The new XEEN CF primes feature a brand new compact, lightweight body and the same glass XEEN owners have come to appreciate. Rokinon is a perfect example of how a lens can evolve over time. Their new CF line is the culmination of customer feedback over the course of nearly a decade. Throughout this post, we’ll take a quick look back at the evolution of the Rokinon line and preview their upcoming CF line of cinema primes.
Let’s look back for a minute… (If you want to skip the nostalgia, jump down a few paragraphs.) The original Rokinon primes were a simple, affordable line of fully manual lenses aimed at the price conscious hobbyist. In the early 2010’s, if you were a pro, you used Canon or Nikon glass. Sigma and Tokina were still pivoting as a brand and hadn’t yet broken away from the “third-party” stigma. Rokinon first enjoyed success as a result of the DSLR Revolution. The Canon 5D created a demand for high quality, fully manual lenses, preferably in Canon EF mount. At that time, the two most common options were the Zeiss ZF (later, ZF.2) and of course, the Rokinon primes. Both lenses shared similar features; fast f/1.4 aperture in the “normal” primes, fully manual operation, native DSLR mount, compact, light, etc. Along with the Duclos Cine-Mod®, the Rokinon and Zeiss lenses spent a decent amount of time going head to head.
There was no doubt that the build quality of the Zeiss lenses was superior when compared to the Rokinon. However, the image quality comparison was debatable, especially in certain focal lengths. Over the course of several years, both Rokinon and Zeiss continued to add focal lengths to their line including the more specialty primes like a 14/15mm and 135mm. Taking a look back at the full fledged lines from each, it’s safe to say that Zeiss conquered the image quality debate in the end with some spectacular designs.
Both brands saw an opportunity to arrive at the Cine Lens market, although each would take a slightly different path. Rokinon retooled their production line with a minor refresh of their fully realized line of primes by adding focus and iris gears as well as T-stop markings in place of f-stop. The Rokinon Cine lenses were born! While this was a relatively minor adjustment for Rokinon, it was a huge step in the market. It brought cinema lens features to a product line with a price that simply couldn’t be ignored. A quick refresh from there brought the addition of a dual-sided focus scale which was called the Rokinon Cine DS. This quick refresh was just another example of how Rokinon listened to customers, took the feedback, and made necessary changes.
The next step in their evolution, possibly the most impactful, was the all new mechanical design of the Rokinon XEEN. While still using the same optical design, the XEEN line marked two significant milestones. It was the first mechanical housing from Rokinon to be purpose-built for the rigors of motion picture use. Second, it signified Rokinon’s need to invest in it’s own brand – XEEN. While still branded “XEEN by Rokinon,” it was a valiant effort to differentiate the line from any negativity brought from its older photo lens lines.
And finally, we arrive at Rokinon’s final evolution. The Gyarados, if you will. The clumsy, floppy fish that has become the devastatingly powerful tool that says “I’ve put the effort in where it counts and I plan to seize the day despite appearances.” Still based on the original optical design with slight tweaks to AR coatings, the new XEEN CF primes are once again, an all new housing. But this time with CARBON FIBER! Okay, the CF (carbon fiber) is featured in the name, but as far as I can tell, it’s simply a flashy feature to advertise. Don’t get caught up in the CF hype… The body of the lens is still aluminum alloy. Let’s focus on what’s truly important about the XEEN CF. Rokinon has successfully shed the extra weight of their original XEEN lenses that were simply trying to fit in with its CP.2, CN-E friends.
The XEEN CF are a smaller, lighter, housing. A common 95mm front ring with cooperatively positioned focus and iris gears. You still have interchangeable mount options including Arri PL, Canon EF, and Sony E. You still have the AC-friendly dual sided focus scale, but now with luminous markings that’ll glow in the dark. The weight reduction is quite impressive. Rokinon didn’t share their individual weight, but did note that the average is approximately 2.1 lbs. Obviously you can expect this to increase with the longer lenses with heftier optical designs, but still… This will be among the lightest cinema lenses available, second only to Sigma Cine Primes.
It may also be worth noting the writing on the wall. Throughout the history of Duclos Lenses, successful lens modifications have become factory adoptions. For example, when Duclos Lenses began their Cine-Mod® for the original ZF and ZF.2 primes, Zeiss took note and created the Compact Primes and CP.2 Primes. Our highly successful Tokina 11-16mm rehousing was noticed by Tokina who proceeded to make their own cinema 11-16mm and now 11-20mm Cinema ATX. There have been dozens of examples like this. The XEEN CF, while I take no credit… could be considered the reincarnation of the Celere primes. Samyang glass in a small, lightweight, housing. The Celere lens concept was great – just executed terribly. Rokinon took note and now we have the XEEN CF.
Back to the lenses… You’ll find a quick Tech Spec table below. Price has not been announced just yet, but expect them to be on par with other XEEN lenses. The first three focal lengths to ship will be the 24mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5, and 85mm T1.5 – expected sometime around November 2019. A 16mm T2.6 and 35mm T1.5 are due out sometime in 2020.
|Weight||~2.1 lbs||~2.1 lbs||~2.1 lbs||~2.1 lbs||~2.1 lbs|
|Release Date||2020||Nov ’19||2020||Nov ’19||Nov ’19|
So a quick recap of the upcoming XEEN CF by Rokinon:
- New compact, lightweight housing design
- Same optical design as previous generation
- Swap-able Arri PL, Canon EF, Sony E mount
- Common 95mm front diameter
- Approximately 2.1 lbs each
- Carbon Fiber accent (aluminum chassis)
- Luminous focus and iris markings
- 11-bladed aperture
- Pre-Order from Duclos Lenses 🙂
As always, you can pre-order the new XEEN CF Primes directly from Duclos Lenses. Let us know what you think of the new XEEN CF primes in the comments below. Too little too late? Has Rokinon finally perfected a housing to go with their glass? Will you upgrade?