Recently, I got Tokina’s Sony FE lens FiRIN 20mm F/2 lens. I took this lens for a test as to see if this lens will be suited for travel and interior photography.
I tested the lens one day in Split, Croatia to see how the lens handles the morning, day, and night. I used the lens with a7ii.
My day started with the gorgeous sunrise over Adriatic Sea. I didn't struggle with backlit situation. Images are sharp with details; however, I don’t think resistance to lens flare is FiRIN’s strong feature. I had to edit out green lens flare in some images. Sunstar is reasonably pleasing to my eyes as you can see on my 1st, 2nd, and 4th photos.
For tiny, maze like structure of Diocletian's Palace, having 20mm wide angle lens as my only lens worked quite well. I had no issue getting everything I want in the frame. And since the lens produces extremely sharp images, I could crop photos a lot in post processing. Some images from this post are cropped, but I am confident you won’t notice the difference. I can only imagine it will work great with higher megapixel camera like, a7rii and a7riii.
FiRIN is sharp from wide open. This means it's great for handheld night photography without compromise. With fast f/2 aperture and help of IBIS, night photography was easy to handle. I was able to get some nice shots even in dim lit condition of Split old town. I could easily shoot close-up photos up to 1/10 second without getting blurry images. Check the detail on my last 2 images, 1/10 sec, f/2.2 handheld shot, original and cropped in post.
Overall, FiRIN was an ideal lens to carry around for traveling and walking around the city. For me personally, if I am traveling just for fun, I would love to remember and save all the good stuffs. I can do that with this wide angle lens.
I had a chance to stay at 2 amazing hotels in Budapest, Hotel Moments and Boscolo Hotel. I tested how the lens handles for interior photography.
For the first 3 images I took at Hotel Moments, I was shooting handheld. I usually don't shoot interior without tripod, but it was just a candid and casual stay at the hotel. IBIS helped me a lot on slower shutter speed. With the electric connection of FiRIN, the camera will know the focal length and aperture, so you don't need to manually set the focal length of image stabilization.
Close up of 4th image shows smooth out-of-focus area with lots of detail on the book.
The sharpness is there on focus level. The lens captures the busy detail of New York Cafe quite well from center to corner on 5th and 6th images. I was so happy to see image files keeping all crazy and tiny details. They are perfect.
There is a little to no distortion on the lens which is a big plus. I did not apply the lens collection on Lightroom on these images. Even though I don’t have an experience on astrophotography with this lens, with its sharp f/2 fast aperture and no distortion, I imagine the lens will work perfectly for that application.
Tokina FiRIN is a solid performer for interior. I know I will get the best result when I could fit the scene well. I think 20mm is just wide enough to avoid crazy distortion, but if I am on the paid assignment, then I will need zoom lens for flexibility, such 16-35mm f/4 Zeiss, f/2.8 GM or 12-24mm G.
Other things to note
Since my other prime lenses are 28mm f/2 (200g) and 55mm f/1.8 (281g), FiRIN (490g) felt quite heavy compared to others, but once I get used to the weight, it is well balanced set up with a7ii. I’m sure people who dealt with heavier primes will have no issue handling this lens. And it is actually reasonable to have this weight because of its build quality, focal length, and fast & usable f/2 aperture.
Just by looking at the lens, you can tell it’s going to be a great lens. This all-metal lens is beautifully designed and well constructed lens. Everything is easy to work with, smooth focusing ring and precise aperture ring. Aperture ring can be de-clicking, so it’s perfect for video works too. I really like the retro looking lens hood, but I wish the lens hood is made out of metal instead of plastic to match the lens. Unfortunately, FiRIN doesn’t offer weather sealing.
My biggest worry when I got this lens was manual focus. I haven’t had great experiences with manual focus lenses. I have a couple of vintage MF lenses, but unless I take really long time to adjust focusing, I was always missing the focus by a little which made me irritate and slowed down my work flow. Keep in mind I have my modern assistant available, like focus peaking and magnifying. Still, I sucked with MF.
Surprisingly, I had no issue with MF on FiRIN. It's a 20mm wide lens, when stopped down everything is more or less in focus. For walk around, I just put focus on 3-4m range, and I don’t have to mess around with focus. No need for re-focus every shot. It was actually faster to shoot this way than using AF.
On occasion, when I do want close-up shots, it has very smooth and precise focus ring. And for close-up, I need to make that small adjustment manually anyway, so there is not much difference from using Auto focus.
For last 3 months, I really enjoy using Tokina FiRIN 20mm lens and I will continue to use it. Along with my 28mm and 55mm lenses, this lens will be on my camera bag regularly.
The lens is sharp from wide open, has no distortion, and is easy focus manually. 20mm is not an all-in-one focal length, but there are many situations where this lens can be used perfectly. And I know I can always trust this lens to produce stunning images.