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.
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.
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.
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.
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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