Monday, September 26, 2011

Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX: Bokeh Comparison

The pace of life has picked up after the summer holidays, which unfortunately has meant less time for shooting and posting. While the full review of the Tokina 50-135 slowly makes its way down the pipeline, we'll do a quick review in the form of the following bokeh comparison.

I've lined up the following, all at 50mm.

  • Nikon 50 f/1.4 AF-D, 
  • Tamron SP AF 17-50 f/2.8 XR Di II, 
  • Tokina, all at 50-135 AT-X

Other than the fact that they cover 50mm, these are three lens with three completely different uses. On a DX camera, the Nikon is the best pure portrait lens, the Tamron is an all-purpose normal-zoom, and the Tokina is a professional-grade portrait zoom. The following test shots are not so much an indication of the quality of the lenses, but an illustration of how differences in intended lens purpose show up in shots. All three shots used the same indicated focal length, same distance to subject and same aperture. Key things to look for are the quality of rendition of the foreground subject verses the texture and appearance of the background subject. (Also try to guess where I went for vacation over the summer...)

Big caveat: Because I am currently using a Nikon D80, I don't have the focus fine-tune function present on newer cameras like the Nikon D7000. Differences in subject sharpness will have more to do with focus calibration than they will with the actual design of the lens. However, for our purposes, the impact that will have on background rendition will be minimal.

Nikon 50mm f/1.4:
ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1600s, Matrix Meter
This will be a bit familiar if you've read my post comparing the Nikon 50mm versus the Tamron 17-50. The Nikon has the best background rendition out of all three lenses here. It has a reputation for giving busy backgrounds, but that's only true at wider apertures. From f/2.0 to /2.8, the bokeh is fairly smooth and consistent.