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01-06-2017, 11:08 AM   #1
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Why no review for the classic early 1970s Tokina-made 90-230mm zoom?

Why no review for the classic early-1970s Tokina-made Vivitar-Soligor-Hanimex-Sears-Montgomery Ward-Mamiya-Yashica-Lentar-Porst-Et Cetera f/4.5 90-230mm zoom?

About 8 years ago, luisalegria over at the MFlenses forum wrote that it was "probably the most widely distributed, top-selling zoom lens of the 1970's, and maybe of all time, since that was the peak of the consumer SLR boom." Didn't we all own one of these? Or in the cases of younger PFers, didn't our grandparents own one of these? How many PFers still have a copy of this lens in their collection? There have to be a goodly number. If so, why don't our lens reviews mention this lens? (I've been searching them all morning--either it's not there or I need to see the optometrist.)

When I'm looking up info about legacy lenses or more recent lenses, the search engine nearly always pulls up a PFreview, and, if it doesn't, I know that I'm mainly going to find little more than charts of specifications--unless some photo blogger has done a longer review of that lens. PF is pretty much the only place to find a lot of thorough reviews of MANY lenses (most lenses with any Pentax compatibility!) with the added benefit of differing points of view, like when one PFer rates a lens a 10 for Sharpness, while another one calls it a 5! Thorough reviews with LOTS of perspective.

So, isn't it an oversight that the ubiquitous (luisalegria called it "common as dirt") many-labeled-Tokina 90-230 zoom doesn't have a review here with several contributors? It can't be because it's not good enough--many lenses, even Pentaxes, have poor ratings. And then if you look at what this photographer-blogger does with it on a few extension tubes [ robnunnphoto.com - Posts / Home - Soligor 90-230mm f/4.5 M42 Manual Focus Zoom LensReview ], you'd think the lens has the kind of potential that would make users what to shout about it.

Could it just be that this lens is forgotten? The assumption being that everything since the mid-1970s has surpassed it? I get it. I was thinking of getting rid of the Sears branded version I got locally in a case of old lenses listed on craigslist last summer. Heck, it can't even close-focus, I thought, and it weighs enough to be an artillery shell, I thought. I haven't even tried it out, beyond putting it on a camera and looking through it. But you can be sure I'll give it a serious try out, after looking at those photos by Rob Nunn in his blog!

So how about it, those PFers who have a copy of this lens squirreled away in our collections, let's redress this oversight and give this classic old hunk of metal and glass a PF review? I'm going to test mine out, both alone and with extension tubes and see what happens. Anyone I've inspired, please do the same. We can gather some first impressions and photos right in this thread, and when it all hits critical mass we'll get that proper PF review off of the ground.

Not sure if you have this lens? The Vivitar and Soligor versions seem to be the most common, many of them in a T4-mount, so your copy might or might not have a Pentax m42 screwmount T4 adapter on it. Some of them, like my Sears, are fixed mount. Some have 58mm filter threads, some 62mm. Many have a built-in hood, but perhaps not all. They all (or nearly all) have a tripod mount. If you search the auction site for "90-230mm" you'll see pictures of a lot of variations, priced from about $10 up to almost $100. The K-mount had not been invented when these lenses started being made, nor were there T4 K-mount adapters (originally at least). I did find a listing for a K-mount Sears-labeled 90-230mm lens there on ebay, but it doesn't look like the same lens to me, and it is hard to know if it is internally the same. It would be my guess that any K-mount versions are rare, though I'd love fellow PFers to prove me wrong about that if they can.

I'll post some pix of my lens here a little later.

Later, to post some pictures of one of the versions, my fixed-mount (not T4 adapter) m42 Sears:









Hmmmm? That's funny, it didn't look dusty before all that light hit the front of it! Now where's that blower brush....?


