Tokina SZX 400mm F8 Reflex MF – First impressions review

First impressions

Very well made and designed.

Catadioptric lenses are an acquired taste and dropped out of popularity once the novelty of the doughnut-shaped out of focus highlights became boring. They were pre-Bokeh obsessed photography, and there are a lot of people taking photographs out there who have never experienced the effect.

I have used Nikon, Vivitar and Sigma “Cats”, and this lens for me is equal if not better than the best for quality of manufacture and image quality. It is a great compact long focal length solution for full-frame and cropped sensors.

These images are just snaps taken on my way home from collecting the lens and a couple from this morning, just trying to show the possibilities.

Be aware…

The F8 aperture, minuscule depth of field and angle of view which 12x needs consideration.

I used to own the Fuji 100-400 but only ever used it at 400mm. Plus, the weight and size are limiting, but you do have variable apertures.

For me, the Tokina fulfils a requirement at a fraction of the size and price.

Negatives!

This lens is slightly more expensive than competitors but I would have paid more to have corrected what, in my opinion, are two faults:

1 – The lens hood which is of great quality has a screw thread so you cannot mount reversed on the camera for transportation which, unless you put some protection around the hood or lens, means it is loose and will damage itself or the lens with movement in the bag. I would be happy to pay extra for a bayonet mount.

2 – It is an example of form following function and is a very nice piece of design with great Satin finish and the rubber grip is comfortable and easy to use. BUT… I guess Tokina may have contracted someone to make the T mount adapter, which has a semi-gloss paint finish as opposed to the silky satin paint on the lens.

Also for a bit more money, which I would have been happy to pay, for a sleeve on the T mount as per my mockup which makes the item more aesthetically pleasing and would help protect from dust.

Mockup for a sleeve on the T mount adapter

There are several positives, quality of manufacture, colour rendering and great sharpness and images. Very happy, just two negatives.

Thanks to Jorge Caballero from Dugopa, Madrid.

Product page: Tokina Lens

"I was born in the UK and worked as a graphic designer and photographer for most of my life and I feel privileged to have been doing what I love throughout my life and been paid for the pleasure. I started to take photographs with a Box Brownie at the age of 7 or 8 years old, but the big revelation came when I was 10 and I watched my cousin develop a black and white print using a home made enlarger, 'that was it, I was hooked'. The next momentous photographic event came on top of a mountain in Switzerland at the age of 13 when I suddenly thought how do I capture the whole scene. ‘I suddenly knew!’ if I took a series of photographs with my Kodak 127 then join the prints later that should work. It did! 50 years later I am still making panoramic photographs but now digitally though I do occasionally miss the Xpan panoramic camera which stands out among the mass of 5 x 4, roll film, 35mm cameras I have used over the years. I have shot fashion, cars, musicians, products, hung out of helicopters, photographed air to air and covered the Silver jubilee of the British Queen, but I now work solely on my personal projects."

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