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?

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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

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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

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