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Lenses Face Off on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera: Samyang/Rokinon 35mm vs. Canon 35mm

While you might not have your Blackmagic Cinema Camera yet, there are still a few who not only have them, but have been extensively testing various parts of their workflow. Marco Solorio has had numerous excellent tests with both the camera itself and some of the lens options, and now we’ve got a very thorough test with one of Canon’s better lenses, the 35mm f/1.4 L series lens, and the Samyang/Rokinon 35mm T/1.5 Cine lens (Samyang and Rokinon are just brand names, but the lenses are identical). While they’re both full-frame DSLR lenses at heart, how do they stack up when paired with the BMCC? Click through to find out.

Since the Canon 35mm cannot be electronically controlled from the Cinema Camera yet, Marco decided to look at another lens that didn’t suffer from that issue. I’ve compiled a few of his test shots below and some of my thoughts on them, but you should head on over to the OneRiver Media blog for the rest of the photos and Marco’s verdict on the lenses. You should also keep in mind that since the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is a 2.3x crop, these lenses are similar to an 80mm lens on a full-frame camera, which means that these normally wide angle lenses are actually telephoto on the BMCC. The Samyang is a cine-style lens, and besides having a declicked aperture and geared focus/iris, it is also measured in T-stops, which is the actual transmission of light as opposed to the Canon’s f-stops, which is only a ratio relating to the opening of the diaphragm.

Here are a few of the comparison photos, with the Samyang/Rokinon 35mm T/1.4 first, followed by the Canon 35mm f/1.4 (click for a larger view):

What’s clear from the first two photos is that the Samyang is actually a bit longer than the Canon lens. Marco mentions this in the review, and while the difference isn’t extreme, it’s just something to keep in mind as focal lengths can vary slightly manufacturer to manufacturer. Both lenses were shot at the widest aperture possible, and while the Samyang looks great, the Canon lens is a bit sharper. My experience with these Canon lenses is that they usually feel a bit clinical for my taste. I normally use older manual Nikon lenses for this reason, as they tend to produce a flatter and less contrasty look which can actually be helpful for video depending on what you’re shooting. Bokeh looks to be somewhat similar, with some slight halos around the points of light in the Canon lens.

Here is an outdoor shot that not only shows off both lenses at 5.6, but also gives you another great example of the impressive dynamic range of the BMCC (Samyang on top):

I’m kind of crazy about sharpness, but I actually prefer the look that the Samyang is putting out over the Canon. This is purely personal preference, since the Canon lens is actually a better lens overall in terms of sharpness, build quality, etc. The somewhat warmer tone of the Samyang lens is also something I prefer in my own work, but I know many like to keep things as neutral as possible before going into color grading. The sharp and neutral look is very similar to what I’ve seen from using Zeiss lenses in my own work, so if you’re looking for the best of the best in image quality, the Canons and the Zeiss lenses will both be top of the line for the BMCC.

On the other hand, if you’d rather save a few bucks, the Samyangs have a number of advantages that make shooting video easier, and when it comes to actually shooting a movie, I would ideally rather not work with the Canon lenses since they must be controlled electronically and do not have hard stops built in to the iris (the ring just spins forever). Even though the Samyang lenses are plastic, having the lenses already geared makes for a more pleasant user experience. The other big thing about the Samyangs is that since they have a declicked aperture ring that can be controlled manually, they can be used on far more cameras as long as those cameras can accept a dumb mount. I personally would get the Nikon mount lens since it can be adapted to a few more cameras with simple adapters (and I’m more comfortable with the direction the iris turns), but with the Samyangs it actually doesn’t matter since all that is required is a dumb mount.

At $550 for the Samyang and $1330 right now for the Canon, the price difference could buy you another lens, and if you’re not planning on using autofocus (since the Samyang lenses are all manual), the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 could be a fantastic option for someone just starting to put together a lens package.

