Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 FE Review
Being a fan of small, lightweight lenses, the immensely affordable and compact Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 FE (also sold under the brand name Samyang) was a lens that I knew I had to try as soon as it was announced.
I was keen to get something lightweight for days spent wandering cities and strange places, for those moments when a small 35mm lens like the Rokinon AF 35mm f/2.8 or a nifty fifty like the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 simply don’t feel wide enough.
When shooting architecture and street, sometimes you need that extra bit of width.
In addition to being nice and wide at 24mm, this lens also includes autofocus, making it an appealing option – especially at this price point.
The Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 has been on a few adventures with me over the last year and it’s so small that I rarely feel like leaving it behind.
So how does compare to other Sony lenses? Let’s take a look.
Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Specs
- Low price
- Light weight
- Compact size
- Zippy autofocus
- A little soft wide open at some focal distances
- Lacks weather sealing and could be susceptible to dust
- Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22
- Lens Mount: Sony E
- Format Compatibility: Full-Frame
- Angle of View: 82.1°
- Minimum Focus Distance: 9.45″ / 24 cm
- Optical Design: 7 Elements in 7 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades: 7
- Focus Type: Autofocus
- Filter Size: 49mm
- Dimensions (ø x L): 2.43 x 1.46″ / 61.8 x 37 mm
- Weight: 4.23 oz / 120 g
Build & Ergonomics
As a budget-friendly lens, the build quality on the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 is not particularly refined. That said, it definitely doesn’t feel cheap, despite the low weight.
The body is plastic but with an aluminium shell that gives it a solid feel, and the bayonet is metal — reassuring given that budget lenses often deploy cheaper material here to keep costs down.
While not as light as its slightly longer brother, the Rokinon AF 35mm f/2.8, you do expect it to be heavier when you first pick it up.
This lens is surprisingly light, and it’s worth noting that its two rivals — the Sony FE 28mm f/2 and the Tamron 24mm f/2.8 — are both significantly heavier.
There is no AF/MF switch and certainly no customisable buttons.
The focusing ring has been dampened to a pleasing degree and I’d argue that it feels better than the one on my Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, which is a similar price.
The lens ships with a lightweight plastic lens hood that all but disappears when you reverse it and reattach it for storage. I rarely use it as, being very short, I’m not sure how much protection it offers from stray light.
The lens ships with a rather useful clam-shell pouch, making it even more convenient.
This is especially handy when you’re planning a day out with your camera slung over your shoulder and want to have another lens option that you can chuck in a jacket pocket or into the bottom of a bag.
Variability has sometimes been an issue with Rokinon lenses and one that the company seems keen to address. That’s probably why they now include a signed note in the box ensuring that the lens has passed quality control.
Just from the feel of the construction, there’s one feature that’s evidently missing: weather sealing.
Unlike the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8’s direct competitor, the Tamron 24mm f/2.8, this lens has no protection against dust and moisture and I’d be reluctant to use it in heavy rain.
With such a low weight and with such a small amount of glass, you’d expect the autofocus to be relatively quick, and the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 does not disappoint. It’s possibly even quicker than what you might consider acceptable for a lens at this price.
Autofocus is not particularly loud but the on-board microphone of my Sony a7 III does pick up the motor if it’s quiet.
For vlogging, it’s not perfect although if I’m talking or if there’s a lot of ambient noise, the autofocus motor does not stand out.
As low-budget vlogging options go, the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 is definitely a viable option.
The obvious comparison again is the Tamron 24mm f/2.8. The Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 has a much larger minimum focusing distance (29 cm is quite poor), though the autofocus is significantly quicker.
Manual focus feels accurate and the throw is quite short, and dialing in your subject is definitely helped by the dampening mentioned above.
Low light conditions don’t reduce performance too dramatically, though it will struggle more than other lenses when it comes to eye autofocus.
This is a pleasingly sharp lens given its low cost and refreshingly low weight.
Having a wide-angle lens that’s affordable, small, lightweight and sharp is a surprising combination, as you’d expect at least one of those factors to be compromised.
Shooting wide open can be a bit soft with the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8, especially when subjects are further away from the lens and away from the centre. Closer subjects are much sharper, while anything more than 10 metres away can be slightly disappointing.
At apertures smaller than f/3.5, the lens is consistently good, and vignetting — though not especially strong at its widest apertures — is barely noticeable.
Between f/2.8 and f/5, the vignetting can be quite pronounced. This isn’t something that I mind particularly and probably not unexpected on a lens of this size and price.
It’s worth also noting that vignetting can be easily managed using the lens profiles found in editing software such as ON1 Photo RAW or Lightroom, and can also be dealt with in-camera.
Similarly, chromatic aberrations can be removed effectively in post-production, though I don’t recall having run into any pronounced issues after a year of shooting.
Contrast and colour reproduction don’t seem to have any issues, though flaring can be a little pronounced in direct light. Again, nothing that you would find unreasonable for a lens with so few elements.
Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 FE Sample Images
Check out these sample images taken with the Rokinon 24mm f/2.8 FE:
Value for Money
As affordable glass goes, there aren’t many autofocus lenses cheaper than the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8, and at around $250 it’s the cheapest 24mm autofocus prime lens for Sony available.
For this much money and such a tiny package, you’d easily expect the maximum aperture to be f/4, or perhaps you’d buy it in the knowledge that f/2.8 is almost unusable. However, this isn’t the case with this lens.
Rokinon/Samyang have done an excellent job. Wide-angle lenses are difficult to make without big compromises when it comes to distortion and/or vignetting, and this lens has problems with neither.
Furthermore, the autofocus is impressively quick and accurate, and colour rendition and contrast are consistently good.
As walkaround lenses go, this lens is well priced. The Tamron 24mm f/2.8 is around an extra $50 for which you will get weather sealing, a vastly superior minimum focusing distance and much sharper results.
However, the Tamron 24mm f/2.8 is noticeably heavier, with much slower autofocus, so that extra money really depends on how convenient you need a lens to be.
Perhaps the other obvious alternative would be the Sony FE 28mm f/2. You get a slightly bigger maximum aperture making it better for low-light performance, but for me personally, I’d rather have a 24mm and a 35mm, leaving 28mm a little bit pointless.
Furthermore, the Sony FE 28mm f/2 is almost twice the price of the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8, demonstrating again that Rokinon have managed to squeeze a lot of value into a wonderfully small unit.
Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 FE Review | Conclusion
The Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 has an almost-permanent place in my camera bag.
It’s an excellent walk-around lens, ideal for street photography if 24mm is your preferred focal length, and great for landscapes and architecture.
If I were to change one thing, it would probably be to make it feel a little more protected against dust, as this lens tends to get chucked around a fair bit. It’s always in and out of bags and I can be a bit lazy when it comes to cleaning my gear, especially when it gets everyday type of use.
With more than adequate autofocus, it could make for a useful, low-cost vlogging option (though it lacks stabilisation), and would perform well on a gimbal.
For APS-C shooters, the 24mm would make it a full-frame equivalent of 38.4mm, making it a good option for street photography and everyday use. Its light weight and compact size would balance well on the a6x00 series of cameras.
Rokinon are doing an excellent job of plugging some huge gaps in the range of Sony lenses, offering affordable options with smart compromises.
The Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 is another solid example.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.