Tokina FíRIN 20 mm F2 FE AF review
There was already a Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 MF: a bright full-frame wide-angle lens for Sony system cameras, such as the Sony A7 II, A7R III, A7s or the Sony A9. Now there is also a Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 AF version of this ultra-wide-angle lens with a fixed focal length for the Sony FE mount.
Firin means "that which is real" and is a variant of Fírinne, the Old Irish word for "truth". The most recent version of the Tokina Firin, with AF, has a more modern design with a wide focus ring, but without aperture ring, depth-of-field indication or distance scale. A striking difference between the MF and the AF version is the included lens hood: that of the MF version is rectangular, that of the AF version is not.
OUTSTANDING OPTICAL PERFORMANCEs
This beautiful shot was made by Toshiya Ogawa and is also on the Firin AF page on Tokina's website (used with permission) .
Andy Westlake from Amateur Photography was very enthusiastic about the image quality of the version without autofocus in his Tokina 20mm Firin MF review. And we are even more enthusiastic about a version with AF. The optical design is optimized for full-size camera sensors in terms of size and resolution, and incorporates 2 aspherical elements and 3 lenses of Super-low Dispersion glass to significantly reduce all types of aberration, including spherical aberration, distortion and chromatic aberration, while simultaneously providing high resolution and astonishing performance, even with a wide-open aperture. Should you not object to the lack of AF on an ultra-wide-angle lens, take a look at the following video from Tokina. The MF version has the same image quality, but costs even less than the AF version.
FOCUSING RING-TYPE ULTRASONIC AUTOFOCUS MOTOr
For the AF system, the FÍRIN 20 mm F2 AF uses a fast-responding and quiet, ring-type ultrasonic motor. The AF focused from infinity to 1.5 meters in 0.5 seconds. Fast, but not extremely fast. AF is not completely silent, so you can hear the AF motor when you use the microphone in the camera. The Tokina FÍRIN 20 mm F2 FE AF is fully compatible with the Fast Hybrid AF system and all AF function settings, and offers the same AF performance as with regular E-mount AF lenses. Accurate manual focus is supported by the MF Assist function..
AutomatiC in-camera lens correctiONs
Optical corrections are automatically executed by the camera if you so choose. Thanks to data transmission via the electrical contacts on the lens, the Sony camera receives information from the lens chip for automatic in-camera correction of vignetting, distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations. It works well.
Because with wide-angle zooms most of the image stabilization is achieved with in-body image stabilization (and with telephoto lenses with in-lens image stabilization), it is a given that no image stabilization is built into this lens. Because the lens transmits the focal length to the camera, FÍRIN 20 mm F2 FE AF can use the IBIS image stabilization function of the Sony A7 and A9 cameras.
Tokina FíRIN 20 mm F2 FE AF IMAGE QUALITY
The Tokina Firin is a modern lens design, especially for a Sony full-frame system camera. The lens design includes three Super-Low dispersion elements, two aspherical elements and of course has Multicoating, so that the transmission is high and the chance of ghosts is reduced considerably. In shots where the sun shines directly in frame, you can - as with almost all wide-angle lenses - sometimes encounter a green ghost image. In general, the multi-coating does its work properly. What probably also has a positive effect is that the front lens is not extremely convex, as you find with most extreme wide-angle lenses.
At f/13, the 9-bladed aperture of the Tokina 20 mm f/2 Firin delivers beautiful sun stars.
At full aperture, the center sharpness is already very good, but the sharpness in the corners lags somewhat behind. Nothing strange for a bright ultra-wide angle, those soft corners at full aperture. But what is exceptional is the extremely high resolution across the entire aperture range. The difference in background blur of f/2.8 or f/2 may not seem like much, but the f/2 aperture of the Firin is really an asset: the high center sharpness with a beautiful background blur at f/2 yields very beautiful pictures that you cannot make with almost any other ultra-wide angle with Sony FE mount. Shots from f/4 are actually already sharp from corner to corner, even though the corner sharpness continues to increase to f/8. Is the Firin perfect? No: at full aperture you can see that the lens suffers from image field curvature. We often encounter that with bright (wide-angle) lenses. If you focus with the Tokina Firin at f/2 on a flat surface in the center, then the corners are less sharp than if you focus in the corners at f/2. At f/2.8 this is already compensated for by the increased depth of field.
At full aperture, the vignetting is clearly visible, even after stopping down a few stops. That is not specific to the Tokina Firin, but the short distance from a lens to the Sony sensor leads to a few stops of vignetting in the corners with all (ultra-) wide angle lenses. This is one of the reasons why there are so many patents appearing for curved sensors. In the jpg files that are stored in the camera with image corrections, the vignetting is already much less, but at full aperture more than 1 stop and thus recognizable in some situations. Imatest results from uncorrected RAW files show a distortion of -1.75% barrel distortion, less than half a percent of which remains after lens correction of jpg files in the camera. A lens correction profile for RAW files is also available in Lightroom.
With a 20mm lens, we are usually not that impressed with the bokeh, but the combination of high center sharpness and a nice gradient of blur at f/2 produces nice pictures. All practice shots in this article, with the exception of the sunstar illustration, are made with a Sony A7R III at full aperture and 50 ISO.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Tokina FíRIN 20 mm F2 FE AF (@ Sony A7R III)
WYSIWYG score: TThis table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".