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LENS PORN: Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)
Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)


Did you know that Vivitar created their 'Series 1 70-210mm' lenses with at least 5 different versions? Users have pointed out that the first three versions mentioned below were the best of all:

Version 1 - 70-210mm f/3.5 made by Kiron (the sharpest)

Version 2 - 70-210mm f/3.5 made by Tokina

Version 3 - 70-210mm f/2.8-4 made by Komine (MFD =  0.7 meters / 2 feet!)

Version 4 - 70-210mm f/4 made by Kiron


Vivitar went to Tokina to make the second version. When they decided to go to another maker, Tokina decided to market this lens under their own name in the early 1980s.

Constant aperture lenses are most sought after because you don't only get the same amount of light at the long end, but you can still get the benefit of a blurry background from a wide aperture at the long end.

Which is what this Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 does. It is a rare lens (more common as a Vivitar) with a hefty build. What makes this lens very special is that it is an affordable telephoto zoom lens with a constant maximum aperture of f/3.5. (Its more common and smaller sibling is the Tokina RMC 80-200mm f/4).

I bought 2 copies of this lens for a conversion project. The first one in Canon FD mount was sold as is. The second one in Minolta MD mount, is the one I used for shooting samples and video here.




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SPECS


Tokina RMC 70-210 mm f/3.5

Also known as
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 (Version 2)

Serial# 8400463

Minimum Focusing Distance: 4 feet / 1.2 meters

Macro Mode: 1:4

Filter Thread Size: 62 mm

Aperture Run: f/3.5 - f/22

Made in Japan

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

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Summary



Pros

Bright maximum aperture of f/3.5

Constant maximum aperture across its focal range (that means, at 200mm you still get f/3.5)

It handles flare very well

Good contrast (don't expect modern day lens super contrast)

Vivid beautifully rendered colors

Dreamy dissolved backgrounds at f/3.5, especially from 135-210mm

Focus/zoom ring is smooth to operate

The push-pull design is nice for quickly nail focus in fast action scenes like sports and events.

Close focusing with a MFD of 4 feet. (Lenses of this type during its day normally have a MFD of 6 to 8 feet.)

The focus is constant when you zoom. (Some zoom lenses... you need to re-adjust the focus after zooming. That's the problem with its smaller sibling, the Tokina RMC 80-200mm f/4)



Neutral

Images are super sharp from 70mm up to 180mm. At 210mm, a soft 'portrait glow' is noticeable when at f/3.5, but disappears by f/5.6. 'Dreamy' is subjective and one may or may not like it. To me, is fine.

It's a hefty lens, but still half the size as your modern day Nikkor 55-200mm when fully extended.



Cons

Visible loss of contrast when shot against strong backlight at f/3.5 (but not on slower aperture)

Zoom creep. It won't stay in place if the tripod tilts up or down due to the zoom creep.

This lens design is meant for handheld shooting, not for mounting on the tripod. It might look awkward or unbalanced if you do.

This lens is rare, so finding the mount you need (Nikon mount in my case) requires ample amount of patience and determination. It is more common as a Vivitar, and one might have better luck finding the mount they are looking for.



Conclusion

I like this lens, it is generally sharp from 70mm to 210mm. Contrast level falls when shot in super bright scenes at f/3.5. Naturally, it improves if you stop it down to f/5.6.

It is still sharp at 200mm when shot indoor at f/3.5, but in bright outdoor scenes, a soft portrait glow is introduced. It is easily remedied by stopping the aperture down, or fixing the zoom to 150mm.

This lens is your cheapest ticket to a smooth blurry background. Just shoot from 135mm to 210mm at f/3.5 and you will see what I mean.

If you prefer the super micro contrast that modern lenses will give you, then this lens will not meet your expectations. But this is a good lens overall. It will give you pleasing images and is a reliable performer.


Great for: Indoor, events, sports, outdoor, wildlife/nature, portrait, landscape, street, moderately low light scenes, night scene, handheld shooting

Not for: Macro, flowers, insects, closeup


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Further Reading





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Samples


Nikon D5200 Settings:
Size - Basic/Small
White Balance - Custom
Picture Profile - SD (Standard)
HDR/ADL/Flash/Noise Reduction - Off



 Street Scenes

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)



Animal Scenes

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)



Flower Scenes

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)



Product Photography

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)



Comparisons

For the comparisons, I shot them at the shortest focal range of 70mm, then mid-range at 150mm, and the longest end at 210mm. The lens is generally crispy sharp from 70-150mm, then at 210mm some glow is introduced when used in scenes bright light, although still acceptably sharp. 

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)

Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (Minolta MD Converted to Nikon Mount)



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The Nikon D5200 as my weapon of choice.

Vintage lenses are my poison.

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