Rokinon Cine DS 20mm T1.9 is coming at last!

Samyang 20mm f1.8

Yessssssssss! Been eagerly waiting for them to fill in the gap between 16mm and 24mm (if you are shooting S35, or 14mm to 24mm which is an even worse gap if shooting “full frame“), as that gap was just too darn big! Rather annoying not having anything between those two lenses, so I’d been saying for a long a time Samyang/Rokinon needs to bring out a 20mm prime. Now I just need to save up the US$600ish the lens will cost.

As I already have nearly all the other Rokinon Cine DS lenses:

It is a little slower than the f-stop of the 24mm/35mm/50mm/85mm which are all f1.4, but that is ok as it is a 20mm lens and it is much harder to design fast wide angle lenses. Likely a 20mm f1.4 would’ve meant significant compromises with weight/size/quality/price. And the 20mm is already a little faster than the 16mm which is f2 (& much faster than the 14mm f2.8).
The 20mm f1.8 is a full frame lens which will be available (eventually) in all the usual mounts: Nikon F, Canon EF, Pentax K, Sony A, Sony E, Micro Four Thirds, & FujiFilm X. (I nearly always recommend buying these only in Nikon F mount however because they’re manual lenses, & that will give you the most flexibility in what you can use this lens on)

Here is the announcement from Samyang (same as Rokinon really):

August 8th, 2016, Seoul, Korea – The global optics brand, Samyang Optics ( has today introduced new manual focus lenses for full frame DSLR cameras: 20mm F1.8 photo lens and 20mm T1.9 cine lens. As known for the brand’s wide and bright lenses, Samyang 20mm series adopted bright F1.8 aperture to provide perfect wide angle for interior shots and landscapes.

Explore Your Wideness with Samyang 20mm Series
The Samyang 20mm F1.8 ED AS UMC and 20mm T1.9 ED AS UMC are wide angle manual focus lenses for DSLR cameras with full frame sensor size. It has been a year that Samyang launched the full frame DSLR camera lens and latest lens was the 135mm series.

Samyang Lenses are known for its bright apertures and so does this Samyang 20mm series. These two lenses have a bright aperture of F1.8, equivalent of T1.9 for cine lenses, to offer a best quality images under various lighting conditions. Also, the lightweight Samyang 20mm series brings the portability to increase the convenience.

Based on Samyang Optics’ exceptional optical technology, 13 glasses in 12 groups are used to create the most optimal image quality. Among 13 glasses, there are 2 aspherical lenses and 3 extra-low dispersion lenses per lens to minimize aberration and unnecessary light dispersion, delivering high resolution from centre to corners of the image.

This 20mm angle of view was designed to fulfill consumers’ requests to explore various occasions with Samyang Lens. In between ultra-wide 14mm and wide-standard 24mm, 20mm lens is a perfect fit to explore wide angles not only for shooting indoor images such as concerts and interior photos but also street snaps. The 0.2m of minimum focusing adds versatility to the lens.

Add Samyang 20mm T1.9 to Your Samyang VDSLR Kit
Specifically, the Samyang 20mm T1.9 is a cine lens optimally designed for professional follow focus system, thanks to the quiet and smooth de-clicked focus and aperture gear rings. Also, the distance scale and T numbers are marked on both sides of the lens for convenience when filming.

The best partners to explore your wideness, the Samyang 20mm series is globally available from September. The suggested retail prices are EUR 499 for 20mm F1.8 photo lens and EUR 549 for 20mm T1.9 cine lens.

For more information, please visit Samyang Optics official website (, Facebook page ( and Instagram (

Lens Options for 360 Degree Virtual Reality Camera Rigs? And other thoughts on cameras.

Sony 360 Degree Virtual Reality Camera Rig

I’m a long way from upgrading my multiple (from six to a dozen cameras at once!) action cameras 360 Degree Virtual Reality Rig (thus I don’t need to worry about interchangeable lens options on this rig), but when I do I am thinking to go with Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. Even though high resolution is very important for 360VR.

