Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE Review

Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 FE review
Review
Website: Tokina

Price when reviewed

£489

$499
Check current price

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a more affordable alternative to Sony's 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lenses, the Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE is well worth considering. It gets most subjects sharp quickly, is compatible with Sony's Real-time Eye AF and it captures plenty of detail at the centre of the frame - only falling off in the deepest corners when wide open. It's a very nice lens for the price and I'd happily use it at any of its aperture settings.

For

  • Excellent centre sharpness
  • Attractive bokeh
  • Compatible with Sony's Eye AF system

Against

  • Not weather-sealed
  • No focus switch
What is the Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE?

The Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE is a newly designed prime lens with the Sony FE lens mount. That means it’s suitable for use on Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7S III, A7R IV, A7 III and A9 II. However, as Sony uses the same mount on its smaller-format interchangeable lens cameras, it can also be used on the likes of the Sony A6500. Using a camera with an APS-C size sensor with the 85mm lens results in an effective focal length of around 128mm.

Although 85mm is a popular focal length for portraiture and weddings, it can be used for a wide range of photography.

You can also buy the Tokina atx-m 85mm f/1.8 FE from AdoramaB&H Photo Video and Wex Photo Video.

Specification

  • Product type: Lens
  • Mount: Sony FE
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Angle of view: 28.5°
  • Focusing: Automatic and manual
  • Focus mechanism: Internal
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.8m
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.125x
  • Filter size: 72mm
  • Construction: 10 Elements in 7 Groups
  • Aperture blades: 9
  • Lens hood: BH-727 (supplied)
  • Dimensions (LxD): 93.23x80mm
  • Weight: 645g
Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 FE review
Features

The Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE is a fairly straightforward lens. It has a stepping motor autofocus (AF) system and it’s compatible with Sony’s Eye AF system (including Real-time Eye AF) as well as the various AF modes.

If you should need to focus manually, you need to change the focus mode via the camera’s Function menu as there’s no switch on the lens barrel and the focus ring doesn’t shift forwards or backwards.

With compatible cameras, the lens functions with Sony’s MF assist feature which helps get the focus just right if the autofocus system has missed for some reason.

It’s good to see a lens hood supplied with the lens. This is a plastic bayonet fitting device that snaps on and off easily.

Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE construction

Inside the lens barrel, there are 10 optical elements arranged in 7 groups. One of the elements is an SD (Low-dispersion) element that’s designed to help maintain the resolution into the corners of the frame.

Tokina has applied its Super Low Reflection Coating to minimise flare and ghosting as well as repel water, oil and dust. However, the lens is not weather-sealed.

Although it doesn’t have a stabilisation system built-in, the atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE is compatible with Sony’s 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS).

Read how to use Sony’s autofocus system

Build and Handling

At 645g in weight and 93.23mm in length, the Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE feels quite dense. It’s not excessively heavy, but reassuringly so and it feels at home on the more recent Sony A7-series cameras.

The barrel also has a high-quality finish and the focus ring is nice and broad.

Although the focus ring is quite stiff for an electronic focusing (or focus-by-wire) lens, I like the movement. Importantly, you can rotate the ring smoothly and not in jerky steps.

With the settings activated in the camera’s menu, rotating the ring can also active the focus peaking and the enlarged view in the viewfinder/screen.

Performance

I tested the Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE on a Sony A7R III and they got most subjects sharp very quickly. The Eye AF also worked well when set to Human or Animal (with my dog).

Although I was able to focus on quite fast-moving subjects like teasels blowing in the wind, the continuous focusing system doesn’t seem quite as snappy as when there’s a native lens mounted on the camera.

The sharpness is very good at the centre of the frame throughout the whole aperture range although there’s a slight improvement when stepping down from f/1.8. Also, if you examine images at 100% on screen, the effect of diffraction becomes just visible at f/11 and more so at f/16 – it’s nothing to worry about though.

If you check the corners of images shot at f/1.8 at 100%, you’ll notice some softening, but it’s not likely to be an issue for portraiture. Closing down to f/2.2 sharpens things and by f/4 to detail looks good across the whole frame.

There’s also mild vignetting at f/1.8 but it’s negligible at f/4.

In summary, I wouldn’t hesitate to use any of the Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE’s aperture settings.

If you hunt around your images at 100% on a computer screen you may find some chromatic aberration, but it’s not problematic and can be easily addressed during the raw file processing.

You may also notice slight pincushion distortion, but it’s not excessive or something that’s worth worrying about for most uses of the lens.

Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE Sample Images

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Tokina ATX-M 85mm F1.8 FE Image Gallery

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Verdict

The Tokina atx-m 85mm f1.8 FE is an excellent lens that produces very attractive images. Its bokeh is nice and smooth and provided you’re not overly concerned about maintaining the sharpness deep into the corners of the frame, it delivers great results wide-open.

It’s not weather-sealed and the focusing isn’t quite as nippy as some Sony lenses, but it feels very well built and offers good value.

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