What do you guys think? Does anyone own either of these lenses, and if so, what do you think of them? After seeing this test, which lens do you prefer?



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Description image 54 COMMENTS

  • Rokinon/samyang all the way. I like the color reproduction a lot better. Any Rokinon lens will take you a looooong way for the price.

  • I really think that these Rokinon cinema lenses offer a hell of a lot more bang for your buck than any of Canon’s L primes if you’re a video shooter. I mean, every cinematographer should own a basic set of lenses, and these Rokinons make it affordable to have actual cinema features in a bargain lens, and that’s so much more valuable to me than having fast autofocus or image stabilization. It’s a real no-brainer.

    If you’re a stills shooter though, the Canons will be a far better investment.

    • I will say that you’d have to take awesome care of them if you want them to last, though, because of the cheap build quality. Could be difficult for some, me included.

      • Yeah agree , i think people are so use to seeing Canon lens on youtube that they assume it will look the same on the big screen or on tv. L-series lens are seldomly used on TV productions and they are a definite no no on the big screen. They dont hold up or reslove well enough. Wilford TV series, House Tv SHOW both use 5D’s canons for production and L- lens are not a staple use. Nikon are much better.

        Im still on the fence about these Rokinon lens, i mean its nice they are suited with cinema fuctions but seem useless if opened a lil on apeture.

        I still say NIKON and Zeiss still lens are the way to go. Im still curious about tokina 11-16 , i mean i know that the lens is very sharp , but how would the fuction hold up when used for cinema applications, i heard its hard to pull with these lens and give DP’s a headache, some refuse to work with them.

        • Samyang 35 is an absolute workhorse. Broke mine (took a nasty crash, totally my fault) and immediately bought the cine version. It’s indispensable.

          Try to resist the temptation of using it wide open though, at 2.8 it’s as good as anything I own or have rented.

      • I have a Rokinon and it feels pretty solid to me.

      • Have a bunch of rokinons for a while now. I never had any problems, and I use them a lot. They are solid. Feel better the canon IMO.

  • so if i want to go wide i better go with the 4:3 mount instead right? what are some good lenses for that camera?

    • I’m very interested in the SLR Magic 12mm f/1.6. I’ve been told the quality control is not good so you have to be careful about the lens you get. But when you get a good one it’s a great lens for the money. I know there’s also the Tokina 11-16 2.8 which is a great lens, but there’s something I love in the rendering of the SLR Magic that looks more like film to me and of course it’s a faster lens.

  • We’ve used them on some very high end jobs on B camera (RED, Canon), and as main glass on smaller jobs. I personally own the 14, 24 and 85. Terrific glass for the money.
    I also strongly recommend the Nokton 40mm F2 or Zeiss 50 F2 (their cheapest) to fill the hole.
    Re wide glass for the BMDCC, if you can justify it the Zeiss 15mm just out is awesome.

  • thanx for the advice. the lenses mentioned can be used on a 4/3 mount I assume with the right adapters?

    • The Samyang can be used on Micro 4/3 mounts with no issues, since it has manual aperture control via the lens itself. The Canon lens uses an electronically-controlled aperture, so you won’t be able to switch f-stops while it’s mounted to the M4/3 camera. There’s an adapter out there that allows electronic control of the aperture, but it needs a separate power source.

  • Good stuff, the Rokinon held up pretty well and good stuff on sharp lens and moire with BMCC, this is good to know especially considering that most people will use the voigtlander 15/25 0.95 in low light for wide shots.

    The zeiss 15mm is amazing but its also the same price as a BMCC and is also 3.5, AS far as 35,50 and up goes you can not go wrong with NIKON optics or zeiss still modified still lens are amazing about equal as CP lineup.

    I to wonder about the quality of the SLR MAGIC lens, they look like a good grab but never here much feedback about them, because SLR MAGIC AND VOIGTLANDER SEEM like the only two vialbe low ligt /wide lens options for this unit and also for the GH3

    ANY OPINIONS/options on wide glass and lowlight for GH3 AND BMCC ?

