Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC Lens for Sony E Mount Review

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Amin Sabet, Sep 6, 2015.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    The Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC Lens for Sony E-Mount is a lens you should buy right now if you want a manual focus 135mm f/2 lens. That concludes the review for practical purposes. Read on if interested in the details.

    Key Specifications:
    Focal Length: 135mm
    Equivalent on APS-C Format: 202.5 mm
    Aperture Range: f/2 - 22
    Minimum Focus Distance: 2.6' (.79 m)
    Elements/Groups: 11/7
    Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
    Image Stabilization: No
    Autofocus: No
    Tripod Collar: No
    Filter Thread Front:77 mm
    Dimensions (DxL): Approx. 3.2 x 5.83" (8.13 x 14.81 cm)
    Weight: 29.63 oz (840 g)

    You can click through any of the images below to see full-resolution (42MP) captures from my Sony A7RII.

    You don't lug around such a large and heavy lens unless you want to use it wide open at least some of the time. Most people will use it for portraits.

    No beating around the bush, this lens is absurdly sharp at f/2.0. Skin flaws take notice!

    All of these were shot wide open (f/2.0):









    So yes, this lens is crazy sharp at f/2. It also shows very little of the longitudinal CA (bokeh color fringing) which is so common with fast telephotos. I shot all except the first of those handheld using the body image stabilization of the A7RII manually set for 135mm, which proved very effective. The first one had the body image stabilization set for 15mm but came out sharp anyway.

    Don't buy this lens if you expect it to autofocus :). If you shoot action with it, count on sometimes missing focus at f/2, but even the misses can be fun:


    Bokeh series (f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6)

    Focus is on the bolt in the upper right corner of the frame (yes, the extreme corner is that sharp at all apertures):





    For my tastes, bokeh is perfect. Just the right swirly character wide open and nearly perfectly round as you stop down.

    Sharpness series (f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11)

    Focus is on the center of the frame:







    As you can see, sharpness is outstanding throughout the frame wherever depth of field is adequate. There is no distortion to speak of and lens contrast is high from wide open. Light falloff is noticeable at f/2, detectable at f/2.8, and gone (for practical purposes) at f/4. I didn't encounter any flare but didn't specifically test for this.

    The bottom line is that the Rokinon 135mm f/2 lens is incredibly good optically. I've paid 5x as much for telephoto lenses which weren't half as good. None of the excellent primes I've used at this focal length (Canon 135mm f/2L, Nikon 135mm f/2 AIS, Vivitar Series 1 135mm f/2.3) can keep up optically with the affordable Rokinon.

    Will I buy this lens? I haven't decided yet. If it were autofocus, I would buy it right now at twice the price without a second thought and probably at four times the price after some careful deliberation. But manual focus at 135mm is a challenge when you have kids who don't keep still or have a lot of patience for dad's photography, and that's where I find myself!

    Download all raw files from this review:

    Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 Lens pricing / availability: Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC Lens for Sony E Mount 135M-E B&H
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 25, 2011
    A tempting lens. If it was chipped like the Loxia line to include EXIF data and zoom in when when the focus ring is turned I'd probably break down and buy it.
  3. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Beautiful results and another great review!!! Seems like a perfect portrait lens (sharp with nice bokeh) if you don't mind the manual focus only.
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  4. jpfigueiredo

    jpfigueiredo TalkEmount Regular

    Jan 15, 2015
    Leiria, Portugal
    It's impossible not to be impressed by this lens.
    Nice review; great samples. Thank you.
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  5. GabrielPhoto

    GabrielPhoto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Jul 3, 2013
    And just like that I have a new lens on my list! :D
    Time to say goodbye to my FD 100mm F2.0 in order to get the Batis 85mm (or Mitakon) and then this 135mm. The 100mm would not make as much sense if I get the Batis vs a 135mm
  6. cvt01

    cvt01 TalkEmount Regular

    Jan 3, 2015
    Would you still recommend this to someone who already owns the Canon 135L? (I could sell it for ~$700 and this cost $600 new)
  7. GabrielPhoto

