The Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 is a super light and ultra compact full frame lens for Sony’s e-mount cameras. The Rokinon 24mm comes in at just 4.7oz (133g), and is small enough to tuck away in the pockets of my pants or jacket. At $399.99, this is one of the cheaper e-mount full frame lenses you can buy. To keep this lens light and affordable, Rokinon constructed the 24mm f/2.8 almost entirely of plastic. This translates to subpar build quality, and optical performance that isn’t a whole lot better than a smartphone in certain settings.
Despite its shortcomings, I still find myself shooting with the 24mm f/2.8 quite a bit and recommend it for photographers that can be realistic with their expectations. Why? First, although this lens retails for $399.99, it can often be found for far less with manufacturer discounts. Second, the best camera to shoot with is the one you have in your hands. I find myself attaching this lens to my a7rii just because of how light and nimble it is for hiking and travel. Third and finally, I don’t always need edge-to-edge razor sharp images for professional use or large prints. Sometimes I just want to snap a cool moment to share with friends and family, and I want better low light ability than my iPhone offers.
So, the Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 is light and affordable, but has a few drawbacks in regards to optics. In this review, I’m going to cover the strengths and weaknesses of the 24mm f/2.8 in my real world experience as a hiking and travel blogger.
Lens Construction, Handling, And Build Quality
Build and Size
The Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 isn’t going to win any awards for build quality, but it’s nearly all plastic build means you’ll take it with you on most trips without having to consider it’s weight. The lens comes in at just 4.7oz (133g), and measures a very compact 2.43 x 1.46″. The 24mm also comes with a super compact lens hood that blocks a little sun and provides a little barrell protection.
The Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 has no weather sealing, so keep that in mind when venturing out into a rain storm or hiking on dusty trails out in the desert. The bayonet is made from aluminum, a rare piece of metal used in the construction of this plastic puck.
The Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 is an autofocus lens that’s a little slow, but doesn’t hunt like the Rokinon 35mm f/2.8. The autofocus hit rate is not as good as the Sony 28mm f/2, and quite a bit worse than the Zeiss 25mm f/2. I can understand the big performance gap with the Zeiss, but the Sony beats this lens by quite a bit, and is only $50 more expensive. The Rokinon has both beat handedly on size and weight though. The autofocus is mostly quiet for those of you that plan on shooting video.
You can also focus manually using the plastic scroll ring on the barrel. The focus by wire lens ring scrolls pretty smoothly for such a cheap lens, and provides just enough rolling resistance.
Lens and Glass
The 24mm focal length of this lens provides an 82.1° field of view, and offers a 9.45″ minimum focus distance. The lens itself has 7 elements in 7 groups with 7 diaphragm blades. Triple 7! The maximum aperture is f/2.8 and the minimum is f/22. Finally, the Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 takes a 49mm filter.
Specs and Stats:
Dimensions: 2.43 x 1.46″
Weight: 4.70 oz (133 g)
Filter Thread: 49mm
Focal Length: 24mm
Aperture: f/2.8 -f/22
View Angle: 82.1°
Minimum Focus Distance: 9.45″ (45 cm)
Diaphragm Blades: 7 rounded blades
Image Quality And Performance
As a blogger that takes most of my photos on the road or from a trail, this lightweight wide angle prime grabbed my attention when first announced by Rokinon. As the owner of the Zeiss Batis 18mm and 25mm, as well as the Sony 28mm, this lens wasn’t really a “need” for me. What pushed me to buy this lens was the number of times I left my camera at home because of the size and weight when compared to my iPhone. The iPhone is decent in a pinch, but is really poor in low light and doesn’t offer much in the way of creative control. I’ve been casually using the Rokinon 24mm for the past few months, and will share some real world photo samples in the sections below.
My number one use for the Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 has been to capture views on hikes and trail runs. The first thing you’ll notice in the photos below is the heavy vignetting of this lens. This is an issue that’s pretty normal for wide angle lenses when shot wide open, but vignetting is still very heavy on the 24mm when stopped down to f/8. This is a pretty big issue for landscape photography, as I lose a lot of detail in the corners that can’t be easily corrected in Lightroom.
The center sharpness is pretty good though, which makes for nice shots when exposures have a central subject. The contrast and color on the Rokinon 24mm has none of the pop I love in my Zeiss Batis lenses, but that’s to be expected on this $400 budget option.
When traveling and hiking, I don’t always get optimal light, and often have to shoot in harsh conditions that many photographers would avoid. I find this 24mm to be pretty resistant to flares and ghosting, which saves shots that otherwise would have distracting artifacts.
Wide open at f/2.8, the Rokinon 24mm is solid in the center, but softens quickly as you look towards the corners. Stop down to f/4, and the center gets even sharper, but the corners remain soft. I find the sweet spot of this lens to be from f/5.6 to f/8, where the center is sharp and the corners start looking pretty good.
Portraits and Bokeh
The bokeh on the Rokinon 24mm is pretty decent with clean out-of-focus backgrounds, but can get a little busy when lighting is harsh. The wide focal length of 24mm isn’t ideal for close up portraits or headshots, but takes a very nice lifestyle portrait while traveling.
Low Light Handheld:
The main reason I bought this lens was to have a lightweight and portable option to make up for the lowlight failings of my iPhone. With a maximum aperture of f/2.8, this isn’t the fastest lens in the world. But when paired with my Sony a7rii’s IBIS and full frame sensor, I’m able to shoot some quality exposures while camping, hiking, and traveling that would turn to noisy mush on my iPhone.
The Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 is a budget lens that requires quite a bit of compromise. On one hand it has a cheap build, no weather sealing, vignettes heavily, and makes for soft corners until stopped down to around f/8. On the other hand, it’s lightweight, affordable, and takes shots that look great for blogs, Instagram, and Facebook. Let’s be real. No professional photographer is going to be using this lens for paid shoots that require top of the line work. This lens is for photo enthusiasts that are tired of leaving their full frame body behind because it’s too heavy and takes up too much space. If you’re realistic about what this lens can do and what you’re planning on using it for, it can make a very nice addition to your camera bag.
Other Lenses To Consider:
Sony 28mm f/2 (My review)- This is Sony’s second most affordable full frame e-mount lens at the moment. At 28mm this lens is a little wider than the Rokinon 24mm. It is also bigger and heavier. The build, autofocus, and performance qualities are all superior though.
Amazon | BH Photo Video
Rokinon 35mm f/2.8 (My review)- This is another cheap, light, and plastic Rokinon lens. These two lenses compare well in regards to performance and build. With the Rokinon 35mm f/2.8, you’ll lose a little width, so pick based on focal length needs.
Amazon | BH Photo Video