Updated: Mar 27
First Time Tokina Lenses Review with
Fujifilm GFX100s Medium Format
By Collins Ryàn - L'artiste,
Photography Critic, Tutor, Artist, and Pro-photographer.
Auckland, New Zealand, March 2023
If you read this article, I assume that you are not in your very first stages in photography, and not in the intermediate level either. The Medium Format cameras, let alone the GFX100s or GFX100 are truly a marvel of technology which is dedicated to professionals of remarkably high professional levels. Those special camera bodies are, quality-wise, in line with the like of Leica and Hasselblad, or even the bigger DSLR Medium Format monsters such as the PhaseOne’s ridiculously expensive siblings. I found the GFX100s robustness and quality as the primary reason to buy such a system, while neglecting the much smaller sensors or Full Format (35mm) altogether when I shoot reproduction, landscape, events, environmental portraiture, street, and architecture.
Shooting in such a system requires a very thorough experience in photography, and the understanding of aperture conversions from one format to another, the other light gathering settings, and the different composition measurements (to mention only a few), in a way that all settings or results are clearly foreseen as a second nature to the photographer. I hope that this review will shed some light for you and your photography (this is the first in a series of reviews).
This is both a brief travel impression and a review on photography gear.
DISCLAIMER: I am honoured to be very actively representing the Tokina brand worldwide as their Global Brand Ambassador. I am based at Auckland, New Zealand, but shoot everywhere, really. This review, despite my affiliation with Tokina, is not intended to try to persuade any given photographer to buy Tokina or Fujifilm products. I am certain that by now the readers are already convinced that both manufacturers’ products are standing at the front line as pro photography products one can buy these days. This review is coming to genuinely give my perspective about the compound of the wonderful GFX Medium Format system with the professional Tokina lenses (explicitly the GFX100s camera). I was eager to understand if a photographer like me, who has experienced all formats, almost every camera manufacturer, and taught other professional photographers worldwide can actually give a green light confirmation that the compound is able to deliver professional results to their artworks.
"Shooting in such a system requires a very thorough experience in photography"
In January 2023 I travelled to give some sessions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). While taking shots also with native lenses, I have decided to take in my bag some brilliant lenses from the Tokina AT-X and opera series (that are usually mounted on my Small Format Nikon DSLRs). The lenses that were taken with me were only representative to the Tokina variety and are regarded globally as very sharp ones. I divided the usage of the lenses to three sections: wide-angle view, normal-view, and zoomed-in (telephoto) view. Indeed, I would have wanted to take all the lenses in the bag, but flight weight restrictions were so harsh that I needed to decide beforehand which lenses would be the representative.
The Selected Tokina Lenses
The project used lenses of Tokina and other manufacturers. I plan to write a review for those ones separately. For this review, I see this right to aim only to the Tokina variety since a lot of my international representation is made through the Tokina gear. I teach with the said gear, and I feel that this would be better to show separate qualities for only one brand in a given review.
Wide-angle: At-X 16-28 Pro FX F/2.8. This is a wonderful lens that in the very recent years has been renewed as part of a new series (opera), namely Tokina opera 16-28 F2.8 FF. Both lenses provide the same range of focal lengths and are robust and sharp on Full Frame DSLRs.
Normal angle: Tokina opera 50mm F1.4 FF.
I do not need to remind that this focal length on a Small Format sized sensor usually yields, by and large, the equivalent of the view angle that the human eyesight has. This lens has gotten perfect results in my reviews, early on, and then in some following reviews by others, worldwide. This lens is basically perfect, extremely sharp, and absolutely built to bring killer results with every shutter click. How would this lens perform on the GFX100s? Read below.
Short Telephoto: Tokina AT-X M100 Pro D Macro.
The reason I did not use the newer iteration of this model is, well, because I do not really need to. This lens is one of the sharpest lenses ever made, let alone for macro use. Like any other lens, this lens should be used with care. The results to these days have never ever disappointed me or my clients. Just to reiterate – never!
Up to now I touched the Tokina part in the project. The Fujifilm part is easy: it is the well-known GFX100s camera-body, a Medium Format sized sensor that packs up to 102 million pixels and is capable to yield shots of 400 million pixels through pixel shifting process, inside the camera, using the “Pixel Shift Multi Shot” function. To make use of the feature, press on the “Drive” physical button on the back of the camera, which on the left-hand side of the viewfinder. Once pressed, scroll down there to the lowest choice. If you do not find this choice on your camera menu, check out that you have the most updated firmware through Fujifilm’s website.
