Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 AF Review

The ultimate budget portrait lens for the Sony E Mount! Its weather sealed, sharp as a tack, and has accurate auto focus. It rings in at $600 on Amazon (as of 5/20/2020). Way less than the other f/1.4 offerings for Sony. The Sigma lens being $900, and the Sony lens a whopping $1800. You would think that this lens is missing something with that kind of a discount but as far as I can tell so far its not. So what gives?

Build Quality

This lens feels solid in the hand. Its YUGE. Comparing it to the old days of ancient Canon lenses, its about the size of the 85mm f/1.2 L glass. Luckily it doesn’t weigh nearly as much. Its actually fairly light for its size, 1.2lbs. Its an all metal construction with a typical plastic lens hood. I’ve shamefully already whacked it on a wall or two accidentally and its still chugging right along. Its also one of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces of camera kit I’ve ever owned.

Auto Focus

Its great for an 85mm f/1.4. So here’s where I get a bit sour with many equipment reviews. Auto focus performance is relative to the lens in question. A wide angle lens like the 24mm f/1.4 will blow any 85mm f/1.4 lens out of the water in terms of focus speed and tracking. This is because of a deeper depth of field in the 24mm, and the smaller glass elements being easier for a focus motor to move. So expectations calibrated… this lens has a great auto focus system. Its accurate for subjects that are mostly static. If the subject is moving away or toward you at a speed faster than a grandma with a bad hip and a walker, then its going to miss focus about 70% of the time. So will the Sigma f/1.4 and so will the G Master f/1.4 lens. If you want a good tracking 85mm look at the Sony 85mm f/1.8 lens. Its the same price, smaller, and lighter. However it will not have the same ability to isolate subjects.

Image Quality

Incredible. Ive had the Rokinon 85mm manual focus lenses in the past, on a Canon platform and the Sony platform. This one is a huge improvement optically. Shooting into the light even wide open maintains a good bit of contrast. The f/1.4 aperture makes subject isolation a breeze. Even full length portraits have an ethereal quality to them. Combined with the Sony eye auto focus of the a7Riii you will get some ridiculous shots.

The subject separation is just insane with this lens. Shot wide open at f/1.4, ISO1600 and pulled a decent 1/400th shutter speed.
Again wide open at f/1.4. ISO100, the details are just stunning.
Talk about subject isolation… This thing just performs. Again all these shots have had mostly static subjects.
Pro tip with this lens, if you do have to shoot fast moving subjects bring a lot of memory cards and just shoot at a high frame rate. 1 in 5 shots may work out but the 1 you got will look great!

Conclusion

This is a great lens for what its intended for. At $600 this is a steal. Compared to the ludicrously priced Sony G master lens, I can barely tell the difference. If you shoot portraits a lot then definitely this is the lens for you. If you don’t, then its going to sit on your shelf most of the time. The limitations with tracking focus and is size are a pretty big deterrent when you have other lenses that are smaller and lighter and are similar enough in terms of over all output. For the occasional shooter that thinks an 85mm would be a fun addition to their kit, I’d recommend the Sony 85mm f/1.8. Its the same price, you lose a small bit of aperture performance but you gain focus speed, lighter weight, and smaller size.

Thanks for reading! Do you own the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4? Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!

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