Review: Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN (Sony E, Full Frame)

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN lens is company’s first entry into creating lenses for the full frame Sony E mount lineup of cameras. After speaking with the company at Photokina last year, we learned that this will be the only option with manual focus-only capabilities. As it is, the 20mm f2 is one of the wider angle prime lenses available for full frame Sony E Mount cameras that also has full focusing and exposure communication.

As it’s been an incredible pleasure to use.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Very smooth focusing
  • Superb image quality that I’ve always expected from Tokina

Cons

  • Some may complain about the manual focus only operation, but at an angle this wide I can’t be bothered too much by it.

Gear Used

We tested the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN lens with the Sony a7 and the Sony a7r II.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from our first impressions post

Focal Length 20mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Sony E (Full-Frame)
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 92.6°
Minimum Focus Distance 11.02″ (28 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:10.3
Elements/Groups 13/11
Diaphragm Blades 9
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 62 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 2.72 x 3.21″ (69 x 81.5 mm)
Weight 1.08 lb (490 g)

Ergonomics

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The Tokina FiRIN 20mm f2 lens is one that looks a lot like many other compact prime manual focus lenses that have been created in the past couple of years, but this time around it’s being manufactured by a company that has been around for quite some time. The lens hood that comes with the lens is made of plastic–which is kind of odd as the lens’ exterior itself is made of metal.

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Take the hood off though and what you’ll get is a much smaller optic that you’d expect for a mirrorless camera. Don’t forget about the 62mm filter thread in the front.

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This view is essentially what you’ll be seeing most of the time. The aperture ring is near the front of the lens–Leica style. Then there is the focusing ring is towards the middle. Behind that is the effective depth of field scale–perfect for a 20mm lens.

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Above the aperture ring is a switch that you can use to make the lens have a clickless or clicked aperture. It’s a very nice implementation–though the best I’ve seen is from Voigtlander.

Build Quality

This is a lens with pretty stellar build overall. The outside feels like metal and even kind of gets cold like it. There is a full working aperture ring and a smooth focusing ring that lets you be precise without limiting your focusing abilities. The lens overall is arguably one of the best made for the Sony E mount with the exception of lacking weather sealing.

Ease of Use

Now here’s where I’m super torn on what to say. Folks will complain that it’s too hard to use because it’s manual focus only. But if you stop it down a few stops and focus a few feet away you’re most likely not going to miss anything and you arguably don’t even need to focus the lens.

What’s faster than that?!

Focusing

As stated, this is a manual focus only lens. I’ve used both depth of field zone focusing and focus peaking.

Image Quality

Here’s where I start to get really excited. The pure image quality from this lens is fantastic. Is it the sharpest out there? No, but it’s damned near it in the wide angle world for a sub $1,000 price point. Does it have the best colors? It’s less saturated than the Batis and Loxia offerings but still great.

And best of all, it controls distortion honestly pretty darn well.

Bokeh

Now, there isn’t a lot of bokeh from this lens but the bokeh that is there is quite nice. I recommend it strongly for people eating that want a quick snap before they dig into their meals. The bokeh overall is a tad hazy though leans more towards creamy–and that’s an amazing feat to pull off.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests, I found very minute signs of some fringing; but they’re super small and only in the highest contrast points. Otherwise, the distortion of the lens is pretty well cut down on.

Color Rendition

Just imagine what would happen if slapped a Canon DSLR lens on a Sony camera. That’s what you’re getting here essentially. The colors are fantastic and even a bit more saturated which only adds to the fun.

That, and all the colors overall are pretty rich.

Sharpness

One of my favorite things about this lens is just how darn sharp it is. Couple that with zone focusing or very careful manual focusing and you’ve got a lens that will totally rock.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Pretty much everything!

Dislikes

  • I really wish that it had weather sealing. I’d gladly pay more for that.

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN offers a whole lot of great image quality in a small package that is fantastic for so many photographers out there. Landscape, architecture, street, and urban geometry shooters will greatly appreciate the wide angle and the precise zone focusing abilities. The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN is a jack of all trades in many aspects of the image quality and anything that can’t be done can be easily supplemented with some editing in Capture One Pro.

I like it; I really like it.

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN lens wins five out of five stars in my book.