June 25, 2024

Lens in Focus: Tokina Cinema Vista Primes for Narrative and Commercial Work


I am Gian Carlo Stigliano, a cinematographer based in New Jersey. Part of my job is to be very selective of the lens I choose for a project. And one thing I want to bring up is a misconception often encountered among new filmmakers. In many cases, in the early stages of their career, they put their energy and focus on selecting the right camera, thinking it is the primary tool needed to accomplish a cinematic-looking image. But your camera selection is only a small portion of what makes an image look like it does. The lens plays a pivotal role in shaping the final image. With its characteristics, its limitations, and its style, it completes the piece entirely. The Tokina T1.5 Cinema Vista Primes offers a great mix of speed, versatility, and character.

Should You Rent or Buy a Lens?

In filmmaking, lenses can be expensive, not only to purchase but to rent as well. Depending on the production you are working on, the budget can determine what level of lens you can investigate for that specific project. Over the years, I have worked with and shot dozens of lenses, such as Cooke, Arri, Atlas, Zeiss, and many more. Each of those lenses brought a specific quality and element to the look that was right for the job I was shooting.

When I paired my Sony Venice with the Tokina Vista Primes for the first time, they changed my perspective on how I chose my lenses going forward. As a cinematographer with ongoing projects, I realized it was time to invest in lenses that could be my workhorse, and the Tokina Vista Primes proved to accomplish just that.

Photo Provided by Gian Carlo Stigliano

Tokina Vista Cinema Primes

Having utilized the Tokina T1.5 Cinema Vista Primes numerous times, I have fallen in love with everything about these lenses. From the build quality, the fast aperture of a T1.5, the lens coating, and the way the lens flares when light hits it to the very subtle yet soft-looking image that comes right out of the gate with these lenses. I love that these lenses are truly a lens you can craft with filtration, including color grading. These lenses are incredibly well-built and robust. They have a substantial weight to them, which, for some scenarios, could be a hindrance. Still, for the most part, it is reassuring knowing that you have a set of lenses built to withstand almost anything thrown its way.

Focusing With Tokina Cinema Vista Primes

To add to the quality of the lens, you will notice the focus ring is very smooth, which is helpful when pulling focus. With cinema lenses comes their quirks with focusing; many lenses tend to have lens breathing, which isn’t usually something Cinematographers look for in an image when focusing between subjects. But the Tokinas have virtually zero focus breathing, which allows you to change your focus mid-scene without distracting the audience. Considering this lens is a cinema lens, it does not have autofocus or a digital way to change your aperture, so you must adjust your T. stop via the ring on the lens.

Clicked Aperture vs De-clicked

The Tokinas have two great options: a click (geared) option, which means you feel every click every time you adjust your aperture, and it is in specific increments, whereas the de-click or non-geared option allows for a very smooth, less precise way of sliding through your T. stops, which could be very useful if you need to adjust your aperture mid-scene without having to feel each click or gear change.

Photo Provided by Gian Carlo Stigliano

Full-Frame Cinema Lenses

The Tokina Vista Prime lens offers such versatility in the fact that these are full-frame lenses. Usually, full-frame large-format lenses are costly, and there are fewer options for shooting with a full-frame cinema camera. Tokina filled a major hole in the market by producing these lenses, which are much more affordable to purchase and rent than all the other full-frame lenses. Even though these lenses are built for Full Frame, you can also shoot on Vista Vision 65mm formats, including a Super-35 sensor. As you can see, these lenses offer an insane amount of versatility in the formats you can shoot with.

Front Lens Diameter

Another feature of these lenses, which often goes unnoticed, is that Tokina made the front diameter of these lenses the same at 114mm and a filter size of 112mm. This is such an important aspect of these lenses because it saves time on set. It can take some time when you are on set and shooting and need to make a lens change. Changing the back side of your matte box, which houses your filtration, can also take time. Since they are all the same, that reduces the amount of time it takes to change the back of the matte box, which, in the end, saves time on set!

Closing Thoughts on Tokina Cinema Vista Primes

Ultimately, these lenses have allowed me to get extremely high-quality looks within the camera I choose at a fraction of the cost of the other full-frame cinema lenses. As a growing cinematographer, I have tested and used these lenses on narrative projects, commercials, documentaries, and music videos. Without a doubt, each project had its quirks and necessities. The Tokina lenses held their own on each production used, and in the end, the final look was exactly what the crew hoped to accomplish.

The post Lens in Focus: Tokina Cinema Vista Primes for Narrative and Commercial Work appeared first on Adorama.

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