February 10, 2018

My Favorite Budget Friendly Lenses For Cinematography - Rokinon Lenses

By: Ben Farnham

Recently, I have been exploring what lenses work best for me and my film style, which, is a rather simple film style. I do like to take time to plan shoots but I stay far away from story boarding... and I also love run 'n' gun but I always strive to show that more thought has been put into the shot as well. All in all, I have found my happy medium. Now with that in mind, I have found lenses that work beautifully for what I do. Enter the Rokinon Cine series of lenses. My new favorite go to.

Now, let me first state that there is no 'prefect lens' and no, this lens will not work for everyone's workflow but allow me to share some insight as to what I found were these lenses strengths through my experiences using the Rokinon Cine series.

With these lenses, everything is completely manual. Manual aperture and focus rings which in all honesty is something I have really grown to love. Even with me still shooting handheld most of the time, the teeth on the focus / aperture rings are amazing (again, I am using the Cine series). Now if you are a vlogger or really are just super run 'n' gun where you have 2 seconds for each shot, then these would definitely not be the lenses for you. Rokinon Cine lenses really require plenty of attention when getting the right shot and in my personal opinion, focus peaking is a huge benefit with these Cine lenses as well (random thought I just wanted to share).

For the lenses themselves, they have a wonderful build quality. They have a bit of weight to them, but not too much and nowhere near the weight of the Sigma Art series. The actual mount is made from metal which, for this price is rather unheard of. The focus / aperture rings are incredibly smooth (de-clicked) and have teeth that are ready for follow focus systems. 

As for the lens clarity, all I can say is UNBELIEVABLE. Truly, they are incredibly clear. Now, with that being said, I do want to warn that these lenses are known to have a small bit of chromatic aberration. Personally, I have yet to even see this be anywhere close to an problem as it is so slight and personally, I see it more as lens character than an actual issue. But, there are some out there that can not stand chromatic aberration so I of course had to mention this. But again, I want to stress, that I don't feel this is an actual issue what-so-ever.

Now, one of my favorite features of these lenses is their wide open aperture. Seriously, getting that shallow depth of field, bokeh-licious light, and incredibly smooth rack focuses to subject matter you couldn't even recognize in the foreground... yeah. I love it. While not all of their lenses have the same wide aperture, you will find most of their lenses between 1.5 to 2.8 stops. Now as I do shoot Panasonic, what made me drawn to this feature even more is if you are shooting on a GH5 or GH4, then you now actually have a fighting chance when filming in some low light conditions. Granted, keeping the subject in constant focus may be a tad bit of an issue, but again, with enough practice, focusing with these lenses gets easier and easier.

So... Who should use these lenses?

Short answer? Anyone who doesn't vlog for a living or anyone who loves to manually focus.

But... while I wish it could be as simple as that, sadly I know that in life there is no true 'black and white' answer so again, let me add more to this. Can vloggers use this? Absolutely, but I doubt they would want to film themselves with these lenses. These would be incredible for the b-roll filler type material that adds to the vlog / fills it. Seriously, getting shots with Rokinon Cine / Cine-DS lenses takes time. Not a lot of time but time none the less. But the good news is, the more you use it, the faster that setup will go.

Now, would these be a great photography lenses? While it will work, I have to say that I think it would be far from ideal. The lenses I am talking about in this post are the Cine series and their design is just for that, video / cinema. Rokinon does have photography versions of these lenses without the 'teeth' on the focus / aperture rings which would help keep the photographer from bumping focus and pretty much ruining a shot (which I will state, has happened to me a few times when I planned a video shoot, had one of those moments you had to capture in a photo, and forgot my photography lenses).

Could you use Rokinon Cine lenses professionally?

Absolutely. And I do.

I can't stress this enough, these lenses really are incredible ESPECIALLY for the price. The clarity they offer, the wide aperture, and the build quality are absolutely incredible. I am for the first time in a long time, blown away by a company for the quality they produce for the price they offer.

So what would I rank Rokinon Cine / Cine-DS lenses?

Build quality: starstarstarstar star (5/5)
Clarity: starstarstarstar star (5/5)
Ease Of Use: starstarstarstar star_half (4.5/5)
Price: starstarstarstar star (5/5)

Hopefully this helps give you an insight to the Rokinon Cine / Cine-DS series of lenses. They really are wonderful.

Benjamin - Teacher At Pure Presence Creative
Post Author

Benjamin (Creative Dork)

I am true nerd to the core, believer in quality design, Horde player, and an all around creative dork. I create films, photos, websites, and music and honestly believe that the saying 'Jack of all trades, master of none' is an excuse. I do what I want really.