Lastly, since the Fujifilm’s GFX camera bodies’ mount diameter is substantially larger than the Nikon F-mount lenses that I connected onto it, a special adapter was used, obviously. Considering the quality of some of their lenses has not disappointed me in early works, I decided to go on with an adapter marketed with the Laowa brand. The adapter is called Laowa MFC (short for Medium Format Converter). I allow you to see, below in black, how this marvellous adapter is connected to the camera and lens (for your convenience, I left the other gear misty)
(Or in other words: Explanation about the effect of an adapter on the resultant image)
This four-paragraphed sub-section here is only a plain description as opposed to a full course in the basics and the physics of photography. I frankly tend to assume that one who secures a GFX100s may already know most of the material. I write this in case there are readers who don’t.
Now, lens adapters are coming to adjust the flanges of one system to another. Whereas adapters from Small Format to yet even smaller formats such as APS-C or M4/3 tend to sharpen up the end result of the image (remember?? “Small Format” here is vastly called “Full Frame”), the adapter from Laowa works differently. The latter actually takes lenses of Small Format and adjusting/enlarging their image circle onto a much, much bigger sensor of Medium Format.
To explain it even more plainly, when you shoot a given objection a Small Format, for example a full body portrait, it takes certain amount of real estate on the sensor, right? But the Medium Format sensors are MUCH bigger than the Small Format. If we shoot the object with the same lens without adjusting the lens to the Medium Format sensor size, the object will accordingly look much smaller on the resultant image. It makes sense because the object simply takes less real estate on that bigger sensor.
So, when we take a photo of the very same object, with the same lens, and the same distance from the object, but this time we do this with the Laowa adapter – the object is now spread on a wider real estate of the Medium Format sensor. The Circle of Confusion here comes into minds, so the fact that the subject is getting bigger on the sensor might tell us that the sharpness would not be as it is on the Small Format. Let’s wait and see if this is the truth with the Laowa adapter.
"The holder was horribly broken!"
Flights to and from – a swift airline critique
(Have I chosen right?!)
I am NOT affiliated to any airline, just to make this very clear!
My travel to the locations and back was made through our national carrier – Air New Zealand, with their wonderful airline and ground crews who were helpful and had such a welcoming Kiwi attitude. The flight from Auckland to Sydney with the latter was aboard one of their wonderful Boeing 777 aircrafts.
From Sydney the travel continued through Etihad Airways. Etihad Airways was booked due to the safety measurements that they were mentioned to take. While the aircraft was similar in model (B777), it was, unfortunately, not in par with the Air New Zealand’s counterpart.
However, maintenance-wise, the aircraft suffered from lack of TLC, at least in the entire row where I sat, and showed aging signs. The food tray-holder was horribly broken, another media-screen was poorly showing horrific dead pixel lines across, and my seat’s very oldish remote control for the media system on-board was unfunctional altogether, with exposed electrical lines sticking out of the lower part of the remote.
Moreover, up above the heads there was an impromptu fix of the long console that hosted the air conditioning or whatever there was there – a fix style McGuyver TV series – very unsightly and looks very unprofessional. The crew was informed, and they needed to bring a maintenance guy to fix the issues, let alone with very partial success on his multi-faceted mission (fixed only the tray-holder, but it was wobbly the entire flight, so there was fear of food falling onto the laps for the entire flight!)
I would expect Etihad Airways to be more professional in that fashion, especially when those flights are deadly long from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.
Why Those Locations?
I chose the United Arab Emirates simply because this place is probably one of the most distinctive places on Earth to scream aloud “I’m clean; I’m dirty!”
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are quite modernised cities in a region that has long been coping with very traditional looks and way of life. A modernised beast among a huge desert region that is genuinely interesting in the eyes of westerners.
"They very kindly hosted me as their photographer"
The cleanliness of the cities, and I mean the touristic parts of them, is impeccable. The authorities make the utmost effort to keep the cleanliness and, in a way, – they do succeed. The least clean areas, however, definitely stood for their description. There were more typical rubbish items floating up in the air (nylon bags, papers etc), or laid down on the ground.
The combination between the two intrigued me to go there to test the images, making the latter more interesting and donating the entire travel a purpose of documentary photography. In this article I touch on the visit in Dubai. Other articles will be dedicated later on to the other destinations of this travel.
I would like to thank some of the venues that I visited for giving me the permission and the actual written-permits to take photos in the capacity of professional photographer who comes to document the environment, the people, and the places I stay at. Among those places was The Global Village, Dubai that very kindly hosted me as their photographer during my visit there. I commend their security, marketing, and public relation crews for the hospitality and cooperation in this international project!