If you do go with 4K cameras then the Panasonic GH4 is a very popular 4K option (such as these guys using GH4 cameras for 360VR: Also there is the Sony a7R mk2 / a7S mk2 options (but costs skyrocket, after all you’re not buying just one camera but many!) or Sony A6300 (which has overheating issues, an especially troubling issue if you have six of these operating all cramped up close together to each other! As then they’ll overheat even faster). Also Blackmagic Design has their Micro Studio Camera, but that requires an external 4K recorder, which introduces significant size/power/cost issues. Samsung NX1 is also very much worth a look (& NX500, but in 4K it has a harsh crop factor), but it is a dying system and ever since the NX1 hack came out the secondhand prices of the NX1 have been staying high.

Thus in the end I’d prefer the BlackMagic Micro Cinema Camera (BMMCC), because I’d prefer the dynamic range, bit depth, and color space of the BMMCC. And while the Panasonic GH4 / G7 does a max of 30p @ 4K, you are gaining resolution but giving up frame rate and I’d rather keep it at 60fps (as arguably high frame rates are nearly just as important for Virtual Reality as resolution is. Least you give the viewer motion sickness. And you can get higher resolution by using more cameras!). Presumably the GH5 will give 4K 60fps, but that will probably cost US$2K or more per camera (and you need many multiple ones of them of course for complete 360 degree coverage!), and it hasn’t even been announced yet so who knows.

Though given the likely length of time until I’ll be upgrading, we’ll surely see a Panasonic G7 sale by then which might make that option too cheap to resist vs going with BlackMagic Micro Cinema Cameras.

Anyway, I have still been putting a lot of thought & research this year into the various options for the future, and I decided I’d at last put the metaphorical pen to paper and share a few of my thoughts on this particular aspect of lens choices. We can broadly speaking split it into three groups:

  • a) native mount (i.e. MFT lens, or E mount lenses if a person was using A6300/A7 series instead), but then this can severely limit a person a couple of years down the track if they change bodies. It would be a lot smoother / cheaper if only the bodies need to be swapped out and not lenses as well. I’d like to have some degree of versatility with this rig.
  • b) full frame UWA lenses (in Nikon F mount of course, as I’ve explained in other blog posts), but not an option as you can’t then go truly wide if using them on APS-C or smaller bodies. And A7r mk2 / A7s mk2 are the only truly interesting options to consider here for use that are full frame. Maybe with the one exception of the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens, which does almost hit the sweet spot for price & focal length even when used on APS-C. Or the Rokinon 12mm F2.8, but then you have to deal with fisheye distortion.
  • c) APS-C UWA lens, this appears to hit the sweet spot of maximum versatility plus maximum FoV.


    APS-C lens options:
  • Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6, max FoV but I’d be concerned about the slow f-stop, as then you’d start to be losing one of the key gains of ditching GoPros with their poor lowlight ability.
  • Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (or the newer Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8, but that costs more so no), this is the lens I own myself and is in my eyes the “best” UWA lens for normal filmmaking, but does that mean it is for 360VR too?? Hmm
  • Rokinon 10mm f/2.8, is lighter/cheaper/wider (all 3 keys points for a 360VR rig) than the Tokina but is a fixed focal length (probably not a disadvantage though at all! As you absolutely don’t want that focal length to change once you’ve set it, thus why people will tape down zoom lenses if using them on a 360VR rig). However the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 isn’t cheaper than Tokina when you consider the older Tokina models can easily be picked up secondhand, but the Rokinon can’t be so easily found at all secondhand as it is a newer lens.
  • Rokinon 16mm f/2, the fastest option but by this point at 16mm it is only barely UWA at all.

Outside these options listed, I can’t think of any good UWA lenses, or am I missing something? Everything else that comes to mind seems that they’d all be a worse compromise somewhere in price/FoV/speed/etc than these four that I listed.

Keen to hear in the comments your views on my thought process and each of the options I reached at!

Samyang cases

Samyang have released a couple of cases for their lenses, and one would assume Rokinon will be doing the same too for their lenses? (as they’re essentially the same lenses)

A smaller one and a bigger one:

Samyang Case_12

Samyang Case_13

Given how much I’ve invested in Rokinon lenses I think I’ll get a set when Rokinon brings out the same (as having a matching case would be nifty) and then they go on their eventual sale. Be an improvement for sure from my soft cases to get hard cases for my lenses.

