Planning for the Tokina Vista Primes began in 2013. During the early stages, Ryan Avery, VP of Formatt KT America and Tokina Cinema products, met with cinematographers to get feedback. He also came up with the name: Vista Primes. From the beginning the lenses have been designed to cover beyond Full Frame and cover the RED 8K VV sensor (46.7mm image diagonal) that was introduced in June 2015. The image illumination of the longer focal lengths covers the 5K image area of the Alexa 65 camera that was introduced a year earlier, in September 2014. The lenses came to market a year later, in 2016.
The principal lens designer for the project at Tokina was Nobuo Seki. We corresponded with Mr. Seki via Ryan Avery to learn more.
Jon Fauer: Why did you decide to design Full Frame cine lenses instead of Super35?
Nobuo Seki: We believed that Full Frame would continue to gain popularity.
When did you first begin thinking about these lenses?
What was your concept, technically and artistically?
The technical concept was to have a good balance of higher performance lens specifications. To be more specific, these specifications included: no breathing, covering the large sensor cameras, high resolution, low distortion, low chromatic aberration, T1.5 for all lenses in the series, 300 degree focus barrel rotation, and interchangeable lens mounts. The lens markings are easily visible in low light because of the special paint color we used on the barrels.
In summary, the Tokina Vista Primes were designed to be rugged, easy to use and of the highest quality.
Artistically, the concept was that the image should have a pleasing and slightly warmer look.
There is almost no breathing. How did you achieve this?
We have a proprietary optical design to minimize breathing.
In designing and building the Vista Primes, what were some of the challenges?
The big challenge was to use new materials, new types of glass and aspherical elements that needed a lot of trial and error until we were satisfied.
With the Vista Primes, what are the things that you are most happy about?
We are very pleased that customers appreciate the concept of our design and the quality.
Did you imagine that Full Frame was going to become popular for cine when you planned these lenses back in 2013?
Yes, we did. Increasing the sensor resolution (number of pixels) to 4K and 8K was a trend we saw early on. The larger Full Frame sensor helps to improve the image quality and is especially helpful in low light. It also has a pleasingly shallow depth of field and a natural looking magnification. The high resolution contributes to the look of the image. So, back in 2013, we naturally believed that Full Frame cameras would become popular for cinema.