TEST – Tokina atx-i 100mm f2.8 FF MACRO PLUS
TEST - Tokina atx-i 100mm f2.8 FF MACRO PLUS
Test Tokina 100mm macro 2.8
For a few weeks now, I have been using the Tokina ATX-i 100mm Macro 2.8. It is the first time I ever own a macro lens and I was not sure what to expect. In turned out to be a very impressive experience and an amazing lens to begin macrophotography, even though I had very limited experience in that field of photography. Let’s go for this test of the Tokina 100mm macro !
At first, you are (as always with Tokina) pleased by the quality of the equipment. It feels strong but not heavy and also well made. Everything falls quite naturally in your hands and therefore, you do not need lots of time to use it without any difficulties. It does not includes image stabilization, but since you will mostly use it with a flashlight or a tripod, it does not matter at all. On the side, you will find a switch that allows you to limit the focus, in order to gain time when using AF. To switch between AF and MF, you will have to pull on the clutch ring at the front of the lens.
I am using the lens with an adaptor on my EOS R and I did not notice any loss of quality. Moreover, if you would like to find an equivalent within Canon catalogue, it would cost you at least 1000€ to get a similar one, while Tokina’s one costs around 500€ here in France. On the Nikon version, a ring allows you to change the exposure directly on the lens, worth knowing if you own any Nikon body !
And I think the price question is something to spend some few lines on. Over the past few years Tokina kept developing very good equipment at the price that is almost everytime very cheaper than the other big manufacturer. The Opera 50mm 1.4 is an excellent example since it is cheaper than most of its competitors but also ended up first in every comparison I was able to find on the internet. So, has Tokina succeeded with this one too ? Let’s find out !
Test Tokina 100mm macro - On the field
When I first mounted the lens on my EOS R, I found it quite natural to use. The autofocus is not very fast, as it is a macro lens, but appears to be very precise, which is far more important. I was able to focus clearly on bees and small flowers almost instantly and got sharp images within few minutes using it. Even if you will probably solely use manual focus most of the time (I do), it is good to know that this 100mm will not let you down when it comes to focusing.
I used the lens on my EOS R for the field test and decided to begin with my garden. I noticed this tiny spider (3mm) standing on some dandelion and decided to give it a try, event though there was a bit of wind this day. It solely took me around ten tries to get a sharp, clear result and I was astonished by the level of detail one can get without proper knowledge about macrophotography.
As you can see, the details on the spider allow to see each of its eyes as well as the tiny hairs on its legs. Also, the lens managed well the difference between the shadows and the part in the sun with the spider. I did not notice any flare or chromatic aberration, which is a very good point. And, has many photographers have told it before me : this lens is amazingly sharp. I did not know what to expect from a 500€ macro lens and I must say it was impressive. Every little detail, from the flowers, to the eyes of the insects, even some bugs that are less than a millimeter can be easily photographed with great results. This allows the photographer to really “dive into” the microcosm and I absolutely love it.
After this successful first try in my garden, I headed towards a forest I love to see if I could find something to capture. My mind was already set up to “mushroom mode”. I indeed love to see how other photographers use mushrooms in compositions in order to get some impressive shots, making them look massive.
Luckily, I happened to find a dead tree that was covered with different species of mushrooms and some few holes into the canopy allowed the sun to illuminate the background. This gave me the opportunity to try something different with the lens : handheld focus bracketing without flash. And I must say that I was not disappointed again. Even if the Tokina 100mm macro has no stabilization, it was simple to switch to manual focus and take around 10 to 30 pictures, slowly moving the focus from the front of the mushroom to its back. The smoothness of the ring demands a bit of practice but once you have it in hands, you can focus manually more precisely than on any other lens I ever used. And my impression was confirmed when I took the pictures to Photoshop in order to assemble them : no errors, deformations were corrected automatically and the sharpness was, again, astonishing.
I actually liked doing focus bracketing with this lens so much that, at some point I would not take “simple pictures” at all. To see more of this series with mushrooms, please just see the gallery under this text, the tallest one presented was about 2cm when the smallest was solely about 5mm.
The maximum magnification offered by the lens is a 1:1 ratio and it allowed me to take pictures of animals as small as baby aphids, that are less than a millimeter long when the are young.
I think this lens is the perfect companion if you would like to give a try to macrophotography, but not only. Even if it is branded “macro”, it also allows you to focus and capture images just like any regular lens and can be used in landscape, portrait, astrophotography or even wildlife photography depending on the subject. And I think this is what makes this lens so great. I almost always carry it my bag when I go on a shooting these days since it appears to come in very handy in a various number of situations.
Right now, I have tried it on any classic subject a macrophotographer would love to use it on: bugs, insects, flowers, mushrooms, close-ups on textures and woods… The most difficult thing once you have this lens, is to leave it on the side to use another one for work. The next step will be using it on astrophotography since I firmly believe in would work.
To conclude this test, I would say that the Tokina 100mm 2.8 macro is a very good lens for someone that would like to get started with macrophotography. The financial investment is limited, the lens is easy to use and the results you can get once you have it in hands really motivate you to go further with it. If you would like to see more of it, please head towards Tokina social medias since I will be sending them some more images in the upcoming weeks.
The lens is available for Canon EF and Nikon F mounts but you can also choose the Fírin version if you are a Sony user.
Light and very compact (ideal for travel)
Easy to use
Really smooth focus ring
Lens hood can be inverted for transport
No stabilization (but it is not very useful)
55mm filter size that is not that common