lenses you can get for the system, with a wide angle of view versatile enough for landscapes, environmental portraits, and everyday snapshots alike. Its optics aren’t as amazing as premium alternatives, like Sony’s $1,400 FE 24mm F1.4 GM, but Rokinon doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for its wide prime.

Featherweight Build

The Rokinon 24mm is one of the smallest, lightest primes you can get for your Sony full-frame camera. It’s not quite a pancake—the front element extends a little bit past the handgrip of an a7 series camera—but it’s close enough at 1.5 by 2.4 inches (HD) and a mere 4.2 ounces. The filter ring supports the 49mm thread size.

Rokinon 24mm F2.8 AF Sony E

You get a small hood with the lens, fabricated from lightweight plastic. It’s not in danger of falling apart, but isn’t of the same level of quality as sturdier composite materials used by Sony and others. The barrel is also plastic, though it seems to be a step up in quality versus the hood.

Aside from branding and a red accent ring, aesthetics are basic black. We received the lens with Rokinon branding, but it’s sold under the Samyang banner in many markets. Prices can vary a bit, so be happy to know you if you’re able to find the Samyang 24mm F2.8 Sony AF for less money, you’ll get the same lens.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/2.8, 1/2,000-second, ISO 100

There are better made lenses near this price. The Tamron 24mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 is priced similarly, but steps things up with sturdier composite materials and weather sealing—both missing here. There’s a trade-off, though—Tamron’s lens doesn’t focus as quickly or as quietly as the Rokinon.

Rokinon gets autofocus right. I found it to be quick and accurate, as well as quiet, when working with an a7R IV body and its Real Time Tracking focus system. The lens acts just as a Sony one, with full support for face and eye detection, and breathing is minimal—a benefit for videographers.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/2.8, 1/1,250-second, ISO 100

There’s no optical stabilization, but Sony’s in-body system does a good job removing the jitters from handheld video, and offers enough compensation to make subject motion more of a concern for handheld imaging than camera shake.

Manual focus is available if you want it. The focus ring is well damped, with pleasing resistance. It gives the electronic focus system a feel that’s not far off from an old-fashioned mechanical lens—the resistance makes it easier to dial in small, precise adjustments, and your camera’s frame magnification focus aid makes it easy to perfectly find the point of focus.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/2.8, 1/1,250-second, ISO 100

The lens is able to focus as close as 9.5 inches, good enough for 1:7.7 life-size reproduction at its closest. It doesn’t focus as close as the Tamron 24mm, which gets as near as 4.7 inches for a much larger 1:2 macro rating, but it’s not limiting either. You’re typically able to lean in and get closer to your subject when you want to, and you can get plenty of background blur when focusing close.

In the Lab

I tested the 24mm F2.8 along with the Sony a7R IV, a full-frame camera with a 60MP image sensor, and software from Imatest.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/2.8, 1/1,600-second, ISO 100

At f/2.8, the pair puts up resolution that’s decidedly disappointing, about 2,700 lines, a soft result for the a7R IV. Details are actually good in the central area of the frame (3,500 lines), but drop off quickly as you look toward the edges.

See How We Test Lenses

It’s not a big issue for shots where you want some bokeh, but you’ll want to narrow the aperture for best results when shooting landscapes and other shots where edge-to-edge clarity is key.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/5, 1/2-second, ISO 100

Details are noticeably sharper at f/4 (3,440 lines), and cross into excellent territory at f/5.6 (4,025 lines), f/8 (4,295 lines), and f/11 (3,995 lines). Landscape photographers will get the best resolution at the periphery at f/8, about 4,000 lines.

Diffraction sets in at f/16 on the a7R IV and results in a slight drop in clarity. Still, you’ll net good results (3,530 lines) at f/16. The lens also captures crisply defined sunstars there. Resolution drops off seriously at f/22 (2,275 lines), and sunstars aren’t that much better than you get at f/16.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/16, 1/80-second, ISO 100

Because of its wide open performance, we more strongly recommend the 24mm F2.8 for use with 24MP models, like the a7 III, that ask less of optics. It is a good fit for use with APS-C models, where its angle of view is narrowed, as the area of the image circle covered by the smaller sensor format nets good results wide open and excellent ones from f/4 onward.

There’s a bit of pincushion distortion in photos—Imatest measures it at 1.4 percent—a concern if you’re using the lens for serious architectural work, but not so much for the rest of us. Adobe Lightroom Classic includes a lens profile to eliminate the effect with a single click.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/22, 1/60-second, ISO 100

The profile also removes a visible vignette from shots. Sony’s in-camera corrections lessen it when shooting in JPG format, but you still see some dimness at the corners at f/2.8. Uncorrected Raw images show a strong vignette at f/2.8 and a lesser, but visible one at f/4.

The Right Compromises

As with most offerings that are in some way classified as budget, there are compromises made to sell a full-frame, 24mm lens that’s this small and light at a reasonable price. For $400—or less when discounted—you don’t get the best optics, or a rugged all-weather build.

Sample ImageSony a7R IV, f/2.8, 1/1,600-second, ISO 100

Instead, you get a lens that puts an emphasis on size; it barely adds any girth to your camera. Optical performance is good enough wide open on most cameras, and can keep up with the a7R IV when stopped down. Autofocus is quick and quiet too.

Its biggest competition is Tamron’s 24mm F2.8. It’s priced similarly, and is sharper wide open than the Rokinon is at its best, and adds weather protection. We rate it a bit higher, though a slower, audible focus motor makes it a lesser choice for video.

Rokinon 24mm F2.8 AF Sony E

Photographers with a big budget, or those who don’t mind scrimping and saving to get the absolute best, should get the Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM instead. The Rokinon, or Samyang if you prefer, is an affordable alternative for photographers who prioritize size and autofocus speed.

Best Lens Picks

Further Reading

Source Article