    • BMDCC is no lowlight lover, so F3+ is ok. You’re going to have to have some light no matter what. The Zeiss 15mm already has the least distortion I’ve seen outside of Arri glass at that width, so should look great at 40mm or so. However, I’m all ears if someone is going to build a great prime 10-12mm or so. The Tokina 11-16 also good, and not too expensive.
      The de-clicked Roks still focus past infinity. Its a small annoyance. I agree re the 85. Great lens.
      For stills I have a separate set of lenses :-)

  • I own the 24 and 85 rokinon lenses. I like them a lot. The 85 is the sharpest lens I own, which probably does not say much, but it is sharp wide open. The 24mm is okay at 1.4 especially for video and sharp at f2. But overall, what the Rokinon’s loose in build quality to Canon L series they make up for in a long smooth focus throw and cheaper price. Only thing I wish, was that the Rokinon lenses would stop at infinity and not go past. Maybe the Cine Rokinon lenses do this vs. the standard non de-clicked Rokinon lenses I own? For video, personally I would choose Rokinon, stills is another story.

  • “these lenses are similar to an 80mm lens on a full-frame camera, which means that these normally wide angle lenses are actually telephoto on the BMCC.” Well I shall be the one to say it: no, it’s not telephoto. It’s the same focal length it ever was.

    • Yes, that’s true, but knowing that doesn’t help you visualize what it means to put a lens designed for 36mm x 24mm onto a sensor that’s only 15.6mm x 8.8mm. It’s almost arguing semantics really: The 35mm lens on the BMCC takes on the field of view that an 80.5mm lens would have on a 36mm x 24mm sensor. That’s a better description but I prefer not describing it in that way not just for my own sanity, but it also tends to confuse people more.

    • john jeffreys on 11.13.12 @ 1:27AM

      When using lenses designed for “full frame” sensors, crop factor is way more intuitive (and i guess lazier?) than angle of view. Deal with it. It’s a post-dslr world.

    • More, because a lens is long, that does not mean it is a telephoto lens. You can have a long-focus lens that is not a telephoto lens. Telephoto is simply a kind of lens construction that allows for focal lengths that appear longer than they actually are. (Having a long lens inside a smaller lens body than would normally be possible).

      So calling a 35 a telephoto is usually, if not always, wrong, regardless of field of view. I’d call it long on the black magic.

      • Good point! Thanks for mentioning it. I actually didn’t know that “telephoto” was a certain type of lens construction. I always assumed it was used for angle of views smaller than normal. Thanks for clearing that up for me! :)

  • vinceGortho on 11.13.12 @ 1:56AM

    Rokinon/yang also have a 10mm 2.8 due out soon.

  • I really want to see what Samyang and Rokinon have in store for Micro 4/3… still eager to see if the format will last. The BMD camera’s adoption of it surely has to add some weight to its survival. Many of the big names have contributed some really amazing glass for micro four thirds (Voigtlander, Zeiss and of course Panasonic) – I want to see what the third party options can do.

    I like my Sigma 19mm 2.8, and of course the vintage glass I have, but I want more options!

  • I recently purchased the Samyang Cine 35mm. It’s probably the best buy I ever did.
    I use it mostly for a standard 50mm look (on a canon 600d) and it’s great. The image quality when I did the first shooting and got into the post just blew me away!
    Didn’t expect that the 450 euros I spent would buy that quality.
    Also the build quality is very good and in no means “plastic”.
    I decided to built the whole set step by step.
    Next two are the 24mm and the 85mm (for around 1K both,which is great).

