As we all know, glass can be really expensive. And cine glass is downright jaw dropping expensive. Consider that a Zeiss CP.2 Prime Lens 18mm is the widest they make (and which are pretty awesome lenses) will run you about$4000.00 USD then there are the wonderful new Canon Cine lenses (50mm is the widest right now in Primes) are about $5200.00 USD and of course one could always pick up Cooke S4 (just shy of $10,000.00 and I believe only in PL-Mount) or the Zeiss Ultra-Primes.
I was a little weary of buying such an inexpensive wide angle lens that I had not physically used, and initially I was disappointed with the performance of the lens because I put it on my 5D MarkII. The lens is so wide, and I believe that on the 5D because it is full frame and uses line skipping to get the resolution down to 1080p, that I was seeing a lot of aliasing on edges of objects and structures.
Then I put this lens on a Canon C100 and the combination of the crop factor (1.5 which effectively makes this lens about 21mm) of the C100 and the better resolution, performance and technique for resolving the 1080p image the performance was wonderful. This lens is not as sharp as the Canon L-Series glass but it’s about 1/5 the price, has manual aperture, and geared focus and aperture barrels with cine marking on the side along with a really long barrel rotation which makes actually makes it hard to rack focus smoothly in one move without a follow focus.
That being said, the long barrel throw is nice and for how wide this lens is most of the time I would be using this at infinity for architectural shooting, for corporate, or for commercial projects or for super wide establishing shots. And for that it performs wonderfully. The other key thing here is that the focus marks and aperture marks on whether they should be for shooting video, on the side of the barrel not the top like most still lenses, not only does this make life easier for pulling focus but also means that I don’t need to transfer focus marks using one method or another to the side of the lens which means less hassle for me.
The construction of the lens feels solid and the barrel rotation for both aperture and focus is smooth with a nice amount of drag to ease into and out of racks. The edge distortion on a full frame sensor definitely betray’s how wide this lens is, and while it’s not as nice as the rectilinear Canon glass (14mm Canon L-Series) it isn’t totally unpleasant and on a crop sensor like the C100 I didn’t notice enough distortion to be of concern for most corporate/commercial shooting.
Overall this is a good value lens with nice features, though I wouldn’t use it on a DSLR where the method for recording 1080p is line skipping because I think that is what is causing the massive amount of aliasing, I did not see the same issue on the Canon C100, or C300. The 5D MarkIII might offer better performance since it doesn’t do the same line skipping as the MarkII.
Basically this is a bit of what will become a theme for my posts, and that is that the right tool for the job. There are a lot of scene’s and situations where I wouldn’t use this lens and would opt for one of the more expensive offerings, just as I don’t assign a DSLR for every job or a C300 or a Panasonic P2 camera, its about choosing the right equipment to deliver the best value and highest production value for a given project within the confines of the budget.
Not every job needs to be shot on an Alexa or a RED camera and not every project needs the most expensive glass, it’s about finding balance and Rokinon’s cine glass performs amazingly well considering it’s cost and features.
I subscribe to the notion that is being touted by the venerable Shane Hurlbutfor whom I have a lot of respect, is that camera’s should be thought of as film emulsions. And the right emulsion should be used for the right job. That however is another post entirely, or maybe several posts.