I recently reviewed the new Tokina ATX-M 85mm f/1.8 lens and while I was looking at the optical composition, I immediately recalled reviewing the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 manual focus lens last year and saw a distinct similarity in the formula.

Upon comparing the optical design, I saw that the two lenses share a nearly identical composition. A quick internet search revealed that I wasn't the first person to have this thought. In fact, there's quite a lot of speculating going on. Some seem to think that given Tokina's a long history of allowing other companies to re-brand their lenses, that the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 is actually a re-branded/re-badged Tokina design, while others speculate that because Vitlrox released their 85mm f/1.8 first, that Tokina that is re-branding/re-badging Viltrox lenses.

If you compare the optical design of the Viltrox with that of the Tokina, it's not hard to see why people are talking about this:

Tokina Atx-M 85mm F1.8 Optical Element Design
Tokina Atx-M 85mm F1.8 Optical Element Design via tokinalens.com
Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 Optical Element Design
Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 Optical Element Design via viltrox.com

The MTF results looks pretty similar too. Tokina says that they've used a "proprietary coating" on the 85mm ATX-M, which could account for the moderate resolution difference, along with normal deviation between each individual lens tested.

Tokina Atx-M 85mm F1.8 MTF Chart
Tokina Atx-M 85mm F1.8 MTF Chart via tokinalens.com
Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 MTF Chart
Viltrox PFU RBMH 85MM F1.8 MTF Chart via viltrox.com

Then there are some pretty noticeable physical similarities as well. For example, the metal focus rings both looks pretty similar, with the Tokina's cutting off a bit sooner and leaving more dead space for whatever reason. Both rings appear to be at the exact same height starting point wise.

A side by side image of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM (left) and Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 (right)
A side by side image of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM (left) and Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 (right)

From the front side, it's anyone's guess as far as which one is which.

Side by side image of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM (left) and Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 (view of front elements)
Front elements of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM (left) and Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8

Stacked head-to-head, these two lenses look almost like a mirror image of each other, with the most substantive differences being in how the lens barrels taper to the mount and the width of the focus rings.

Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM (left) and Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 Stacked on Top of Each Other Similarities
Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM (left) and Tokina ATX-M 85mm f1.8 Stacked on Top of Each Other

This single 85mm lens release isn't the only reason people are wondering about Tokina lenses being made by Viltrox (or vice versa), the 2020 lineup that both companies have announced is looking pretty similar too.

The basic specs of Tokina's new ATX-M lens lineup[1] appear to match the Viltrox lens linenup[2] and so far, Viltrox is releasing their lenses ahead of Tokina. For example, the Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 was originally made available on May 6th, 2019[3] whereas Tokina didn't begin shipping their 85mm lens until around 7 months later on February 7, 2020.[4]


  1. According to Tokina's March 6th, 2020 Press Release ↩︎

  2. According to Fujiaddict's January 6th, 2020 post. Note: These lenses were originally slated for release in December of 2019, but the release was postponed. ↩︎

  3. According to DPReview's April 26th, 2020 accouncement. ↩︎

  4. According to Digital Photo's January 17th, 2020 article. ↩︎

Tokina atx-m Release Viltrox Release
23mm f1.4 (APS-C, e-mount) Summer, 2020 f1.4 (APS-C, e-mount) March, 2020
33mm f1.4 E (APS-C, e-mount) Summer, 2020 33mm f1.4 (APS-C, e-mount) March, 2020
56mm f1.4 E (APS-C, e-mount) Summer, 2020 56mm f1.4 (APS-C, e-mount) March, 2020
23mm f1.4 E (APS-C, x-mount) Autumn, 2020 23mm f1.4 (APS-C, x-mount) March, 2020
33mm f1.4 E (APS-C, x-mount) Autumn, 2020 33mm f1.4 (APS-C, x-mount) March, 2020
56mm f1.4 E (APS-C, x-mount) Autumn, 2020 56mm f1.4 (APS-C, x-mount) March, 2020
85mm f1.8 E (FF, e-mount) February, 2020 85mm f1.8 STM (FF, e-mount) May, 2019
35mm f1.8 E (FF, e-mount) Autumn, 2020 - Not yet announced
50mm f1.8 E (FF, e-mount) Autumn, 2020 - Not yet announced

Feature wise, there are also quite a few similarities between the two lenses. In fact, the only non-identical spec I found was Tokina's 0.125x magnification versus the 0.12x magnification listed for the Viltrox. It's worth noting that BH Photo currently lists the Tokina as having a 0.13x magnification ratio, which differs from other specs cited throughout the web. What's hard to understand is how these two lenses could both have identical minimum focal ranges, macro reproduction ratios, and angles of view and not share identical magnification ranges. It may be that they are indeed identical and that one company simply rounded down from x0.125 and the other rounded up.

Feature Viltrox 85mm f1.8 Tokina 85mm f1.8 Match
Focal range: 85mm 85mm
Magnification: 0.12x 0.125x
Maximum aperture: f/1.8 f/1.8
Minimum aperture: f/16 f/16
Aperture blade no: 9 9
Macro Reprod. rt: 1:8 1:8
Angle of view: 28.5° 28.5°
Optical formula: 10 Elements in 7 Groups 10 Elements in 7 Groups
Focal distance: 2.62'/80 cm - Ꝏ 2.62'/80 cm - Ꝏ
Filter thread size: 72mm 72mm
Focusing motor: ST-M ST-M
Mount type: E-Mount E-Mount

Interestingly enough, both Tokina and the Viltrox 85mm lenses currently display as the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 in CaptureOne Pro (which obviously neither of them are). The Zeiss identifier appears to be embedded in the EXIF data, since it continues to show up as a an 85mm Batis on sites that reference EXIF information like Flickr and 500px.

Both the Viltrox and Tokina 85mm Lenses Display as the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 in CaptureOne
Both the Viltrox and Tokina 85mm Lenses Display as the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 in CaptureOne
Both the Viltrox and Tokina 85mm Lenses Display as the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 on Flickr
Both the Viltrox and Tokina 85mm Lenses Display as the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 on Flickr
Both the Viltrox and Tokina 85mm Lenses Display as the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 on 500px
Both the Viltrox and Tokina 85mm Lenses Display as the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 on 500px

Wondering if the similarities I was seeing could be purely coincidental, I reached out to Tokina Japan for an official response as to whether they were allowing Tokina to re-brand their lenses or if Viltrox was manufacturing their new 85mm for Sony. In response, they said that I can attribute the following statement to them:

Tokina lenses does not have a relationship with Viltrox.

If you want my opinion, knowing what I do about the Chinese lens market, my best guess would be that Tokina and Viltrox are both working with a well established 3rd party Chinese lens manufacturer that creates prototypes and allows other companies to customize and sell their lenses under their own brand names.

So there you have it! Tokina and Viltrox apparently have no business relationship whatsoever. If you want my opinion, knowing what I do about the Chinese lens market, my best guess would be that Tokina and Viltrox are both working with a well established 3rd party Chinese lens manufacturer that creates prototypes and allows other companies to customize and sell their lenses under their own brand names. This makes oodles of sense if you think about how fantastically well Viltrox did with releasing their first ever lenses for Sony and Fujifilm last year.

Working with a 3rd party manufacturer doesn't mean a company isn't bringing their own ideas to the table or that two products are going to be identical just because they're based around the same raw design. In fact, this isn't too dissimilar from, say, what Nikon, Panasonic, and Pentax do when they work with Sony to design and produce some of their image sensors.