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Tokina AT-X 100-300mm f/4 SD . . . better than I expected
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:46 am    Post subject: Tokina AT-X 100-300mm f/4 SD . . . better than I expected Reply with quote

I won this lens off eBay a couple of weeks ago.



I owned one back in my camera dealer days and sold it before I got a chance to use it properly, and I'd always regretting selling it so fast. Well, I finally ran into one with a reasonably priced Buy It Now on eBay -- that alone was a surprise! -- so I went ahead and bought it. Blew the hell out of my budget for a 80-200/2.8 Tamron, but oh well.

I've been meaning to take it out and give it a thorough workout, but I still haven't had the opportunity to do so yet. That doesn't stop me from testing the lens, though. I have a favorite subject for testing my lenses. It's a water kiosk in a parking lot at the end of my street, somewhere between 300 and 400 meters away from my house. So it's a good subject for testing lenses at infinity focus.

I tested the lens at f-stops ranging from f/4 to f/16. I mounted the lens on a tripod and set the ISO to 100. My camera is an EOS XS (1000D). The following images are 100% crops of the scene, and I was focusing the lens on the words "We care about the water you drink."

All photos were taken with the lens zoomed out to 300mm.

@ f/4


@ f/5.6


@ f/8


@ f/11


@ f/16


What I'm seeing is good sharpness all the way through, but softer contrast and some flare -- or ghosting, I call it -- at f/4. The image looks best at f/8, but I can't see any difference in sharpness between f/4 and f/8. That's good, IMO, because I can take care of the ghosting/contrast/flare in PP.

I like shooting this kiosk because of the sharp white edges and the windmill arms, all of which will reveal optical aberrations, if there are any. The time of the day was rather late, so there are no pronounced chromatic aberrations from the kiosk. Mostly what I'm seeing regarding any sort of aberrations is with the sign's white perimeter. This is where the "ghosting" is most evident, and if you look closely, there appears to be a slight amount of purple fringing as well at f/4, but this quickly disappears when the lens is stopped down.

As for the sort of strong CA you see from reflected surfaces, as luck would have it, in one of my shots at f/4, I managed to catch a car's chrome wheel with sunlight reflecting off of it. Here's the wheel at 100%. You might have to look pretty close to see the CA. I can live with that.



Last edited by cooltouch on Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:22 pm; edited 2 times in total


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How's the price ratio between this lens and 80-200/2.8 Tamron you mentioned before?


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so this Tokina appears to be a pretty decent performer, but how is it compared with similar optics? Well, as it so happens, I have a Tamron SP 60-300 f/3.8-5.4 and a Canon EF 75-300 f/3.5-5.6 AF lens. The Tamron has always been a good performer, I've felt. The Canon EF 75-300 gets a lot of bad press, but my experiences with it have been good. So, since I was curious about how the Tokina's performance would stack up against other lenses -- especially the Tamron -- I went ahead and shot some pics with the Tamron and Canon too.

Honestly, I wish I had a couple of good 300mm telephotos to compare it to, but I don't. Or a Nikkor 50-300/4.5 ED or a Canon 50-300/4 L. But I don't have one of those, either. Oh well. Rolling Eyes So I just use what I have.

Okay, so, wide open, both the Tamron and Canon are at f/5.6 (well Tamron claims f/5.4, but close enough), so I took four pics with each lens, from f/5.6 to f/16. So you don't have to cursor through many pics, I've combined even smaller 100% crops of all three lenses together at apertures from f/5.6 to f/16.









In terms of sharpness, the Tokina and Canon appeared to have outscored the Tamron. But! I was using Live View with all three lenses, and I might have made a small mistake in focusing with the Tamron. It takes only the gentlest of touches to move the focus off by a substantial amount. I found it interesting that I was getting better focused shots with the Canon EF lens and Live View than when I used AF. Cool

In terms of CA, well, I'd have to say the Tokina is the best corrected of the lot, and the Canon is probably the worst. I realize it isn't easy to tell in these cropped images, but trust me, the Canon exhibited a surprising amount of purple fringing against highlighted areas, and the Tamron exhibited a substantial amount of blue fringing against shadow areas. By contrast, the Tokina exhibited a modest amount wide open that was mostly gone by f/5.6

So, given the many hundreds of photos I've taken with both the Tamron and the Canon that I've always felt were perfectly acceptable, I feel it safe to conclude that the Tokina AT-X 100-300mm f/4 SD will have at least the same level of performance.


