Just lately, as I packed my cameras for a visit, it dawned on me how a lot the contents of my digital camera bag have modified because the first days of my photographic journey. With all of the skilled grade Canon cameras and lenses neatly tucked in my bag, it was straightforward to overlook that it wasn’t so way back when my digital camera of selection was an entry-level DSLR (Sony A100) and a consumer-grade telephoto zoom lens within the type of the Tamron 70-300mm. This mix served me properly for a few years, nevertheless it quickly turned clear that an improve was so as. On the time, I used to be restricted in my means to decide on a alternative by a price range of simply $300. This positioned me nicely under the quantity wanted to buy a contemporary skilled grade lens and I needed to search for an improve on the used lens market. It took a number of weeks earlier than I narrowed down my choices and a few month earlier than I discovered my reply: The Tokina 300mm f/4 ATX lens. The Tokina 300mm f/4, whose design dates to the early 90’s, acquired rave consumer evaluations on digital camera boards for its sharpness and sturdiness. Its all-metal design and f/4 max aperture made it stand out from the opposite shopper grade choices. The worth was additionally good for my finances with used copies of the lens going for round $300. A pair months later, I had a replica of the lens in my hand, and it was my lens of selection for a few years earlier than I moved to Canon and the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM. With this assessment I hope to shine a light-weight on this little-known gem and, extra importantly, introduce a real various to photographers in search of a finances pleasant improve to their shopper oriented telephoto lens. The images on this article characterize each a few of my very own work in addition to that of my father who continues to make use of the Tokina 300mm f/4 lens to this present day.
SLT-A77V + 75-300mm F4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 500, 1/640, f/5.6
1. Lens Specs
- Comparatively vibrant and quick aperture of f/4
- Robust all-metal development
- Small and light-weight
- Excellent sharpness
- Mount Sort: Sony Alpha, Canon EF, Nikon F
- Focal Size Vary: 300mm
- Most Aperture: f/4
- Minimal Aperture: f/32
- Lens (Parts): 9
- Lens (Teams): 7
- Suitable Format(s): Full Body, APS-C
- VR (Vibration Discount) Picture Stabilization: No
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- SD Glass Parts: 2
- Autofocus: Sure
- Inner Focusing: No, screw-driven lens
- Minimal Focus Distance: 72 inches (2 m)
- Focus Mode: Guide, Guide / Auto
- Filter Measurement: 77mm entrance filter
- Dimensions: three.7 in. (84 mm) x eight.07 in. (187 mm) (Diameter x Size)
- Weight: 1140g
2. Construct High quality and Dealing with
The Tokina 300 f/4 is constructed to knowledgeable commonplace with a barrel constructed from a robust metal-alloy. The barrel contains a textured crinkle end not dissimilar to that present in high-end Tokina and Nikon lenses from the 90’s. The dark-grey paint of the end has held up properly with time and infrequently scratches. Initially, the lens’s lack of correct climate sealing and a rotating focus ring throughout autofocus operation made me apprehensive about utilizing it in inclement climate. The Tokina is a screw pushed lens with no inner focus motor which signifies that the main target ring rotates because the lens autofocuses. This archaic design implies that the Tokina 300mm f/4 is at an elevated danger of particles and water penetrating the lens by way of the world of the main target ring. Fortunately, after repeated utilization in several climate circumstances together with rain, excessive humidity, and snow, I can say that the lens has repeatedly functioned with out fail. My copy of the lens has even survived a somewhat messy tumble into the mud on a rain drenched path in Costa Rica. Fortunately, the lens hood took the brunt of the autumn, and the marginally muddy lens continued to perform flawlessly in the course of my trek.
Hummingbirds, Costa Rica ©Ron Barkay
DSLR-A700 @ 300mm, ISO 500, 1/1000, f/7.1
Measuring 84mm in diameter and 187mm in size, the Tokina 300mm f/4 is a small lens. As compared, the Nikon 300mm f/4D AF-S with its 90mm diameter and 222.5mm size is quite a bit greater. It additionally weighs 300 grams greater than the Tokina. The Canon EF 300mm f/4 L USM (The non-Picture-Stabilized mannequin from 1991 and the IS mannequin from 1997) lenses from the 90’s examine favorably with the Tokina in weight, however their measurement is nearly equivalent to that of the Nikon lens. The one 300mm f/4 full body lens that handily beats the Tokina in measurement is the comparatively new Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens whose utilization of Part Fresnel (PF) parts make it a tiny 147.5mm in size and simply 755grams. Because of its small measurement and type issue, the Tokina balances effortlessly on even the smallest of DSLR’s which makes it a unbelievable companion for lengthy hikes.
