Tokina FíRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro: Precise and Focussed
The Tokina FíRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro is a lens designed to suit E mount cameras by Sony. Tanvi Dhulia brings it to the BP test bench.
The company’s second lens in the FíRIN series is a moderate tele macro lens, capable of making life-sized (1:1) images of a subject at 30cm. Optically designed for Sony full frame E mount mirrorless cameras, the Tokina FíRIN 100mm f2.8 FE Macro promises to show “details that human eyes would hardly see.”
The lens is equipped to transmit aperture and distance to the camera. This makes it compatible with the Sony A7 series camera’s MF assist functions, like manual focus adjustment in image auto enlargement function, focus peaking function and viewfinder electronic distance bar, Direct Manual Focus mode, and with in-camera 5 axis image stabilization as well. Manual focus is achieved using an electronic focus-by-wire method. The Tokina FíRIN 100mm f2.8 FE Macro’s 1:1 capability allows photographers to maintain a working distance from their subjects, while getting excellent magnification. Unlike regular lenses, the rear of the lens is fitted with a rather deep rectangular window lines with felt, to limit the image circle to the exact dimensions of the full frame sensor. This is to avoid any stray light from reducing the overall contrast. The lens hood is also lined with felt to prevent light from reflecting into the lens.
The lens is built with high quality plastic which reduces the device’s overall weight. It has a broad, ridged focus ring made of rubber, which is smooth enough to achieve MF without disturbing the framing. It allows for a fair amount of rotation to move fractionally in order to achieve extremely precise focus. This also helps with focus stacking manually. When the lens extends, it reveals a distance and magnification scale in both metres and feet.
When the camera goes to sleep, or when it’s switched off, the lens retracts fully. On being awakened, the camera remembers the focus position and returns to it quite precisely. The Sony’s tendency to frequently go into sleep mode at short intervals at default is somewhat irritating, especially with macro photography. Fortunately, that can be controlled. The lens is quite noisy, particularly when it’s moving from one end of the focus range to the other. The mount is made of metal, and no additional rubber ring is present to keep dust particles from penetrating the lens.
The Tokina FíRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro is a remarkably sharp lens that is capable of capturing rich tones. It is especially sharp across the entire frame at f/8 and f/11, which are the sweet spots of this lens. Considering the 42MP Sony A7R III I used to test it, this is indeed commendable. At f/16 and beyond, defraction, begins to noticeably and increasingly soften corners and edges. Centre sharpness is excellent across apertures. There is some softness, though well-controlled, at the corners at f/2.8, which improves and completely disappears by f/5.6.
The AF speed can feel a little slow when it attempts to focus on subjects across the focus range. However, this is expected from macro lenses. It has low fall-off and doesn’t have any noticeable lens distortion, and generally, contrast levels are high.
Some other macro lens options for E mount users are the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro (Rs. 55,500), and Sony’s own FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS (Rs. 61,990). They each respectively have a minimum focusing distance of 25.8cm, and 28cm.
The advantage with using Tokina’s lens (which is priced at Rs. 49,990) is the FíRIN line’s dedication to image quality. They are specifically designed for Sony cameras, and with features like its 42MP resolution and Pixel Shifting, the FíRIN can produce excellent results in the hands of a skilled macro photographer. The lens also doubles as an excellent portrait lens at f/2.8. It comes well recommended.
This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Better Photography.
100mm focal length, 1:1 magnification, precise AF and MF
Very sharp at f/8 and f/11, minimal aberrations
High quality plastic, no weatherproofing
A convenient focus ring which is precise and smooth to operate
|Warranty & Support
Two year limited warranty
|VALUE FOR MONEY||4.5/5|
|Who should buy it?||Macro photographers who who would also like to use it as a portrait lens.|
|Why?||Excellent pricing for a lens that gives itself beautifully to anyone willing to adhere to methodology and technique.|