Last edited by cooltouch on Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:26 am; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IAZA wrote:
How's the price ratio between this lens and 80-200/2.8 Tamron you mentioned before?


You can get a pretty good idea if you go to KEH.com and do a search on both. A clean Tokina 100-300/4 sells there for about $200 or so. A clean Tamron 80-200/2.8 sells for $150 to $200 more. This isn't surprising, though, since the Tamron sold new in the $700 range and the Tokina 100-300/4 AND 80-200/2.8 sold new for about $400. I have found that, in most instances, an item's original new price determines its used price, even 20 or more years later, which is the case with these lenses.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would never hesitate about quality of AT-X lenses. They were made from high level optics. I read rumors that they were ex-service nikon engineers who made such nice performers.
Then I see your test and very good approach. Thanks that you revealed it.
And congrats.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spleenone wrote:
I would never hesitate about quality of AT-X lenses. They were made from high level optics. I read rumors that they were ex-service nikon engineers who made such nice performers.
Then I see your test and very good approach. Thanks that you revealed it.
And congrats.


Thanks. I too have heard the rumors that Tokina was started by a group of ex-Nikon engineers. I just did a google search on the topic, and found a bunch of links. The best of which, from an accuracy standpoint, is likely to be Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokina


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:

Thanks. I too have heard the rumors that Tokina was started by a group of ex-Nikon engineers. I just did a google search on the topic, and found a bunch of links. The best of which, from an accuracy standpoint, is likely to be Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokina

Good reading.
Is is obvious from lens character. Mainly older AT-X glass has really similiar oof rendering and contrast of Nikkor glass. I can be wrong. Regards third party manufacturers is Tokina best, imho. Tamron has/had som good ones (in past tense it is more likely) and Sigma is not such succesfull.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that was generally true back in the 80s regarding Sigma. But nowadays Sigma is producing some good glass. Their big zooms are very popular and produce some great images. Their 120-400, 150-500, and the "Bigma" 50-500 are all popular and generally get good reviews.

My experience with Tamron lenses has always been good. I haven't used any of their more recent ones, but I recently had a chance to check out all the latest SP lenses that a factory representative was demonstrating at a local camera store, and these new SP-grade lenses appear to be very well made.

I have no experience at all with Tokina AF lenses, only with their MF lenses, and I've always had good results with them.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes now come to mind Sigma 70-200/2.8.. for that price very good option.

Recently I use af Tokina AT-X 11-16/2.8 for indoor also exterior shooting and video shooting and that is real miracle. I would like to try AT-X 16-50/2.8, too.

Tamron SP glass is fine. I have manual 35-80/2.8-3.8 and like it still very much although I would appreciate more constant aperture. Then is option like mentioned Tokina AT-X with 35-70/2.8. Great performer.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
But! I was using Live View with all three lenses, and I might have made a small mistake in focusing with the Tamron.


The Tamron crops look out of focus indeed - especially the first and the last. Anyway, the Tokina looks very good, especially at wider apertures where it lacks the glow and PF of the Tamron.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it makes me want to go and shoot the Tamron again . . . but I don't feel like having to redo all the group images. Maybe what I'll do is just post a couple of updated photos if I can get sharper images out of the Tamron.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yesterday, I had a chance to shoot some close-ups. Or somewhat close-ups, at least. I felt the lens performed reasonably well. I didn't use Live View, so I just had to depend on my XS's too-small viewfinder. I think the focus could have been better with several of the photos, but it was the best I could manage with the XS's viewfinder. I didn't use a tripod or monopod, either, which I'm sure affected the sharpness of the shots somewhat also. Since I was shooting hand held, I violated one of my rules -- ISO 100 only -- and set the camera's ISO to Auto. So some of the shots were at ISO 400 and a few even at ISO 800. If some of the shots look a bit noisy, that's why.

I divided my shots between f/4 and f/8.

