Tokina Cinema Vista prime lenses review

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The Tokina Cinema Vista series are the Japanese company’s first foray into making a set of cine prime lenses. Tokina has previously made a range of cine zooms that included the Cinema ATX 50-135MM T3, 16-28mm T3, and 11-16mm T3.

The biggest selling points for the Tokina Cinema Vista series are that they are all T1.5, have virtually no breathing, feature a 300 degree focus rotation, and cover an image circle of up to 46.7mm. The range features 35mm, 50mm, 85mm models, with 18mm and 25mm yet to come.

While some of the newer cinema primes from companies are rehoused from stills glass, Tokina has purpose-built these just for cinema, with all new elements inside. They are also colour matched for consistency across the range.

Consistent aperture and size


The one thing that bugs me about some companies’ range of prime lenses is that they don’t have a consistent aperture across all lenses. The nice thing with the Tokina Vistas is that the aperture is T1.5 from 18mm up to 85mm. I am really looking forward to testing out the 18mm once it becomes available, because having a lens that wide that is T1.5 and full frame compatible is certainly going to allow for some very creative shots.

The other nice thing about the Vista series is that all the lenses (at least the 35,50 and 85 that are currently available) are the same size and the gear positions are identical. This means you can easily swap lenses without having to move follow focus motors and other accessories around. This feature shouldn’t be overlooked because a lot of the other sub-$5K US prime lens offerings from competing companies aren’t all the same size.

Larger than full frame coverage

The Tokina Cinema Vista 35mm T1.5 on a Sony a7S

If you are going to spend serious money on cinema lenses then it’s a good idea to buy something that will be compatible with a wide range of sensor sizes, both now and in the future. The 46.7mm image circle coverage is very impressive and allows these lenses to be used on full frame sensors and even on the slightly wider-than-full frame RED WEAPON 8K’s 40.96 x 21.60mm sensor.

Hold your breath


Tokina claim that the Vista series have almost no breathing, and from testing them out over a period of a month I found that to be true. If there is any breathing it isn’t noticeable enough to be distracting. Above you can see a few shots demonstrating the lack of focus breathing. On one of the shots I am using the 35mm wide open at T1.5 and I am focus pulling from a distance of about 25′ to around 6′ on a moving subject that is walking straight towards camera. The focus is completely seamless and there is virtually no image shift at all.

I really hate seeing bad image shift when pulling focus. It is distracting to the viewer and can ruin shots. The Vista series are as good as any other prime cinema lens I have ever used when it comes to the lack of focus breathing.

Built like a tank

The Tokina Cinema Vista 35mm T1.5 on the left and the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T1.5 on the right

In PL mount the 35, 50 and 85mm weigh 1.95kg (4.3lb), 2.11kg (4.65lb), and 2.15kg (4.73lb) respectively. This is heavy for prime lenses, and to put that weight in perspective here are what some other popular full frame compatible cine prime lenses weigh:

Zeiss CP.2
35mm T1.5- 1.1kg (2.4lb)
50mm T1.5- 0.9kg (2lb)
85mm T1.5- 0.9kg (2lb)

Sigma FF High-Speed
35mm T1.5- 1.03kg (2.28lb)
50mm T1.5- 1.21kg (2.66lb)
85mm T1.5- 1.38kg (3lb)

Rokinon Xeen
35mm T1.5- 1.36kg (2.99lb)
50mm T1.5- 1.16kg (2.55lb)
85mm T1.5- 1.25kg (2.27lb)

Canon CN-E (note these are only available in Canon EF mount and not PL)
35mm T1.5- 1.2kg (2.65lb)
50mm T1.3- 1.1kg (2.43lb)
85mm T1.5- 1.3kg (2.86lb)

The Vista series housings are constructed entirely out of metal and they certainly feel very robust. The focus and iris barrels are beautifully weighted and are nice to operate. The focus and iris markings are clearly labeled on both sides of the lens and are easy to read.

The lenses have a 114mm front diameter, a 112mm filter thread and are available in PL, Canon EF, MFT, and Sony E mounts.

Look


The Tokina Cinema Vista primes certainly lean more towards warm tones than say lenses from Zeiss. They have a nice amount of character and don’t appear too clinical and uninspiring. What look you actually prefer from a lens is entirely going to come down to personal choice. I really liked the warmer tones of the Tokinas as I found the colour reproduction matched very well with my Angenieux Optimo Style zooms. This allowed me to use a combination of zooms and primes while still maintaining a fairly consistent look.

The colour tone of a lens is really something you should look at closely if you are going to be using both prime and zoom lenses from different manufacturers. Certain prime and zoom lenses work better together than others. What will work for you will also depend on what camera you are using.

Sharp as a tack

Having a fast T1.5 aperture is great, but is the lens useable wide open? I used the lenses on quite a few shoots and on select shots I had the lenses wide open. I was very impressed with how sharp they were even at T1.5.