While most of the locations were very open to reveal the ins and outs, some locations such as the Dusit Thani Hotel in Downtown Dubai were absolutely reluctant to cooperate with the photography mission (despite they could find heaps of benefits from it), although my very early correspondence. That was a huge disappointment, to be frank, as I was not sure why such a seemingly sparkly hotel not giving any positive or negative response up till the last minute of me spending there.
Arriving at Dubai after more than 20 hours of travel time. Phew! New Zealand is INDEED that far away from any other place on planet Earth! I can definitely attest this after every flight that I take. Since the camera is a Medium Format body, I did not expect it to be working as a slingshot in shooting sports or wildlife. I leave those genre capabilities better suited with other cameras that I use. The Medium Format camera is used for more quality shots that require some preliminary thought of compositions. To note, it is not that the camera body is unable to shoot fast objects. It is actually pretty much a very capable Medium Format in this regard, but I assume that in this case the entire idea behind holding or using such camera would be twisted, to say the least.
First thing first: The GFX100s files are MASSIVE! I can't simply upload them onto the article without clogging your internet. This will definitely cause your computer/device to slow down with photos in such size. I hence used very friendly, sizable image sizes. You have to understand that the quality and sharpness of the REAL RAW (and even JPEGs) are much, much higher! So bear this in your mind when viewing the images below.
The GFX100s has a massive number of pixels. Nearly 102,000,000 (102 Mega Pixels) to be precise. For those who shoot brilliant shots with the much smaller sensors (like the cropped-sensor/APS-C, or the 35mm Small Format/Full Frame) in a mere 24 Mega Pixels camera and are staring in awe on the brilliant results, you should rethink of how much information you can now gather using such sensor. The 102 megapixels is a explosion of immense information taken with each shot. The possibilities to crop the frame – even in a half of its original number of pixels – and still remain with more usable pixels than most of the cameras marketed at the time this article is published is something that one truly needs to experience in order to understand it in full!
Sometimes when I talk to people about technology and comparisons in numbers they look at me as if I just took off to the outer space! Funny...
The technology that was incorporated into the GFX100s is a true marvel. For those pixels to act as a true prodigy, though, there is a price to pay; the pixel pitch that stands at 3.76µm is smaller than the Small Format sensors like of, say, Nikon D850, D810, Z7, Z9 etc.
However, once we land ourselves back on Planet Earth we understand that Fujifilm GFX100s' much smaller sibling, Fujifilm X-T5 (which is a very capable cropped-sensor APS-C camera body) has much smaller pitch than the former, and it is yet a great sensor. The Fujifilm X-T4 (26 megapixels) and the very capable Sony α7RIV (with “only” 61 megapixels) both have the very same pixel pitch as the GFX100s. Both the X-T4 and the α7RIV are brilliant cameras that have yielded for me an enjoyable time taking photos in both bright and dark conditions.
The GFX100s definitely has the advantage here, technology-wise, and has a much bigger sensor in such way that it copes very well with dark locations. Boring the audience with some over-digested info would not do good, right? So, I tend to keep the annoying details to other reviews over the www...
"In other words – I knew that I was probably going to crop the shot anyway in order to create better compositions to the shot"
Now that we all understand that the camera was not used to shoot dozens or hundreds of fast shots just to yield a mere one successful image out of each bunch, I would like to specify the way that I chose at this time to use the camera. I took into consideration that I would not use the entire sensor real estate in the resultant images. In other words – I knew that I was probably going to crop the shot anyway in order to create better compositions to the shot; better compositions that were very hard to be taken using my feet. Believe it or not, I am one of those photographers who still prefers to compose firstly using my feet (do the mileage) instead of shooting with very long telephoto lenses.
However, while traveling overseas to such assignments, I have to remember upfront that not every corner of the city could be reached with the feet, and other spots – despite being accessible – they were very badly composed in the latter method, so I preferred to stay afar and simply crop in post editing.
Nope, I do not care about ISO; at least not more than I cared about early on. One needs to understand, the ISO in digital cameras is a fact that we either need to suffer from or enjoy having. I prefer the latter. Be optimistic for once! Photography is NOT the real world, and I do feel sorry to break in with that news. Yes, the ideal situation was to use the very base ISO100 on all of my images; however, you and I both know that such conditions are not always attainable due to the fact that we always need to make compromises while shooting.
As with the very fine cameras that I mentioned earlier – the Fujifilm X-T4 and the Sony α7RIV – the pixel pitch here is 3.76µm and with that detail we need to understand that the shots can hold amazingly great details up until the point that WE, the individual photographers, decide that this is not up to our standards. I reckon that for me, in truly dark place, the ISO 8000 was the last stop that I would want to increase the exposure to, and in less dark places I’d go up to 6400.
