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Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Lens Review

Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme gives us his verdict on the Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Tokina 300mm F/6.3 Compact Super Telephoto Lens
Price : £320
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Tokina Reflex 300mm F6 3 Mf Macro 1

If someone said you could get a lens with a 600mm equivalent field of view that weighs under 300g and costs around £320, you'd probably think they were lying. Tokina's 300mm Reflex lens for Micro Four Thirds system cameras does this. It's a manual focus catadioptric lens. This means it uses curved mirrors as well as refractive lens elements to create a focused image. The benefit is reduced size, weight and cost, but can a lens that is so inexpensive and compact deliver the image quality we have come to expect?

Tokina Reflex 300mm F6 3 Mf Macro 2

Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Handling and features

Weighing only 298g and being only 66mm long, this lens is incredibly compact for its focal length, partly due to the catadioptric optical system and partly down to the smaller sensor size of the mirrorless camera system. The lens has a high quality metallic finish and balances well on the Panasonic Lumix G3 used for testing.

The light weight and compact size do have some drawbacks when using such a telephoto lens. On a camera with no in-body stabilisation, a camera support is almost necessary, as holding the camera steady enough to focus adequately, let alone take a sharp image can be a challenge in itself. As Micro Four Thirds cameras rely on enlarging a section of the image to assist with manual focusing, this issue is greatly magnified when attempting to focus accurately. The focusing ring is quite stiff to operate, which leads to even more vibration during focusing as you struggle to turn the control.

Closest focus is an impressive 80cm, which allows you to achieve 1:2 reproduction at the closest focus stop. A lens like this may appeal to those interested in astrophotography, due to its narrow field of view. However, as the lens doesn't have a hard stop for infinity focus, it can be quite tricky to get the lens adequately focused. The focus range has quite a short throw. Three quarters of a turn takes you from infinity to 0.8m. As a result focusing accurately at distances over 10m can be a little tricky, as the slightest adjustment radically alters the focused distance. Some older catadioptric lenses got around this by allowing the focus ring to tur more than one revolution, making it easier to apply fine adjustments.
A 55mm filter thread is supplied, which does not rotate during focusing. A deep circular lens hood is supplied, which does an excellent job of shielding the lens from extraneous light.

Tokina Reflex 300mm On Panasonic G3
Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro on Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3

Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Performance

Mirror based optics like this can be an acquired taste. Generally they have a reputation for lower resolution, lower contrast and ugly doughnut shaped out of focus highlights and lack of aperture control. This lens does not buck the trend in any way. Contrast is visibly lower, which can also hamper accurate focusing and the doughnut bokeh is certainly present. The aperture of this lens is fixed at a fairly slow f/6.3, which means either plenty of light, or a high ISO setting will be required for any action photography.

As far as resolution is concerned, during testing good sharpness was recorded in the centre of the frame although this drops to fairly good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. In the field, it will be rare that this can be replicated and results will often look much worse, partly due to difficulties in getting the lens focused accurately and limits of the catadioptric optical system.

Resolution at 300mm
Resolution at 300mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 using Imatest.

Catadioptric lenses normally display little or no chromatic aberrations as this phenomenon can only occur when the path of light is altered by refraction, rather than reflection. A slight amount of CA was detected by Imatest, hovering around half a pixel in width. In practice this low level of CA will be barely noticeable.

Chromatic aberration at 300mm
Chromatic aberration at 300mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc. to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled. The corners of the frame are only 1.12 stops darker than the centre. Imatest only managed to detect 0.992% pincushion distortion too, although the distortion does have an almost indistinguishable wave pattern to it, which may make corrections difficult to apply afterwards if absolutely straight lines are paramount.

Tokina 300mm F/6.3 Compact Super Telephoto Lens Sample Photos

Value for Money

The value this lens represents will largely depend upon your expectations. The price is low for the field of view it provides, but then the performance of this lens is also quite low.

If you like the look mirror lenses produce and don't mind the lack of sharpness and low contrast, it could represent good value, in the same way that the plastic lenses fitted to Lomo cameras produce a certain look, that may be desirable for some.

Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Verdict

Far from being a viable replacement for a more expensive telephoto lens, what we have here is a lens that produces a certain effect, that may be of interest to some. The effect it produces can be used to great effect for the right subject, but can also spoil an otherwise good image.

Although the price is low when compared to a comparable super-telephoto lens, it isn't when the price of vintage mirror lenses and 'toy' special effects lenses are considered. Unfortunately this lens is better compared against the latter group of lenses, as the image quality it offers just isn't good enough for general use.

Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Pros

Cheap when compared with lenses of a comparable focal length
Lightweight
Compact
Good build quality and a nice metallic finish

Tokina Reflex 300mm MF Macro Cons

Effect may not be to everyone's taste
Poor sharpness in practice
Difficult to focus
Low contrast

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Tokina 300mm F/6.3 Compact Super Telephoto Lens Specifications

General
Lens Mounts
  • Panasonic Micro Four Thirds
  • Olympus Micro Four Thirds
Lens
Focal Length300mm
Angle of View4
Max Aperturef/6.3
Min Aperturef/6.3
Filter Size55mm
35mm equivalent600mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus80cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
BladesNo Data
Elements13
Groups11
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens cap, lens hood, rear cap.
Dimensions
Weight298g
Height66mm

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    Comments


    oldblokeh 3 764 United Kingdom
    2 Nov 2012 5:15PM
    Since Tokina describe this as a macro lens, why on earth did you not post any macro shots for us to look at, especially since this is currently the cheapest M43 macro lens on offer, by far?

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    theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
    3 Nov 2012 4:41PM
    It's really not a practical macro option. For starters it provides 600mm equiv FOV and has no aperture control, so their is no control over depth of field, which is pretty shallow at its minimum focus distance.

    Although it has Macro in the name, because it can be focused fairly close, I wouldn't consider it a lens suitable for macro photography.
    joshwa e2
    3 594 United Kingdom
    7 Nov 2012 12:59PM
    Hi, we've added a macro photo in the equipment database, here:
    http://www.ephotozine.com/equipment/item/tokina-300mm-f-6-3-compact-super-telephoto-lens-4777/images

    Although (as theorderingone says) the narrow depth of field is an issue, and manual focus certainly makes it difficult.

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