The Tokina handles very properly with the rubberized focus ring being nicely dampened. As said earlier, the shortage of an inner focusing motor signifies that the main target ring rotates throughout AF operation. Because it rotates, the main target ring makes fairly a noticeable clicking noise which stands in stark distinction to the silent focus operation of right now’s lenses. The rotation of the ring signifies that there isn’t a DMF (Direct Guide Focus) so you possibly can’t flip the main target ring whereas the lens is in autofocus operation. Additional complicating issues is the shortage of an AF/MF change on the lens barrel which suggests it’s essential to change focus mode by way of the digital camera physique.
SLT-A77V + 75-300mm F4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 800, 1/1000, f/4.5
Just like the Nikon 300mm f/4D AF-S, the Tokina comes with a non-removable built-in lens hood. In contrast to its Nikon counterpart, there isn’t a means to lock the hood and a specific amount of drive is required to slip the hood in and misplaced. I do like this design because it narrows the general diameter and makes it simpler to suit the lens inside a small digital camera bag. On the entrance of the lens is a non-rotating 77mm filter thread which signifies that each ND and polarizing filters can be utilized with ease.
In the direction of the again of the barrel is a hard and fast rotating tripod collar whose low profile matches the general compactness of the lens. The foot rotates easily, however sadly, there are not any click-stops on the 90-degree marks. In all probability probably the most limiting facet of the Tokina is the shortage of a spotlight limiter change. The lens would have drastically benefited from having a spotlight limiter as it might assist dramatically improve the main target speeds, particularly in low mild conditions. That is problematic do you have to select to make use of the lens on Canon and Nikon our bodies for they lack the in-camera focus limiter choices out there on the extra trendy Sony Alpha mount cameras.
General, the Tokina 300mm f/4 is a lens whose very design is predicated on compactness. It handles very properly, and it’s a pleasure to hold round all day given its diminutive measurement and lightweight weight. It’s additionally very properly constructed with an all-metal development that has confirmed to face the check of time. However. the Tokina 300mm f/4 lacks many helpful options that at the moment are commonplace on trendy lenses corresponding to inner focusing, direct guide focus, AF/MF change and a spotlight limiter change. The shortage of those options proves an actual shortcoming in sure conditions and this have to be considered earlier than buying the lens.
three. Focus Efficiency and Accuracy
Like many lenses whose design heralds from the early 1990s, the Tokina has no inner autofocus motor and depends on an outdated slotted screw drive focus operation powered by the digital camera’s personal focus motor. This isn’t an issue for anybody utilizing it on entry-level Sony Alpha or Canon digital camera our bodies, however a few of Nikon’s entry-level DSLR’s lack AF motors can’t correctly autofocus this lens. Due to the screw-driven design, autofocus operation generates a modest quantity of noise although at no level does it turn out to be intrusive. Fortunately, the general velocity of focus is excellent however extremely depending on the digital camera which you mount it on. Extra skilled digital camera our bodies have higher focus motors that are higher suited to focusing screw-driven lenses. An instance of that is with how my very own copy of the lens features on the totally different Sony Alpha our bodies at my disposal. When mounted on an entry-level DSLR such because the Sony A100, focus efficiency is strong however nothing to put in writing house about. When mounted on a prosumer DSLR such because the Sony A77, the lens delivers an improved efficiency with a lot quicker focus changes because of the stronger motor of the digital camera.
