Hands-On Review: Rokinon AF 45mm f/1.8 FE Lens for Sony E-Mount Cameras


The Rokinon AF 45mm f/1.8 FE lens for Sony E-mount cameras is one of those truly extraordinary lenses that I get to use on a regular basis (I even own a few!). It’s always a treat when somebody hands me a lens that turns out to be something better than anticipated, and the Rokinon AF 45mm f/1.8 FE is right up there in that category.

About a year ago, Rokinon introduced the first of three compact autofocus lenses dedicated for Sony E-mount cameras. I’ve previously shot with Rokinon’s equally compact AF 35mm f/2.8 FE and AF 24mm f/2.8 FE and, despite a few minor gripes, I’ve grown to like them for their size, weight, and—yes—image quality. They’re ideal for travel and daytripping and they’re all affordable.

Photographs © Allan Weitz, 2019

Rokinon AF 45mm f/1.8 FE for Sony E-mount Cameras

The first thing you notice about Rokinon’s 45mm AF lens is its size; it measures well under 2.5" square. At 5.7 ounces, it’s also ridiculously light and it practically floats out of your hand. Made of polycarbonate with a metal-alloy lens mount, the Rokinon AF 45mm f/1.8 FE contains 7 elements in 6 groups. Included among the lens’s 7 elements are a pair of aspheric elements and a single extra-low dispersion element, which help to minimize chromatic aberrations and color fringing while optimizing contrast and overall image quality.

Although there was plenty of daylight along the avenue, the lens’s autofocus system became balky when focusing on the contrasty lighting in the street scene above.

Rokinon’s AF 45mm f/1.8 is the longest focal length of the three available compact lenses Rokinon produces in Sony E-mount. It’s also the fastest of the three and, with an AoV of 52.31°, it’s the closest to the way our eyes perceive perspective and spatial relationships. It’s a true “normal” lens.

Like most normal lenses, Rokinon’s AF 45mm f/1.8 FE focuses down to 1.48' (0.12x) which, while far from a macro, is sufficiently close enough for most photographic applications. Combined with its wide maximum aperture, the lens offers a great degree of control over selective focusing, and a 9-bladed aperture provides for a pleasing degree of bokeh, most notably when shooting at wide apertures.

When focused at its closest focusing distance at maximum aperture (f/1.8), Rokinon’s AF 45mm f/1.8 FE offers a great degree of control over DoF and selective focusing.

Although it’s designed for use with full-frame Sony E-mount cameras, Rokinon’s AF 45mm f/1.8 FE can also be used with Sony APS-C format cameras, which narrows the AoV of the lens to the equivalent of a 67.5mm lens. For portraiture, this slightly longer viewing angle, combined with the lens’s fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, can be a very effective combination.

Although it’s not a macro lens, with a minimum focusing distance of 1.48', Rokinon’s AF 45 f/1.8 FE focuses close enough for most photographic applications.

At wide aperture, Rokinon’s AF 45mm f/1.8 FE is sharp but is in no way in the same league as pricier alternative lenses I’ve tested in the past. There’s a trace of vignetting toward the corners of the frame but, stop the lens down a few stops, and the corners begin to brighten up to where they should be.

The autofocus system in this lens was a bit noisier than most AF motors I’ve encountered, and while quite responsive in bright environments, the AF seemed to slow down and become sketchier when used under low and contrastier lighting.

Rokinon’s 45mm f/1.8 FE lens accepts 49mm filters and lens accessories and comes with a shade, front and rear caps, and a semi-hard case to keep it safe when not in use.

Is Rokinon’s AF 45mm f/1.8 FE worth considering as your next lens? If you’re looking for an extremely small and extremely lightweight wide-aperture normal lens that is a piece of cake to tote around all day and won’t break your wallet, by all means take a closer look at this lens. And for the record, Samyang’s AF 45mm f/1.8 FE is one-and-the-same lens for the same price.

Does this lens check off any boxes in your personal lens wish list? If so, let’s hear about it in the Comments field, below.