Lens Review: Tokina 20mm F2 FiRIN AF (Sony FE)

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF takes the great qualities of the manual focus version and adds autofocus.

When the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF was announced, I was a tad confused as to why they’d create it. I mean, the manual focus version was and still is great. They essentially just took it, gave it autofocus, and didn’t do any other major upgrades, not even weather sealing! So as I went through my review process, I kept all of this in mind. The way I see it, I really want to understand why they didn’t just go for the autofocus version to begin with. To me, that didn’t make sense. Essentially, the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF is the same lens as the manual focus version. It is still a lens with sharp optics. Still at f2. Still fairly small and lightweight; and at the same time this lens is still relatively affordable. But I’m still scratching my head.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Fast focusing abilities in good lighting
  • Nice bokeh
  • Small
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • I’m still trying to understand why there are two versions of this lens.
  • Why is there no weather sealing?

Gear Used

We tested the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF on the Sony a7r III and the Sony a7.

Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF Tech Specs

Specs taken from Tokina’s website.

General info
Brand
Tokina
Product Family
Lens
Model
FíRIN 20mm F2 FE AF
Model Description
Tokina FíRIN 20mm f/2 FE AF
Series
FiRIN
Mount
Sony E
Type
Wide Prime
Color
Black
Country of Origin
Japan
Main specifications
Focal Length
20mm
Maximum Aperture
f/2
Minimum Aperture
f/22
Automatic Aperture
Yes
Manual Aperture Ring
No
Angle of View
92°40′
Minimum Focusing Distance
0.28m
Macro Ratio
1:10.29
Focusing Mode
Automatic
Manual Focusing Ring
Yes
Autofocus Switch
Switch
Focusing Type
Internal Focus
Sensor Size
Full Frame
Filter Size
62mm
Multi-coating
Yes
Construction
Construction E/G
13 Elements in 11 Groups
Aperture Blades
9
Electrical Contacts
Yes
Additional info
Dimensions
73.4×81.5 mm
Weight
464g
Lens Hood
BH-623
Package
Carton Box, Front Lens Cap, Instructions Manual, Lens Hood, Rear Lens Cap, Warranty Sheet
Warranty
2 Year Limited Warranty

Ergonomics

While looking at and holding the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF, you’ll realize that the ergonomics are designed to be very simple and plain. In fact, it reminds me a whole lot of Sony’s earlier FE lenses and those made when the NEX series was still around.

Take a look at the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF here. The only control on the lens is the focusing ring. There are no switches of any sort and there is no focus/distance scale on the lens.

Turn to the side and you’ll see it continues to be devoid of controls. The rear area has some extra grooves for gripping ability.

Build Quality

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF has a metal exterior but if I’m going to be honest, it doesn’t feel anywhere as well built as the manual focus version. If Tokina did their own unique take on a Leica lens, that would be the original lens. This one instead feels much like a Sony lens: not to say that’s bad, but compare it to a Leica. It doesn’t have weather sealing, but I’ve taken it out in the rain. While being careful with it, it was able to keep shooting. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing that.

Ease of Use

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF is much easier to use than the original version because it’s an autofocus lens. Affix it to the camera, autofocus, and shoot. That’s it. It’s pretty straight forward. If you’re not used to manual focus, then the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF will be right up your alley.

Autofocus

In my tests, I found the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF to focus pretty accurately and without many issues. Where I found some discrepancy with that statement is in low lighting. Sony lenses, Tamron lenses, and Rokinon lenses didn’t have that issue. But Tokina’s offering here didn’t perform as well in terms of speed and focus confirmation. I cleaned the lens and camera contacts to be sure. Still, the speed suffered.

Where it really excelled is with focusing on moving subjects when shooting street photography in the rain. I took refuge inside of a Starbucks and focused/tracked subjects moving across the frame. It was perfect.

Image Quality

Luckily, the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF still has great image quality in the same way that the original, manual focus version did. Tokina’s lenses in the past few years have all been stellar not only in their sharpness but also in their color rendition, their lack of CA, and the overall look. Said look, however, isn’t that much of one that stands out like Zeiss, but it surely is nice. I want to equate it to something like turning up the clarity by default in your RAW files.

Bokeh

The bokeh from the Tokina 20mm f2 is pretty nice once you get up close and personal. It isn’t distracting and instead it’s more hazy than creamy. You just have to expect this with a wide angle lens.

Chromatic Aberration

We found none in our tests. Is there distortion? Yes, but it’s fixable in post.

Color Rendition

Our testing was done with white balances locked to emulate the look of film. This translated into some very neutral but nice colors from this lens.

Sharpness

Tokina’s lenses have always been sharp. There is nothing major to compare this lens to, but do know that it is very sharp when stopped down and even wide open. For what it’s worth though, I think the original, manual focus lens may be a bit sharper.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Image Quality

Dislikes

  • Why the hell isn’t there weather sealing?

With the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF review being done, I really do wonder why it didn’t have weather sealing. I’m going to continue to harp on this because I feel like this lens deserved it. Just taking the same optics and adding autofocus is sort of lazy. I understand it, but then why not just make the autofocus version to begin with and call it a day? That’s where I’m really lost. With all that said, the Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF has great image quality, can do well when it comes to autofocusing, and works seamlessly with Sony’s cameras. But I still don’t understand its purpose.

The Tokina 20mm f2 FiRIN AF gets four out of five stars because it should have had weather sealing. Find it on Amazon.

Recommended Cameras

Sony a7 III: The “basic camera” deserves the “basic lens.”