Samyang 135mm f/2 leaked (edit: & Rokinon DS Cine 135mm T2.2 announced)

Since last year Rokinon/Samyang have been hinting about their next lens, it was widely thought to be a 135mm based on that being the only logical conclusion from this teaser on their Facebook page:

10869826_827637633948823_2888067007770285790_o (1)

And now it has been leaked on eBay, as it is up for sale:


Fun fact: way back in the past, Rokinon made another 135mm lens! These are rather different lenses though (for one, they’re not f/2. Is f/2.8). There are a couple of these vintage lenses available for sale right now on eBay:

Vintage Rokinon 135mm_57

Rokinon Vintage  135mm f28

Edit (January 13th):
As expected, there is a cine version, Rokinon Cine DS 135mm T2.2 which you can pre-order from B&H.

B and H Rokinon 135mm T22 IMG_455767

Additionally, there is a comparison test of the Samyang 135mm f/2 (and thus the Rokinon 135mm T2.2 too) vs Canon 135mm f/2L:

f/2 – The Samyang is better all over. Hands down the best performer at f/2.

Looks like it is another fantastic lens from Samyang/Rokinon at an incredible price! (US$599 for the Rokinon Cine DS 135mm T2.2)

Rokinon Cine Lenses


I’ve acquired a set of Rokinon lenses. My logic is because Rokinon are pretty much the only game in town when it comes to very affordable cine lenses (relatively speaking! As they still cost a pretty penny). The two sets which are commonly used on very low budget productions that you can go out and buy new tomorrow would be Rokinons (which also go under the name of Samyang and Bower) and Carl Zeiss ZF.2 (or Carl Zeiss ZE, which are essentially the same but for Canon and lack a manual aperture ring. I personally wouldn’t recommend them at all).

The next step up from them in terms of price would be costing thousands per lens, or even much much more. So quite out of the question for me at this point in time to be able to personally own (but perhaps in the near future.. !).

Otherwise, the other option is using DSLR still lenses from Nikon/Canon/Sigma/etc…. which is what the vast majority of “no budget” (well… relative to the millions that Hollywood films cost to produce. “No budget” might still easily mean a hundred thousand, or even a million dollar budget) filmmakers do, including myself. But they’re not optimized for film use at all, are instead designed with photographers in mind (who have different, and sometimes contradictory, needs to filmmakers. For instance AF lenses will typically have fairly short focus throws to make it easier on the AF motor, while we’ll instead be wanting much much longer focus throws).

The last alternative to consider, is older vintage lenses. Of which Contax / Yashica & Minolta Rokkor would be a couple at the top of the list to consider.  These older lenses are all manual focus lenses and thus have in general much longer focus throws than modern still lenses, and while they lack modern features such as fast AF or optical stabilization, some of their glass & designs are absolutely top notch and can hold their own even today.

However they too have their own problems, one is the risk of buying second hand lenses which are decades and decades old. Thus hunting down to lenses to put together a whole collection which is in good condition would take a *lot* of time and effort. The other big one is they’re still lenses, so would each need a cine mod. Additionally, as they’re very old lenses, information on them can be a bit scarce on the internet…. so it can take a *LOT* of time researching what lenses are available, and how they perform, and the various variations, and how they changed. For instance often the “same” lenses might change from one year to another, so to identify which lens batch it is from you need to determine it via referencing it from its serial number against the info you’ve learned. Another issue, is often these vintage lenses are using a weird old unsupported lens mount, thus you’ve got less flexibility around adaptability vs going with a more modern mount that is still in active production such as Nikon F.

