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03-22-2014, 08:48 AM   #1
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Wondering if I "need" the Rokinon 85/1.4

I've been pondering the Rokinon/Samyang/Vivitar/etc. 85/1.4 for awhile now, mainly for low light concerts. The things that make me wonder if I need it are:

1) I already have a Pentax A 50/1.7 as well as a Pentax M 50/1.4. Is the focal length difference big enough to warrant buying it for the occasional concert?

2) I have split prism screens in both of my K-x bodies, but I'd also like to use catch in focus with the 85 wide open. Does the catch in focus on the K-x work well with the 85 wide open?

I've got other very good lenses that cover that focal length range, but they're f:3.5, so they don't gobble as much light. On the other hand, they have a little more margin for focus error at 3.5 than a lens at 1.4 has... So I'm undecided.

03-22-2014, 09:28 AM   #2
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I am in pretty much the same situation. Curious to hear what others think.
03-22-2014, 09:30 AM   #3
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If you want it, you need it :-)

They go for just over 200 in the marketplace so there is not much risk in buying and trying.

I was contemplating one for fun, though I have a 70 and 90 already, but ultimately decided the combination of me and MF would be futile. Others have said they love the lens, but wide open the in-focus percentage was way down.

I'm playing musical gear to a different tune...
03-22-2014, 09:35 AM   #4
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I've got some concert examples of catch in focus with this lens wide open on my K-x. It will take me a while to track them down though. I'm working this weekend.

---------- Post added 03-22-14 at 12:40 PM ----------

I have some examples from the ballet as well. I pull it out for really low light sets. Choreographers and set makers don't always have the photographer in mind.

03-22-2014, 09:41 AM   #5
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You don't need the camera in the first place, you simply enjoy it. So no you don't need another lens, but yes, you will enjoy it.
03-22-2014, 10:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaximus Quote
I've got some concert examples of catch in focus with this lens wide open on my K-x. It will take me a while to track them down though. I'm working this weekend.

---------- Post added 03-22-14 at 12:40 PM ----------

I have some examples from the ballet as well. I pull it out for really low light sets. Choreographers and set makers don't always have the photographer in mind.
Very cool. I'm also interested in reading your opinions on what it's like to shoot with in those conditions. Ease of focus, how you focus, what's the maximum practical f-stop to use, etc.
03-22-2014, 10:55 AM   #7
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Yes. The hood sucks, though.
03-22-2014, 11:59 AM   #8
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You probably would be interested in this set on Flickr. These are easily the toughest lowlight conditions I've shot when you throw in the motion of the dancers. There was a horrible dim red lighting. It was worse than any conditions you'll see at a concert, unless maybe the power goes out.

Feel free to check out the EXIF data. After the first few shots I settled on a shutter speed of 1/100. Wide open at F1.4. ISO ranges from mostly 1600 downward as the lighting improved. These are catch in focus assisted.

I hated that awful red light, so I converted these to black and white.

03-22-2014, 12:23 PM   #9
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The Rokinon 85mm just has very cool look about it.

This is F2.5:

03-22-2014, 01:24 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaximus Quote
You probably would be interested in this set on Flickr. These are easily the toughest lowlight conditions I've shot when you throw in the motion of the dancers. There was a horrible dim red lighting. It was worse than any conditions you'll see at a concert, unless maybe the power goes out.

Feel free to check out the EXIF data. After the first few shots I settled on a shutter speed of 1/100. Wide open at F1.4. ISO ranges from mostly 1600 downward as the lighting improved. These are catch in focus assisted.

I hated that awful red light, so I converted these to black and white.
That's a pretty compelling argument to get one. I'm thinking maybe I need to pick one of these up. What's your keeper rate when you use the catch in focus?
03-22-2014, 01:51 PM   #11
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I was just about to buy a copy of this 85 until I came across a super trade for a FA 77/1.8 ... still would love to have the 85, but cannot justify two lenses "so close" to each other in FL ... plus the AF is nice, too ... J
03-22-2014, 02:49 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
That's a pretty compelling argument to get one. I'm thinking maybe I need to pick one of these up. What's your keeper rate when you use the catch in focus?
I shoot a lot of dance so low, colored light levels are pretty common. To stop motion in a ballet, 1/320 is a good shutter speed. I don't have any experience with a K-X, I've used K5's until just recently moving to K5IIs bodies.