Last edited by goatsNdonkey; 01-06-2017 at 02:27 PM. Reason: adding pictures
01-06-2017, 11:18 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by goatsNdonkey Quote
I'll had some pix of my lens here a little later.
Well, if you have that lens, why not get the ball rolling?
01-06-2017, 11:25 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by goatsNdonkey Quote
About 8 years ago, luisalegria over at the MFlenses forum wrote that it was "probably the most widely distributed, top-selling zoom lens of the 1970's, and maybe of all time, since that was the peak of the consumer SLR boom."
?????

On point of fact, the consumer SLR boom started (slowly) with the Canon AE1 in 1976 and peaked during the 1980s. Back to the lens in question...That Tokyo Koki was making generic zoom lenses in the early 1970s is pretty well known, though I don't remember any particular cult status for any of them. The optical quality of third party and even major brand zooms during that time was pretty poor, so it is with some surprise that I read your post regarding a lens that I was unaware of.

It will be interesting to see what kind of response you get from this post.

Addendum I read Nunn's blog post and was surprised that he confused constant aperture with a lens that does not extend with focus...

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 01-06-2017 at 11:30 AM.
01-06-2017, 11:36 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Well, if you have that lens, why not get the ball rolling?
That's what I'm doing, but since I'm already working on a different review, I thought I would invite others to jump into explorations of this lens with me. Some of them may be experienced PF reviewers, which I am not, and others may already be much more familiar with using the lens and with its results than I am (remember, I was on the point of getting rid of my copy until I read that blog article this morning), and those more experienced reviewers and owners of the lens might be able to add a lot more salient information about the lens sooner that I will. But you can count on me jumping in with what I can, and some of it later today.

You see, just because I'm able to ask the question, doesn't mean I expect to come up with all the best answers.

01-06-2017, 11:59 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Create a review listing for the lens with pics, description etc. (Misc zooms section - click on Add New Lens). That'll often get the ball rolling
01-06-2017, 12:00 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
?????

On point of fact, the consumer SLR boom started (slowly) with the Canon AE1 in 1976 and peaked during the 1980s. Back to the lens in question...That Tokyo Koki was making generic zoom lenses in the early 1970s is pretty well known, though I don't remember any particular cult status for any of them. The optical quality of third party and even major brand zooms during that time was pretty poor, so it is with some surprise that I read your post regarding a lens that I was unaware of.

It will be interesting to see what kind of response you get from this post.

Addendum I read Nunn's blog post and was surprised that he confused constant aperture with a lens that does not extend with focus...

Steve
Well, maybe, in this case, being sold in such great numbers did not achieve cult status for the lens. It was commonly available, affordable, perhaps a first zoom in many a first-time-SLR-buyer's kit. Maybe it was the starter zoom to upgrade from for many.

It is the common wisdom, as you say, that early zooms were poor quality. And maybe, as this lens was commonly used, not much about it proved differently, but those pictures of Nunn's suggest some fine and sharp pictures can be taken with it...perhaps only within certain limited approaches, of course, but isn't that true of many a lens...including even a few with more distinguished camera manufacturer names on them?

I think you've caught Nunn in a grammatical mistake in your Addendum remark. He meant to connect constant aperture as being more convenient when one is using extension tubes, and then meant to move on to an additional point with his conjunction "so" as I read it, but I can see how you could also take that to imply cause and effect relationship with the next thing. He should have written "and also you'll find" instead of "so." To add to that next part about the front of the lens not moving forward during focusing, that ONLY applies to how he was using the lens on extension tubes and focusing, as he explained, by turning the zoom ring. In normal photography, turning the focus ring from infinity to the closest focusing distance DOES make the lens about 3/4" longer. I got out my lens to check this. After I have some lunch, it's going on a Pentax dlsr.

---------- Post added 01-06-17 at 01:07 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
Create a review listing for the lens with pics, description etc. (Misc zooms section - click on Add New Lens). That'll often get the ball rolling
I'm not sure I have enough data to put together that initial lens review posting...without having to go back in and edit and amend the heck out of it several times before it was very old. That's why I suggested this thread as a starting place. It could be that some long-time PF veteran is already a fount of information about this lens and would be better at kicking off the formal review page. Also, when a few or more of us who own the lens get a chance to share some info, observations, and sample pictures (here), it will be easier to know what there is to say about the subject. Part of that could be correcting any of the basic information that I have already posted. No need to start the review with avoidable errors.

