TEST - Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4

Test Tokina Opera 50mm

I usually use a lens for a few weeks before giving it a review, which allows me to try it out in different conditions and types of photography. This time, I have been carrying the Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 around with me for several months before even writing a single line about it. Why is that ? Was it difficult to analyze, is the lens that great or at the contrary very difficult to appreciate (Spoiler : it’s amazing !) ?

First of all, you will appreciate the quality of the makingI really appreciate the quality of the making. The lens is quite heavy (950g) and you immediately understand why that is. It feels strong, well-made and ready to end-up in harsh situation with you. The weather sealing is also very reassuring and I have been using this lens during rainy and sandy conditions without being worried at all.

Surprisingly, it allows you to use 72mm filters, which is quite common and that is a very good point. Most of the time, you will end-up with very large filters on lenses like this one (77mm or even 82mm) that are far more expensive and sometimes hard to find depending on where you live. For example, here in the Alps, you won’t always find a quality 82mm filter. This allowed me to continue using my 72mm Hoya Starscape for astrophotography.

In terms of buttons, Tokina narrowed it to the minimum : one to switch between autofocus and manual focus, even though the lens allows you to manually focus without deactivating the AF. This being said, deactivating the AF enables the focus peaking (if you are using a mirrorless camera), which can be very useful, particularly in dark conditions. I did not notice any loss of quality or reactivity using an adaptor to mount this lens (EF-mount) on my EOS R, even on trail running events, when speed definitely is necessary.


Test Tokina Opera 50mm : on the field

The Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 is not stabilized and that is not a problem at all ! Most of the time, the aperture will help compense this and you will not feel that something is missing. Also, when opening at 1.4 will show its limits, you will most likely be using a tripod and therefore don’t have any use for stabilization. After Three months using it, I must say that I never felt the need for IS on this one.

Test Tokina Opera 50mm

Something I really enjoyed using the lens is the absence of optical flaws. You will of course be getting some vignetting with a lens that is that luminous but the preset I have on Lightroom will almost entirely correct it everytime, even in harsh conditions. I also did not notice any sensitivity to flare or chromatic aberration, which helps a lot when you like to play with end of the day lights or shoot in harsh conditions such as these shots of trail runners in the snow taken with an alternance of mist, clouds and direct sun.

And man… Can we speak about the bokeh here ?! It is almost impossible to fail having a nice blurry foreground or background in a picture. And you don’t even need to be using the lens at its full aperture. These two images, for example, were taken at f/4 with a polarizing filter and it worked just perfectly. This is probably one of the best bokeh i have seen on a lens, both soft and delicate, and I really love it. I would be very curious of using this lens in dark conditions along with a Hoya Mist Diffuser Black to enhance this soft effect even more.

On the first day, this lens is quite easy to use. Everything falls in your hands naturally and you don’t need much time to get used to it. The only thing that might surprise you at first in the weight. If you are coming from a 50mm f/1.8, which are most of the time less that 200g, you might find it a bit heavy to use at first. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. You will feel like you are using some kind of 24-105 lens and forget pretty quickly about this weight question when you will see the first results your are getting.


But now, let’s get down to business and speak about astrophotography, which is the main reason I have been interested by this lens at first !


Test Tokina Opera 50mm

Astrophotography is a very demanding subject. It both implies that the photographer spent some time learning all the basics (weather, periods, photo settings, etc.) and that the equipment is good enough to reveal the details of the night sky. With my EOS R, I have a good full-frame body, with nice iso capacities. The Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 therefore seemed to be the perfect companion to complete my setup. I tried it in three different ways :

– First, I took some simple images, on a tripod, withtout any tracking, around 2000m high in the Alps
– Then, I did a pano of the Milky Way with more than thirty images
– Finally, I got to an area with more light pollution and did some tracked-shots with my MiniTrack
The purpose of these three tests was to compare the results, see if I could find weaknesses or strong points and have a clear overview of the lens capacities. All the pictures taken can be seen below. My conclusion is that it really reveals its capacities in harsh conditions such as these ones. Sure, a portrait taken in broad day light will look good, but using this gem in astrophotography will give you an idea of its real capacities. With or without tracking, the lens takes pretty sharp pictures, the stars are clear, detailed, round and the chromatic aberration are very limited, even at high iso.

Test Tokina Opera 50mm


I think this lens might be one of the best 50mm on the market. You will obviously not compared it to the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 since this is not the same aperture and definitely not the same price (the Canon is about three times more expensive). But still, once you get used to the weight, particularly if you are coming from a 50mm f/1.8 which is really light, you will discover an amazing potential with the Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4. It shows its best qualities in portrait and astrophotography, but would be a great companion for most subjects. I often use it in sport photography, trail running events mostly, and it does a great job adding this smooth bokeh without needing the subject to be very far from the background.

Once you have tried this one out, it is difficult not to carry it with you in your bag every time you go out. I sometimes even prefer to do panoramic shots with this one instead of using my 16mm for landscapes. Yet, you will have to put more money in this one than you would do for a standard 50mm and this might be something that will bother you in the first place. I get it, I always take lots of time before buying anything, hesitating, comparing and thinking about “Will this be worth it ?”. But if you can afford this lens, trust me, you will not be disappointed. I made a shift from a standard 50mm f/1.8 lens and, even though this one is far heavier (4 times actually), I would not go back since the gain in terms of quality is outstanding. Another element that can give you an idea of the quality is that this one is probably the most used Tokina lens amongst the brand ambassadors.

But of course, as I am an ambassador for Tokina, you might wonder wether my opinion is influenced in order to drive you to their products, and you are right to question this point. Nowadays, lots of partnerships rely on testers getting free equipment and trading it for good reviews. In some domains (sports equipment for example), it is not rare for the brand to send to the journalist the exact text they expect her/him to publish in the magazine. So, where does my partnership with Tokina stands here ? Well, I am glad to say that we are not working this way with Tokina. Even though the brand obviously appreciate good reviews, they do not ask me for anything in particular (apart from pictures taken with the lens, which seems pretty fair) and most certainly don’t try to influence my reviews. I have a partnership with Tokina because I like the equipment they provide, and because I have been using it for years, before being part of the ambassador program. There are brands I would not work with, even if they gave my thousand of euros worth of equipment.

So if you are looking for a well-built, luminous and sharp lens, this one is the way to go. Please feel free to contact me if you have any question about it. I would be glad to answer it.

Test Tokina Opera 50mm


Well made

Very luminous

Great value for the money

Weather sealing

No loss of quality with the RF adaptor

Really smooth ring

Great bokeh


Big compared to a 50mm f/1.8