11.09.2015

Testing a cheap lens under the conditions I would normally use a lens like this... A Rokinon 85mm f1.4 on a Nikon D750 body.


Please don't rush to help me select a "better" lens. I've owned two versions of the Nikon 85mm 1.4 (MF and AF-D), I currently own the very good 85mm f1.8G and I've owned literally dozens of Canon, Leica and Zeiss 85mm lenses. This article is not a plea for anyone to step in and "guide" me. I am not woefully undereducated in what is currently (or previously) available in this focal length, for Nikon. 

I was curious. That's why I took the particular lens out to shoot in the near dark. About a year ago, just after wedging myself back into the Nikon system, I came across a used Rokinon 85mm 1.4 lens in the used case at Precision Camera. They didn't think much of the lens and sold it to me, willingly, for around $125. I had owned the later, "cine" version of this lens for the Sony Alpha system so I was more or less familiar with its general characteristics but I was happy to have this lens instead of the cine version for Nikon precisely because this one has click stopped aperture settings and it also has a chip that transmits f-stop information to the Nikon cameras, as well as enabling focus confirmation. 

What that means is I can focus wide open and when I hit the shutter button the lens stops down to the aperture I've set using one of the control wheels. In short, the lens works just like one of the regular Nikon AF-D lenses ---- minus the auto focus. 

I've done a little bit of work with this lens and, like most modern, short tele lenses in play since at least the 1960's it can be very sharp and contrasty at f5.6 and f8.0. It was difficult to focus the lens on an APS-C body but I no longer have any of the smaller sensor Nikon bodies and I'm finding that I have a better chance of hitting sharp focus on the D810 and D750 focusing screens. 

What I wanted to find out is whether or not the lens is good at its widest f-stops in real shooting situations to which I can relate. I headed out the door for a walk on Saturday evening, just as the sun was setting. By the time I got to downtown there was only an afterglow of sunlight. 

Then I saw the space aliens try to kidnap Madonna from her Bentley and..