Roseate Spoonbills, Mexico ©Ron Barkay
SLT-A77V @ 300mm, ISO 500, 1/8000, f/5.zero
Focus accuracy is sort of good with the Tokina 300mm f/4 lens although not wonderful. When utilized in good mild, the lens is very succesful and its able to monitoring shifting topics with relative ease. That stated, beneath dim lighting circumstances the lens hunts fairly a bit and the shortage of focus limiter change additional compounds the issue.
four. Picture High quality
In all probability probably the most noticeable facet of the Tokina 300mm f/4 lens is that it’s a very sharp lens. Whereas it isn’t breathtakingly sharp like a few of the greatest 300mm f/4 prime lenses, it will probably render a really excessive degree of element in any respect apertures. The efficiency can also be very even throughout the body with good element rendering within the corners of the picture. At f/4, sharpness is already fairly good, however the general impact is dampened by the slightly low distinction discovered at this aperture. The low distinction is because of the lens not using any extra-low Dispersion (ED) or UD glass parts in its optical design, however fortunately that is corrected only one cease down. At f/5.6, sharpness could be very excessive throughout the body, with the lens simply resolving all 24 megapixels of my crop-sensor Sony Alpha 77. This aperture is the lens’s candy spot with F/eight retaining the identical degree of element however not enhancing upon it and the consequences of diffraction setting in by f/11.
Osprey, Mexico ©Ron Barkay
SLT-A77V @ 300mm, ISO 500, 1/5000, f/5.zeroCrop of photograph aboveBlack Hawk, Mexico ©Ron Barkay
SLT-A77V @ 300mm, ISO 500, 1/1600, f/5.zeroCrop of photograph above
5. Vibration Discount
The Tokina 300mm f/4 doesn’t function any in-lens picture stabilization or IS. Which means it’s a lot more durable to realize sharper photographs when utilizing low shutter speeds whereas handholding. The shortage of IS can show an issue on Canon and Nikon our bodies as they don’t have in-camera picture stabilization just like the Sony Alpha our bodies.
The standard of the Bokeh of the Tokina 300mm f/4 lens is satisfactory although not of the identical high quality as a number of the greatest 300mm f/4 lenses. Areas in entrance of the focal aircraft function a considerably nervous bokeh. Fortunately, that is virtually utterly gone in areas behind the focal aircraft the place the bokeh turns into fairly clean. Background highlights are rendered fairly properly, with comparatively little outlining at max aperture.
Acorn Woodpecker, Costa Rica ©Ron Barkay
DSLR-A700 @ 300mm, ISO 500, 1/800, f/eight.zero
The lens reveals a average quantity of vignetting that turns into negligible because the lens is stopped down. When utilizing the max aperture, there’s a few one cease of darkening within the corners. At f/5.6, this drops to about half a cease, and by F/eight there’s little noticeable darkening within the corners of the body.
Like most Tokina lenses of the period, the Tokina 300mm f/4 doesn’t deal with flare notably properly. General distinction is lowered considerably when capturing towards the solar. At occasions this defect can lend a dreamy high quality to pictures.
9. Chromatic Aberration
Whereas trendy lenses have turn into more and more good at mitigating chromatic aberration, this can’t be stated for the now 26-year-old design of the Tokina 300mm f/4. The lens doesn’t make use of any extra-low Dispersion (ED) parts just like the extra trendy 300mm f/4 designs which suggests it isn’t excellent at correcting for chromatic aberration. The lens suffers from a excessive quantity of bokeh fringing (halos of various colours in out-of-focus areas) with robust traces of magenta halos within the foreground together with inexperienced halos within the background out of focus areas. This drawback happens predominantly when the lens is used at its native aperture of f/4, with it lessening at f/5.6 and turning into solely a minor problem by f/eight. Sadly, lateral chromatic aberration regularly will increase because the lens is stopped down, with it being fairly pronounced at f/4 and getting progressively worse because the aperture narrows. This situation is most noticeable when capturing towards the sunshine, with areas of sharp distinction exhibiting a pronounced magenta coloured halo. Fortunately, chromatic aberration is among the best lens defects to right in Photoshop, and a few cautious post-processing can disguise most, if not all, of the Tokina 300mm f/4 points with this drawback.
Instance of chromatic aberration
Given the low worth level which the Tokina 300mm f/4 may be bought at on the used market (round $300) probably the most direct competitors it faces is within the type of the budget-friendly 70-300mm lenses provided by all main lens producers.