@ f/4


@ f/4


@ f/8


@ f/8


@ f/4


I selected the last photo above, not just because I managed to get the dove in reasonably good focus, but because it shows some rather pronounced CA. Blue, purple, and even green. Once the lens is stopped down a bit, it fares much better:



I think I could get used to this lens. Next I want to try it with one of my film Nikons and some slide film. That should be fun.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey michael, great results! i am a big atx fan. i got a 70-200/2.8 for very cheap and i find the results stunning. of course this is an older model, like yours. i then got a newer 20-35/2.8, which to me has just as good IQ as my 17-45/4.0L lens (although perhaps with more distortion at the wide end) at less than half the price. nice find, or rediscovery!


PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback, rbelyell. I take it you mean 80-200 and not 70-200? When I searched for a 70-200 Tokina on eBay, all I found was one AF f/4.5 lens. But a search on 80-200 turned up a few red-stripe AT-X's that looked a lot like my 100-300.

You know what I'd really like to find? An 80-200/2.8 "shootout" on the old MF lenses, which includes both the Tamron and Tokina. I'm aware that Adaptall-2.org has a Modern Photography resolution comparison, but it would be nice to see some real-world testing too. I'm still leaning toward a Tamron, mostly because of its Adaptall-2 interchangeability, but if I could pick up a Tokina in Nikon mount for cheap the way I got this 100-300, I'd probably go for it.

Far as that goes, I wouldn't mind finding a shootout for MF zooms up to 300mm in focal length with a constant aperture of f/4 or f/4.5. Like the Canon and Nikon 50-300 (L and ED) and Canon 85-300. A shootout that includes the Tokina.

So, is your Tokina 20-35 an AF lens? Searching on eBay, I found only AF lenses.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey michael, sorry about that, youre correct it is an sd 80-200/2.8, not 70! and it is to me amazingly sharp wide open. ive used it indoors at family events on my 5d and the results were great.

and you are also correct that the 20-35mm is AF, as is the 17-40L i was comparing it to. i was very surprised that the tokina was just as good in my eyes as the L at a full stop faster and $450 less in cost! thats why im selling my L. to be fair, the tokina has more noticeable dostortion at the wide end, but thats not worth almost $500 to me.

as for tokina vs tamron sp, i would like to see that too. i know many on the forum are sp fans, but truth be told, ive had a couple and havent been overly impressed. but thats what makes the world go round, right?

in fact, in another thread i posted today, im trying to get opinions on the sp 28-135 vs the kiron 28-135 as i have an oppty to buy one vs the other, both at reasonable prices...


PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:18 am    Post subject: Nice comparison Reply with quote

Thanks for the tests Wink

It can help ppl comparing the well known Tamron 60-300, easy to find Canon EF 75-300 and rare Tokina 100-300 4.
I seen Tokina with your help on a Tokina 80-200 2.8 thread Wink

I will probably buy one and see if i can handle it.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great test!! AT-X lenses are very nice performers, always loved them. I had the RMC 5.6/100-300 once, but never got to use it because of the mount it had (Nikon, no adapters) so decided to sell it, it was sold in a blink.

The Tokina AT-X 2.8/80-200 is known to have some haze on one of the middle elements, be careful when you go and buy one, check it well!
If you're comfortable taking zooms to pieces: it seems it's not one of the complicated ones to clean. There's even a "how-to" video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ0XcErf9OE

Mine has this problem, although very mild, but it's there. Haven't really used it because of that. I still have to find the nerve to open it.....

There's a manual 24-40mm AT-X lens for the wide end, i had one and shot some film with it: http://forum.mflenses.com/tokina-at-x-2-8-24-40-on-kodak-gold-200-t71221,highlight,%2Btokina.html

cheers, René!


PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:47 am    Post subject: Sadly not only 80-200 2.8... Reply with quote

It is sadly a well known failure of the SD element on ALL Tokina with this SD element.
It creates a kind of rainbow haze. Some ppl tried to remove it, without any success.
It is the element itself witch change color, not surface coating. Some ppl speak about element separation, but there is none : SD element is alone...sadly. No cure.

Youtube video show how to open and clean the optic, not how to remove Tokina SD haze. Because it is simply impossible.

Take a look at Ebay now. There is even one 100-300 f4 sold with reported haze Shocked
And most seller will not even see and/or report it.
If you search the web, you will see many Tokina with hazy SD element, from wide angle to big tele. And no mean to solve it.