  • Having manual focus with hard stops, smooth iris ring, and cine gearing is great. On the other side, I found that build quality is plastic indeed, and optically I prefer Canon glass, which have better sharpess and color rendition (as you see in this test, the Samyang exhibits a yellowish cast).
    Samyang cine lenses are great deal for the price, no doubt about it. But there is one thing that prevents me from buying one : as a DP, I want a full serie and Samyang still lack some very common and useful focal lengths such as 18mm and 35mm. Therefore instead of the standard 18-28-35-50-85mm set, which covers most of your needs, you can only have an odd 14-24-35-85mm. Good enough for micro four thirds, but what about S35 sensors ? They really need to make at least a 50mm! A 50mm lens is among the most easy focal length to manufacture. I don’t understand why they still don’t have one yet.

  • For the price, buy a Zeiss 35mm 2.8 or 1.4 (Contax or ZF)

    Both the canon and rokinon have HORRIBLE Chromatic Abboration, considering their 600/1200 euro lenses.

  • And color rendering/microcontrast is also horrible compared to the cheaper Contax Zeiss.

  • If I were still interested in the BMCC I would probably get the Nikon mount version of the Zeiss 25/2 ZF and adapt it to EF mount. But people feeling a budget pinch enough to work with the BMCC probably ought to go with the Samyang EFs and save money. Lateral CA and distortion can be mostly fixed in post at least with RAW processing. LoCA and bad Bokeh can’t.

    These lenses all resolve well enough for a 20MP image much less a 2MP one, so sharpness shouldn’t be an issue with a good copy. Samyang QA is notoriously suspect (and all lenses are susceptible to problems such as decentering etc) so you may want a smart friend to help you ensure you have a good copy within the return period.

    Unfortunate to hear BMD still hasn’t got electronic control working for a lens as common as the 35L. Sorry to be my cynical skeptic self, but I wonder if sensor glass defects are really as much of an issue as firmware and RAW converter development is in holding up shipment. EF is fully crackable as the newest NEX adapters have now shown even autofocus working. It may be more face-saving for BMD to blame an anonymous sensor manufacturer for the crisis than their own programmers who may be prone to underestimate just how hard these things can be to make work well. If everyone got their BMCC and it just doesn’t work it may be worse for the product and brand than their withholding delivery until it does work.

  • Well…. Lets just say I’m in the process of buying a set of 24mm, 35mm and 85mm rokinons…..

    • What mount? At these prices, compared to others on the market, they’re almost a no-brainer, even as backup/B-camera lenses…

  • Are you sure the Rokinon was the upper one cause the on the accu-chart the upper onre is much sharper at 450 lines?

  • I currently own a Canon 60D, is it still suggested to buy the Nikon mount for future-proof? I also know that Nikon mount has a different iris turn, but is this something that I should be worried about?

    • If you’re talking about the Samyang/Rokinon lenses, they are all full-manual and so you can buy the Canon EF mount versions safely knowing they will always work on everything other than a Nikon. You would only want the Nikon version for compatibility with Nikon, due to it having the longest flange distance. I don’t like unnecessary adapters so I would buy the Canon EF mount versions…EF mount is de facto as universal a format as PL mount while Nikon mount is a bit less mainstream. Nikon also has the inverted gearing though you have to check each 3rd party lens for its gear direction.

  • I have to say the Canon glass has a sharper look, there’s more detail and resolution but for the money I would have to say the Rokinon isn’t bad. It would be great if canon put out an affordable canon/cinema line that can compete with the Zeiss ZF line (without the short focus throw and breathing).

  • I sold my Samyang 35mm f1.4 because I found the lens to be soft even though the build is quite solid, and for its price, honestly, i wouldn’t bother too much on set. The images may look good here, on a small screen, but try projecting it on a much larger one, and you will soon see the difference. Resolution has to do with both the glass and the sensor of the camera. There is a reason why some people would prefer to use an AF lens because of the electronic correction that goes on in an AF lens. When projected on a large screen, images collected using an AF glass and a GH2 will still hold pretty well as compared to some images that are shot with a MF glass. Having said all that, I myself use Carl Zeiss lenses and nothing else. Unless your glass has the resolving power (including micro-contrast) of an average Zeiss, which Samyang 35mm does not, it would be worth exploring AF lenses if you’re shooting for big screen.