Last edited by goatsNdonkey; 01-06-2017 at 12:10 PM.
01-06-2017, 12:33 PM   #7
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Let me bring this in proportion. I've been collecting pictures of K-mount lenses from Ebay for almost 4.5 years now (thus accumulating a catalogue of almost 4500 different lenses or versions of lenses), but the amount of 90-230/4.5s I've come across is fairly limited:

Native K-mount lenses (in brackets the amount of occurences)
  • Asanuma Auto-Zoom 1:4.5 f=90mm-230mm (1)
  • Auto Sears MC Zoom 90-230mm 1:4.5 (2)
  • MC Soligor 90-230mm 1:4.5 (2)
  • RMC Tokina 90-230mm 1:4.5 (1)
Universal Mounts
  • Vivitar 90-230mm 1:4.5 Close Focusing Auto Zoom [TX-Mount] (7)

Apparently different lenses:
  • Lentar Tele-Zoom 1_4.5 f=90-230mm [T Mount] (1)
  • Soligor Auto-Zoom 1:4.5 f=90-230mm [TX-Mount] (1)
  • Tokina Auto Tele-Zoom 1_4.5 f=90-230mm [T Mount] (1)
  • Auto Vivitar Tele Zoom Lens 1:4.5 90-230mm [TX-Mount] (2)
  • Vivitar 90-230mm 1:4.5 Auto Zoom [TX-Mount] (3)
So yes, there are some of these lenses on the market, but the amount is neglectable if you compare it to some of the really popular lenses like the "II Tokina SD 70-210mm 1:4-5.6"
which have more the 100 occurences in the same 4.5 years.


I think Stevebrot is right, when he states that the real SLR boom was later. You can find loads of all kind of 70-210s and 80-200s from the eighties, but the 90-230 from the 70ies are relatively rare.

Last edited by UMC; 01-08-2017 at 06:22 AM. Reason: Removed falsely listed 70-230 lense
01-06-2017, 12:43 PM   #8
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I guess if I didn't have a telephoto lens, and this was five bucks at a yard sale I might throw a few frames at it to see what turned out. Or I'd just stick with a 50 and do a walking zoom, with probably better framing and IQ.

01-06-2017, 02:20 PM   #9
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Interesting, KMC, so that there were more K-mount versions than I knew of. But while they might be rare, the lens seems not to be, as searching ebay for "90-230 lens" yields 143 results, and scrolling through them the nearly all seem to be clones of this Tokina zoom.

dsmithhfx, you might get tired of carrying this lens around, too! It's pretty heavy, and that's coming from someone who generally prefers heavy old lenses.
01-06-2017, 03:03 PM   #10
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The Hanimex branded ones were quite popular in Australia, where Hanimex was headquartered. Although they seemed nice at the time and were built like tanks, ( quite a few have survived to today) in reality, optically, they were pretty ordinary. The cheapest Pentax kit lens would walk all over them for optical quality these days. I had one for a while (M42 with adaptor) and used it on my ME Super in the early eighties, but when I bought a Tamron Adaptall 2 70-210 instead the difference was so night and day I gave my copy to my brother in exchange for a spare F2 Pentax M 50 mm, which I still have, and sometimes use on my Q. Sadly he lost the lens so I can't retrieve it and try it again on my K5.
01-06-2017, 03:17 PM   #11
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Here are a few pictures with my copy of the f4.5 90-230mm zoom. The first two using my K10D, at iso 100. The other two using my K110D, at iso 200. All are manual flash shots. And all are shot between the lens's closest focus point of 7.5 feet and about 11 feet, and mostly near the 230 end of the zoom range. ( I'd love to do some outdoor pictures, but it hasn't gotten far above 0 Fahrenheit today, and hauling a big hunk of metal through the cold didn't seem like a good idea. It should be warmer tomorrow.)