Yes, the noise for me, as a photography artist, does add to the artworks that I craft. But as a pro photographer, I make the separation between what I accept as good for my own stuff, and what I would agree to give to a client. The aforementioned ISO stops are relevant to those shots where I allow myself to “go wild” for my clients, in very specific occasions. I prefer to stay with the GFX100s as low ISO as I can for clients, and quite the opposite as a photography artist who genuinely appreciate the wonderful, film-like looks that the slight image noise can donate to the composition.
"I limit my desire to reasonable sharpness"
Okay, so once you decided to go up the ladder onto such a Medium Format camera model (Hasselblad, Leica etc.), then I suppose you are also seeking to create a wonderful, sharp set of artworks more on the professional side rather than recreational one. I cannot blame you for your choice. We are probably very identical in this fashion. However, I limit my desire to reasonable sharpness. By that I mean that I am asking myself who the audience whom I release my artwork to. In any case, I definitely do not make any discounts on proper sharpness in order to deliver the message of the image appropriately.
This implies that I am free to gauge how sharp I’d like the images to be based on the genre, and truly, truly, truly, (truly) sharp images of wrinkles won’t place me in a warm part in my clients’ hearts. So, if someone would like to be a pixel peeper in each and every shot/genre, then, well... that’s one thing that they one day will find the cure for. I am healthy now.
The adapter that I used in this project does not have any electronic components in it. This obviously means that the focusing was done manually. The camera has the focus peaking function, and it does a great job. Yes, I recognise the fact that people these days became too reliant on auto-focus but providing I have not used the camera on very fast-moving object this time around, I assume that manual focusing was adequate to use. Professionally, I also expect photographers who care to hold such a camera body in their hands to unequivocally know how to produce brilliant shots in manual focus mode.
I used the Tokina’s Nikon-F mount lenses this time, but there is a counterpart Canon version of the adapter. I used the Nikon-F lenses explicitly because I wanted to manually control the aperture. Yes, the adapter has its own aperture ring, but.... kindly read below to understand more about when this works well and when it does not!
Appearance: This lens has a beautiful, HUGE, bulbous front glass. It does not accept “regular”, rounded on-lens filters. For this you will require 150x100mm rectangular filters with a dedicated aftermarket filter-holder. This is NOT new information, though. Such wide-angle lenses of this quality are very similar in nature, with the same characteristics.
In the project I have not used any filters on the lens. United Arab Emirates has extremely difficult laws regarding photography, and I had to follow them to the letter. I appreciate the authorities for taking care of families and ladies to stay away of the Paparazzi and the like photographers’ direct line, but street photography for more settled photographers (ahhemmm... like myself) is truly a pain. One may imagine that mounting up such a big set of filters on an already large looking gear would have always thrown people’s eyes right at me. This could have delayed me from taking shots without showing the security/police, time and again, the permits that I had gotten. Hence, I ditched
the idea of using those filters this time.
The 1st photo here shows Dubai Downtown’s buildings. The current tallest building on planet Earth is on the left-hand side of the image and the current biggest mall is on the very edge of that side. I have focused on the two buildings that are connected to one another at their top. They are called ”Address Sky”. The shot was taken handheld with a thick layer of glass (window) that was adding possible optical issues in the resultant image. Some indoor furniture reflections can be very faintly distinguished on the lower left quarter as vertical lines. Whatever interference were at the location, the shot indeed seems to be very successful despite. Taken with F/4, the central real-estate absolutely does not suffer from any chromatic aberration or colour fringe. Using an ISO of 2000, the colours were magic, even better than they are on my trusty, dedicated F-mount Small Format cameras. The 100% close-up view shows it.
This is important to note, for those readers who have not yet been to the UAE, that the entire country suffers from a great deal of dust in the air. The sand dust is truly everywhere, and when sometimes it may indeed give the subject’s background some artistic qualities, it also can impinge on the image quality.
As a photographer who uses this specific camera mainly for the purposes of dramatic arts, I often find myself wanting to use more film-like characteristics in the frames, rather than shooting in extreme sharpness. This was fitting very nicely to the fact that the UAE pose so many hurdles on taking shots with professional gear, let alone taking shots with a set of strobes sticking out of a long Boom-stick or, even worse, on the cameras own hot shoe!
Using the noise for the purposes of the shot!
Having been to the huge Dubai Mall, I enjoyed the liberty to craft the next shot with a real dinosaur skeleton and base its head with the background of a blast-like geometry. I wanted to depict the horrible fate that the dinosaurs had had at that time when the asteroid had hit Planet Earth and in the end of the day it had led to ceasing of their existence on our blue-green-brown-white cosmic ball!