I typically start at 1/320, f4 and IS0 3200, always manual exposure. Shooting from rear of the theater, its a 50-135/2.8 and a Sigma 100-300/4. If it's' really bright and costumes are highly reflective, I might get ISO 1600 and F5.6. At 2.8, DoF is so thin, focus is tricky. However you do it, takes a lot of practice and expect to delete most. There are lots of reasons: You're early, you're late. you missed focus, the dance move isn't very good, someone is out of character, you missed a lighting cue, etc..

Here are galleries from the most recent combined Jazz and Ballet company performance United We Dance. Most at 1/320, ISO 3200 and F4, plenty at ISO 6400 and some at 12,800 and 25,600.
03-22-2014, 03:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
I shoot a lot of dance so low, colored light levels are pretty common. To stop motion in a ballet, 1/320 is a good shutter speed. I don't have any experience with a K-X, I've used K5's until just recently moving to K5IIs bodies.

I typically start at 1/320, f4 and IS0 3200, always manual exposure. Shooting from rear of the theater, its a 50-135/2.8 and a Sigma 100-300/4. If it's' really bright and costumes are highly reflective, I might get ISO 1600 and F5.6. At 2.8, DoF is so thin, focus is tricky. However you do it, takes a lot of practice and expect to delete most. There are lots of reasons: You're early, you're late. you missed focus, the dance move isn't very good, someone is out of character, you missed a lighting cue, etc..

Here are galleries from the most recent combined Jazz and Ballet company performance United We Dance. Most at 1/320, ISO 3200 and F4, plenty at ISO 6400 and some at 12,800 and 25,600.
Awesome photos, Brooke! You're very good at what you do! Most of my lenses are manual focus, so I'm used to shooting moving subjects with them. So, is it the Rokinon 85 you used for the ballet shots? Any full size, wide open photos from the lens I could look at?

Cheers,
Bob
03-22-2014, 07:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
Awesome photos, Brooke! You're very good at what you do! Most of my lenses are manual focus, so I'm used to shooting moving subjects with them. So, is it the Rokinon 85 you used for the ballet shots? Any full size, wide open photos from the lens I could look at?

Cheers,
Bob
Rehearsals are a DA 12-24 & Tamron 28-75. Dress rehearsals are DA 50-135 handheld & Sigma 100-300 on loose ball head tripod mount. Manual exposure, rear AF. My point was, the zoom function is important, a fixed focal length would be limiting. A solo followed by a corps piece or a pas leaves no time for lens changes, even with two bodies. Try to fill the frame and dancers move out of it more quickly than you can anticipate, even after going to rehearsals to learn choreography and music.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 12-03-2014 at 09:17 PM.
03-22-2014, 08:35 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
That's a pretty compelling argument to get one. I'm thinking maybe I need to pick one of these up. What's your keeper rate when you use the catch in focus?
I looked through all of my shots of the short routine in the flickr set above. There were 18 of the 105 that I would say weren't keepers due to focus. (As Brooke mentioned, focus isn't the only factor.) 18 out of 105 is 17%, so a keeper rate of 80+%. But I have to say that's after a couple of years with the lens. I looked at an earlier dance set in better lighting and my rate was much worse. That was when the lens and manual focus were both pretty new to me. However, if you're generally accustomed to manual focus, I think the catch in focus can work well even with something like dance. My kids are good action subjects too, so they have improved me as well.

To answer your original question–yes, catch in focus on the K-x works well with the 85 wide open.

To answer a question you didn't ask–yes, the 85 is an outstanding portrait lens.
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