There’s no denying the addictive fascination of capturing the smallest of subject matter with a macro lens. A magnified view of everything opens up a whole new world, but first you must choose an appropriate lens to render all that small detail.
Depending on which camera platform you currently reside upon, there should be camera manufacturer lenses available. But if you want to follow the third-party lens route, more options present themselves. Today we’ll be checking out the best Tokina macro lenses under $1000.
Tokina may not have a vast amount of macro lenses in its current line-up, but lucky for us, the ones that are available fit the bill very nicely.
I’m sure some lens manufacturers have some sort of favoritism towards the Sony platform as exemplified by a good bunch of SONY/ZEISS offerings and this Tokina FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro lens. But if you’re lucky enough to be sat squarely on the Sony platform, this lens is a high-end, quality choice, with top-line optics. It also comes in at the 100mm focal length, providing a 150mm viewpoint on crop sensor cameras.
The Tokina FiRIN 100mm offers a true 1:1 life-size reproduction ratio, with a flat field optical design, multi-layered coatings on lens elements, and a rather handy macro scale printed on the inner lens barrel. This lens is on the surface a more simple and straightforward offering than the option above, without any external features such as an aperture ring.
Just like the atx-i lens above, the 100mm focal length works well as a portrait shooter, producing nice and creamy bokeh, especially when close to a subject. Image sharpness and detail are very respectable for the price, making it a good option for macro photography and as a lens under our specific budget.
You can read our complete Tokina FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE MACRO review to learn more.
This lens is a bit of a weird one. Firstly, it’s only available for the micro four thirds Olympus and Panasonic cameras. Plus, it has an extremely long 300mm or 600mm-equivalent focal length on this platform, crammed into tiny dimensions and a macro shooting mode. Usually, 300mm+ focal length lenses are huge chunks of glass, but the small dimensions are achieved here by using highly-polished internal mirrors.
As the Tokina Reflex 300mm has an f/6.3 aperture, it needs a fair degree of light to work at its best and as it is manual focus only, you have to be very accurate and tentative with the focus ring to pull out the most detail. One unique aspect of this lens design is the way it renders bokeh balls or out of focus areas with more of a doughnut shape. This effect is very subjective, being really down to your own personal preferences if you like this type of rendering or not.
As a macro shooter, the Tokina Reflex 300mm f/6.3 MF offers a 1:2 reproduction ratio, which isn’t life-size, but respectable enough for occasional small subject shots. Really, this lens is more a solution for those who want a very compact long telephoto prime, who occasionally shoot small subject matters.
4. Tokina AT-X M35 PRO DX Macro (Budget Winner)
With the current lineup of Tokina macro lenses under $1000, this would be the end of the story. But if you don’t mind digging back in time, there is the AT-X M35 PRO DX Macro to consider. A 35mm focal length isn’t the most obvious choice for macro work, but it does double as a handy standard prime lens and is the best value option on our list.
This lens benefits from multi-coating on all lens elements, with a very usable f/2.8 aperture for low-light conditions. The prerequisite 1:1 reproduction ratio is also available, with a nice close focusing distance of just 14cm. The Tokina AT-X M35 also features autofocus, with a full-time manual override that is very easy to hit focus with.
As a standard 35mm lens, the optics provide a good deal of sharpness even with the aperture wide open. The only downside is that you see aspects of chromatic aberration when the aperture is set to f/2.8. As a macro lens, the short and wide-angle focal length provides very sharp and contrasty images across the frame – that’s if you don’t mind the shorter focal length workings.
Focusing on the Best Tokina Macro Lenses Under $1000
We all have our brand preferences in one way or another and Tokina is a favorite among many. Once you’re happy with one lens type, it usually follows suit that you’ll look down the same company avenue for stuff in the future. There may not be a boatload of Tokina macro lenses under $1000, but the ones they do have slot nicely into the macro camp, offering very good lenses for the price, with true-to-life macro workings.