A great lens that missed the boat

Started 4 months ago | User reviews thread
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Richard Murdey
Richard Murdey Veteran Member • Posts: 3,013
A great lens that missed the boat

To be clear, the Tokina Opera 50/1.4 is the Pentax D-FA* 50/1.4 in casual Friday attire. Same optics, same AF motor, same size, same weight ... but with a cheaper feeling, and cheaper looking, external finish. On the Tokina version, the matt black powder coating scuffs easily, while the Pentax speckled finish is far more robust. The Tokina has a cheap, serrated rubber focus ring, the Pentax gets a knobby, harder, and more secure feeling version. The Tokina is plain and understated, with simple (and easily rubbed off) painted lettering and and odd mix of fonts, the Pentax version comes in the distinctive and attractive D-FA* trade dress, gold ring, green anodized trim, and bold fonts.

By going with such bland, cheap-looking, and nondescript design language for what should have been a statement product for them, Tokina failed big time. Clearly though, by the time this lens was nearing release Tokina was no longer interested investing time or effort into dLSR optics. And to be fair, this was was never going to sell very well, no matter what they did to the outside, and no matter how good it was on the inside. The era of expensive, premium 3rd party dLSR prime lenses, that opened with the first Sigma ART, was already sunsetted. The Tokina Opera was born of their partnership with Pentax, vetted at a time when these lenses were still viable on other SLR mounts, but by the time it came out even Tokina had realized that the rest of the world had moved on.

Seriously: zero reviews posted to dpreview in 3 years.

Anyway. For optical reviews just go read the info on the Pentax version. I have both, I can vouch for the performance of both lenses being identical.

As far as the any specific system issues, I have the Nikon version and use it on my D750. It is a large and heavy lens, but the D750 handles it well - balancing it better, I would say, than the K-1 does the D-FA*. Focus is quiet, accurate and smooth, but not especially fast. Manual focus is positive, with no jitter or lag. I am happy to report that the automatic lens corrections that Nikon's own lenses benefit from in software seem to be implemented here also - I can get automatic vignetting and distortion correction in NX-studio for example. I guess Tokina paid the appropriate license fees to get the AF-S coding properly implemented.

Although the optical and functional performance is near flawless, it's a hard lens to justify buying. There's the Sigma ART 50/1.4 that's the same thing essentially. Then there's the Nikon 58mm F1.4G. Smaller, far lighter, similar performance. There's the many 50mm primes that, while not quite as good, are much, much cheaper - and much smaller and lighter too. And there's the stellar Zeiss Planar 50/1.4mm ZF if you don't mind manual focus. Lots of great choice, not a lot of room left for the Opera to make a name for itself.

Still, if you are a heavy 50mm user, don't mind the the 950 g weight, and want to treat yourself to an extremely high level of optical performance, this lens will not disappoint.

 Richard Murdey's gear list:Richard Murdey's gear list
Nikon D750 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/21 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/25 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2/35 Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50 +13 more
Tokina Opera 50mm F1.4
Prime lens • Canon EF, Nikon F (FX)
Announced: Feb 28, 2018
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Nikon D750 Pentax K-1 Tokina Opera 50mm F1.4
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