Since the late 1970's, I have had my eye on a reflex lens. The idea of getting all that magnification into such a small package fascinates me. Over the years, we have owned a classic Celetron 8" catadioptric telescope, and currently have a 4" Meade, which is far more portable. I have tested a couple of 500mm camera cat's, but the image quality was way poorer than a crop from my 18-250 zoom would yield.
A few months ago, Tony mentioned that he had a Tokina RMC 500mm cat. These are rated as at the upper end of the scale, so at last this week, finances and timing coincided to let me swing past his shop. The lens was in pristine condition - even the ND filters were still in the original wrapping! The external cardboard box is not even scuffed! Not bad for something that is maybe 30 years old. WayneBenedet
pointed out that the Tokina designers are an offshoot from Nikon, so the quality is certainly in by design.
I took a couple of shots inside and outside his shop, and the moment I felt the silky smooth smooth, long throw focus, I was well on my way to sold. The images did the rest:
Handheld from about 2m, indoors:
Outside, from about 20m.
asked for pictures, so for character, here is Tony holding it whilst making out the invoice:
(Taken with my usual walkabout 18-250)
For science, here is a comparison of my recent acquisitions:
From left to right, in order of focal length:
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 'zoom' Alpha mount, Tamron 28mm f2.8 M42, Yashinon 55mm f1.8 M42, Tokina 500mm f8 M42
I love that fact that the two physically biggest lenses are the shortest and longest, by a factor of nearly 50! The 500mm fits into my walkabout camera back more easily than the 11-16, which has a massive tulip lens-hood. It's also interesting to note that the fastest lens (f1.8) has the smallest diameter! All in the geometry.
And the 500mm performance? It's not the easiest lens to use. It requires thought, care and planning. The field of view is very narrow. On my 23mm APS-C sensor, it is the equivalent of a 750mm lens full frame. That's roughly 15x magnification onto the sensor, at around a 4o
field of view - it is easy to get lost, and you can't just zoom out, get your bearings, and then zoom back in. It's not a swing-about-wildly-hoping-to-follow-the-action lens either. But if you plan your shot, and are a little patient, it does well.
I took it with me to dog training, and sat about 20-30 metres from the agility setup.
This one was a 'quickie', and it does show.
The manual included data on the "MTF" of the lens, showing an 80% centre value for 60 lines per mm. I had to Google MTF, and found this very good article
. My 16MP sensor runs at around 186 pixels/ mm, so it's not pixel sharp as the image lands. But it was interesting to note how well its images respond to unsharp masking. I suspect that unsharp masks, which are essentially tunable dynamic contrast enhancers, deal with this sort of softness very well.
I poked around briefly with video (a crop factor of 1.83 --> over 900mma on 35mm film!), but that is definitely
We're off to the Kruger National Park in July, and visit other game reserves moderately regularly, so whilst this is not a walkabout lens, I think it's going to produce some nice images going forward.
Well worth the R1050 (~ US$65).