Recently I’ve been wanting to test out some wider angle lenses, seeing as that’s a genre of photography I haven’t really dabbled in extensively.
I did some searching around and stumbled upon the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 (also branded as Samyang) which a lot of reviewers & buyers were endorsing.
I’ve always known Rokinon (Samyang) as having a reputation for creating affordable but quality lenses, so I decided to rent one myself to try it out. What I found was possibly the BEST astrophotography lens for Sony a6000 series cameras.
In this review, I’ll give details and specifics about what makes this lens so great. Let’s dive in.
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Great astrophotography performance (coma)
- Sturdy yet compact build
- Fun and precise manual focusing
Size & Weight
To start this off, as I do with most of my reviews, I’d like to talk about the size and feel of the Rokinon 12mm F2.0. It’s tiny and I love it!
Coming in at 2.3 inches (5.8cm), this lens feels diminutive on a small body such as the Sony a6000.
Rest assured, however, it doesn’t feel flimsy, as it weighs a healthy and fairly standard 8.6oz (245g).
Overall, quite compact and a very good fit for a small APS-C body. It even fits perfectly in my Tenba BYOB 10 for storage.
Is the lens well built?
As would be expected from a manual lens at this price point, build quality is pretty good.
The Rokinon 12mm F2.0 is made up of primarily high quality plastic with a metallic lens mount. Overall, as I mentioned earlier, it feels strong and sturdy, despite the small size.
The only complaint I’d say I had was that the lens hood feels a bit cheaper and has a little bit of play when attached, though it is possible I just got a bad copy.
I would say, with the exception of the hood, that the lens certainly feels built to last. It’s not G-series level of quality, but it feels durable and sturdy.
Aesthetics & Ergonomics
Aesthetically, Rokinon certainly put some care into how the lens looks. The barrel itself has a nice focusing scale separated by a sleek red bit of metal from the aperture ring.
This, combined with the huge petal-shaped lens hood offers a rather premium appearance on what is actually just a budget APS-C lens.
The part of the lens where the focus ring meets the hood makes for a nice gripping point, allowing the lens to be carried around on multi-hour shoots without much discomfort.
As for image quality, I was impressed. Overall, the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 has fabulous sharpness.
There is slight falloff around the corners wide open, but that’s mostly remedied by stopping down to at least F4.0.
The lens seems to peak around roughly F5.6, and starts softening up a bit more around F11 and higher.
Usually with wide angle lenses, there’s a slight sacrifice in quality to get the desired focal length, but there really seems to be no compromises here.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
There are a few weird optical quirks, however, as with any lens.
The Rokinon 12mm F2.0 does suffer from moderate flaring if shooting into light sources, though luckily the included lens hood does a great job at blocking flaring from the sides.
Vignetting and distortion are also fairly strong as well due to the 12mm focal length, but these can be fixed well enough in post processing.
Avid astrophotographers will be pleased to hear that the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 handles coma extremely well.
I didn’t have any issues in my limited astro tests. I’m not experienced at shooting the night sky by any means, but I was able to shoot 20 second exposures and not get any sort of weird aberrations around the corners.
Already interested in buying?
Focusing & Aperture
Next up, let’s talk about focusing. As stated earlier in the review, this lens does not have autofocus.
This may be a dealbreaker for some, but as this is such a wide angle lens, you won’t have to refocus often as most things will be in infinity focus anyway. In any case, I found the manual focus experience to be quite pleasant on this lens.
The focusing ring is plastic, but has a good grip and rotates very smoothly. It takes roughly ¼ of a turn (focus throw) to get from the minimum focusing distance to infinity, which, in my opinion, is pretty much perfect.
On the Rokinon 12mm F2.0, the aperture is not controlled electronically.
That means, like a vintage lens, there’s a nice little aperture ring on the lens itself. Instead of switching your F-stop in camera, you just spin the little dial which makes a lovely clicking noise every half stop.
I love this personally, and I wish more modern lenses had a physical aperture ring.
My Final Thoughts
Great for Astrophotography
Overall, I’d suggest the Rokinon (Samyang) 12mm F2.0 primarily to those who do astrophotography (the astro community seems to love it already).
Otherwise, it’s great for wide angle landscape shots, and could perhaps even be used for street photography if you’re looking to really switch up your style to something extreme.
It’s small as heck, which is super nice for hiking or, of course, dragging it out into the middle of nowhere at night to photograph the Milky Way.
It is solid and durable, and has nice clicky aperture controls and a smooth focus ring that works well. In addition, it has great sharpness with only a few little optical quirks as I stated above.
As I’ve stated prior, I think the Rokinon 12mm F2.0 is the BEST astrophotography lens for Sony a6000 series cameras.
If you’re interested in picking one up yourself, I’ve included purchase links below. Thank you for reading.
This lens earned a spot on one of my best lens lists.
Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which means I get a (very) small commission if you buy something through them. This doesn’t increase your purchase cost and it helps me keep this website going. Thank you so much! <3