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03-29-2011, 05:56 AM   #1
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Of macro lenses: FA 100mm and the Bokina hype

Ok. I have been looking for a Macro lens for some time now, reading the reviews, pixel peeping the test shots etc. I just picked up a FA 100 yesterday for a good price and am quite impressed. My only gripe (I have to have at least one) is a little CA under extreme conditions (shooting 1:1 black/white checkered plastic woven shoelaces in direct/setting sunlight). For whatever reason I am still quite interested in the Bokina, or its famed reputation that is still lighting up my neurons. Can a lens from the 80's really be THAT good, or is it just pixel peeping fodder? In other words, given a really decent lens like the FA 100 and the Bokina would Joe Blow be able to tell the difference in an 8x10 1:1 macro shot? I'm interested to know if anyone has experience with these two lenses (or their kin; viv s1 90mm, D-FA, etc) and could lend their opinion on this matter?

03-29-2011, 06:47 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by void7910 Quote
Ok. I have been looking for a Macro lens for some time now, reading the reviews, pixel peeping the test shots etc. I just picked up a FA 100 yesterday for a good price and am quite impressed. My only gripe (I have to have at least one) is a little CA under extreme conditions (shooting 1:1 black/white checkered plastic woven shoelaces in direct/setting sunlight). For whatever reason I am still quite interested in the Bokina, or its famed reputation that is still lighting up my neurons. Can a lens from the 80's really be THAT good, or is it just pixel peeping fodder? In other words, given a really decent lens like the FA 100 and the Bokina would Joe Blow be able to tell the difference in an 8x10 1:1 macro shot? I'm interested to know if anyone has experience with these two lenses (or their kin; viv s1 90mm, D-FA, etc) and could lend their opinion on this matter?
I have the KA version Bokina + Extender, and can honestly say that I was utterly blown away by its IQ. The first day I got it, after a few shots I was dumbfounded as to why it goes for so cheap ($300-$500 depending on mount and accesories).

Wide open (registering at f/2.4 on KA) the sharpness and contrast are excellent across the whole APS-C frame. So excellent in fact that I can barely make out a sharpness difference at the focus point between f/2.4 and f/8. The only IQ complaint I could have is that there is some purple fringing wide open when shooting a high contrast scene, but this is not any worse than any other pre-DA lens I've used.

CA is controlled fairly well, even at 1:1 with the matched extender (which was the whole point of putting the extender post aperture stopdown). Speaking of the extender, there seems to be some contention on whether it loses light when attached. I tested this the other day, and just as the literature states, there is NO light loss. Thus with a fixed aperture/iso/shutter speed, a shot at 1:2 with the extender will have a virtually identical histogram as a shot without it.

The build quality is good but not great. Focusing is nice and fast, and the body is solid, but my aperture ring shifts around a tad and my copy has quite a dust starfield inside. That said my aperture never leaves "A" and the dust doesn't seem to affect the IQ, so these issues don't bother me in the slightest. The matching hood is a nice feature, and it fits backwards on the lens for easy storage.

As for Viv vs Tok, I've read the Vivitar has better build quality (like a tank), but the Tokina has better (newer) lens coatings to help with CA.

Unfortunately I haven't tried your FA100 or any other ~100mm macro, so take my thoughts with that grain of salt. I can say that the IQ beats any lens I own or have ever owned, and it would definitely be the last lens I'd ever part with.

In my opinion this lens could only be beat by the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 macro, but some even say the Bokina is sharper after trying both...so it's hard to say.

I'll try to post some pictures tonight to give you an idea of the IQ I'm seeing.
03-29-2011, 08:33 AM   #3
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I own both of these lenses. I love both lenses. the Bokina has a pleasing bokeh, subtle colors and a tad sharper. the FA has vivid colors, very nice bokeh and a bit more pop-ish. both lenses display some minimal type of CA and PF at wide open, so they are more or less negligible. I'd say these lenses are better than the average lenses which are CA monsters. if you can wait, I might be able to post some samples probably tonight or tomorrow.
03-29-2011, 10:37 AM   #4
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It would be nice if people would use the proper name for lenses.
I presume, since I am fairly knowledgeable about brand names, that "Bokina" is someone's pet name, and not a manufacturer?

03-29-2011, 10:46 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
It would be nice if people would use the proper name for lenses.
I presume, since I am fairly knowledgeable about brand names, that "Bokina" is someone's pet name, and not a manufacturer?
Oh, good...I'm not the only one who's a bit confused by the names. lol Is this a Tokina with great bokeh?
03-29-2011, 11:45 AM   #6
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My apologies. Bokina typically refers to the Tokina ATX 90mm f2.5 macro or it's predecessor the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f2.5 macro. For more info see this link
03-29-2011, 11:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
if you can wait, I might be able to post some samples probably tonight or tomorrow.
If you could post some side my side comparison shots that would amazing! Nice to see if there is a noticeable between these two with the same image content. Thanks!
03-29-2011, 12:34 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by void7910 Quote
If you could post some side my side comparison shots that would amazing! Nice to see if there is a noticeable between these two with the same image content. Thanks!
I will do my best.

03-29-2011, 01:11 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by void7910 Quote
My apologies. Bokina typically refers to the Tokina ATX 90mm f2.5 macro or it's predecessor the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f2.5 macro. For more info see this link
Ah...thanks! I've never owned either lens, but one of my friends had the Series 1 version years ago. It was VERY sharp!
03-29-2011, 02:39 PM   #10
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first set.

sharpness test at macro crop level: wide open

FA100 at f2.8



Vivitar S1 90 at f2.5

03-29-2011, 02:44 PM   #11
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2nd set:

Bokeh Test and sharpness at full image view.

FA100 at f2.8


S190 at f2.5
03-29-2011, 02:55 PM - 1 Like   #12
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3rd set:

Color, Bokeh, sharpness test at full image.

FA100 at f2.8


S190 at f2.5
03-29-2011, 03:05 PM   #13
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last set:

same as the 3rd set except this one with flash used.

FA100 at f2.8


S190 at f2.5
03-29-2011, 03:07 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I'll let you guys draw your own conclusion as I don't want to influence anyone's personal observation. mine would come at a later time.
03-29-2011, 03:38 PM   #15
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My not-so-professional opinion

set 1: Viv S1 90 definitely looks sharper but it could be slight differences in the focus plane. If the focus plane was even a little different it would be very noticeable at this level. If we assume that they were both focused exactly the same, then definitely the Viv S1 for resolution.

Set 2: The Viv S1 looks slightly crisper to me, but its harder to tell at these levels. The saturation from the modern coatings (is this correct?) on the FA is definitely starting to show here I think.

Set 3-4: With the images on the forum I can no longer discern which is sharper. The colour saturation on the FA looks better to my eyes. Also, the contrast on the FA looks better as well. The difference in contrast could be due to slight differences in the exposure values though. In the 3rd set the FA almost has a 3D pop to my eyes where as the Viv S1 looks a little "flatter"... might just be the saturation and contrast differences though...

Thank you so much for posting these. Simply amazing. I am very interested to hear other peoples opinions.
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