Tokina has announced the second version of its 400mm f/8 telephoto mirror lens. The new version features optical tweaks to improve image quality, compared to the previous model (which came out in July 2020). The lens will be available at the end of the year in 8 different mounts.
What is a mirror lens?
This style of lens uses a series of internal mirrors in the optical formula, to keep the size, weight, and price down. The mirrors reflect light back and forth inside the lens, to progressively magnify the final portion that lands on the imaging sensor. You can read more about how mirror lenses work in our ProOptic 500mm f/6.3 mirror lens review.
Who’s the Tokina 400mm f/8 N II S mirror lens for?
Priced at $262, this lens is for folks looking for a lot of reach, on a reasonably tight budget. Long telephoto lenses tend to be very pricey. But Tokina’s option is far more wallet-friendly. The tradeoff, of course, is less impressive image quality compared to a standard lens.
That being said, Tokina’s 400mm weighs just 18 ounces (for the DSLR version) and 20 ounces (for the mirrorless version). By comparison, Canon’s 400mm F4 IS II USM lens weighs a whopping 74 ounces and costs a cool $6,900. Is its image quality that much better than the Tokina? Almost certainly so. Not to mention, the Canon model offers both image stabilization and autofocus (the Tokina is manual focus and offers no IS). But if you’re simply looking for a long telephoto lens, and don’t mind manual focus and an f/8 max aperture, you can save a ton of money springing for the Tokina.
The original version of this lens featured a construction with six elements arranged into five groups. The new model still uses six elements but instead arranges them into two groups. Tokina says the new design should result in noticeable image quality improvements.
The minimum focus distance is 45 inches (1.14 meters) and the front accepts 67mm filters. It’s also worth noting, the version of this lens for mirrorless cameras is slightly larger and heavier than the DSLR version. This is because it has a longer lens mount, to account for the relatively short flange distance of some mirrorless cameras.
What do the shots look like?
Tokina only provided two samples captured with the updated lens. And one shows the distinctive “donut-shaped” bokeh, typical of a mirror lens. Love it or hate it, it’s certainly a unique look. The second sample shows some fairly busy-looking out-of-focus regions. But we’ll hold off making any further assessments until we actually get one in our hands (or get the chance to view a full-resolution sample).
Price, availability & lens mounts
The Tokina 400mm f/8 N II S mirror lens should be available by the end of 2021 for a price of $262. It will be available in the following mounts: Canon EF, Canon M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon F, Nikon Z, Pentax K, and Sony E.