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Lens Showdown: Rokinon vs. Samyang Lens

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If you are a professional photographer, you have noticed the difference in design, specs, and Samyang and Rokinon lens prices. The reason for this varies in the distribution agreements for different regions in the world, but there isn’t a big difference other than in the stamping on the barrel. The actual manufacturer is Samyang, and Rokinon steps in as a reseller with a marketing agreement to sell Samyang lenses in America after rebranding.

Samyang, Rokinon, and Bower are ideally the same company, an origin from Korea, and the most popular lens maker on the market in the past couple of years. There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation among buyers over the past few years regarding Rokinon and Samyang lenses difference due to their branding and marketing.

Names aside, Rokinon and Samyang lenses are the same, with Rokinon-branded lenses being distributed in South and North America by EBI (Elite Brands). However, it’s not unlikely to get Bower and Samyang branded lenses in the United States sold by European distributors.

Despite the nameplate and the barrel’s brand, both lenses have been manufactured by Samyang Optical Company in South Korea since 1972. Samyang is also the primary manufacturer of optical components for products marketed by Vivitar, Opteka, Pro-Optic, Howell, Bell, Falcon, and Walimex.

Rokinon lenses are ideal for photographers who want a cheaper and more reliable alternative to OEM lenses. Since the first Rokinon lens manufacturer, the optical offerings have continually been improving in construction, picture quality, and optical technology. Despite these lenses’ build, they are very lightweight, and they can take images with excellent color variations and contrast and tack sharpness.

Rokinon offers various APS-C, full-frame, and Micro Four Thirds-format lenses for mirror-less cameras, cine applications, and DSLRs. To be an educated buyer, you need to understand the comparison and similarities between the two.

Rokinon has had success in the manufacture of manual focus lenses and has recently introduced pocket-friendly autofocus lenses in the market. Rokinon lenses are quite affordable, and most people have reported a positive experience from using them.

Rokinon/ Samyang lens’ image sharpness

The Rokinon lenses are popular with most buyers due to their reputable sharpness in photography and videography. These lenses have smooth focus rings, which are ideal for videographers and landscape photographers due to their focus movement range. These lenses are cinema-oriented, which is advantageous to videographers because they have geared focus mechanisms that are compatible with different video accessories.

These lenses are ideal for shooting conditions like wedding photojournalism which are active because they have manual focus. They are the ideal choice for a photographer in need of a sharp lens and on a budget.

Design and construction

It is obvious, based on most online reviews, that Rokinon doesn’t have the best quality lenses construction. The lenses have plastic abounds, and the general build is a simple case of hit-or-miss. In essence, these lenses are good for their image quality only, and as they are considered low-budget, you simply get what you pay for.

This means that your lens will probably not serve you for years, but the upside is that it’s affordable to buy a new one than to have the old one repaired. If you are adventurous and go to places with dirty, bumpy roads, the Rokinon lenses are probably not ideal for you.

They will be subjected to rattling even if you pack them well in a nicely padded case. These lenses just don’t seem to stay together, which can be a challenge even to wedding photographers who use hard rolling cases like Pelican as they make your gear start rattling with time. The lenses fall apart slowly by softening around the edges with time, making them very disposed to light.

Improvements in Rokinon/Samyang Quality

In 2013, Rokinon/ Samyang saw an improvement in the quality of their lenses and optical gear. The prior complaints regarding the mechanical longevity of the Rokinon 24mm f/3.5 lens weren’t an issue. Even though the lens has a lot of plastic parts, it is less susceptible to rattling soft over time.

Another Rokinon lens released in 2013 had a decent built compared to previous versions. This lens has a simpler design; it’s smaller in size and is also mechanically sound compared to previous versions, which means that it has a longer lifespan.

Rokinon/ Samyang lenses are known for their outstanding image quality and very attractive prices. There are, however, many features absent in these lenses to ensure the price remains low and to accommodate the electronic aperture and autofocus.

It might be difficult to tell the difference between Samyang and Rokinon lenses, if there are any,  as it is possible to have a lens branded Rokinon and printed “Technology by Samyang Optics” at the bottom. This is the same lens available in either brand with the Rokinon brand taking ordinance in North America.

What is the future of Rokinon/Samyang lenses?

As seen, there isn’t a big difference in the build, design, and specs of Rokinon and Samyang lenses. Samyang is the prime manufacturer, but you find Rokinon branded lenses, especially in the North American area. The lenses offered by this company have decent quality, and so is their image quality. They are quite affordable, too, so if on a budget, you can still take quality image shots with your Rokinon lens.

Samyang lenses were more inclined towards manual-aperture-only and manual-focus-only lenses, but their line-up has improved and expanded to accommodate lenses with such modern features as electric apertures and autofocus. These lenses can be found in various lens mounts for Nikon, Samsung, Canon, Sony, and Olympus.

Rokinon and Samyang lenses’ evolution is common and a tactic for third-party manufacturers with a low budget in the photography industry. These companies use this to achieve their sales goals and cater to the low-budget crowd as much as the high-budget one. Rokinon/ Samyang has had a good reputation for the manufacture of very sharp lenses that aren’t as long-lasting, but they have a pro-quality option that sells twice to four times as much.

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis. Photography is my life and I have taken it as my profession after my graduation. I am a professional, I almost cover everything from fashion, architecture, editorial topics, and corporate lifestyle. I have worked with clients such as CNN, Alabama State University, Steelcase, LiveStrong, and more. I'm based in Alabama. If you need my service, just feel free to contact me.

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