Kodak Max 800… for speed, not so much for low light…

Film, Photography Discussion

Kodak Max 800 (expired ’06?)…for speed, not so much for low-light…

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

Since getting back into shooting film a couple of years back, I have had this re-occurring urge to shoot a live band on film. To do so however, I know from experience, that I would need at least 800 iso film at the very minimum. So whilst on another one of my random online film splurges, I purchased a 5 pack of Kodak Max 800 Expired in ’06 (from memory) that was assured to have been cold stored.  Being a great believer in the old adage ‘Know Thy Gear’,

Initial test shot from my Vivitar 35-105 f3.5 (constant) macro zoom on Nex5n.

Digital, Lenses, Photography Discussion

While doing my initial tests of the Quataray 70-200 f2.8 I thought I would also try a couple more lenses which I had still been meaning too. One of these lenses is my Vivitar 35-105 f3.5 constant aperture macro zoom. Unfortunately this lens arrived with a problem, it arrived with the lens stuck in macro mode. So I was only able to quickly test it in macro mode, but it does seem to render quite nicely and holds great potential. I have since fixed the lens problem being stuck in macro mode, so I will need to return to testing this more thoroughly in the future but for now here is an initial test shot on Nex5n. The lens could also use a clean from the inside as there is also some haze on the rear element. This lens has a serial number beginning with 37, thus it is a Tokina made zoom.
(please click on images to view larger and sharper)

Iso100, f3.5, 1/500, converted to b&w using DXO film pack 3

Thank you for viewing this initial test, please do check back for a more thorough test with this lens now fixed in the future. 🙂

Tokina 353: Lens testing this old film auto zoom on my Pentax KX

Digital, Lenses, Photography Discussion

I had the opportunity to acquire a Tokina 353 35-300 auto zoom in Pentax mount for $60 a couple of weeks ago. I did a bit of a Google before going to inspect the lens, however I found very little information about this lens online, and test shots were all but non-existent. I did however find a random thread which contained peoples opinions of the lens from their experience with it. The comments ranged from “this lens is excellent, really sharp!” through to “this lens is a coke bottle, worst lens ever made!”. So the lens could be either fantastic or reportedly one of the worst lenses ever made, how could I pass that up? I had to get it and give it a thorough review.

The next afternoon after work, I strapped it on the front of my Pentax Kx, put the dogs on their leashes and walked down the park to have a little test shoot. I first off just started just taking some random snaps around the park just to get a feel for the lens.

Iso 200, App. F8, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F10, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F4.5, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Focal length: 65mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 400, App. F11, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Focal length: 35mm

Iso 400, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

It actually performed better than I had anticipated from all the negative comments I had heard about this lens. I know I went into the test not expecting too much. So I know I was very critical about the lens seeming rather soft at first when checking my shots on the KX screen. Looking back they actually do not seem too bad, but I know when first reviewing my results I was neither impressed or un-impressed by this little known old lens.

So I did some crops to check how it was rendering detail. Now these are not comprehensive as I did not have the cam on a tripod so all shots were freehand and may effect the results a little as I may not have had the steadiest hands.

Iso 800, App. F10, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 400, App. F11, Sh.Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 210

100% crop

I was un-happy with these two tests as I feel I had maybe not been as steady as I could have been and I feel I had let the ISO change a little too much which could effect the 100% crop results too. So I set the Pentax to 200 ISO to rule that out and picked a fixed target to shoot a couple of 100% crops at a couple of different focal lengths to see how she performs through her range.

Iso 200, App. F8, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F9, Sh. Sp. 1/800, Focal length: 125mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F10, Sh. Sp. 1/640, Focal length: 70mm

100% crop

Now I know this is not the full focal range of the lens, but I feel it is enough to give you an idea of how it is performing. I was actually reasonably impressed looking back at the results, as there is quite good detail in that 100% crop from the street lamp at 300mm.
I had a bit more of a shoot around the park before I went home to review the results.

Iso 400, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 400, App. F14, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 400, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F5, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Focal length: 35mm

Iso 200, App. F9, Sh. Sp. 1/25, Focal length: 125mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/25, Focal length: 300mm

This shot actually highlights something I noticed about this lens, it’s auto focus seems to be ever so slightly off. Not by much, but enough to get it to focus on the wrong thing when two small things are close together. I have a feeling this lens will resolve a lot better if I was to manually focus it myself.  After this I went home and while reviewing the shots I had a thought. This lens supposedly has VR or vibration reduction built into it since it was made for film cameras that did not have IBIS or in body image stabilisation. I remembered reading somewhere that if a lens has stabilisation and the camera body has stabilisation this can effect your photos as they will both be throwing each other out.
So the very the next afternoon I took the Tokina 353 out again, but this time with IBIS turned off in my Pentax KX. Again I started off just by taking some random snaps.

Iso 200, App. F5.6, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Focal length: 125mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh.Sp. 1/250, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F4.5, Sh. Sp. 1/125, Focal length: 65mm

Iso 200, App.F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/250, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/50, Focal length: 230mm

I of course decided to do some crops. However I shot a less static target today, more out of whim than anything else, though I wanted to test it’s detail in a situation where it’s max focal length would be used.

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/400, Focal length: 300mm

100% crop

Iso 200, App. F6.7, Sh. Sp. 1/500, Focal length: 300mm

I then continued having a bit more of a shoot, just wanting to make sure I felt I had enough material to compare with shake reduction on or off.

Iso 200, App. F8, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.3, Sh. Sp. 1/640, Focal length: 38mm

Iso 200, App. F5.6, Sh. Sp. 1/200, Focal length: 125mm

Iso 200, App. F7.1, Sh. Sp. 1/320, Focal length: 300mm

Iso 200, App. F6.3, Sh. Sp. 1/100, Focal length: 210mm

Iso 200, App. F6.3, Sh. Sp. 1/160, Focal length: 210mm

Iso 200, App. F5.6, Sh. Sp. 1/60, Focal length: 90mm

All in all after reviewing these test results I’m not entirely convinced that turning the Shake Reduction off gains you anything in this instance. I think the lens may have performed just as well in both tests, but I would very much like your opinions. Do you think you can see any differences I am missing? Please comment and let me know.

Overall though, I have to say this lens is not as bad as some of the reports I had read. It seems to be an average performer, but then again it covers such a large focal range from 35-300mm. I do not think this lens is any kind of stellar performer and would not be in the league for sharpness as a Tamron 70-300mm or the Sigma 50-300mm lenses. However both these lenses do not give you as much versatility in focal range and both will set you back at least $200aus brand new. So if you can pick this lens up for around $50-75 aus I think you will have a pretty neat little versatile lens for those times when versatility is paramount. I also do not think this lens is not without character. Being an older lens the images that come from it have a character about it and you also get that trade mark Tokina bokeh. Being slightly soft may actually lend this lens to being a decent portrait lens, It does seem to have some haloing, this is something I will have to test. The corner sharpness is not great, especially out at 300mm but again what do you expect from an old 90’s lens that is as versatile as this, without being huge. Although back around the wide end this lens is actually quite surprisingly sharp.

I think this lens has a place for those that are willing to make exceptions for what it is or work with it’s limitations/characteristics. I am happy to have this in my kit bag for those occasions when this lens may lend it’s unique character, odd as it may be sometimes, and I do not think it deserves it’s reputation as the worst lens ever made. I definitely think this lens will also shine more for you if you are prepared to take the time to shoot it manually.