Color rendition seems good to me, comparing it to the actual subjects. Where I have the focus nailed, things look reasonably sharp to me. I can see now that I'm not focused on CD spines in the middle of the image on that first picture; also, I think I shot that one wide open because it was the most distant of the group and the flash table called for a stop between 5.6 and 4.

Last edited by goatsNdonkey; 01-06-2017 at 03:24 PM.
01-06-2017, 03:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
Create a review listing for the lens with pics, description etc. (Misc zooms section - click on Add New Lens). That'll often get the ball rolling
Exactly!

Unless these posts are also put in the PF lens review system, they'll be lost deep in the forum archives and someone looking for info on the 90-230mm will wonder why no one has reviewed the lens yet.

P.S. Might that be a possible forum feature for each lens's review page -- a listing of forum threads discussing that lens?
01-06-2017, 03:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmar Quote
The Hanimex branded ones were quite popular in Australia, where Hanimex was headquartered. Although they seemed nice at the time and were built like tanks, ( quite a few have survived to today) in reality, optically, they were pretty ordinary. The cheapest Pentax kit lens would walk all over them for optical quality these days. I had one for a while (M42 with adaptor) and used it on my ME Super in the early eighties, but when I bought a Tamron Adaptall 2 70-210 instead the difference was so night and day I gave my copy to my brother in exchange for a spare F2 Pentax M 50 mm, which I still have, and sometimes use on my Q. Sadly he lost the lens so I can't retrieve it and try it again on my K5.
I never knew Hannimex was centered in Australia. Yes, the lens is very tank like. I wonder if the military had copies of this lens painted olive drab, khaki, or camo? And there WERE major advances in zoom lens making around the time that Tamron brought out the Adaptall-2 series. What's more your 700-210 had great close-focusing. If it was the f/3.5 version, it had a reproduction ratio of 1:2.66! Who would have patience for tube extenders when you can dial in that magnification anytime? Are you sure your brother didn't use the 90-230 as a boat anchor, loosing it when the rope broke?

Your recollections, certainly show how a lens like this might have fallen by the wayside of photography history.
01-06-2017, 03:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by goatsNdonkey Quote
Interesting, KMC, so that there were more K-mount versions than I knew of. But while they might be rare, the lens seems not to be, as searching ebay for "90-230 lens" yields 143 results, and scrolling through them the nearly all seem to be clones of this Tokina zoom....
Well - thank you for the input regarding your Ebay search. I just updated my post with additional lenses...
I have to say, that my "scientific" approach is limited to native K-mount, while other lenses in generic mount are something I just stuff onto my harddisk. I do not collect data on any M42 lenses, because the amount would just be overwhelming.

Regarding Hanimex: There is a short, but interesting article in the German Wikipedia, stating that the name derives from "Jack Hannes Import Export". They started in Sydney, later delivered to the entire Commonwealth and eventually to everywhere worldwide. However, Hanimex has a similar meaning like other "fabless" brands: some of the lenses were nice, most were mediocre (to stay polite) and some were totally crappy - always depending from which OEM they were acquired. Hanimex got there lenses from so many different sources, therefore quality is a lottery. I know of 134 Hanimex branded lenses with native K-Mount, ~20 of them being 28/2.8 and ~15 being 135/2.8. I guess, this tells it all...

Last edited by UMC; 01-06-2017 at 03:49 PM.
01-06-2017, 03:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Exactly!

Unless these posts are also put in the PF lens review system, they'll be lost deep in the forum archives and someone looking for info on the 90-230mm will wonder why no one has reviewed the lens yet.

P.S. Might that be a possible forum feature for each lens's review page -- a listing of forum threads discussing that lens?
Photopimist, so far, I've only found a couple of threads here with this lens in the subject. I will look for others that mention it. In these few hours today, we've found one other person who has owned the lens, perhaps soon a few more will appear that still have it and could join me in testing it out and reassessing its virtues and failings. Then, we could start the review process for real. As for the forum archives, they don't seem "lost" to me, but maybe that's because I find myself delving into them once or twice almost every week. for me, there's a lot to learn there.
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