If you’re looking to purchase some new lenses for your Canon EF mount camera, whichever it may be, a company called Rokinon (aka Samyang and Bower) makes some really nice glass at a variety of price points. In this article, we’ll look at a few different aspects of each kind of lens. The two big factors here are optical quality and focal length. Depending on your sensor size and camera, you may want a particular look, and this will bode on the type of lens you’ll need for your project.
Here’s the top 10 best Rokinon Cinema Lenses for the Canon EF Mount. We’ll start with Rokinon’s Cine Lenses (including their DS lenses) and then move on to their more expensive Xeen series, lenses catered toward filmmaking professionals.
1. Rokinon Cine 35mm T1.5 (Best for Portraits on Crop Sensors & Medium-Wides on Full Frame )
The Rokinon 35mm is a great choice for Canon shooters of both APS-C (crop) and full frame cameras. 35mm is a great focal length for portraits on a crop sensor.
Above you can see even on an older camera, this lens takes really nice portrait shots for video. The bokeh is beautiful and even in low light, it helps the camera pick up a good amount of detail without cranking the ISO.
Here you can see a shot on a full-frame camera, the 5D Mark III (color is particularly good because of Magic Lantern).
On a full frame camera, 35mm is on the wide side, but it still makes for pleasing and undistorted shots of people as long as one doesn’t get too close. If you had to shoot an entire film on one lens, 35mm would probably be where you’d want to be on a full frame. It’s not too wide to be fisheye or easily distorted, and it’s not too close to feel claustrophobic.
In terms of the optics, this lens isn’t the sharpest thing ever made, but if you’re OK with a soft filmic look, it gets the job done well. It also boasts, as all Rokinon Cine Lens do, smooth declicked aperture and focusing, plus a sawtooth ring for using a follow focus system.
2. Rokinon Cine DS 50mm T1.5
This Cine 50mm boasts all the same features of the last lens, and a few more. You may have noticed “DS” in the title of the lens. Rokinon’s DS series is a set of lenses that all have their follow focus gear in the same place, and match color with each other. Therefore, the best use case for a DS lens is if you intend to buy more DS lenses. Rokinon’s Xeen’s (toward the end of the list) also share these characteristics of consistent follow focus placement, and color-matching.
Below you can see the 50mm in use on a full frame camera.
On a crop sensor, 50mm is pretty tight, but it looks great.
If you already have some wide glass, 50mm is a great focal length for close-ups and medium shots on a crop sensor. If you have a full frame camera, it pretty closely replicates what our vision sees and makes for natural-looking shots at a medium distance.
3. Rokinon Cine 24mm T1.5
Many filmmakers shoot exclusively wide and for good reason, you can always move the camera. Another benefit to shooting wide is that if you are doing any dolly shots, wide angle lenses exaggerate forward camera movement. This is the non-DS version of Rokinon’s 24mm Cine Lens. The DS model is considerably more expensive at $799.00. This one is only $449.
On a full frame camera, there is slight but not necessarily unflattering distortion with close-up shots. The Coen brothers, for instance, heavily use wide angle lenses, to accentuate their characters’ facial features (Every Frame a Painting).
This is a good lens for both full frame and crop sensor cameras.
4. Rokinon Cine 85mm T1.5
If you’re looking for a more telephoto lens, the Rokinon Cine 85mm is a great choice. It’s extremely sharp and looks great. One thing to note, however, is that the DS version is about 25% more, at $399, one of the smallest premiums to pay for any DS lens. Therefore, if you are considering entering Rokinon’s ecosystem, it will likely be worth spending the extra $100.
Here we can see what a portrait (60D) shot looks like on a crop sensor camera, the 60D. It is very much a telephoto shot; the background is compressed and it almost appears as if the subject is being spied on. 85mm looks like a much higher focal length on a crop sensor.
Here’s a full frame shot (5D). On a full frame, the telephoto effect is much less pronounced. Still, this lens is very sharp, and blurs the background really well.
It’s also among the cheaper lenses. It’s a great buy for those looking to start their cinema lens collection.
5. Rokinon Cine DS Bundle
If two or more lenses appeal to you and you like the affordability and quality of Rokinon, this bundle is a great way to go. It includes the 50mm, 35mm, 85mm, and 24mm lenses. It also includes some convenient extras such as a hard case, a dust blower, and various cleaning tools.
As mentioned before, the DS lenses are superior to the normal line of cine lenses mainly because they are more consistent. To be clear, these lenses are designed to all match each other as much as possible in terms of color and the placement of their focus ring. This helps in production where one is using elaborate follow focus setups and also in post production, since all of the lenses produce shots with identical color.
You can learn more about the differences between the DS lenses and the normal lenses in this YouTube video, but for the most part it all boils down to consistency.
6. Rokinon 135mm F2.0 Telephoto Lens(For Full Frame)
This is technically not a cine lens, but a great man once said, “Every lens is a cine lens if you’re using it for video.” No one said that, but the footage speaks for itself. Check out this lens as used on a full frame camera, the Canon 6D.
The massive amount of distance compression looks very cinematic, and combined with this lens’ fast speed, it makes for really nice images. It may not fit the bill for those looking to invest in multiple lenses, but if you want an exotic look, it’s very nice. On a crop sensor, it may be a bit too much as this lens will be even more telephoto, comparable to 194mm on a full frame camera.
7. Xeen 35mm T1.5
For certain users, especially those who are counting on punching in and need super clean optics, these true cinema lenses can be worth it. YouTuber Tom Antos put it perfectly, however, the biggest difference between Rokinon’s Cine lenses and the Xeens is “the price.” Of course, compared to other cinema lenses, the Xeens are virtually dirt cheap, and comparable in quality.
Xeen 35mm ($1599) vs Canon 35mm T1.5 ($3607)
The video indicates that the two lenses are certainly in the same league, with a few minor tradeoffs. The Xeen lacks Canon’s “slendering effect” and appears to be a bit more contrast-y.
8. Xeen 50mm T1.5
For those looking to take intimate shots, the Xeen 50mm looks stunning. Here you can see it used on a full frame camera, the a7sII.
The optics of this lens are comparable to Zeiss lenses and with a significantly reduced cost. Another great benefit is that they don’t say “Rokinon” anywhere, should your clients wonder who made this massive piece of glass.
This lenses biggest weak points are all the way open where there is some green tinting. At T2.2, however, it looks great.
9. Xeen 24mm T1.5
For those looking to shoot wide, the Xeen 24mm is a great lens to work with.
This video compares the Xeen 24mm to the Rokinon Cine 24mm. While there is a difference, spending nearly 10x as much is only going to be for certain users who have extremely high standards and demanding use cases.
The color and sharpness of the Xeen is present, though not pronounced. Comparing this lens to much nicer glass, here it stands up well against the Zeiss 25mm T2.1, though it does have a bit of distortion on the edges and focus-breathing.
10. Xeen 85mm Cine Lens T1.5
The Xeen 85mm is great for users who want a sharp and tight lens for mediums and close-ups. Like the other Xeen lenses, it features an aluminum body, and has standard follow focus placement. Users praise it for its amazing build quality and sharpness. The 85mm is a stand-out, as it seems to hold up optically even all the way wide open, which is not necessarily true of the other Xeen lenses.
At f2.0, the Xeen 85mm is extremely sharp. Here was see it on an a7rII.
While not the most versatile lens out there, for those who want to take tack sharp shots, it’s a great way to go.