Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro for Sony FE Review

The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro is an affordable, long macro lens for Sony cameras. It has the new design of Tokina’s Firin series with a proven lens design.  The focal point is a fraction longer than that of Sony’s own long macro, the FE 90 mm f/2.8, and the price is a lot lower. You cannot tell from the image quality. And that makes this a great alternative for macro photographers on a budget.

​Click on the product for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS: Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 FE macro for Sony FE:

pros

cons

  • Very good price-to-quality ratio
  • High build quality
  • Nice and compact  
  • Extremely high sharpness
  • No distortion
  • Little vignetting
  • Macro with longest focal length for Sony FE
  • AF motor is not silent
  • More expensive than the AT-X Pro version (Canon and Nikon photographers luck out)
  • No focus range limiter (this is on the AT-X Pro version for Canon and Nikon)
  • No focus clutch (this is on the AT-X Pro version for Canon and Nikon)

The most attractive macro lens for Sony FE is a Tokina

For Sony E-mount cameras, not many telephotos with a fixed focal length longer than 85 mm are actually available. Sony makes a 90 mm macro, a very specialized 100 mm f/2.8 STF and a 135 mm f/1.8. And furthermore, there is the 135 mm f/2.8 Batis from Zeiss. They are all more expensive, bigger and heavier than the Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro. If you are looking for an affordable, compact medium telephoto lens for macro or portrait, you should have this Tokina high on the list for that reason alone.

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The most unusual feature of this lens is of course the macro capability. The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro is a real macro with 1:1 magnification. That means that a subject of about 36 mm long can be photographed precisely to fill the image. If you do that, then you are also very close to your subject. And that is why a longer focal length of 100 mm is so handy. With this Tokina, you still have a distance of about 12 centimeters between the front of your lens and your subject. This reduces the chance of your subject flying away, and you prevent your subject from being in the shadow of your own lens. But the Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro is of course more than a specialized macro lens. It is also simply a good 100 mm f/2.8. And that’s a nice focal point for portrait photography or for landscape shots with a compressed perspective. Thanks to the low weight, it is also a nice addition to a 24-70 mm for traveling.

BUILD AND autofocus

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The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro has a modern design. It is fairly compact, and, with a weight of less than 6 ounces, it is also fairly light. The finish of the lens is beautiful and of a high level. At the same time, it is a fairly spartan objective. It lacks quite a few options that would be nice on a macro and that you will find in part on the Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro and the AT-X models from Tokina. The focus ring does not have a focus clutch to switch to manual focus. There is also no limiter for the focus range. If the autofocus is wrong, then it can easily search the entire range, from infinity to very close. And that takes time. You are also missing a focus hold button, and the lens has no window on which you can see the set distance.

What the lens does have is a scale with the magnification scale on the tube. The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro does not focus internally. That means that when focusing, the lens gets longer, and you can see the magnification you’re working at on the tube that extends out. That is quite handy. Another thing that is special about this lens is that it automatically retracts when you turn the camera off. And when you turn it on again, it extends to the focus point you were last using. This shows that Tokina has fully utilized the capabilities of the Sony cameras. The Firin can take full advantage of all the autofocus options that the Sonys offer. The lens has no image stabilization but can be used well with the built-in image stabilization of the Sony cameras. The diaphragm has nine blades, which ensures a beautiful bokeh at full aperture. The auto focus is pretty accurate, but not super-fast. This is not a problem for macro photography, because you can actually do it much better by hand.

VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION

The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro has little trouble with vignetting. In RAW and without corrections, it is just over half a stop at full aperture. With stopping down, it gradually decreases to less than 0.2 stops at f/8. In the jpegs, it is slightly higher because the standard image profile slightly enhances the contrast. If you work at full aperture and you don’t want vignetting, then you will have to correct the corners slightly in the post-processing. But most likely, you will hardly see any vignetting in practice. And of course, that is a good thing, because macros are also often used for reproductions. And then you don’t want a change in the brightness of your image.. 

For the same reason, a macro should also be as free of distortion as possible. And the Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro is. In RAW , it is just measurable, but in practice, it is not really relevant. After correction, it is almost equal to 0. You can’t get better than that.

IMAGE QUALITY

Another important aspect for macro lenses is the sharpness. And the Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro also scores very well on sharpness. If it still seems as if the corners are lagging slightly behind, it is mainly due to the enormously high scores in the center. But those corners are actually also really good with the Tokina. You will also not find chromatic aberrations, and the contrast is good. If you photograph with the sun in frame or just at the edge of the frame, a slight flare is possible. You will of course see that in your viewfinder, and you can easily adjust your composition accordingly. The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro delivers a reasonably nice bokeh at full aperture at average shooting distances. As soon as you stop down a stop to f/4, the aperture is no longer round, and you get some angular bokeh balls if you have shiny points in the background.   

Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 Macro SAMPLE IMAGES

Curious about the performance of the Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 Macro in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.

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Conclusion: Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 macro for Sony FE

The image quality of the Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro is top notch, and the price is modest.

The Tokina Firin 100 mm f/2.8 FE Macro is an attractive macro lens that can also serve quite well as a medium telephoto. Or vice versa, depending on what you prefer to photograph.

Click on the product for specifications, prices and test results.

The lens design of the Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 Macro for Sony system cameras matches that of the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X 100 AF PRO D for Canon and Nikon SLR cameras. That AF PRO D Macro was and still is a very good lens, with an attractive price-to-quality ratio, and the Firin is as well.  The Firin is missing a number of features that the SLR camera version has, but on the other hand, it makes optimal use of all the focus capabilities that you find on Sony cameras. And you can’t do that with the AT-X models. The price is modest, and the image quality is simply the fantastic. The fact that the Tokina Firin 100mm f/2.8 FE Macro is also one of the lightest and smallest AF lenses for Sony that is longer than 85mm makes the Firin an ideal lens for taking along with you frequently.

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