    GabrielPhoto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Jul 3, 2013
    I dont own it but I was just watching some reviews/video reviews and it was clearly sharper and with less CA than the 135L they compared it to. So it depends if you are willing to go manual focus vs AF. The reviewer mentioned he has trouble with a 135mm getting consistent focus images vs AF but of course, this varies with the shooter. But from the IQ only perspective, I feel the decision is clearly for the Rokinon.
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  8. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    Unfortunately the 'autofocus' part is such a 'huge' caveat. This lens is simple too large and too fast to enjoy shooting wide open portraits with manual focus. Obviously there are some people that are different but not many (shaolin probably considers it lightweight compared to his other lenses!). I can see a lot of people buying this because there is a massive amount of image quality at a ridiculously low price. But if they have say an Batis 85, my guess would be that a manual focus 135 f2 would simply be left in the closet.
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011

    I agree, but I can still see a lot of use for this lens. Kids on stage singing, for example, tend to be at a fixed distance. Recording a school play video, the manual focus would be nice there too. Portraits of models who are posing, manual focus is plenty fast for that.

    If the Batis were 135mm, I'd skip the Rokinon. But I find 135mm such a useful length...
  10. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I agree with points made by @shaolin95@shaolin95 above and would add that apparently the Canon doesn't AF well with current adapters:
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  11. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    I can see this as a fun longer range lens. ☺
  12. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    One thing for sure, none of the options are perfect. I have the Zeiss A mount 135 f1.8 which I suspect is just as sharp (but with more C/A and maybe better bokeh). It is also 5 times the price and needs the Laea-4 adapter which works well and fast but it is pretty antiquated when set against the A7rii autofocus system. It is possible (probably likely) that Zeiss/Sony will come up with something to pry our cash out of us over the next 18 months.

    irrational (1 of 1).jpg
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  13. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I am doing my best to wait for such a product. I have an awesome Zuiko OM 90/2 macro to use in the meanwhile, but a native AF 135/2 or 135/1.8 would be the ideal tele for my needs.
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  14. Lucille

    Lucille TalkEmount Veteran

    May 22, 2013
    Let me ask this, which lens is sharper and has the better IQ? The Sony 90mm Macro or this one?
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Aug 6, 2011
    I don't know, Lucille. They are both as good as I've used.
  16. tomO2013

    tomO2013 TalkEmount Veteran

    Dec 11, 2014
    Nice images Amin.

    The Rokinon 135mm looks like a bargain for the money.

    I also love the focal length. The 135 F1.8 amount glass is some of my favorite and I'd also love for Sony to make an FE variant - well that and the 85mm F1.4.

    My only problem with the A mount 135mm variant is that given the working distance and lack of focus assist lamp with LAEA3 and LAEA4 it's usage envelope is quite limited. Yes there is manual focus override, but it never quite works as well as a truly manual focus designed lens.

    The Rokinon has it's own sacrifices - lack of any AF at all being a large one, particularly for moving subjects. But the great focus assist functionality and peaking on sony glass as well as a good manual focus mechanism mitigates this somewhat particularly for the money!

    As for the rendering itself - I think it's lovely! I don't think it's as sharp as the FE55 or FE90mm wide open from these shots. But it is still very sharp. One thing I notice is that it has a slightly less contrasty look to it compared to the Zeiss rendering that I have come to know and love on the FE Zeiss stuff. Maybe like it is stepping back to an older time. In fact I almost prefer this less agressive rendering for portraiture.

    Hmm... you have me thinking!
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  17. mnhoj

    mnhoj TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 19, 2013
    Nice review and wonderful images.
    I wish I still had an A7 now.
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  18. grillec

    grillec TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 19, 2015
    I had shown a few pics with the Walimex version with Nikon mount here a few month ago. And I wouldn't change it against a 85mm with AF. I own only a A-Mount 85mm/2.8 or a Nikon 85mm/1.8 for my DSLR with the option for AF, but the focal length of 135mm is one I have a soft spot on.
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  19. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    Sep 14, 2015
    I can confirm that the Canon 135 f2 really doesn't autofocus in a useful way on any adapter I've tried (And according to others not on any other - I've tried MBIII and Fotga)
    So it's effectively a manual focus 135. I'd buy the Rokinon ahead of it. But if, like me, you have a Canon 135 I'd keep it until a native AF option (Batis or Zony) comes out. Looking at Photozone the Canon and the Samyang/Rokinon are pretty similar, maybe the canon is even a tiny bit better wide open.
  20. Deebs

    Deebs TalkEmount Rookie

    Sep 14, 2015
    And I'd say that over most of the image field they are both so good that even at 1:1 only instruments can detect any improvement, not the naked eye.