Tokina FíRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE macro - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published August 2019

Introduction

One of the biggest controversials around mirrorless camera systems are the comparatively inflated lens prices. A contributing factor to this is surely the lack of competition from third-party manufacturers that are abundant in the DSLR world but not really established in the mirrorless arena - yet. While CaNikon are playing their usual proprietary game, Sony is a little more open - thus the mount(-protocol) can actually be licensed.
The classic three independent manufacturers - Sigma, Tamron and Tokina - are now happily taking advantage of the opportunity and we are now seeing more affordable lenses for Sony (F)E-mount. One of them is the Tokina FíRIN 100mm f/2.8 FE macro. The comparable Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 OSS macro is available for around 1000USD/EUR whereas the Tokina is priced under 600EUR/USD. Of course, this raises the question of whether Tokina had to cut corners in order to achieve a 40% lower price tag.
In terms of construction quality, the Tokina does surely not disappoint. The lens body is made of a tightly assembled combination of metal and high-quality plastic parts. When looking at the product images below you may notice two rubberized rings. The bigger one at the front is used for manual focusing whereas the rear one is "cosmetic" - or to phrase it differently: it makes the lens more grippy. Typical for most albeit not all macro lenses, there's an inner lens tube that extends when focusing towards close-focus distances.
It is worth mentioning that the optical design itself is actually not new - it is based on the classic Tokina AF 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro macro (for DSLRs that is). However, unlike on some Sigma lenses, that's not really obvious from the outside. The lens is not any longer than Sony's 90mm f/2.8 macro lens so it doesn't "feel" alien. A barrel-shaped lens hood is part of the package.
The AF speed is clearly on the slow side which can be annoying if the camera decides to hunt through the focus range. A focus limiter would have been a good idea but Tokina decided against this. The AF motor is also emitting some noise - albeit on a subtle level.
Manual focusing works Okay but it is slightly coarse in terms of micro-focusing steps. To be fair, however, we had no issues with this during our testing (which requires a lot of focus fine-tuning).
It's worth noting that the lens is fully compatible with DMF as well as Sony's in-body image stabilization system.
Specifications
Optical construction9 elements in 8 groups
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.3m (max. magnification ratio 1:1)
Dimensions74x123mm
Weight570g
Filter size55mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other features-
MountSony FE