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Two Heavyweight Zooms: Tamron 200-500 vs Tokina 150-500
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:53 pm    Post subject: Two Heavyweight Zooms: Tamron 200-500 vs Tokina 150-500 Reply with quote

This is a comparison between the Tamron 31A SP 200-500mm f/5.6 and Tokina AT-X 150-500mm f/5.6 SD, two aftermarket heavyweight zooms. And I don't mean that figuratively, either. Both zooms are big and heavy -- but hand-holdable in good light if you're up for it. A monopod at minimum is recommended, and a tripod is really the best way to go, when using either of these lenses, unless it's a really bright day where you can shoot at at least 1/500 and f/8. But this should be doable. The Sunny F16 rule sez that even at ISO 100, correct exposure is 1/500 @ f/8.

A bit of information about these two zooms before I get started. As I mentioned above, both zooms are heavy. The Tamron is heavier than the Tokina. It is also physically larger. Both lenses have a 95mm front filter diameter, which is necessary for that constant f/5.6 maximum aperture. Each lens has a minimum aperture value of f/32. The Tamron is a two-ring zoom, while the Tokina is a push-pull, single collar design. Neither lens has a macro setting. Both have stout tripod mounts. The Tamron's mount also includes the larger thread size. Both lenses have built-in hoods and front caps that slide over the front of the lens. Both lenses came new with a case. I'm not sure what was included in the cases, if anything. The Tamron I bought without a case. The Tokina came with a case and there was a set of filters in the case as well. Probably were included with the lens, but I don't know for sure.

For the comparison, I mounted the lenses to my stout Manfrotto-built tripod in my backyard. The camera is a Sony NEX 7, set to ISO 100. I used the self-timer to reduce any shake caused by the camera/lens. I shot at a variety of apertures. The smaller apertures brought the shutter speeds down low enough such that much of the background (leaves) were blurry because of wind blowing.

I selected a few subjects that would show detail. The closest subject is about 60 meters from where I had the camera/lens set up. The farthest subject was probably 800 to 1000 meters distant. I have a transit somewhere. If I knew where it was, I could precisely measure the angles and give exact distances. But we'll just go with my assumptions for now.

The images were RAW and processed to jpg using Photoshop's raw converter. I employed some basic routines to the images with the converter, but just to make things fair, I employed the exact same routines to all the images. They consisted mostly of some contrast enhancements and exposure and sharpness adjustments.

For comparison purposes, I will show how the pair of lenses perform with each subject. Alphabetical order: the Tamron will be shown first, then the Tokina will immediately follow.

Here are the two lenses:


This power pole is about 60 meters from where the camera/lenses were mounted. All shots were done with the lenses open to max aperture, f/5.6. The first shots were at the lenses' minimum focal length, the second shots at a mid-focal length, and the third at maximum focal length. The point of focus is the knot in the power pole just to the right of where the two angle braces are fastened to the pole.

Tamron 200-500 @ 200mm @ f/5.6


Tokina 150-500 @ 150mm @ f/5.6


Tamron 200-500 @ 350mm @ f/5.6


Tokina 150-500 @ 300mm @ f/5.6


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6


There are two tags on the transformer that is attached to the power pole. The bottom tag has a serial number on it. This was the point of focus. Both lenses were set to maximum focal length, i.e., 500mm. I shot at apertures of f/5.6, f/11, and f/22. Click on the images and then zoom in, if possible, to check sharpness.

Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


Tokina 150-500mm @ 500mm @ f/22:


This is the distant subject, somewhere around 800 1000 meters away. If you peer through all those hanging wires, you'll see a set of white insulators on a distant power pole. One of these insulators was the point of focus. Because I reduced the image from 6000 to 1500 pixels across, the detail is not so evident. I will post 100% crops of these images at the conclusion of this article.

Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


Okay, I've saved the best for last: 100% crops of the two most telling subjects. These crops will show chromatic aberrations and just how sharp each lens is. Both are excellent zooms, but there is a clear winner here.

Transformer tags, 100% crops:

Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


White Insulators, 800-1000 meters distant:

Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/5.6:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/11:


Tamron 200-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


Tokina 150-500 @ 500mm @ f/22:


Conclusion: Both are outstanding zoom lenses, especially considering their zoom range and constant maximum aperture. While the Tokina AT-X is an excellent zoom, the Tamron is truly remarkable. In my more extensive tests, I've found this Tamron to be one of the sharpest zooms I've ever used. And it isn't just sharpness, either. The color and contrast have a nice richness that I typically find with very expensive primes. I wonder if there might be sharper examples of the Tokina out there, however. I write this because another zoom that is one of the best I've ever used is a Tokina AT-X 100-300mm f/4 SD. It is the sharpest short-tele to 300mm zoom I own. My AT-X 150-500 SD is a very good zoom, but it isn't as good as my AT-X 100-300 SD. So it makes me wonder if there might be AT-X 150-500s that are of equivalent sharpness.

As for chromatic aberrations, you will have noticed that they are rather strongly evident in some images. Sometimes stopping down gets rid of it, sometimes it doesn't. One thing I did notice, however, was that the Tokina did a better job at controlling the aberrant colors than the Tamron did. This is due, no doubt, to the Tokina's SD glass elements. Fortunately, however, the CA can be easily removed with a good package of post processing software.


PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surprising results from both.
I wasn't expecting either to be so good.
The Tamron is very good indeed and is a real eye opener.
Looks mighty heavy Smile
Tom


PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, the Tamron is a beast. Almost exactly 6 pounds (2724 grams). The Tokina is a bit less. A tad under 5 pounds (2240 grams).

I'm used to slogging around with heavy lenses. Usually I take my Tamron 300mm f/2.8 LDIF to airshows (and I'm heading to one next weekend), and it weighs "only" 4.6 pounds (2096 grams), which to me is at the ragged edge of hand-holdability. It isn't the weight so much as it is that it is borne almost entirely by the left hand and arm, often extended well out from one's body if one is using the screen instead of the viewfinder. So as a result of all this, those big zooms are best used with at least a monopod.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:40 am    Post subject: Two Heavyweight Zooms: Tamron 200-500 vs Tokina 150-500 Reply with quote

Great job!

I have been looking for such a comparison for quite some time.

It's interesting to find out that the Tamron is a winner.

But I'd like to know how is the Tamron 200-500 at f8, for f5.6 and f8 are the apertures I'd use for a 500mm lens.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three things:
one:
It will be fun to compare both with Tamron 55BB 500m f/8 mirror lens. Got one and have to say it is ultra hard to focus but for quite close targets it give outstanding sharpness.

Second:
As I said quite close target. Best 20-40m. Closer to infinity Wink wore it gose.
So what I suggest, try some small target around max 40m away. Best will be set some cans as they round shape could be similar to birds.

Third:
very thanks it was great test Smile


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting, the Tokina looked way better to my eyes, until you presented the 100% crops, then it became clear the Tamron was much sharper. It looks to me like the Tamron is sharper but the Tokina is better corrected, especially for CA and Coma.

BTW, you should use ISO 200 for lens tests as that is the actual speed of the Sony sensor, ISO 100 is actually simulated by the firmware just as the higher speeds are.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Tamron 200-500mm f5.6 constant in mint condition for sale.


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent job (thanks) and quality!... but I am too old to carry such monsters.
Rokkor 200 mm f 2.8 (710 g) plus 300S *2 gives you a 400 mm f5.6 for less than a kilo
500 mm RF f 8 is only 700 g
Sure, they won't zoom and quality may or may not be as good (?) but you don't even need a mono or a tripod...


PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
Interesting, the Tokina looked way better to my eyes, until you presented the 100% crops, then it became clear the Tamron was much sharper. It looks to me like the Tamron is sharper but the Tokina is better corrected, especially for CA and Coma.

BTW, you should use ISO 200 for lens tests as that is the actual speed of the Sony sensor, ISO 100 is actually simulated by the firmware just as the higher speeds are.


exact
Pls note that the tokina image ratio at 500mm is bigger than the tamron's = TRUE tokina focal is bigger than tamron's (ie :500 vs 480mm)

If you want a lens with equivalent focal range but much more smaller/lightweight : there is also the cosina 100/500 5.6-8 (also sold as vivitar series 1 1or soligor c/d) which is very usable (one touch /~1kg/72mm filter/macro) and have a very good iq

The only drawback is NON constant aperture

http://forum.mflenses.com/super-cosina-100-500mm-f-5-6-8-mc-macro-t68440.html


PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen the Vivitar S1 100-500 before, but I've never had the opportunity to shoot with it. Vivitar also marketed a 120-600mm f/5.6-8. I almost bought one of those back in the 80s, but for one reason or another, decided not to. I think that was probably when I bought my Sigma 600mm mirror. I remember, back in the day, the 120-600 was regarded as just an okay zoom, but when I take a look at currnet comments on it, it would appear to have a much better reputation now.

So anyway, there are two more long zooms to add to one's list, the Vivitar s1 100-500mm f/5.6-8 and the Vivitar 120-600mm f/5.6-8. If you have either of these two lenses, I'd be most interested in seeing some images taken with them.

Piotr, your suggestion is a good one. If we ever move into consistently good weather here, maybe I'll try and take these two lenses out for more close-in shots.

Wylu, you're not gonna see much difference between the f/11 photos I show and f/8. With these long tele zooms, depth of field is alreado so shallow, one stop out there doesn't really make much difference. Two might, though, so I'd be better off shooting at f/5.6. I didn't use more apertures than these just so I could keep the volume of shots down to a manageable amount.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting comparison. But That power distribution system looks nigh on Criminally Insane!


PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I wouldn't know from any of that power distribution stuff. I just shot it because it was interesting looking subject material.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen worse (re power lines, utility poles).
Much worse - or strange. Stuff that you could not believe could exist in this version of reality.
Manila has this all over. I have pictures in my archive.
This is off-topic though.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, the Tammy brings the trophy home--Ca/aberrations easy to correct these days IME. Thanks for all the work which went into the test--much appreciated. jt Btw, sharpness has always (or, nearly always) been something @ which Tamron has excelled, IME.