Tuesday, January 22, 2013

14mm Tests (Canon, Rokinon, Zeiss and some Nikon)

 Over the last week I had the chance to test out some of the different choices in 14mm lenses out there. The first night of testing was out in downtown LA shooting some long exposure stills of the city and the freeway. The second day of testing was done over at Duclos Lenses, thanks to Matt Duclos for letting me use his awesome facility out there and for providing some of the lenses for the test. There are 2 inconsistencies in the tests that were done. The Nikon 14-24mm was only available on the first night and the Zeiss 15mm was only available on the second day of testing over at Duclos Lenses. Now I know the Zeiss isn't a 14mm lens but it was a lens I was very curious to test and that's why I put it in here. I don't think to many people are going to complain about it. On with the pictures.

 These first set of tests I just wanted to get some quick real world shots of these wide angle lenses. I was using them with settings I would normally use for shooting timelapse. But this shooting style still shows the quality and faults of the lenses.

 The first thing that I noticed just looking at the Canon, Rokinon and Nikon was the lens coating. Looking at the front elements of the 3 lenses you can see that the Canon and Nikon don't seem to pickup as much reflection and appear to be darker. The front element on the Canon and Nikon looked like a piece of glass that was curved over the other elements inside of the lens.

 The Rokinon looked as if it had a big piece of glass sitting on top of the internal elements of the lens. If you held the sideways you could see right through the front element.

 The Canon and the Nikon didn't have this and I believe it was because of the construction of the lenses and the coating on the front element.


 Now some people my not know how much coating can make a difference when it comes to lens flare but its huge in this case. This comparison between the Canon 14mm 2.8L II and the Rokinon 14mm T/3.1 is pretty telling. In the setup for this test I wanted to have some of the street light in for some flare comparison. I didn't know the Rokinon was going to flare so much until I got it on there. There is also some really interesting distortion going on in the Rokinon lens. Not sure why but the Rokinon seems to have a wider field of view than the Canon 14mm. (Mouse over to see the difference.)

 Here's a comparison between the Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 and the Rokinon 14mm T/3.1. Again flare control is much better in the Nikon and the lens distortion seems to be more natural. (Mouse over to see the difference.)

 The comparison between the Canon and the Nikon was pretty interesting. Since the Nikon is a zoom lens it has some image shift, which account for the difference in the 2 images. Also the Canon seems to control the flare from the street light much better than the Nikon does. (Mouse over to see the difference.)

 Now for the sharpness test of the 3 lenses.

 As you can see in the 3 100% crops from the center of the lens the Canon and Nikon are pretty much the same sharpness at f/2.8. The Rokinon is softer wide open. I'm pretty sure that lens was as sharp as it was going to get. It was also much harder to focus than the Canon and the Nikon lenses.

 For the more controlled part of the test that I wanted to do I got to go over to Duclos Lenses and do my testing there. Huge thanks for Matt Duclos for letting me come over there for the tests. Matt also supplied the Rokinon 14mm and the Zeiss 15mm. If your looking for some lenses I would strongly suggest checking out Duclos Lenses.

  The first test I wanted to check the overall look of the lenses against each other and see what kind of distortion they have. I have chosen to just show the tests of the lenses shooting wide open as that's a pretty big factor. I did shoot a couple different stops for each setup. As you would imagine the image does get sharper in all of the lenses. I do put up some different f-stops to show the difference in the flare of the lenses and in the sharpness test.

  Test between the Canon 14mm 2.8 II and the Rokinon 14mm T/3.1. Same thing from the earlier tests showed up. The Rokinon 14mm seems to have a wider field of view. But there also seems to be something going on with the distortion of the lens that might explain this. The theory I have about the Rokinon is that its using some kind of reducer to get its field of view and speed. Granted its just a theory but might explain why it has a wider field of view than both the Canon and Nikon 14mm lenses. (Mouse over to see the difference.) 

 Here's a comparison against the Canon 14mm 2.8 II and the Zeiss 15mm 2.8. Kind of hard to really AB between these lenses because there are different focal lengths. But still it gives you and idea as to the difference between 14mm and 15mm. (Mouse over to see the difference.)

 Rokinon 14mm T/3.1 vs the Zeiss 15mm 2.8. (Mouse over to see the difference.)

 The second set of tests were sharpness of the lenses.

 Canon 14mm 2.8 II 100% crop.

 Rokinon 14mm T/3.1 100% crop.

 Zeiss 15mm 2.8 100% crop.

 These next set of tests are to show the different flare characteristics the lenses have.

 Canon 14mm 2.8 II

 Rokinon 14mm T/3.1

 Ziess 15mm 2.8

 Another flare test with 2 light sources.

 Canon 14mm 2.8 II

 Rokinon 14mm T/3.1

 Ziess 15mm 2.8

 My conclusion, the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 or T3.1 is a nice lens for the money you spend. It has some issues with distortion and flare but some people might welcome the look of the lens. It seems that the Rokinon did give a "mustache" distortion to the image, as I've heard it described from some fellow shooters. The Canon and Nikon lenses were very sharp and controlled the flare much better than the Rokinon. But both of those lenses are $1,600 more than the Rokinon, so I wouldn't only hope you would be able to see that difference in those lenses and you do. The Zeiss 15mm 2.8 was also a really nice lens and very sharp. I wish I would have been able to play with it out in the field but maybe I'll get to one of these days. I have a couple Zeiss ZF lenses that I use quite regularly and they are some of the sharpest lenses I have.

 So if you have a limited budget and need a 14mm I would say get the Rokinon. But if you got the cash and want to have a overall better image to work with I would say go with the more expensive lenses.


  1. Awesome great test I have a samyang 14mm 2.8 and love it

  2. Good to know. I've been considering the Rokinon, but I'm not too sure now. Thanks for the info!

  3. I made the choice of the Rokinon over the Canon and bought the Canon 100mm macro with the difference...and used the rest to start saving for the Canon 16-35 I was originally going to buy. I think it is a pretty decent lens...and it works well for astro shots, which is really all I have used it for so far (only had it a month). I'm no pro so it works for me. :)

    Thanks for posting that test.


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  5. Brilliant comparison, be interesting to keep tabs on this and re-compare when new sony E mount zeiss ultra wides come out in the future :)