Tokina Opera 50mm lens
Tokina’s got a new premium, fast prime on the block, but can the Opera 50mm make it in this cut-throat sector?
Tokina is back on the scene with their competitive Opera 50mm, but is it enough for them to make a splash?
tokina is back with this new fast standard prime, designed to be the start of a high-end Opera series, positioned above the company’s AT-X lens line to rival Sigma and Tamron’s latest premium offerings. Inside the Opera 50mm f/1.4 FF is a nine-element optical stack that contains three SD (Super-low Dispersion) elements, and one aspherical element to minimize chromatic aberrations.
New to this lens is Tokina’s ELR (Extremely Low Reflection) coating that targets the light spectrum entering the lens to reduce ghosting, flare and reflections when shooting scenes containing a strong light source. A nine-blade diaphragm is present to help keep bokeh as smooth as possible. The Opera 50mm is dust and moisture resistant, with seals protecting eight areas of possible ingress. Great, if you fancy a bit of all-weather street photography. Included with the lens is a BH-726 petal hood that features a sliding window in the top, allowing for the rotation of a polarizing filter.
Tokina is making bold claims about the speed and silence of the AF system in the Opera. It’s of the ring-type ultrasonic variety rather than a more modern stepping motor design, but there is full-time manual override. In our testing, autofocus proved to be reliable and fast, right down to the minimum 40cm
focusing distance. This flawless operation is also true of the lens’s optical performance. Image quality is pin-sharp – there’s only a hint of chromatic aberration when shooting very high-contrast scenes, and distortion needn’t be a concern, as the Opera is resistant to it.
Yet such performance is essential if the Opera 50mm is to succeed. As Sigma and Tamron battle hard to win buyers away from Canon’s own glass, Tokina needed to deliver a very special lens to compete.
Fortunately the Opera 50mm f/1.4 FF is just that. It’s obvious main rival is Sigma’s 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. Both lenses are of a similar size and weight, and the Sigma is such a good all-rounder. If anything the Tokina is even more impressive, and though its lens barrel doesn’t exude the same exquisite feel as Sigma’s Art-level build, Tokina fights back with comprehensive weather sealing.
Still, £879/$949 is a lot to drop on a standard prime, especially as it’s nearly £300 more than the Sigma, making the Opera 50mm one of the priciest standard primes you can buy for a Canon DSLR. But, if you’re in the market for an Ef-mount standard prime, and are willing to pay a premium for the best possible image quality, the Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 FF doesn’t disappoint.
The image quality on the Opera 50mm is supreme and hard to beat
Comprehensive weather seals make this a fantastic all-purpose lens
Autofocus is reliably accurate and the 9-blade diaphragm will help generate silky smooth bokeh
It doesn’t matter what you throw at this lens, you’ll have a very hard time finding any fringing