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Monday, 15 October 2018


It wouldn't be the first time. The Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED [IF] SDM is a Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X and the SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM is a Tokina 16-50mm f/2.8 AT-X.

Their more recent full-frame zooms are rebadged Tamrons.

My guess is Pentax sadly no longer has the means to develop lenses.

The general consensus in Pentax land is that it is a Pentax developed lens that Tokina had licensed in some fashion.

According to the mysterious Asahi Man, always given final say, "It's developed by the MASAKAZU SAORI optical team. Chief designer of Pentax lenses. Also made the *70-200."

Why is the distance scale backwards on the Pentax though?

Ever wondered why a 3rd party lens manufacturer would somehow always omit 1 mount?
The one mount where his lenses mirror characteristics of another manufacturer's more expensive lenses?

Same thing with the Zeiss Batis lenses (at least the 25mm and 85mm) that appear to be Tamron designs, and possibly also built by Tamron.

I have a Minolta 50mm f/1.4 that I use on my FF Sony A mount. This is academic at the moment since the Pentax/Tokina is not (yet) available in that mount. Sony people have driven the price of the Minolta up, but I could still probably scrounge one up for $100. No doubt the Tokina is “better” in some measurements. But, ten times better?

I'll never forget the moment when I realized the Olympus XZ-1 and XZ-2 cameras used the exact same lens as the Pentax MX-1. The specs are identical, and upon seeing them in person, side-by-side, it's clear that they are indeed the exact same lens.
Tamron, for example, quite clearly identifies themselves as an OEM manufacturer of lenses for digital cameras:

If you tear down a digital camera, especially a compact camera instead of an SLR, and find a Tamron OEM lens unit, a Sony CCD, a Sharp LCD panel, RAM from Samsung, and a processor from Fujitsu, it's enough to make you think almost anyone could start designing their own digital cameras just by cobbling together the right parts!

I’ve often wondered - given that lenses of a certain focal length and aperture are designed with the aid of computers and computers sort of behave the same (don’t they?) - that more or less the same optical formula would pop up if designed for the same camera, in this case Nikon & Canon. I understand this would not be the case if certain design parameters were quite different or if the design was an all out effort to have the fewest “flaws”. After all these years the wheel has been invented already!

HOYA Corporation owns both Pentax and Tokina (and Ricoh). Cross-pollination of Pentax and Tokina lenses is nothing new.

[Nope. Hoya and Ricoh are separate companies. Hoya sold Pentax to Ricoh on October 1, 2011. Tokina is a brand name of Kenko of Tokyo and Kenko is not owned by any of the other companies mentioned. And, interestingly, Kenko (Tokina) does not list any production facilities in Vietnam. --Mike]

You're right, of course: they're the same lens. Two more humongous, ridiculously heavy, hoptically over-corrected and hexpensive (!) FF lenses that will have the chiropractors rubbing their hands with glee as they laugh all the way to the bank. Ditto for the backpack manufacturers.
I can't understand this trend for ultra-heavy 50's. Is it because of imaging insecurity? Why, for crying out loud, when it's all about CONTENT?
My Panasonic 20mm f1.7 weighs 100gms; its tiny, jewel-like 14mm f2.5 stablemate, all of 55gms. The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is 116gms. The amazingly compact Panasonic 45~150mm f4-5.6 ASPH hits 200gms. These lenses are sharp enough to shave with.
The Olympus Epl5 tips the scales at 325gms; the GX1, 318 gms.
I'll never get to see what the inside of a chiropractor's clinic looks like. Pity :)

Weren't Tokina's 10-17mm fisheye and 12-24mm lenses also the same as the Pentax lenses? I have the Pentax versions. Oh, and the 16-50mm.

The extra few hundred dollars on the 50mm f/1.4 is well worth it, as you get to use it where it belongs, on a Pentax, instead of some other mob's cameras... : )

Must a 50mm f/1.4 lens really be three times bigger and heavier than the 50mm f/1.4 lenses of yesteryear? And compared with a Leica-M lens, it's about five times bigger and heavier. Not for me!

If you can't make a good photo with one of Max Berek's pre WWII Leica designs it's due to lack-of-chops—not lens deficiency.

It would be great to live in a rational world ruled by lucid decisions...but it ain't gonna happen. Back in the pre-historic times of my youth we said: baffle them with B*** S***. Baffling seems to still be en vogue.

Talking about large lenses vs. small lenses online is almost as bad as talking about "equivalence," or maybe the pricing of Leica. I have tiny m/43 lenses for my m43 system. I have really large 4/3 lenses for my m43 system. I have this huge 50 for my Pentax K1 (which is also pretty big). I like them all. My absolute best lenses have been my largest lenses, but I still very much like my small Pentax Limiteds, my little Panasonic 20 1.7, and even the often criticized for softness Olympus 17mm 1.8.

Very interesting, Mike. Thanks for sharing. I am a Pentax shooter, so I follow Pentax stuff closely. Years ago when this FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM lens came out, I read about it in DP Review and it was not a good review. That makes me think that this Opera lens is not going to get a good review, either. Pentax's earlier FA lenses, the non-SDM Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4 is small, light and very sharp and the Pentax FA 50mm f/1.7 is even sharper. To get a sense of how small they are, the filter size is 49mm. These little jewels sell for $200-300 used in mint condition.

I'm with Ned. I have been using some older 50/1.4 and 50/1.7 Pentax autofocus lenses and they are just marvelous on the K-1.

50/1.7 - real cheapie. I think it cost $139


At my age, I much prefer the character and wonderful cinematic rendering of those old lenses.

I didn't realize it was an age thing, but I'm with Ned on this. All of my Sigma Art lenses have been replaced with smaller, lighter (and less expensive!) used Contax/Yashica lenses and I couldn't be any happier with the results I'm achieving with them.

Mike, perhaps some of the TOP readership have this knowledge, but an inside look at the optical design industry for photography might make for a fascinating article. My impression is that it's pretty incestuous, and not nearly as cleanly divided as brand fan(boys) would like to believe.

This strikes me as part of a broader trend within the photo industry to move upmarket. It seems like all of the players are scrambling to put out premium, higher margin products.

I'm a fan of small lenses forever, but even I gotta admit my crop factor 14mm Fujinon which is considerably longer than my FF 20mm Nikkor beats the pants off it for IQ...

Opera is where there is loud music playing, people are screaming in a foreign language, and somebody usually ends up dead. Like where I grew up in the Bronx years ago.

Nothing to do with fine photography.

Someone in the biz tell me how I'm wrong, but;
This design looks like a good old double gauss design with an extra field flattening and telecentricity inducing element or two at the rear, and a whopping seven extra elements either correct an extra 14 aberrations ( one aberration per surface rule or thumb ) or more likely to ensure a very high performance design that is tolerant of statistical quality control which costs a LOT less than a design where each lens has to be assembled from matched elements, inspected and adjusted. You could probably achieve the same results with half to a third as many elements but at much higher cost. We can thank modern lens coatings, cheap computational power and cheap robot labor for this school of lensmaking.

In short the extra complexity is cheaper than doing it the Leica way.

John Krumm: "...I still very much like my small Pentax Limiteds, my little Panasonic 20 1.7, and even the often criticized for softness Olympus 17mm 1.8."
The Olympus 17mm f1.8 is generally rated as a very sharp lens. Its predecessor, the f2.8, is not--by a long chalk.

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