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Rokinon Adds Two Lenses, Completing an Impressive Xeen Set

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When shopping for high-end prime lenses, there are certainly several options, but not exactly dozens. You’ve got your top-of-the-line, world-class lenses like Cooke, Arri, and Leica. Then you have excellent professional-grade primes like Canon, Zeiss, Nikon, and Schneider. Zeiss might even straddle these two categories, as they have a wide range of cine-primes. But there’s scant other makers out there. So, with this limited range of options, it doesn’t take too much parsing to arrive at the cine-lens that fits into your budget and technical needs.

Rokinon Xeen Lenses
 

Why buy a cine-lens?

Cine-style lenses, regardless of mount or maker, remain in a class of their own due to the way they’re designed and manufactured — with filmmaking in mind. Sensor and camera technology are subject to Moore’s law and will continue to evolve and become outdated. However, lenses are typically a long-term investment. You don’t want to compromise quality, but you’d like to avoid breaking the bank. High-end Cookes, Leicas, and Arris are pretty pie-in-the-sky. These lenses typically range from $10k-$40k each. Not many people own them besides the rental shops. Canon, Zeiss, Nikon, and Schneider are certainly attainable, but at $4,000-$8000 a piece, a set of 5 will be at least $20k — more likely $30k-$40k when it’s said and done. Some of the most comprehensive cine-lens pricing and information is found at Duclos Lenses. If you’re truly committed to filmmaking for many years to come, and you have the funds, lenses are not the worst investments. But obviously, you’ll just consider renting if you only plan on using them a handful of times.
 

Xeen: New lens on the block

Enter the Rokinon Xeen, late last year. I recently had the chance to take some Xeens for a spin, and I must say that this lens set has established itself as a legitimate contender with the aforementioned names. In September, Rokinon released the 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm Xeen lenses. In late March 2016, the first 16mm and 35mm lenses started shipping. We were able to put a few on a Canon 5Dmii for testing with some impressive results. At a price point of $2,495 each, they’re selling the set of 5 for an even $10k. These are 35mm full frame, 4k-ready glass, with a rugged build and housing. They feel nearly identical to the Canon CN-E cine-primes I’ve used, and they’re essentially the same speed — with Rokinon 16mm rated at T3.1, and the rest at T1.5. That’s the same speed as the Rokinon Cine DS lenses, but these are vastly superior in build quality.

I was naturally most interested in the two new offerings — the 35mm T1.5 and the 14mm T3.1.

BLOG-XEEN-35mm

 

Here’s some footage I shot with Xeen 35mm (23.98fps, 1920×1080):

https://vimeo.com/162463424/62e6c52164

 

https://vimeo.com/162462937/d428e657ea

 

The 14mm is a beautiful lens as well:

BLOG-XEEN-14mm

 

This footage is shot with the Xeen 14mm (23.98fps, 1920×1080)

https://vimeo.com/162464974/e0d3c3192f

 

https://vimeo.com/162761534/ad99c6d786
 
The whole line of Xeens is machined to be rugged and has a large 114mm diameter barrel, 11-blade diaphragms, X-Coating Technology, and a smooth, de-clicked aperture. They also feature a 3-year warranty. Each lens in the Rokinon Xeen cinema lens set is multi-coated for good contrast, glare prevention, and a low reflection ratio, allowing for a maximum amount of light to reach the sensor. They’re crisp edge to edge.

At T1.5, the 11-blade iris allows for bokehs that are smooth, especially on the 85mm:

BLOG-XEEN-85mm

The Xeen 85mm at T1.5 has that very gratifying shallow look that, which when combined with a full-frame sensor provides a beautiful cinematic look.

These still shots were taken on a chilly NYC afternoon in April:

BLOG-XEEN-IMG91/8000, 85mm, T1.5, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG21/8000, 85mm, T1.5, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG51/3200, 85mm, T1.5, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG61/3200, 85mm, T1.5, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG31/3200, 24mm, T1.5, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG71/2500, 35mm, T1.5, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG81/1000, 14mm, T3.1, ISO100
 
BLOG-XEEN-IMG101/3200, 50mm, f1.5, ISO100

There’s a rumor that at least two more Xeens will be released at some point in 2016 — I’m hoping they go long with a 100mm and 135mm, hopefully at T2 or below. I’m going long on Rokinon myself, as they’re providing an excellent product at a great price, and doing their part to drive cine-lens market prices downward. When that happens, we all win.

rokinon-xeen-and-shirt-01

If you’re going to be at NAB, you can visit Rokinon/XEEN at NAB booth C1113 to check out these lenses for yourself. They’re also hosting a contest at the booth with a chance to win a XEEN lens, a Rokinon Cine DS lens, or a XEEN or Rokinon shirt. The Pond5 crew will also be on site at NAB at booth C11722, and we’d love to meet you too!