The universe of lenses is a massive one, with the primary distinction for video shooters being between cine and still lenses. For a quick primer on the differences, check out this article.
Samyang has made a name for itself (and others, like Rokinon, Bower, etc. – all the same thing) with its still and pseudo-cine (check the article linked to for what this means) line of lenses in all the important lens mounts. Now, while these lenses were decent enough optically, they were nowhere close to say a Schneider Xenon FF or a Zeiss CP.2, let alone Cooke S5is or Arri Master Primes.
Today, this has changed, beginning with Samyang’s bold statement of intent – an image of a Xeen ship blasting a Zeiss CP2 and Canon CN-E out of the water. Pretty ominous, right? And just yesterday, Matthew Duclos, world famous lens modder and dealer, published an article on his blog about the Rokinon XEEN series. Here are the specifications:
- 24mm, 50mm and 85mm only for now, all T1.5
- Aluminium alloy body
- PL, EF, F, E and m43 mounts
- 114mm front diameter
- Identical focus and iris gear positions
- 11-blade apertures
- 200º focus throw
- About 2.5 lbs each
- Covers full frame 35mm, including Vista Vision
- About $2,500 per lens
To get the detailed specs and to read the whole article, click here. He got early access to the lenses and has even included lens construction and MTF curves for your reference. Say hello to the Xeen:
So, while it is step above its DS line, Rokinon isn’t really breaking any new ground or creating milestones. What they are doing, however, is blowing the competition into smithereens as their promotion image indicates. At a price tag of $2,500 for each lens compared to Zeiss’ or Schneider’s $4000-ish CP.2 or Xenon line, Rokinon is making cine lenses more accessible to the fledgling cinematographer or independent filmmaker.
For now, we can only guess whether Rokinon Xeen is a real game-changer or just another flash in the pan. The lens is officially shipping right now, or beginning August 10th, depending on whom you ask. Unfortunately, only three focal lengths are available right now, and this will disappoint rental houses, though they’ll be vary off not having customer support similar to Zeiss. But if the DS line is any indication, Samyang has the optics to fill out the entire kit, so it’s just a matter of how much business this first launch does. Here’s a video from B&H:
What we’re most interested in is to see if the Xeen series really stands on its own against the builds of a CP.2 or Xenon FF. Optically, they should perform similarly at least as far as sharpness is concerned. The Xeen also has a new coating, otherwise it’s the same as the DS line:
It’s identical to all the other Rokinon Cine Primes with the exception of the coatings. Rokinon does boast a newer, better advanced 14 layer anti-reflective multi-coating to suppress flares and control aberrations. If you’ve tried the other Rokinon lenses in the past and you were happy with the performance, then you’ll definitely be happy with these.
Schneider and Zeiss are surely watching, but my guess is they won’t be trembling or biting their nails. Cine lenses are the domain of rental houses, and they need a whole kit and excellent customer service. This is where the battle will be won – but by whom? For now, keep an eye on the official Xeen website.
Do you think Xeen is your cup of tea? Will you spend $2.5K for a Samyang cine lens when a Zeiss or Schneider will possibly get you more rentals and resale value? If yes, preorder yours today.