Thinking of such a crucial (pre-) historic event, I wanted this artwork to indeed be so much depicting and dramatic; so much so, that I actually sought after incorporating more pronounced so-called film noise. WOW! People are in shock out there?! “Collins, why the heck would you want to incorporate noise into the shot?!!” they may ask me.
Well, I can definitely relate to the question since many of the photographers starting out their photography journey only now with the new wave of digital cameras. They are the photography face of this era where some crazy marketing forces tend to inadequately pump corporate messages on the web in efforts to convince everyone that they have to buy the best, newest, sparkiest, shiniest, and definitely the most expensive camera despite the audience’s non-matching monetary abilities or true needs. To many, photography unfortunately lost its artistic way to the marketing mantras, rather than develop their own style and artistic path.
The artwork here wants to put the unjustified marketing mantras aside, and connect once again to the meaning of the colours, the tones, the placement of the subject and the usage of the Negative Spaces withing the entire frame, while using old age photography characteristic. Same thing I can say about when I use Film Noir methods in videography. So, image noise here, as I said, was sought after WITH PLEASURE and DETERMINATION!
I order to gain that crisp, unified film-like noise, I stepped down the lens on f5.6 with that minimal amount of ambient light above it. I had the thought crossing my minds to use f8, but I wanted the background to be blurrier than the subject. Taking the shot from down upright, I positioned myself where the head of the dinosaur was right in the middle of the geometric blast (depicted by the epicentre of the background circular shape). The vignette was artificially added in the editing stage for compositional purposes.
I love the dramatic effect that the subtle, purposeful, and very artistically usable image noise donates to the artwork. In this huge zoom-in (100% zoom, but who would truly zoom that much for a screen view?!) show the extremely detailed dinosaur head and neck skeleton, despite the less-desirable light conditions and the usage of an ISO6000 gained a wonderful usefulness of this lens in such environmental shots. Sharpness and Usefulness. Sweet!
By the way, the genus of this dinosaur is Diplodocus Longus. That's just for those who are interested in Palaeontology in general, or particularly in dinosaurs.
Moving now to the Burj Khalifa area, I have to admit that the tower is wonderful to look at. Taking the shot during the night, the sky is dark as hell. The dancing neon lights that surrounded the tower in different places on its cladding for only a fraction of a second at a time were confusing and did not do justice, to my opinion, with the beautiful shape of the architecture. I was trying to avoid taking shots of people (after being told so by the security there), I decided to take a shot of its upper area where it is over the heads of the people down below.
Made with a ¼ second speed, and an ISO1250 (only!) the architecture has now gotten what it deserves! The aperture was on f5.6 and focal length of 24mm. There are no colour fringes or chromatic aberration whatsoever! The 100% zoom extraction below shows merely that tiny part of the tower – largely at the lower part of the first quarter of the building (from the top end). The focusing systems on the viewfinder (or the live-view screen) using the focus peaking is almost flawless.
A side note: I do miss the incomparable quality of the optical viewfinder at times when I use any given Mirrorless camera; however, Fujifilm made an okay job in coupling a 1.23 mega-pixels viewfinder with 77% magnification to it. Camera body manufacturers tend to complicate their spec lists with terms. They use the term “Dot” rather than “pixel” or “megapixels” when it is related to viewfinders or live-view screens. Fujifilm writes that the viewfinder has an impressive number of 3,690,000.... Dots. Yes, Dots, not pixels!
3.69 million Dots are converted to merely 1.23megapixels. This is less than an old Full HD TV resolution. Just to make sure you get the idea! This absurd is strengthened by the number pixels the sensor has. Such an impressive camera, yielding a wonderful, mind bogging Medium Format images of ~102 megapixels is standing at the top of the line in picture quality in this era, and I do feel that Fujifilm could definitely do better job in coupling some better viewfinder experience. Talking about numbers, its viewfinder has solely approximately 1% of the sensor’s pixel count. Shame!
Manual focusing with an electronic viewfinder is, hence, going to be better suited to those who have already practiced enough time with manual focusing utilising the focus-peaking function on earlier iterations of the GFX system, or any other lower format Mirrorless units. The ideal, sharp rendering that the optical viewfinder in DSLRs is still (to my experience) is still something to envy on those Mirrorless cameras that I own. I guess that in a well-lit environment the viewfinder would be brilliant and easy to ace. In some low light situations, though, there is so much to develop in the Mirrorless department; at least for those who start their journey with those expensive“toys”.
There is still NO viewfinder, on any Mirrorless camera, that matches the latter's sensor pixel count or quality!
