Tokina Firin 20mm F/2 AF (Sony E-Mount)
*UPDATE 2019-05-15 -> Adobe just released a lens profile for Firin 20mm AF in the latest update of May 2019 (LR Classic 8.3 / Camera Raw 11.3)
*The review is currently ongoing, more info and photos will be later posted.
Back on 2016, when I was filming for the production of “Keep Looking Up”, Tokina announced their first E-Mount lens, the Firin 20mm F2 MF.
A premium wide angle lens with a bright f/2.0 aperture, a must for night sky photographers as the wide angle options for E-mount users at the time was very limited or very expensive.
The lens released in early 2017 and I managed to get the lens on time, add it to the production and create night sky timelapses for my project with great results.
The lens performed amazing, with minimum coma, low distortion and great color rendering.
Nearly one year after the release of the manual focus version, Tokina releases the Autofocus version of the Firin 20mm F2 lens.
Lets see how this new lens performs and if there are any differences from the manual focus version.
First Looks & Build Quality
First of all, this lens is not replacing the previous one, it is simply another option depending to the photographers style or preference.
In my opinion the manual focus version is best suited for video shooters, with its declick function for the aperture ring and the smooth manual focusing ring, while the auto-focus version is best intended for photographers that want fast focusing on their subjects.
From the first looks the lens has a similar physical size as the previous one, although its a bit lighter and smaller. Of course there is no aperture ring but only a big focusing ring. The optical elements are identical in both versions so image quality remains very high.
The lens also feels more robust comparing to the MF version, probably due to its design and not having more rings on the body. It is made in Japan which means of highest quality standards. Although the lens is not weighting so much and you can easily leave it attached on your camera all day without tiring, the high quality materials make the lens look and feel like it can take a hit without issues. A small dust protective ring on the back would be a great addition though as all mirrorless camera sensors are more exposed to dust.
One thing that changed with the auto-focus version is the lens hood. The previous one had an impressive to the eye “cine” like rectangular hood, which was a nice feature although not practical for storage, due to its physical size, and usage as you weren’t able to use circular filters with ease. The new lens has a normal circular lens hood so you can easily use your filters with no issue and can be stored in the lens by attaching it on reverse. The filter thread of the lens remains at 62mm but if you have bigger size filters, in example from your DSLR lenses, you can easily add a step up ring to the lens and use them without issues or vignetting.
(Hoya ProND1000 82mm & Hoya GradND10 82mm attached to Tokina Firin 20mm AF via 62mm to 82mm step-up ring)
The supersonic auto-focus system, which is fully compatible with Fast Hybrid AF system of Sony Alpha, is fast and reliable (in AF-S)* but it is a little noisy and it maybe distracting at times, especially if you are shooting for a ceremony and have the camera in silent mode, the focus mechanism will be slightly heard. I also noticed that the focus mechanism is noisy even when you manual focus and the ring is rotated by hand and not by the camera. So if you want to record video even if you manual focusing, you will definitely also record the sound of the focus mechanism. Regarding focusing, my tests were made with a Sony A7R mkII.
*What I noticed at first and confused me was when I used the lens with Continuous AF (AF-C), the lens constantly “hunted” for focus and wasn’t locking on anything. When I changed to single auto-focus (AF-S) the lens managed to lock every time the focus point I wanted with nearly 100% success.
Important Note : Tokina made an official press release at June 19,2018 informing Firin 20mm AF users that a firmware update has been released that solves this issue.
As previously mentioned, the optical elements of the AF version are identically the same with the MF version.
There are 13 elements in 11 groups, 2 of them are Aspherical Elements and 3 are Super-Low Dispersion Elements. The coatings are Multi-Layered, and the Diaphragm Blades are 9. The angle of view is 92O and the minimum focusing distance remains at 0.28m as was on the MF version.
Optical corrections, like distortion and chromatic aberration, are automatically applied due to the data transmittance ability via electrical contacts with the camera, as also is the In-Body Image Stabilization, again by transmitting the proper focal length data to the camera.
The image quality of this lens is simply fantastic ! It can handle with ease the high megapixel sensors of Sony A7R series !
(Sony A7R MKII, Tokina Firin 20mm AF @ F/11, 0.8sec exp, ISO 160, Hoya GradND10 Filter)
One of my favorite subjects to shoot especially when I test a new wide angle lens, is sunsets. The huge dynamic range difference and the brightness of the sun can reveal many flaws on a lens design, with the most obvious to be Flaring and Ghosting.
Although being a very bright wide angle lens, the Firin 20mm AF performed fantastic ! Flaring is minimum as also is Ghosting and Chromatic Aberration. CA can be still be seen though on some very demanding light scenes but its totally controllable and of course easily removed in post.
(Sony A7R MKII, Tokina Firin 20mm AF @ F/16, 1/8 exp, ISO 100, Hoya GradND10 Filter, Handheld)
As an astrophotographer I always like to use bright wide angle lenses to capture more light on my sensor and still have a nice field of view. Through the years I found that the one of my favorite focal lengths for my type of work is the 20mm.
The Firin 20mm F/2 is a must have for me, as it covers my needs on both focal length and bright aperture. So how is this lens performing on Coma, one of the worst enemies of astrophotographers ? The lens performed very good and nearly identical as the MF version, and although some coma can be seen at the edges when shooting at F/2, its totally controllable and you can easily get rid of it when using F/2.8 aperture.
(Sony A7R MKII, Tokina Firin 20mm AF @ F/2, 30sec exp, ISO 3200, Hoya Red Enhancer Filter, Vixen Polarie Star Tracker)
The sharpness at the edges of the frame even when shooting wide-open at F/2 is very good, and it is excellent after F/4. Some vignetting can be seen when shooting wide-open but it is easily removed on post. For all my edits, I used the MF lens profile for Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop.
(Left Image : Sony A7R MKII, Tokina Firin 20mm AF @ F/2, 10sec exp, ISO 3200, Hoya Red Enhancer Filter – Right Image : Sony A7R MKII, Tokina Firin 20mm AF @ F/2.8, 13sec exp, ISO 3200, Hoya Red Enhancer Filter)
Although this is a wide-angle lens, the bokeh is very beautiful and round shaped, and along with the minimum focusing distance of 0.28m you can create interesting compositions.
The Tokina Firin 20mm F/2 AF is a very bright, very capable, high resolution lightweight premium wide angle lens that comes to fill the gap with its astonishing performance and its logical price tag. The Autofocus mechanism is a very welcome addition and makes the lens more practical for everyday use although a bit noisy.
Low light shooters will definitely benefit by the F/2 aperture of the lens, as also night sky photographers will with the low levels of coma.