The Gods of Fire piece that you can see above was entirely shot with the Tokina Cinema Vista 35mm lens wide open at T1.5 on the Panasonic Varicam LT at 5000 ISO. The effects you are seeing are not from the lens but by using a combination of two different filters in a matte box.

To see just how sharp they were I also did a few tests where I compared the Tokina Cinema Vista 35mm T1.5 directly against the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T1.5. You can see in the test above how both lenses performed. To my eye the Tokina Vista was sharper wide open at T1.5 than the Zeiss. Both lenses start to look similar around T2/T2.8 and above.

Chromatic aberration


Nobody likes chromatic aberration, it’s nasty! Unfortunately a lot of very fast prime lenses suffer from chromatic aberration when they are used wide open. When I was shooting with the lenses in the field I couldn’t see any signs of any chromatic aberration, but just to be sure I set up a few tests to check. I also compared the Tokina Vista 35mm T1.5 directly against the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T1.5 to see how they fared in this department.

The Tokina Cinema Vista lenses have almost zero chromatic aberration even wide open at T1.5. The Zeiss however, shows quite a lot of chromatic aberration when used wide open and there is a lot of purple fringing around bright surfaces.

Bokeh


Everyone loves a nice bit of bokeh, and the Tokinas certainly don’t disappoint. They have slightly rounder bokeh than the Zeiss CP.2’s, but both lenses do a nice job. I also did a quick test to see how out of focus highlight areas are rendered and again both lenses looked nice. I would have to say that the Zeiss had perhaps a slightly softer way of rendering the highlights.

Lens flare


The Vistas are quite flare resistant, and do a good job of maintaining contrast even when bright sources are shined directly down the lens. I liked the flare that was produced from these lenses, but just like bokeh, it’s a very personal choice.

Minimum focus distance

The minimum focus distance for the lenses is as follows:
35mm- 41cm (16″)
50mm- 48cm(19”)
85mm- 95cm(37.5”)

How does that compare to other full frame cine primes?
Zeiss CP.2
35mm T1.5- 31cm (12″)
50mm T1.5- 45cm (17.7″)
85mm T1.5- 100cm (39.4″)

Sigma FF Super-Fast
35mm T1.5- 30cm (11.8″)
50mm T1.5- 40cm (15.7″)
85mm T1.5- 85cm (33.5″)

Rokinon Xeen
35mm T1.5- 33cm (12.99″)
50mm T1.5- 45cm (17.7″)
85mm T1.5- 110cm (43.3″)

Canon CN-E (note these are only available in Canon EF mount and not PL)
35mm T1.5- 30.5cm (12″)
50mm T1.3- 45.7cm (17.99″)
85mm T1.5- 96cm (37.79″)

Usability in the field


The downside to the weight and physical size of the Tokina Cinema Vista lenses is that they take up much more room in a bag than other lenses and they may not balance well on smaller camera set ups. I didn’t find any of this to be a problem while using them on a larger cameras like the Arri Amira and Panasonic Varicam LT. I could however, see a problem if you were to use them on much smaller cameras.

Price

The Tokina Cinema Vista primes are more expensive than some of the other full frame compatible prime lenses on the market. Below are the retail prices and also those of its closest competition.

Tokina Vista
35mm T1.5- $4,999 US
50mm T1.5- $4,499 US
85mm T1.5- $4,499 US

Zeiss CP.2
35mm T1.5- $4,900 US
50mm T1.5- $4,500 US
85mm T1.5- $4,500 US

Sigma FF High-Speed
35mm T1.5- $3,499 US
50mm T1.5- $3,499 US
85mm T1.5- $3,499 US

Rokinon Xeen
35mm T1.5- $1,895 US (deal on at the moment: normal price $2,495 US)
50mm T1.5- $1,895 US (deal on at the moment: normal price $2,495 US)
85mm T1.5- $1,895 US (deal on at the moment: normal price $2,495US)

Canon CN-E (note these are only available in Canon EF mount and not PL)
35mm T1.5- $3,950 US
50mm T1.3- $3,950 US
85mm T1.5- $3,950 US

Final thoughts


When I first started using the lenses I wasn’t sure what to expect or how they would perform. I am really picky with lenses and I am always looking for glass that has character but that is also optically very good.

The Tokina Cinema Vista primes really impressed me and I’m not easily impressed. With a lot of new, fast, full frame compatible prime lenses now available on the market for under $5,000 US there are a lot of options.

From my experience using the Tokinas I found that they provide beautiful imagery, are tack sharp even wide open, and have no focus breathing. I personally think that the lenses are very underrated compared to a lot of the competition. The only real downside to them is their weight, and this alone could be enough to put some potential buyers off.

If you are looking for fast prime cinema lenses that can cover very large sensor sizes, then the Tokina Vistas are really worth a look. Not only are they optically very good, but they help create beautiful imagery, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.

What do you think about the Tokina Cinema Vista lenses? Would you consider them? What cine prime lenses are you using? Let us know in the comments section below.

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