I’ve been contemplating upgrading my lenses from the Rokinons to Leicas. I invited William, a local AC, over to help me to do some tests on his lenses. I probably could have done something a bit more scientific. If nothing else, I definitely need to invest in a good light meter.
I tested 4 different focal lengths (85, 50, 35 and 24) and placed the subject (William) at 3 different points throughout the scene. The camera remained stationary but the light moved a bit with the subject. I didn’t tape off the light positions so I was admittedly pretty haphazard about light placement. However, I think I got a pretty good sense of how the lens affects the characteristics of the image.
The Leica 90 vs Rokinon 85
These lenses are probably where you see the greatest difference between the two lenses. The Leicas are much warmer and softer in the highlights and bokeh. The Leicas also seem to be lower contrast and retain more detail in the shadows. I really like what the Leica is doing to William’s beard here and his skin tones feel quite natural and pop in the frame. I believe my lighting to be similar between the two images so the difference here is all in the lens.
The Leica 50 vs Rokinon 50
I may have mindlessly stopped down the Rokinon a quarter or half stop but it appears the Leica is much brighter lens. Again, the skin tones are more even and seem to pop a bit more but this could be the aperture. Notice on the color chart that the whites are very different.
I attempted to adjust the image with Colorista here but it appears the Leica is still lower contrast and softer more buttery bokeh. The leaves in the background retain some angular edges with the Rokinons.
The Leica 35 vs Rokinon 35
The Leica 35 appears to let in far less light. This likely is a quirk in this issue of the lens. Again, I attempted to correct the difference here. More tests could be needed to be objective here, but I like what the bokeh from the Leica is much more natural. The Leica seems to go soft at the medium and far distances. I don’t know if it was the lens or my focus pulling but the Rokinon seems to win the skin tones and sharpness battle this round. More tests needed.
I was impressed by the Leica lenses but I don’t think I’m going to rush out and buy a set quite yet. I might consider checking out other, faster Moving forward from here, I think my money would best be spent on a light meter.