On the Palouse with the Tokina 50mm f/1.4 Opera Lens

I’ve been interested in this lens for a while, but finally purchased it due to it being on sale through B&H. Normally it retails for $949, but it was on sale for $749.95. At that price, I had to pull the trigger. After all, I’ve read good things about this lens for some time.

It’s been a while since I’ve shot with the Nikon D850, or any DSLR for that matter. Without a doubt, this camera and lens combination are capable of capturing fantastic images. However, I’ve become quite spoiled with mirrorless cameras where I usually shoot in manual mode – making adjustments in real time, to nail the exposure perfectly. Unfortunately, I’m not as adept at getting my exposure right as often as I would like using a DSLR. Thus, I post process far more than with mirrorless where I often opt for just using the JPEGs straight out of camera with no editing.

Even in 2022 when mirrorless cameras are definitively the way to go when purchasing a new camera, I could still make an argument for shooting with an older DSLR and picking up a lens like this. The results are fantastic, the cameras are responsive. Battery life is amazing. Moreover, there’s a ton of lenses available for the F-mount. That being said, will Nikon ever make another DSLR? I don’t think so. For now, the D850 is the ultimate DSLR, and I don’t think there will ever be another DSLR ever made. I hope I’m wrong, I’d like to see Nikon have two lines, but I don’t think that will happen.

So why consider the Tokina 50mm f/1.4 Opera? Well, Nikon’s 50mm autofocus offerings are quite outdated, and they don’t resolve well on high megapixel sensors. So for other autofocus 50mm f/1.4 lenses, you’ve got two third party options – Sigma and Tokina. Now I know many people love Sigma. Me? I’ve pretty much sold every Sigma lens I’ve ever owned. I only own one right now, and that’s a 24mm f/1.4 that I use for video with the Canon R5. As of right now, Canon hasn’t released an RF mount 24mm f/1.4. As soon as they do, I’ll sell off the Sigma. Since I’m not a big Sigma fan, I’m happy to try any other brand. Regarding Tokina, I do own a 16-28mm, which is a nice lens, so I figured why not give Tokina another go? I’m glad I did, but with one exception.

Early in the 1st day of shooting, the autofocus stopped working, I had to detach and re-attach the lens one time, and then everything worked fine. In fact, it worked fine for the rest of the week. So I’m hoping this was just a one off occurrence, but I’ve never had this happen before with any other lens.

The focus is accurate and snappy. No micro focus adjustments are needed. The bokeh is usually quite pleasing, but can be somewhat blocky depending on the background (see examples below).

I tested this lens over the entire week in a multitude of locations – a farmers market, parade, close ups of flowers, and hiking. All in all, it excelled in every situation. No complaints – just a great lens!

These images were edited using Capture One, Exposure, and Perfectly Clear.

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