Rating: absolutely advisable !

 
 The new Tokina 2.8/100 mm Macro looks very much like its direct competitor, the Tamron 2.8/90 mm: it is small and very handy, but rock solid build, the front lens is located deep into the front tube, the additionally delivered sun shade seems practically superfluent. Working like the Tamron, the front tube moves far out of the body. Remarkable is the fact, that though the Tokina has the longer focal length, it remains shorter then the Tamron at all focal distances. To change between MF and AF the user has to move the focal ring forward or backward even in the same way it is necessary for the Tamron, it is not possible to influence the working AF manually. AF speed is rather good for a 1:1-Macro, a littlebit faster then the Tamron, using it on my 1Ds MKII I had no reason to use the option to limit the AF range (2 possibilities for far away and the real macro area, it is a rotating switch like on the Tamron). On the 1DsII the AF appeared absolutely exact, rather quiet for a mechanically working AF. Both lenses can be set until f=32.
 

Looking on their shape, it seems interesting to include another competitor, the Sigma 2.8/150mm HSM Apo-Macro. The picture below shows, that this lens (focussing only within the body of the lens) including a short sun shade from Helopan is only littlebit longer then the 2 other lenses.

Comparing these lenses it is remarkable, that the front diameter of the Tokina is only 55 mm, not good for Canon users, because the need a step down ring (58=>55 mm) to fit filters or the Twin- or Ring flash from Canon.

 

 Spyder, 100% crop, f=11, 2.8/100 Tokina on 1DsMKII, 100 ASA, 1 soft flash from left, shot done out of hand.
 Of most interest seems the performance of any Macro lens at its closest focus distance. My 1. test objekt was a small Z- railway model the so named "Crocodile". The original was used by the Swiss railway in former times to cross the alps. Using all lenses at 1:1 magnification lead to the view shown below. To allow a comparison of picture quality small crops, indicated by red margins in the picture below, were copied into an overview.
 
  This procedure was done with all available macro lenses, including Tokina 2.8/100, Tamron 2.8/90, Sigma 2.8/50 mm EX, Canon 2.8/65 MP-E65, Sigma 2.8/150 and Tamron 3.5/180 mm macro. Shots were done using manual fokus, AV-Modus, camera on tripod, prereleased mirror, cable release, variation of aperture from f = 5.6 (praxis relevant) until f= 32 (if available). All shots in RAW, develpoed using RAWShooter with the same parameters, only brightness was corrected in some cases (depending on different angles of the position of the light source, necessary because of the very different focal lengthes - for example, using the Sigma 50 mm at 1:1 the distance between frontlens and object is very small). Sharpening by RAWShooter was set to 0, detail to 20. The first overview shows the crops out of the middle, the second shows the crops more close to the border. I don't like to show the results for f=2.8 und f=4 in these rows, because it was not sure to keep reproducable sharp setting (this test was made at rather dark light of only one halogen spot, differences due to setting sharpness were bigger then differences of the lenses themselves).

 

Click on the picture will load the overview in full resolution

There are very small differences, not relevant to practice, differences according to different light fall are more important tehn differences of lenses (using very short lenses the light fall had to be very much more from the side to prevent shading of the object by the lens itself). Perhaps only the "specialist" the Canon MP E65 exhibits a little advantage. Above f=16 all lenses show a remarkable decrease due to increasing diffraction.Very well understandable is the fact, that Canon did not allow the user to close the aperture more then to 16.

The quality of all lenses are very high positioned within the absolute top region. Contrast and detail are excellent.

 

Click on the picture will load the overview in full resolution

Evaluating the crops of a region more close to the border at about 2/3 picture height at f=5.6 Sigma 50 mm and MPE 65 show a slight weakness, at f=8 even these 2 lenses are outstanding like the other lenses. A littlebit sharper looks the Sigma 150 mm Ein wenig besser ist allenfalls das Sigma 150, but this impression may depend on the differnt light fall too.

The usage of this test object was a littlebit unlucky, because it was not possible to compare the outer corners. Therefore another object was used additionally (another Z model, a wagon of the "Rheingold train") furtheron at better light conditions. Again the evaluated area is indicated by a red margin in the view at 1:1 below.

 
 

Click on the picture will load the overview in full resolution

 At f=2.8 now differences can be seen. Das Sigma 150 exhibits perfect sharpness yet full open, the Tokina equals it at f=4, at all apertures above there are no relevant differences.

At f=8 and f=11 pictures taken with the longer lenses were very dark, brightness had to be increased, additionally one can see that setting at closest disatnce these lenses show a magification, which is a littlebit higher than these of the shorter focal lenghtes. This may lead to a slight decrease; nevertheless differences are very small.

On the whole it is to be said, that all compared lenses show a very good performance even at the outer corner on the 1DsII.

Especially the new Tokina very sure don't need to hide itself behind the picture quality of its competitor within the 1:1 macro range, its position is within the highest performance level.

 

Though such lenses will be optimized for the full macro range, some users would like to use it - due to its aperture of 2.8 full open - even for other type of work. Therefore below some examples of other situations.

 

1. Macros with lower magnification - a Ceropegia species at f=13:

 

   

 1:1 crop aut of the picture above:

 

A cultivated orchid, a Zygopetalum hybrid, f=22, 400 ASA

1:1 crop - look on the little louse, now visible at this very high magnification due to the crop.

 

Performance at aperture full open:

 1. at far distance:

 1:1 crops from the picture above. Perfect quality at the center. Close to the border a very slight amount of chromatic abberation is visible. Though aperture full open (f=2.8) no visible vignetting !

 

 2. Bokeh (f=2.8, only minimal DOF!) very nice, wonderfull soft at all colour and contast transitions.

 

 3. Performance at about portrait distance:

 

1:1 crops from the picture above, even at f=2.8 . Left from the center, right from the left upper corner. At the corner only very slight decrease of sharpnes and contrast. Very good colour reproduction, remarkable neutral. No vignetting !

 

 

Animal portrait late in the afternoon at f=7.1, slight frontal flash added , 1:1 crop from the picture above.

 

 Mein conclusion: the new Tokina can be recommended very well, it is a very compact but sturdy built lens with outstanding picture quality at all working distances, it is free from any remarkable vignetting, its sharpness is perfect even at aperture full open and even at the corners. It exhibits not any relevant weakness, optically it belongs into the row of top performers. Looking on its price it is a bargain.