The reason I sought - and eventually found - a used Tokina 300/6.3 mirror MFT

bargainguy

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There have been a few threads concerning this lens, but I thought I'd start my own.

I'm a fan of the 250/5.6 Minolta mirror lens from the 70's, though I've never owned one. With the advent of stabilized mirrorless cameras, it became a cult lens, with prices going through the roof - easily into four figures now. In-body stabilization makes all the difference with mirror lenses. With film cameras, your shots could be hit or miss, but with a stabilized body, a much better hit rate.

Knowing that my chances of finding that lens at a price I could afford weren't great, I sought out an alternative. Then I stumbled across the Tokina 300/6.3 mirror from 2012 (but long since out of production), native to MFT. It combined a minimum focusing distance of 0.8 meters with a 1:2 macro magnification. Sounded like it might be a decent substitute.

Kept an eye on the internet until I found one. Came in tonite, so impressions from the first few hours of shooting.

Size: Wow, this lens is tiny, at 298g with a 55mm filter thread. Shown on my E-M10.4 body with grip, where it balances quite well. The lens hood - not shown - is metal, reverses over the lens when not in use, and is about the same length as the lens. I'm assuming I will use it all the time, as I want to retain maximum contrast.

Focusing: I wish the serrations on the focusing ring were more widely spaced, but it focuses well with peaking activated. Closer focus seems tougher, farther focus seems easier, probably because there's less throw at shorter distances.

Stabilization: The lens transmits EXIF info (though aperture will always be f/6.3), so records shutter speed & focal length, which sets IBIS - nice! Works a treat. I should turn off the IBIS some time just to see how dreadful things could get.

IQ: Wasn't looking for the ultimate in sharpness - there are better choices for that - but rather for something light & simple that allowed close focusing and a somewhat painterly impression like the 250. I think the out-of-focus highlights ("donuts") can be used to elicit a different feel that wouldn't be possible with non-mirror lenses. Contrast is very good. I was particularly interested in how well graded the backgrounds would be. Shots #2 & 3 are not ultimately sharp but show nicely graded backgrounds, so that passes my test for now.

I assume there's a fairly steep learning curve with this lens, and that I'm just getting started. But the small size of the lens and focus ring make it subjectively much easier to focus than any of the mirror lenses currently in my collection, and I have a few nice ones, including a 500 Minolta and a 500 Nikkor. So far, I'm impressed.

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Jan Steinman
The lens transmits EXIF info
Really worth-while!

I've got lots of legacy glass, that I use with two tele-extenders and several different focal reducers. The end effect is that a couple of those lenses in permutation uses up all ten slots in the manual lens registry of the EM-1.2.

I'm wondering if you've been able to try it with the MC-14 or MC-20 — if that is even possible — and if doing so transmits the correct focal length and aperture to the camera.
 

bargainguy

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Wish I could test that for you, but I don't have any Olympus TC's. There aren't many MF lenses that transmit EXIF. Other than Laowa, I'm drawing a blank.
 

Paul C

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Your TOKINA 300 F6.3 may no longer be on sale - but the very similar 300mm F6.3 with 55mm filter thread and reversible lens hood in MFT or Sony-E mount continues to be made and sold through Chinese selling websites as either a FOTGA or LIGHTDOW brand (for a while it was on sale through Amazon as well). The mount doesn't however have any chip or contacts - so in body stabilisation needs manual setting.

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Given the breath of experience on the website - perhaps others have tried out this version? The similarity in specifications makes me think that the same basic lens is still in production - but with a different brand badge.

My experience of all supertelephoto lenses is that for long distance subjects - the atmospheric haze and heat distortion makes images soft and low contrast unless the sky is cold and clear - such as mountaintops in the early morning. Their best impact is in the middle distance - and mirror lenses are great here as they focus close.

best wishes to you all - Paul in the UK

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bargainguy

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Paul, I ran across many mirror lenses when researching the 250, including the Fotga/Lightdow. These lenses seemed like knockoffs, same specs to deceive the public, but nowhere near the quality. So I did a little research.

Here's a link to the Lightdow from Australia:

https://www.amazon.com.au/Lightdow-Telephoto-Mirrorless-Digitial-Cameras/dp/B07K6KYTFC

Note that the manufacturer is listed as ZLY Technology. A quick web search reveals the primary concern of this manufacturer is - electronic cigarettes!

So the question is, which lens is better, from Tokina or an e-cig company? Don't know, and I'll wait to see any images coming from said lenses, but I know what I've got in the meantime.
 

bargainguy

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The Tokina got a better workout this morning at a botanical garden.

It is an interesting experience to shoot with a fixed aperture, 600mm equivalent macro lens. It requires a bit of patience and getting used to. Found myself backing up a lot.

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whereSs

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I had seriously considered getting one of these, about a year ago, but most of what I wanted to use the extreme telephoto perspective for are birds, which tend to move about, making manual focus difficult. In that time frame, I did occasionally see one availible used, sometimes quite affordable... but I also saw a 75-300 that was cheap enough for me to pick it up instead.

But, you're right about the size. Ahh, what could have been.
 

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