Last but not least: cost! In the end, would older vintage lenses be worth it if you make some good savings while getting great image quality? I don’t think so, as even if you don’t count the monetary worth of your hundreds of hours spent, the total cost of a lens collection of one of these vs what you could get going with Rokinon glass when on sale is a rather small difference.  There is a couple of reasons why: back when people first “discovered” C/Y lenses as a cheap source of high quality glass for filming with, they were very cheap indeed. But since then the increased fame of them lead to increased demand, and their prices have gone up (same is true with the others too, as they get “discovered” again for filmmaking with larger sensors, and then their prices rise up). The second reason is while some of their lenses are absolute bargains indeed, a lens set is not made up of just a lens or two. So to round it out you’ll need others which are very rare and super pricey (by vintage lens standards), so as to have a complete matching set of lenses. Thus once you’ve done that, the financial reason to go down this path vs Rokinons quickly diminishes (a third reason for me specifically is shipping… horrendous! Private sellers, which is what most sellers of vintage lenses are, seem to far often charge like a raging bull for international shipping vs what Amazon charges me to ship the Rokinon lenses, which was not much as well). Thus while I was seriously considering researching further Contax / Yashica & Minolta Rokkor (I even have one Minolta Rokkor lens currently), in the end they don’t make it out as my top choice to go with. But if you don’t mind an obsolete mount and content with only having a small set of the more common/cheaper focal lenses (such as a 3 lens set, composed of 28mm + 55mm + 105mm to give one example) rather than filling out all the holes in the range to get a comprehensive set, then going with one of these vintage lens sets could be an incredibly good idea for you and give you a more unique look for your film in the process too.

There are a few (but only very few) other options to consider too, but they’re all too niche for me. Such as the various cine lens options for Micro Four Thirds (SLR Magic cine lenses, Voigtlander Nokton Cine-Mod Primes, & Veydra cine lenses), I have one SLR Magic cine lens myself. But the problem with all of these, is they’re extremely limited, you can only use them on m4/3 cameras, and I want to have the maximum amount of flexibility in the use of my lenses.

So after going over all these options and their drawbacks, this leaves me with either Rokinon or Carl Zeiss ZF.2

Carl Zeiss ZF.2 are nice, I’ve shot a short film with a complete set on a Sony FS700 (coincidentally, at the moment my profile pic is me with a ZF.2 lens in my hands. The full set of BTS photos is “here”). But:
a) even though they’re a common low budget set for filmmaking, they are also lenses which are made for still photographers. Not filmmakers.
b) the cost!! Even though they’re “low budget” lenses by filmmaking standards, they’re still rather pricey for a complete set. I couldn’t see myself owning them in say the next year or two, would instead be some time further off in the future.

So how about Rokinon? Well, although their listed RRP is sometimes not too far off what a Carl Zeiss goes for (specifically their 50mm f/1.4 lenses are both the same price), most are two or three (or even four) times the price of their focal length lens from Rokinon. But even better, I know Rokinon lenses very often go on sale. And just sometimes, at quite steep discounts too! Thus with patience, a Rokinon set could be put together a *lot* cheaper than a Carl Zeiss set. And additional big factor, is while the Rokinon lenses are based on still lenses, they are at least a lot closer to being true cine lenses than the ZF.2 lenses are.

Another small factor is these ones on special that I purchased are all the new Rokinon DS cine range, which has further improved the cine side of these lenses (such as having a consistent point on the lens where the focus gears are put, across the range of lenses. And better colour matching of the lenses across the entire range of lenses).

I know a person who has the older set of Rokinon cine lenses, I should find out if he is interested in doing a comparison test against these newer Rokinon DS cine lenses once they arrive. Specifically to see if the DS cine lenses have better colour matching, and by how much so.

Nikon lenses can be used on more cameras than Canon lenses can be. Simple matter of math, the relative flange lengths.

Additionally Canon EF lenses which lack a manual aperture ring (which is nearly all of them) need electronics to control their aperture, which makes it much trickier, more expensive, and as a general rule slower to market too, to make adapters (and related products, such as focal reducers) for them.

See the typical five fold difference (or more!) in price between a typical Nikon G adapter vs a Canon EF one from China as an example.

Claims of Canon’s “amazing glass” is all B.S., as yes they have very very very excellent lenses. But so does Nikon (and so does Sigma, Tokina, Carl Ziess, etc… which can all come in NIkon mount as well as Canon mount). Yes you can pick out a particular Canon lens and compare it against a specific Nikon lens and claim “Canon is better”, but that is cherry picking nonsense. Same can be said in reverse too. Overall, when taken as a whole across the system I don’t think either is significantly stronger than the other when it comes to lenses. (and the argument for Nikon or Canon over the other on the basis of lenses, becomes a lot lot *lot* weaker when we’re discussing third party lenses, such as we are doing here with Rokinon. Because they come in both mounts)