If you get a non hazy Tokina SD, you are lucky. Not the opposite Wink
Some ppl even got hazy ones from factory, send it back...and got another hazy Twisted Evil
It explains the mixed reviews.

And i'm pretty sure ppl will not remark any haze until they test their lens against a candle light or any "spot" light. It is a good test : if you see a rainbow circle around a spot/candle light, your Tokina is hazy Wink


PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Sadly not only 80-200 2.8... Reply with quote

gLOW-x wrote:
It is sadly a well known failure of the SD element on ALL Tokina with this SD element.
It creates a kind of rainbow haze. Some ppl tried to remove it, without any success.
It is the element itself witch change color, not surface coating. Some ppl speak about element separation, but there is none : SD element is alone...sadly. No cure.


I am a bit confused. Does the SD element become hazy over time, or is it hazy right from the start? [If it's not a coating, and is not a separation, then it seems (to me) odd that it could change internally over time.]


PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder just how common this "haze" issue is. I just checked my AT-X 100-300mm f/4 SD and all its elements are perfectly clear. I also have a 150-500//5.6 SD on order. The seller claimed the lens has no haze. Well, we'll see. Hopefully it won't, or I'll be returning it.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it grow over time.
It seems it was a bad quality check/process at the factory (reported dead on arrival Tokina SD by several users).
May be heat ? Don't know...

Some ppl didn't seen it in real shooting (ex : you don't shoot candles/spot lights in wildlife).
It can be obvious in direct light. But it is just "softer" in general usage.

And you need to look from behind with a flashlight, with a certain angle, to see it on the lens itself.
This is not as obvious as a "foggy" element or bad coating.

Those Tokina SD are amazing, when they are in good shape.
I was probably excessive in my posting with those problems Wink

Take care and check them anyway.
And post something about 150-500/5.6 when you get it, i'm curious about it Wink


PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the time i shot a roll of Kodak with the AT-X 24-40 also carried the AT-X 2.8/80-200. I just checked if i had any shots made with it. Here are some, no traces of the hazy element. I need to take it out on the A7.....

Peugeot RCZ by René Maly, on Flickr

KNRM Neeltje Jans by René Maly, on Flickr

Old films by René Maly, on Flickr


PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 80-200 has the haze, but that's why it cost me 5. It's in great condition otherwise so the haze is a great shame. I bought it about 5 years ago and I don't think the haze has got any worse in that time.
The lens still takes good pictures, but I haven't really tested it against the sun and always use a hood. It's almost certainly lost some contrast but PP fixes that.


PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lloydy wrote:
My 80-200 has the haze, but that's why it cost me �5. It's in great condition otherwise so the haze is a great shame. I bought it about 5 years ago and I don't think the haze has got any worse in that time.
The lens still takes good pictures, but I haven't really tested it against the sun and always use a hood. It's almost certainly lost some contrast but PP fixes that.


They do still take good pictures, i did not know, mine has haze as well, just opened a topic about it here:
http://forum.mflenses.com/tokina-at-x-sd-2-8-80-200-hazy-element-t74276.html


PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a "veteran" of using four of the AT-X one-touch MF zooms (are there just four?), the 60-120/2.8, the 80-200/2.8, the 100-300/4, and the 150-500/5.6, and I've never noticed any internal cloudiness (but, while I have previously looked through all of 'em, I have to admit to probably never shining a flashlight through any of 'em, never having had a reason to do so).

[Of course, the AT-X 60-120/2.8 doesn't have an SD element anyway, and, because of that, it has an orange stripe instead of a red stripe around the front of the lens.]

Anyhoo, here's a couple of 100% crops from a couple of AT-X 100-300/4 images, both taken at 300mm f/7.1 -

100% crop, unprocessed except for cropping -

thumbnail of original image -

link to original image -
http://www.allgeektome.com/pentax/x1003004/cormorantpair_300mm_f7_0_or.jpg

100% crop, unprocessed except for cropping -

thumbnail of original image -

link to original image -
http://www.allgeektome.com/pentax/x1003004/gullcrab_300mm_f7_0_or.jpg

And here's one more AT-X 100-300/4 image crop, taken at 100mm f/7.1 -

100% crop, unprocessed except for cropping -

thumbnail of original image -

link to original image -
http://www.allgeektome.com/pentax/x1003004/danielwebster_100mm_f7_0_or.jpg