dinsdag 11 januari 2011

vivitar 300mm f/5.6 (made by Tokina)

I posted a photo (sorry for the background etc. didn't had time to take a good one) of this lens here because there are different versions of this lens. First of all Vivitar isn’t a manufacturer it’s a reseller. It sells lenses made by others like Komine, Tokina and Kiron. You can identify the manufacturer by the serial number. Just look at the first two digits of your serial number and check it on this list 
The serial number on my lens is 37609225, meaning it’s made by Tokina. But Tokina has made two 300mm f/5.6 lenses, with different optical constructions and quality. Reviews of these lenses are scarce on the internet, and I found one of the version I have and one of the other version. One was enthusiastic about the lens, while the other about the other version wasn’t. I decided to buy the lens anyway because I could always resell it for around the same price, but I probably never will I really come to like this lens.

The lens feels good, it has a nice large part what you can use to focus, and the focus is a bit stiff. It is not as smooth as the Nikkor lenses. I suspect that there is oil in the lens to make everything glide over each other. The most important part of this is: it doesn’t really matter, you are still fast enough to focus on living things.
The lens has a lens hood and it’s relatively light. Unfortunately it is quite large, it will not fit in my lowepro slingshot 200 (mounted on my camera). It is just a bit too large, something to take into consideration before buying this lens.

Results: first of all I haven’t tested this lens at any aperture slower than f/8. It simply makes no sense to do that because you want a fast shutter speed. (at least if you use this lens for wildlife photography). At f/5.6 the lens seems sharp, while you may see some chromatic aberration.

Even zoomed out you’re able to see it. As far as you have a quality in chromatic aberration this lens has quite good quality. It is not a very dark purple cast, but kind of lighter pink. But of course chromatic aberration is a bad thing, so if you plan to shoot a lot of photographs with large contrasts against the sun you might want to pick another lens. At f/8 the aberration disappears for quite a bit but if you zoom in it is still noticeable. (meaning it’s easy to correct)
When you photograph with the sun on your side, or in your back you will not see it, maybe in contrasty areas when you zoom in on 100% but that is easy to correct. For example: I took this photograph with the sun in my side. 

Sharpness: the lens is sharp, even wide open. I never felt the urge to close this lens to get a better sharpness. I have been able to make quite some aggressive crops in less than perfect lighting conditions. That’s the reason I love this lens so much, it almost doesn’t matter at what aperture you’re at because it is sharp anyway. (of course the DoF will differ but that’s another story).

Bokeh: first of all, this lens will not produce a lot of bokeh when you’re shooting wildlife. With a maximum aperture of f/5.6 you will not be able to get creamy portrait-like bokeh. But when you’re pretty close to your subject and you open up to f/5.6 you will discover a non distracting bokeh. 

It is nice and creamy but nothing special, however you have to watch out, as I already said you will get quite a large DoF even though it’s a telephoto lens due to the small aperture. This can create a distracting bokeh. 

Conclusion: it is a wonderful lens, but you have to pay attention since there are several versions with different quality. It will give you access to the telephoto range and I have took many wildlife photographs with it that I really like. But sometimes you’re not able to isolate the subject due to the small maximum aperture. If you want a larger aperture you also have to pay more and carry more glass. All I can tell you that I really like this lens, it’s sharp and it handles very well.

Some other notes:

  • It’s minimum focus distance is pretty far away: a little less than 6 meters. I have never been that close to a wild animal but when you plan to use this lens to photograph your pets, you might want to pick another lens since you will be taking those photographs from the other side of the garden.
  • Check the diaphragm, my experiences with the diaphragms of Vivitar aren’t as good as with any other brand. Check if the blades are oily or if they don’t close as fast as they should due to old springs.
  • Mine came with an annoying lens cap, I have to screw the cap on the lens using the filter thread. Luckily I had a spare normal lens cap.
  • The lens doesn't come with tripod-collar. I made a DIY collar because you will need a tripod to stabilize the lens. 

2 opmerkingen:

  1. I'm very interested in some of these old manual focus lenses but I don't know what to buy to be able to mount them on my camera. I see from Flickr that you use a Nikon D60, the same as I have so perhaps you could advise me please.

  2. hello Karen
    of course i can give some advise, but i'm not sure what you're looking for. the d60 is able to mount every lens ever made for nikon except for some really old fisheyes.

    if you're looking for a telephoto lens i can recommend this lens, but beware of the aperture. vivitars are notorious for having problems with the aperture. however i don't have any other 300mm lenses so i'm not shure how the results of other MF 300mm lenses are. but this one gives acceptable results.

    the good thing about nikon is that you don't need to buy something to mount an old lens on your DSLR. they all have the same mount. but you won't get AF (obviously) but you also won't get metering. this one is a bit harder, but after a while you get used to it.
    after one year of MF lenses i prefer them over my metering lenses because i'm not used to the metering anymore. i tend to get it right more often :)

    hope this helps and send me another reply if it didn't