On this vary, Canon has a few choices with their Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS and newer Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II lenses. A brand new copy of the previous might be bought for $377 although they’re straightforward to seek out for round $200 on the used lens market. In comparison with the Tokina, the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS lens is superior in its dealing with of chromatic aberration and it additionally options Canon’s third era picture stabilization unit. Sadly, it’s hampered by Canon’s outdated Micro USM focus motor which focuses very slowly. In favor of the Tokina lens is a a lot better construct high quality together with noticeably superior sharpness efficiency. The Tokina additionally focuses a lot quicker when used on a very good digital camera physique. Just lately, Canon has up to date the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II which options an improved if nonetheless finances oriented construct high quality, a a lot improved focusing motor and Canon’s newest era picture stabilization. The EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II could be bought new for $549. The brand new lens is far sharper at 300mm than its predecessor and presents convincing efficiency at this focal size which competes however doesn’t fairly match the standard provided by the Tokina lens. Whereas the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS II options an improved construct high quality it may well’t compete with the all-metal design of the Tokina 300mm f/4.
Hummingbird, Costa Rica ©Ron Barkay
DSLR-A700 @ 300mm, ISO 2000, 1/400, f/4.zero
Whereas nonetheless in Canon’s EF mount, a extra like-for-like competitor is Canon’s 300mm f/4 lens. The now discontinued Canon EF 300mm f/4 L USM is similar to the Tokina, with the 2 lenses sharing an analogous weight, quantity of glass teams and parts, lack of picture stabilization and lack of climate sealing. The Canon does supply some distinct benefits, primarily within the focusing division the place it employs Canon’s quick and silent USM focus motor. The Canon additionally contains a focus limiter change which additional improves general focus efficiency. The 2 lenses are fairly comparable relating to their general sharpness, however the Canon does function higher bokeh high quality and far much less chromatic aberration. The Canon might be bought for round $550 on the used lens market.
Shifting to the Nikon F mount. You will get the now discontinued Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR lens for the same worth because the Tokina. The sharpness of the Nikon lens isn’t too dangerous at 300mm, however it isn’t in the identical league because the Tokina lens. Within the Nikon lens’s favor is it’s quick and silent AF-S motor, picture stabilizer and higher dealing with of chromatic aberration. As with Canon, Nikon has lately up to date their finances 70-300mm lens with the Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E AF-S VR lens which prices $596. The brand new lens presents a greater general efficiency than its predecessor with improved sharpness in any respect focal lengths, a greater picture stabilization unit and improved focus operation. Each Nikon 70-300mm lenses function a plastic lens barrel, and their construct high quality can’t examine to the all-metal design of the Tokina lens.
As with Canon, Nikon has had a 300mm f/4 lens because the 90’s with the Nikon 300mm f/4D AF-S launched in 2000 proving an ideal success. This lens may be bought for round $650 on the used lens market. The Nikon lens is a greater lens throughout than the Tokina. They share a equally excessive construct high quality and each lack picture stabilization, however the Nikon does function a spotlight limiter, Nikon’s quick and silent AF-S motor, wonderful dealing with of chromatic aberration and a slight edge in picture sharpness and distinction. The Nikon lens can also be noticeably greater than the Tokina 300mm f/4.
There are additionally some third-party lens choices out there. The Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SP Di VC USD immediately competes with the consumer-oriented 70-300mm choices of Canon and Nikon and prices $300 on the used market. Whereas the Tamron lens options silent inner focusing and a picture stabilizer, it’s picture high quality at 300mm leaves so much to be desired.
The Tokina 300mm f/4 lens is just not a simple lens to summarize. On the one hand, the 26-year-old design is displaying its age with a screw-driven focus design, lack of picture stabilization, no AF/MF and focus limiter buttons together with excessive quantities of bokeh fringing and lateral chromatic aberration. The lens additionally struggles capturing towards the solar and the bokeh is sort of nervous for an f/4 aperture prime lens. Fortunately, the Tokina 300mm f/4 does some issues very nicely. It’s extremely small and light-weight with out compromises within the high quality of its construct. The all-metal lens barrel ensures it may possibly function beneath demanding capturing environments in ways in which plasticky consumer-oriented lenses can’t. It’s also very sharp, particularly one cease down the place it may simply deal with at present’s high-resolution picture sensors. Given its worth on websites like eBay, the Tokina 300mm f/4 is an actual discount and it ought to obtain an extended look from any photographer presently available on the market for a sub $500 telephoto lens.
DSLR-A700 @ 300mm, ISO 200, 1/25, f/eight.zero
Tokina 300mm f/4 ATX
- Optical Efficiency
- Construct High quality and Dealing with
- Focus Velocity and Accuracy
- Measurement and Weight
Images Life General Score