The lure of the medium telephoto lens.

There was a period, in the 1990s, when the only lens I really shot with was the Hasselblad, Zeiss 180mm f4.0. It was an exquisite lens and I felt, through most of the early digital years, that I would never discover a lens I liked as much, in the smaller format. And, for the most part I have been right. There are a lot of lenses that come close but few that I can honestly say "make the grade."

Then along comes an inexpensive, manual focus lens that seems to give me the same feel on my full frame, digital camera. It's the Rokinon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens.

I originally bought it to use with the A7Rii on an assignment to shoot tiny glass ampoules for a chemical testing laboratory. It worked incredibly well in that application and so I've continued to press it into any situations where outrageous resolution, coupled with a mellow attitude, is the preferred look.

The lens, available in most popular lens mounts, including the Sony E mount, is a gem. It's big and rock solid and uses one aspheric element and one high refraction element in a fairly complex design. As I mentioned, it is manual focus and has no electronic communication with whatever body it's riding upon. It has the classic, 9 bladed aperture for smooth bokeh.

There isn't much more to say about it other than it is a happy, mellow and well behaved lens with the potential for snappy contrast and very high resolution.  I don't really care what system you put it on, I think it's a great lens at a very, very fair price. It makes me want to experiment with other Rokinon lenses....


Richard Leacock said...

A possible new trade marked phrase from The Visual Science Lab's marketing team? "Outrageous resolution, coupled with a mellow attitude". Ah yes, I can see it now. Emblazoned on coffee mugs, t-shirts and etched crystal wine glasses. Maybe a commercial tie-in with a grateful camera company, or perhaps an envelope pushing crackerjack lens manufacturer. Hmmm, but which one?... (and lets not forget "nano-aquity"). Put me down for a couple of t-shirts and coffee mugs each for myself. Will have to get back to you about the number of wine glasses after the photo/vintners club breaks for the evening. You take all major credit cards? : )



Anonymous said...

I think if I'm honest my nostalgia for particular cameras is almost always a fondness for a particular lens on a system.
I'm a normal guy at heart... I loved my pentax 50mm on my first camera (and love it still, if not the doubled fl on my olympus...)
I really love the standard 80mm on my bronica.
And the 20mm Panasonic pancake is practically glued to my EP5.
It's funny how the rendering and the comfort of particular lenses just resonates. I've used the lenses above for over 80% of any of the photos I've taken on each system.

Congratulations for finding a new favourite!

Ps-I would love a faster focusing weather proof version of the 20mm. Pretty disappointed that the mark 2 refresh was simply cosmetic.

Peter said...

I kept wondering what I picture taken with a "happy , mellow and well behaved" lens would look like. And then I got it! Looking back at the picture at the top of the post of a good looking young woman looking well... happy, mellow and well behaved! If all my portraits were to come out like that, I have the lens in an instant! As it is, I seem to have instead, a lens or two that is 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know'!

Gato said...

First focal length I ever loved was 85mm -- though the romance was over the first time I looked through a Nikkor 105. At least for personal work, I could probably shoot the rest of my life with a 24 and a 100-105 -- or equivalent. Maybe throw in a 35 just in case ...

Bryan said...

Kirk, how does the Rokinon compare to your old Nikkor 105mm f2.5? I have had two of those, and the last one they can bury with me..

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

The Nikon 105mm f2.5 is one of my favorite lenses ever. The Rokinon is sharper and more flexible (1:1 close focusing) but that's doesn't mean it's "better" than the Nikon. They each have different looks. The 105mm f2.5 is smoother and seems to hold on to color while the 100mm f2.8 is more accurate and analytic. Better nano contrast with a smidgen less soul...