Tokina AT-X 90mm f/2.5 macro on X-E1
  • The Tokina AT-X 90mm f/2.5 macro is a highly regarded manual-focus lens with excellent sharpness and a beautiful bokeh (in fact it is also known as “Bokina”).
    More information about this lens can be found in this review and in this review, while specs and MTF data can be found in its Photodo webpages.
    I am lucky enough to have one for my Minolta MD cameras and, obviously, I decided to adapt it for use with my X-E1 as well.


    How does it work?
    The following picture summarizes the good and the bad of this lens-camera combo.

    At f/2.5 on Fujifilm X-E1, 1/1600 sec, ISO 800.

    On the positive side, the lens resolves well the details of the areas in-focus (see the enlargements below).

    Detail at 100% magnification.

    Detail at 100% magnification.

    Also, even if this is not a really fast lens (at least relative to the forthcoming XF 56mm f/1.2) in portrait use it has a shallow enough depth of field to isolate nicely the subject from the background. And, up to its nickname reputation, its rendition of the out of focus areas is smooth and creamy.
    On the negative side, wide open the lens is prone to purple fringing as visible in the edge between the dark blue and white strips on the shoulder.
    The following night picture is an even worse example purple fringing.

    At f/2.5 on Fujifilm X-E1, 1/4 sec, ISO 800.

    The bright light sources have a blue halo around them (see enlarged detail below).

    Detail at 100% magnification.

    When I saw these halos I thought for a moment it was an anomalous rendition of bright spots, i.e. something more or less resembling the white orbs problem that plagued the first batches of X-10 cameras. However I soon realized this was not the case as these halos, and purple fringing in general, are greatly reduced at f/4 and disappear from f/5.6 onward.
    Thankfully this phenomenon reveals itself rarely even with the lens diaphragm at f/2.5. In fact the only situation of real concern is portraiture where I may wish to use the lens wide open. Yet, until now, I never experienced any degradation of the facial/head features of a subject due to purple fringing. For all other types of photography I typically close the diaphragm to f/4 or smaller apertures which effectively prevents this problem.

    On the other hand, in day to day use this lens proves to be extremely versatile. I very confidently use it as a macro lens (what it was originally designed for), portrait lens, and 135-200mm FF-equivalent focal length telephoto since its resolution allows me to crop images to a narrower field of view without appreciable IQ degradation.

    At f/5.6 on Fujifilm X-E1, 1/210 sec, ISO 800.

    Detail at 100% magnification.

    At f/2.5 on Fujifilm X-E1, 1/150sec, ISO 2000.

    At f/5.6 on Fujifilm X-E1, 1/640 sec, ISO 200.

    This is a little arsenal of lenses wrapped into a relatively small one, truly in the spirit of a compact camera system!
    To further increase the usability of this lens I even modified a tripod collar for use with it, as explained here .

    So, based on my experience, would I recommend this lens for use with X-mount cameras?
    Certainly yes if you have one.
    Probably yes if you are looking for a good and relatively fast 135mm FF-equivalent lens, you are not concerned with speedy focus, and you are comfortable working around the purple-fringing issue described above. However good samples of this lens typically cost $400 or more and are not so frequent to come across.
    Otherwise, I would recommend the XF 60mm f/2.4, at least until Fujifilm does come out with a X-mount lens equivalent to the Bokina.

    I wish you all a good light in this New Year.
  • K1W1_Mk2K1W1_Mk2
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  • Great pics.
    I actually have the same lense, but am missing the 3 element macro extender that brings the lens to 1:1.
    Have been looking for an extender for about 3 years now.
  • @soundfanz, thanks.
    Even when I use this lens for macro photography I rarely need its macro extender. The native 1:2 max magnification ratio of the lens alone typically is already enough to fill the APS-C-sized frame most of the times.
    Finding the original Tokina macro extender (obviously, in the same camera mount of your lens) can indeed be quite frustrating, especially if you want one in good conditions. Just to increase your chances, you may wish to consider also the equivalent macro extender of the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 macro. Allegedly, the two lenses and extenders are optically the same (Tokina made the Vivitars; see also this review). A part from the cosmetics of the barrel, the main difference between the two models is a somewhat improved lens coating reported for the Tokina model. If you can live with this difference (which would be very hard to detect in most pictures and even less so in macro photography), one significant advantage of the Vivitar macro extender is that its barrel incorporates a rotatable tripod mount.

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