Tokina opera 50mm
The opera 50mm has a very warm part in my heart! This is not a secret that I truly think that this lens is one of the best out there. Very sharp (sometimes too sharp if you will!!) and with a mathematical aperture of f1.4 I do not need to write too many words over here. Right?
I definitely think that the GFX system has its own excellent native G-mount lenses (most of them); but I cannot rule out this Tokina lens as being a true gem also on the GFX system! I enjoyed taking shots with it!
The wonderful traditional and non-traditional Arabic confectionaries here at The Dubai Mall were so very tempting. Apart from the taste, I was truly fascinated by the plate that had the most variety of colours in it. That one with the orange, white, purple, green etc. goodies!
I approached the presentation area, and the texture of the goodies there simply left me irresistible to take the shots. Thinking of which lens I should do the mission, there was no doubt in my mind that the opera 50mm would not be left in my bag. I use the lens normally also for careful reproduction photography and I know very well about its capabilities. Once I took the lens out and connected to the GFX100s, I was probably the happiest person in the venue. I wanted to have quite a uniformed view of the entire presentation area, but also wanted to be able to distinguish in the tiniest parts of the multicoloured plate. I had to crop the image massively to accommodate UAE's law. The cropped part incorporated a significant Bokeh but was also revealing identifiable figures.
Though, I did not want to get too much into the micro area, so for me the 50mm was the best choice in depicting a normal view. As you may see here above in the 100% section of the plate in question, the confectionaries details are shown extremely well, as expected with such lens. Shot with ISO800, I have no bad marks on it!
Dubai offers a variety of attractions. To be frank, I truly love science in both forms of it – the elementary sciences as chemistry and physics, and the applied sciences as engineering. I love to take shots of the structures created by both nature and humankind. The Museum of the Future in Downtown Dubai is an impressive building that is shaped as an oval ring where the long plane goes horizontally. It offers what is deemed to be the technology of the future 30 years or so.
The available lights in that space of the museum were a mix-up of pure daylight and artificial overhead (LED) lights. However, I was trying to get the entirety of the bike visually relatively clear, with apprehensible looks of the surroundings, so I had to go much further backwards; in return I cropped the shot in post edit to also accommodate the UAE law and photography permit. The curvature shape in the ceiling is actually true to what it looks like in reality (as opposed to any effect that the lens may have yielded onto it). Yes, I can imagine, like you, how the image would have looked if there were no visual interferences like the lady on the left hand side or those two very small figures very close to the left tyre. But, I am here to give the true surroundings and hence I opt at this stage not to get rid of them. Well, for now at least…
I used an ISO of 1250. With the unfortunate rendition of photos by this website's blog I am unable to show off the true resolution of the images without impinging on your internet load capacity. But this is extremely impressive in true rendering, let alone when and where I choose to print the out in bigger size prints! No C/A or colour fringes whatsoever.
"I found a lovely retailer that actually did not act as the majority of them"
Every visit to Dubai (or any Arab country, for this matter) should be incorporating at least one ride to the local open space markets. They call it in Arabic “Souks”. Dubai has a wonderful, colourful, olfactory stimulating Spice Souk. While visitors who are coming from a western countries may find the too-overwhelming practice (personal-space breaching practices) initiated by the market retailers, there is still some joy in visiting such markets. Yes, the frequent touches on the visitors’ own shoulders and hands is indeed not something westerners are used to, but overall the experience is not too shabby, and at the end of the day, the retailers do have their livelihood based on their stores there and they try to make ends meet. So, the very close personal space experience is forgivable.
While trying to be walking peacefully through the small alleys in the market area, I found a lovely retailer that actually did not act as the majority of them. That intrigued me. This lovely retailer (Iranian, originally) was too kind to show me his store’s stuff without trying to harass me or convince me too much to buy things. I fell that the small store was what I was looking for. I had that wonderful feeling of having the time and convenience to explore the spices and herbs he offered there.
I happened to purchase a lovely pack of herbs. Those herbs have such a soft sweet flavour, however with a very pronounced sour addition to it. A perfect combination of flavours that create a very strong red-wine coloured beverage. While I was indeed taking shots with another camera, I did not take the GFX100s out of the bag due to fear to drop it among the hassling retailer crowd who touched my back, shoulder and hands over and over again.
I took the next photo when I came back to my hotel room. I was fascinated by the texture and rich colour that the herbs yielded the moment I have put them in a glass of water. Not setting up any flashes, I used the very dimmed environmental lighting only. I set up some herbs on a coaster (which in turn was on a lens’ cap) just in order to create some sense of depth.
A weirdly shaped glass was filled in with tap water and I added onto it some of the herbs. Within seconds the redness of the herbs has shown up. This did not take too long to get the entire water load in very dark red. “Damn!”, I thought. I wanted to see the herbs through the glass, but did not expect it to be very dark so fast.