  • Just started using Samyang 21mm and 35mm lens at t2 – t2.8 on the C300, shooting open on talking head chef recipes. I’m blown away with the quality. Normally use 24-70 Canon L lens which is good but find the Samyang video lens are better and great value for money. Build quality is good but not as strong as metal Ziess primes. Any colour cast sorted by white balance at begining of shoot. Just waiting for the video version of the 85mm to come to the uk.

  • I own several samyang cine, they are great lenses, the are declicked and follow focus friendly. they are very solid too. A shame they did not do a better job at the distance values on the focus ring, I had ti do them all over. the 35mm wes very close, but the 14mm was way off. Nothing compares with the rigor on the focus markings of the zeiss, they are bang on. anyways nothing that 30 min of testing will not solve.

  • In my opinion, the Samyang have a nicer bokeh and nicer color reproduction than the Canon L.

    I don’t know how they are able to make these lenses for such a low price. I mean they play in the league of Canon L and Zeiss primes, but they are three to four times less expensive. How can they do that?

    I don’t actually own Samyang lenses, but if I needed primes for filming, I’d get a set of these without hesitating. They are just unbelievably good for their price.

  • hi,
    thank you very much for all your explains.
    can you help me please,
    what the deferent between samyang 35mm 1.4 & T1.5?

  • Would love to include the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 and Zeiss 25mm f/2.0 in this test :)

  • Pierre Samuel Rioux on 11.21.12 @ 11:14PM

    Samyang i like the image look compared to the canon.
    But some one try it with a canon FD lens.The FD lens have a zoom 35 to 140mm ( rare to find ) this is the same
    lens zoom scale using in cinema zoom.( Lomo Angenieux zeiss ) A FD canon mount to 4/3 are easy to get
    One interesting thing the canon FD are very cheap to buy presentely.
    I like the Nikon but one thing it’s the iris ring it’s sometime very close to the camera body on some prime and zoom this too tight.

  • Hello! English isnt my first language and please correct me if I am not understanding it correctly – In Third Last Pagaragraph you wrote “Samyang lenses are plastic” – are you refering to the outter shell/body of the lens “OR” the actual glass of the lens is made of plastic?

    Kind regards.

  • Hello, thanks for the articles!

    I wish to ask you wich camera have you used for this test?

    And was the lens the Samyang 35mm t1.5 or it was the 35f1.4?

    Thanks a lot for your kindness!


  • Hello Guys, I need your help.
    After reading your review I went for it but here is the thing.

    I got the 35mm Rokinon but for Olympus 4/3 not micro 4/3.

    And I need to find a way to use it on my D800 even though I have the Lumix GX1 I bought it for the D800 but there seem to be no adaptor mount available out there to go from 4/3 to Nikon…

    Now I know what you are all gonna say… ” Why On earth did you get the 4/3 mount and not a Nikon mount it would have been a piece of cake to mount it on the GX1″

    Well here is my answer : I got it for cheap. How cheap ? CHEAP !!! 220$ like new on amazon

    So please Help me out…. The other solution is to sell it for more and get myself à Nikon mount.

    Cheers from France
    Duncan D

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your
    efforts and I am waiting for your further write ups thank you once again.

  • I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.

    I am quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff
    right here! Best of luck for the next!

  • Paul Abrahams on 06.8.13 @ 5:05PM

    I tried the Samyang at a concert under lights last night and to get enough in focus I needed to stop down to 3.5. On a small screen the image looked fine, on a bigger screen I started to see the softness, the colours it produces however are superb.

  • I’ve started using the Rokinon 35 as an interview lens on my C100. Everybody remarks about how good shots look whenever something pops on the screen that’s been shot with it. The 85 is wonderful too, and I just picked up the 24. These are great lenses to use with the C series cameras on sticks.