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I'm looking at buying a new lens for some night photography out in rural Australia. I'm in the middle of a national park for the next 6 months so light pollution isn't an issue and the skies are too good not to take advantage of. I've heard about 2 lenses which have caught my eye...the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8. I'm using it on a 5D MkII and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations on which one performs the best. At the moment I have at best a wide angle lens which is limited to f4.0 which is not an ideal candidate, producing some ok images but I'm getting star trails and I know I need a more capable and suitable lens for the shots I'm trying to capture. Any help or opinions would be much appreciated

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Also don't forget to pay attention to the shutter speed to either prevent or include star trailing as desired. The "600 Rule" is worth knowing, though with higher resolution this is more like 400 or 500. see photo.stackexchange.com/questions/30263/… –  themaninthesuitcase Mar 21 at 11:45

4 Answers 4

The Rokinon and the Samyang (and the Bower, if you find one) are the same lens made by the same company; only the branding is different. They are optically magnificent, but they are mechanically weak, so you'll need to be careful with them when travelling. Apart from the fact that they won't take the rough-and-tumble, you'll be more than happy with one -- and you can buy five or six of them before you've paid enough to get the Canon equivalent, so durability is relative.

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+1 for mentioning the only weakness. Mine is a bit off. What can cause different aberration on left side and right side of photo? I bought the lens online and I guess it received a hit in mail. –  Esa Paulasto Mar 21 at 6:06

I captured this image using a Samyang 14mm lens on a Canon 5D II.

Milky Way

The Samyang is a manual focus lens so just make sure you set the proper focus especially when you are working in the dark.
I had only a short period during one night to capture this and I'm sure you will be able to capture wonderful images if you have 6 months using the same combo.

Also take a look at this question for tips about taking pictures of the milky way.

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Regarding proper focus - this question –  rfusca Mar 21 at 3:38
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And it is the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens in this question about adjusting focus ring. Focusing a manual focus lens is so much more easy than what it is to manually focus an AF lens. –  Esa Paulasto Mar 21 at 5:47

They are indeed the same, as the other answers state. Either one is an excellent choice for night photography and landscapes in general.

For example, the Israeli photographer Erez Marom travels the globe shooting night/landscape photos and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 seems to be his "go to" lens for all things wide angle. He sells his work and some of the results are quite stunning.

In other words, it's a professional quality lens.

Performance

The lens exhibits mustache distortion; this can be mostly corrected in a program such as Lightroom using a custom lens profile. Depending on the scene, the distortion may not be obvious or it can ruin (prior to correction) the picture.

For star photos the Samyang/Rokinon will outperform the more expensive Canon 14mm f1.4 around the edges, as covered in this article.

The Canon 24mm f/1.4L II lens seemed like the perfect answer for my star photography. All the reviews I read said that it performed well, even wide open, with only moderate vignetting (which is important when you want to stitch several images together into a panorama). By being able to shoot at f/1.4, I could lower my ISO and greatly reduce the noise I had been getting in my starry night skies.

None of the reviews mentioned the problem of coma. To my horror, I noticed stars in my photographs that were shaped more like white doves in flight!

I can confirm this from first-hand experience with the Rokinon and the Canon.

As a side note, I've found the Rokinon to be a fun lens for HDR stacks due to its low-light performance (reduces the time the shutter is open on the +EV shots) and the wide angle.

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Yeah, not much coma in the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm lens. You can check for yourself from this poor weather star photo far from anything good, but at least it confirms no coma: full resolution fine jpeg (12 MB). –  Esa Paulasto Mar 21 at 5:55

I might also pitch the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens. Due to its aperture it will not give you as much coverage of the night sky as the 14mm, but it is still a very wide angle lens and with a focal ratio of 1.4 it lets in slightly more than one stop more light than the 14mm which is a big help on a crop frame sensor as well as your full frame sensor. Crop frame sensors usually end up being limited to ISO 1000 to 1600 before you start to notice large amounts of noise, so being able to collect an extra stop of light is very helpful. I mention this because many people buy a second much cheaper DSLR as a backup to their full frame camera, which usually ends up being a crop frame sensor.

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Plus I forgot to mention that the 24mm lens will interface with circular and rectangular filters where the 14mm will not, which is a huge plus if you also want to use the lens in the day time or in at night when you have some strong foreground lights such as building or street lights. –  Jon Mar 25 at 4:47

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