So, I set up a new glass. This time I was focusing on the front, top area of the glass, ready to take some shots and explore the texture inside the everlasting fluid colouring process.
The ISO was on ISO100 and with the room’s own faint light I would not go anywhere. Having the camera standing still allowed me to take the time and elevate the exposure using the shutter speed, of course. Taking it with a 50s did not eventually yield a very sharp texture to the herbs, BUT, I actually quite love the end result. The micro-movement of the herbs in the water did show up but there is still enough texture there both on the glass and on the herbs to allow me (and you, of course) to examine the wonders of this lens. In the upper (wider, farther) image I corrected for perspective in post-ed.
Tokina AT-X 100mm F/2.8 Pro Macro D
Dubai has myriad of attractions, as I mentioned above. This is a desert country, dry, and dusty. The everlasting chase there in Dubai’s authorities to show-off to the world that they have the biggest, the tallest, the widest, the best etc. in every type of attraction is very well perceived, and believe me – this is an understatement. Dubai has that huge flower park with brilliant types of flowers from all around the globe. As an aviation fan, I was very happy to see there a full size, genuine Airbus A380 airplane covered with flowers. How about that?! Wonderful sight.
The day was very sunny. I did not expect less than this. This time around I wanted to examine the fabulous Tokina AT-X 100mm F/2.8 Pro D Macro. One of my sharpest EVER lenses on the Small Format cameras. So I thought that, heck, this is actually going to be very interesting to see how it performs on that bulldozer Medium Format camera. Remember, this lens is not solely for macro usage. The usability of the lens is beyond comparison; well, there are some similarly good ones…
Coming from New Zealand, the green colour was definitely not new to my eyes. After all, (probably) the greenest country in the world has such psychedelic tones of green that I always expect to see some other colours. A sort of inclination, if you will. While all my shots were handheld, I stopped at the very widest aperture (f2.8) and took the shot (ss 1/800, ISO 500). Wanting to depict the foreground and the background of the purplish petals, just to give the shot some sense of depth, I was not sure whether I get the centre of the flower focused. It turned out that the shutter speed was enough to capture it very well and very sharp. The image below gives you the idea of how sharp the lens is!
I was not surprised to find those findings. With such splendid lens’ optics the brilliant results should not be a miracle. If you need another push of persuasion, examine the below show in wide and then 100% zoom. The negligible colour fringe at the petal’s edge (on the left hand side, at the top corner) can easily be corrected using any professional post-edit. In the 100% zoom crop above I show here the original rendition; no corrections whatsoever.
Take a look at the next image which is identical to the previous cropped one, however, this time following a very brief Defringe manipulation. The fringe is gone!
Still in our visit at that amazing botanic garden, the barrels looked so great with the surrounding intense colours.
Pay attention that “wine” from the top barrel is poured into the large container beneath it. The lens gives a wonderful, truthful shape to the objects in this distant shot.
And now let’s get a bit closer onto a flower’s centre area, I stopped down a bit to f5.6, where it may not be a big deal in macro lenses, but the distance to the flower did make it easier for the aperture to take effect.
And the 100% zoom close-up:
I would like to thank to The Global Village management with whom I was working closely in order to get my permit to shoot without interruptions. The Global Village is an attraction in Dubai that gives the visitors the opportunity to experience some of the globe’s countries’ tastes, looks, and feels. Every country that is exhibiting there has their own space.
Some retailers have funny slogans. If you read a slogan of an ice cream retailer from Iran Pavilion, they read: “The richest milky and chocolate taste in the world”. And how do I know this slogan? That’s because the GFX100s captured with the help of the Tokina 100mm f2.8 AT-X Pro D Macro the slogan in that tiny, tiny, tiny space on its sensor. Sharp and clear.
I made this easier for you to see it, and arterially marked it with a blue circle. Here, below. 100% zoom in. The faces of the people there were also blurred by me.
Splendid. I feel that trying to write some words on the lens would actually be unnecessary. The lens is brilliantly capable to focus VERY sharply on the subject, creating little if at all CA/Fringe. One of my most beloved lenses of all times is also wonderfully strong in the Medium Format arena!
In comparison to a different lens made by a different manufacturer in 80-200mm f/2.8 that I also tested, the Tokina 100mm f2.8 AT-X Pro D Macro does not show too much of vignette, if at all. The lens is bright and clear and is an indulge to mount on the camera, especially since its relatively light weight.
