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Tokina SZ-X SD 28-105mm f/4-5.3 Vintage Lens Review

John Riley reviews the Tokina SZ-X SD 28-105mm f/4-5.3 Vintage Lens, a full-frame film-era lens, that fits quite nicely onto a modern mirrorless camera.

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Tokina 28 105mm Front Oblique View

There are so many excellent second hand lenses out there, some at give-away prices, perhaps because they are no longer fashionable, perhaps simply because they do not shout out amongst the sheer volume of possibilities. So here we have an unsung, relatively unknown Tokina zoom lens, probably dating from the early 1980s, in Minolta MD mount. It is full frame, being a film-era optic, it is manual focus and it is easily adaptable to the Sony Alpha A7 III body used for this review. So, attaching it using the Neewer MD-NEX adapter, let's run it through its paces and see what it can do.


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Tokina SZ-X SD 28-105mm f/4-5.3 Handling and Features

Tokina 28 105mm Vertical View

Initial impressions are good, the lens weighing in at a solid 510g and feeling solidly made.

The large front element is surrounded by a standard 62mm filter thread, this lens being made before bayonet fit lens hoods became pretty much standard. Behind this, the large and well gripped focusing/zooming ring operates using the one touch trombone system. Rotate to focus and push/pull to zoom. This is where what is probably the major drawback of the lens is revealed, because for most of the focal length range the minimum focusing distance is a woeful 2.5m, or 8.2 feet. This makes using our standard test chart impossible until we reach about 50mm, because the lens cannot be focused close enough to fill the frame with the image of the chart. At 2.5m, a 28mm lens is not very useful unless we are shooting at a distance.

However, at 105mm the lens can be focused closer into an area marked as “macro” which enables us to move in to 0.9m, or 3 feet, a maximum magnification of 1:6.6. This is hardly close to macro, but at least better than the standard range. It is also more appropriate to have the macro range at the longest focal length, allowing space for lighting the subject. It is not a flat field though, so although we move closer this is not the lens for copying documents and other flat subjects.

A one touch zoom does though have one advantage, and that is the ability to have a meaningful depth of field indication that shows lines for f/5.6, f/11 and f/22. The f/5.6 line also shows the Infra Red correction and is marked in red. A small white index mark indicates the change in aperture value when zooming from 28mm to 105mm.

Finally, the aperture ring is nearest to the mount and operates well enough, although it is not as smooth and refined as we have become used to on many modern lenses. The Neewer adapter is purely a link and there are no electronics connecting lens and camera, nor are there any stop down linkages.

Tokina 28 105mm On Sony A7III Full Zoom

The consequence is that whatever we set on the aperture ring is what we have and the image will darken as we stop down. The technique used will probably be to focus wide open and then just count down the clicks to set the aperture desired before the shutter release is pressed. This works easily enough.

There were various mount options available, including Contax/Yashica, Canon FD and FDn, Minolta SR (MD, MC), Pentax PK-A, Nikon F and perhaps others as well. Adapters are relatively inexpensive and readily available.

Optical construction is 15 elements in 14 groups. The lens is multi-coated and has six diaphragm blades. The SD designation in the name indicates the use of Super Low Dispersion glass.

Handling is smooth enough, although manual focusing is not particularly precise as the focusing throw is very short. However, using various in-camera focusing aids does help accuracy, whilst slowing the picture taking process down. The biggest bugbear is not being able to approach close enough to make wider focal lengths any use. This would be a problem with close-in street photography, but, to be fair, not so much with landscape shooting. Having a separate “macro” range is something that is very much of the lens's era and not anywhere near as convenient as a continuous focusing range.

Tokina 28 105mm Rear Oblique View

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