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03-06-2008, 01:46 PM   #1
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Macro Show Down-3 Legendary Lenses: A non-scientific test

So today, I decide to put an end to my dilemma: which macro has to go. I have 3 macro: Tokina 90, Vivitar 105, and the newly acquired Voigtlander 125. I have to say, for the look, I love the Vivitar. The rubberized focus ring with the engraved Series 1 is just classy. The Tokina's design is generic at best, while the Voigtlander's is not really my cup of tea.

I planned to keep all three, but if I ever get my 200mm macro, one of them would surely sit on the shelves and collects dust. So I do this test to determine which one will go.

The test was done at 1:1 magnification. Each lens was manually focused 3 times (using the macro slider), and the best one was used. All lenses were at wide open (since it is what i use most of the time). Since they all have the same aperture value (theoretically), I kept the shutter speed the same for all. The test was done around 11 a.m. with clear sky, so lighting variation is minimal. The reason I pick this dead flower because the spot does give me all of the element in macro shot: Front OOF, Back OOF, IOF-to-OOF transition, color variations, and decent lighting.

Note: the Tokina's magnification is a little less than 1:1 since I've not modded the teleconverter. The decrease the exposure value in the Vivitar and Tokina shot by about 0.7 eV to match with the Voigtlander's. The 100% crops, however, are kept at the original exposure.

I have to say it's hard to get all lenses at the same focus point, I've done my best. Nevertheless, I think it's pretty conclusive.

Center 100% Crop:




Left Side In-Focus 100% Crop:




Full Picture:




My personal assessment:

Sharpness and bokeh:

In contrary with my past belief, the Vivitar's bokeh is very good, yet the resolution is not so good at wide open. I used to have the Tamron SP 90 Di version, and I sold it since I feel that the Vivitar has better bokeh and sharpness. The Tokina's performance is really unexpected (especially with the TC on). The Vivitar's bokeh might be a little creamier than my Tokina, but surely lose in the sharpness department. Off-center degradation is pretty noticeable in the Vivitar case.

Color tone:

The Tokina definitely casts a cool, bluish hue to the whole picture, while the Voigtlander has a warmer tone. The Vivitar turns out to be a more neutral one. However, from most of my shots, I find the opposite is true about the Vivitar and Voigtlander. It's probably due to the slight variation in lighting during that time.

03-06-2008, 01:53 PM   #2
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Personally, I would rank them as such:

1. Voigtlander
2. Vivitar
3. Tokina (though it is better than the Vivitar in some aspects, the blue-ish hue is a definite no-no).

I'd part with the latter.
03-06-2008, 02:04 PM   #3
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i would rank it as:


sell the other two.
03-06-2008, 03:05 PM   #4
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It might be interesting to do the exact same test, stopped down two stops. I'd bet the Vivitar would zoom into the lead!

With my copy at least, I see a dramatic sharpness increase two stops down from wide open. That's going to be true for all three lenses, but it would be interesting to see how they fare relative to each other.


03-07-2008, 12:23 AM   #5
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Vivitar series 1 is a perfect match with AF360FGZ flash, that might be a consideration.
03-07-2008, 02:27 AM   #6
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Tokina colors are a little pinkish/purplish.
03-07-2008, 02:32 AM   #7
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Voigtlander 125mm macro is really addictive when it is in user's hands. From the pics, I thought tokina pics is more to my liking.

However, I am sure voigtlander is capable of even better bokeh in other settings.
03-07-2008, 02:33 AM   #8
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Thanks Hiep for the test. Now I won't be looking for the Tokina anymore. The bokeh is nice, but I just don't like the cool color from it.

Seems overall the Voigtlander is still a winner here.

03-07-2008, 03:01 AM   #9
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**** yeah the voigtlander is sooo nice. the others cant match. i want one of those things bad. 'scuse the enthusiam
03-07-2008, 07:31 AM   #10
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Nice post, thanks for the tests. I shall be keeping my VIV105 until the very end.
03-07-2008, 08:51 AM   #11
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Your Vivitar is a dud if that's all the sharpness you're getting out of it.

I own the Vivitar Series 1 105mm f2.5 Macro and no way is it that soft wide-open.
03-07-2008, 10:19 AM   #12
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Hiep, that tokina sucks but I will help you in your suffering by giving it a chance I am serious, let me know if you want to get rid of it.
03-07-2008, 10:51 AM   #13
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Im still glad I managed to get an SL125 before they ran out OTOH the unbelievable quality of it made me sell 8 other lenses and replace them with the FA limiteds so that my 125 wouldnt embarrass my other lenses as much
03-07-2008, 02:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by and Quote
Im still glad I managed to get an SL125 before they ran out OTOH the unbelievable quality of it made me sell 8 other lenses and replace them with the FA limiteds so that my 125 wouldnt embarrass my other lenses as much
SL125 would not embarass any other lenses you own

I end up using SL125 all the time for non-macro shots ...
03-12-2008, 02:28 PM   #15
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Original Poster
Thank you for all the inputs and participations. Personally, I did this test to show the bluish cast of the Tokina and to ascertain myself with the strengths and weaknesses of each lens.

Many suggested that the Vivitar would get really sharp if you stop it down by 2 stops. I did another test, and I can confirm that by 5.6, I can't hardly tell them apart (though the Vivitar displays a distinctive OOF reflection).

As for the Tokina, this lens really amazes me since it displays equivalent performance as the Voigtlander at a cheaper price and lighter weight. Being shot at 1:1, this lens has a handicap of IQ degradation from the TC. It's well-deserved that 4.6 from photodo during that time.

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