Forward on another day, I visited the Green Planet. This is an attraction that occupies a whole large, tall building; from top to bottom. Sort of a rain forest inside of a building. Yes, in the desert. In Dubai. Funny, right? I would like to thank the place’s management for giving me the permit to take shots. Just to give you some sense of how good/bad the vignette is with the lens on, let us explore this pupal case below. I did not retouch the photo. As is @f/5.6
A very slight vignette is shown. Details are still in tact. Let us see some very fast, short manipulation on the vignette correction slide on in post-editing:
Vignette can be absolutely easily handled!
For those of you who are into insects, here is how this looks with this brilliant macro lens in 100% zoom in:
I was actually trying to ask some representative of The Green Planet what insect pupal that was but could not find one to answer. If you read this – The Green Planet personnel – kindly contact me. I’d love to know.
This is the first among a few upcoming articles that I am writing through my own experience with selected Small Format (AKA “Full Frame” sensor) lenses made by Tokina which I adapted on my Medium Format GFX100s system, utilising the Laowa adapter “Nikon-F to Fujifilm G mount”. I wrote the article while visiting the United Arab Emirates for some photography sessions. I added in this article my personal impressions over the locations I visited, as a travel photographer. Separate travel-photography articles related to Dubai and Abu Dhabi may be published elsewhere, either with or without connection to a given gear manufacturer.
The selected Tokina lenses that I chose to adapt at this time were taken simply due to their well-known optical quality on the Small Format Nikon F system, and as weight restrictions took place by the airlines. While those were not produced for the G mount system, I wanted to have some thorough experience with them whether they still perform as adapted gear, or shall I stay with the native G-mount lenses.
As I explained early on in the article, there is a time when one truly seeks absolutely sharp results for their artwork, and there are cases that one can do without all that pixel peeping practice. At this stage, for me, I choose to stand in the middle, I believe. After many years that I have taught photographers of all levels, I reckon that the chase after the absolute sharpness is silly in most cases. To special artwork reproduction customers, I do insist that I do the job with the utmost sharpness, but for most clients, there is a case that absolute sharpness is genuinely not the most important thing.
In some point in time, one should ask themselves the question: when is the point that they don’t care about pixel peeping, and they start actually enjoying photography?
The Tokina lenses that I examined above show absolutely brilliant results. The opera 50mm f/1.4 and the AT-X 100mm f/2.8 Macro D definitely showed their well known quality in both absolute sharpness and light gathering performance.
A thing to pay attention to: The opera 50mm f/1.4, though, was stuck on the f/1.4 aperture simply because it does not have the aperture control ring on it as the other two lenses have. This latter detail is for you to keep in mind, since the Laowa adpter’s aperture control ring MAY NOT control the opera 50mm aperture. The lens aperture is natively controlled only through the electronics, and the Laowa adapter has no electronic connectors.
In case that one is after portraiture works with a very fast lens, the opera 50mm f/1.4 indeed stands for its known qualities and will definitely yield its wonderful Bokeh. For other applications than portraiture, I would suggest to use this lens with care, and I do recommend that those who are more experienced in photography take shots with this lens adapted on the GFX system. I also assume that photographers who hold the GFX100s in their hands have some more advanced understanding in photography and they probably use the camera for professional usage, so they can confidently tackle the very wide aperture of the fabulous opera 50mm.
The Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 Pro D Macro is, on the other hand, controlled through its own aperture ring. This is very easy to step up or down, similarly to the usage on the Small Format cameras. All is just the same. Quality-wise, the 100mm lens yields absolutely amazing results. It still goes very strong in all apertures. I find this important to mention that a very negligible vignette is shown in some apertures; however, as I have shown above, the vignette is not a big deal and is taken care of very efficiently in post editing with a slight shift of the vignette slider on Lightroom/CaptureOne.
The wide-angle lens Tokina AT-X Pro FX 16-28mm f/2.8 shows no signs of tiredness! This is one of my favourite wide-angle lenses in those focal lengths. I am talking, of course, on the equivalent focal lengths of the Small Format cameras. The only con in such lenses is the requirement to install a rectangular filter set in order to use the ND filters or others. I have not used the filters at this time, as explained above, and I could manage very well without it for the trip’s needs.
All in all, I enjoyed shooting with those lenses on my GFX100s. The GFX100s is a very versatile camera body and I appreciate the technological development that Fujifilm invested in it. Coupled with the Tokina, I assume that the quality of my artworks would not fall short of those made with the native lenses.
Next articles in line are one per lens, with some more detailed impressions over the gear.
For more information on myself, my courses and workshops (both in New Zealand and overseas,) or simply to ask me any photography-related question, please visit www.CollinsRyan.photography and follow my Facebook page on www.Facebook.com/ArtisteRyan