Tokina may not be an obvious prime lens choice to some, but like the rest of the third-party lens makers, the company has been producing some very tasty high-end lenses of late. Tokina now has viable alternatives to same-as camera brand versions, which is why we are bringing you the best Tokina prime lenses under $1000 today.
Affordable lenses and budget features have generally been the calling cards of Tokina glass. But as shown with the examples below, the most popular focal lengths have been covered with good lenses that feature top-quality optics, while also being some of the best value glass around.
1. Tokina opera 50mm f/1.4 FF (Overall Winner)
You can’t beat the good old 50mm focal length for all-round versatility, which is why the Tokina opera 50mm f/1.4 FF ticks all the boxes as our number one prime candidate. This is a lens under our proposed budget, which provides very high-quality optics in a very usable package.
As is typical of modern high-end glass, the opera 50mm f/1.4 FF isn’t exactly lightweight, coming in at 950g, with the bulky dimensions of 80 x 107.5mm. All this weight-bearing has been poured into the optics, which are comprised of 15 elements in nine groups, and feature three super-low dispersion and one aspherical element, which have all been treated to an ELR coating for increased image quality.
The f/1.4 aperture is exactly what you need on a high-quality prime lens for not just low-light capabilities, but also excellent bokeh renditions. The lens has also been fully weatherproofed, giving users the confidence to take it into all types of environmental conditions.
The Tokina opera 50mm is remarkably sharp at f/1.4 and provides the best results across the frame from f/2. There’s also no faulting the quality of the bokeh, with very smooth transitions of color and well-defined highlight balls. In essence, this lens is a very viable alternative to the competition at 50mm.
For those times where you need a wider angle view of the world, the FiRIN 20mm f/2 FE AF is another high-quality option, providing a 30mm equivalent focal length on crop sensor cameras. The lens has a very usable f/2 aperture and if you’re lucky enough to be on the Sony platform which this lens was designed for, it can also provide a 30mm viewpoint on crop sensor cameras.
Internally, the optics are comprised of three super-low dispersion elements, along with two aspherical elements and a multi-layered coating to suppress the likes of lens flare and ghosting. The lens is also reasonably weighted at 464g and although it isn’t weatherproofed, the lens barrel is solid enough for most uses.
For those who want to deliberate over manual focusing, the focusing ring is smooth to turn and easy to hit pinpoint focus. The autofocus system is also quick to react even in low-light conditions. This lens may not be the best option for very close-up work, but when the aperture is stopped down, the FiRIN 20mm f/2 FE AF is fantastically sharp where it counts.
The FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro is another lens built specifically for the Sony platform, which can provide a 150mm equivalent focal length on APS-C models. Along with being a very useful 100mm lens, it also has a life-size 1:1 macro mode, with a close focusing distance of 30cm.
Multi-layered coatings have been applied to each lens element to suppress lens flare and ghosting, while the flat field optical design provides minimal distortion levels throughout the frame. In reality, this provides extremely low distortion levels, with virtually no signs of chromatic aberration.
As well as being a very capable portrait lens, the FiRIN 100mm will most likely be purchased for its macro capabilities. The 1:1 reproduction ratio fills the full-frame with a subject. And although the aperture will need stopping down to f/4 for ultimate sharpness, the lens produces plenty of detail where it counts.
As a portrait lens, the f/2.8 aperture provides rich color and contrast, while also producing very respectable creamy bokeh effects.
4. Tokina atx-m 85mm f/1.8 FE (Budget Winner)
As you’ve probably got the gist by now, Tokina favors the Sony platform, with the atx-m 85mm f/1.8 FE being no exception. The 85mm focal length is a favorite of portrait shooters, while on crop sensor cameras the 127.5mm equivalent focal length takes the lens into the short telephoto zone.
Although this is the most affordable prime lens on this list, it features the widest aperture of f/1.8, with a nine-blade rounded diaphragm for quality bokeh effects. Optically, the lens is comprised of one SD low dispersion element and a super low reflective multi-coating applied to each element to reduce lens flare and ghosting and also to repel dust and moisture.
The f/1.8 aperture is not only sharp but it gives great low-light capabilities and very professional-looking background blur. The Tokina atx-m 85mm f/1.8 FE provides the most definition from f/2.8, with the sharpest center to edge views at f/4. Where this lens benefits the most is in providing almost the same levels of rendition as far more expensive 85mm primes for less than half the price. For Sony users, this is very good news indeed.
Finding Top Quality in Tokina Prime Lenses Under $1000
While Tokina may not have as many high-end prime lens options as the rest of the pack, it does offer great alternatives where it counts. If you’re lucky enough to be on the Sony platform, then you have more options than most. But the company has been very strategic in offering a viable 50mm alternative, which packs just as big a punch as other third-party brands.
The opera 50mm features a very usable f/1.4 maximum aperture for all-round versatility. While the FiRIN 100mm f/2.8 is a good balance between cost, as a short telephoto solution, and as a very worthwhile macro lens. If you want to delve more into the atx series, there is also a 100mm macro lens which fits nicely into our budget range, which is also available for both Canon and Nikon mounts.