Classic Tokina superzoom lens vs. modern Sony superzoom lens review

Can a classic superzoom lens from 1987 for EUR 50 beat a modern superzoom lens for EUR 1,000?

The following lenses were reviewed for center and corner sharpness at 28mm, 50mm, 70mm, 135mm and 200mm focal length and aperture f8 on a Sony a7 ii full-frame camera:

Click on the lens photos to enlarge to Full HD resolution:

Tokina lenses declare their production year in the first two digits of the serial number “8709753”. Therefore, this lens was made in 1987. See what else was happening in 1987 (the year of the “Tear down this wall” speech in West Berlin by United States President Ronald Reagan):

The superzoom lens review scenario

All shots at the lens shootout location were shot with aperture f8 and ISO 400. There was almost the same lighting condition for all lenses. Shutter speed was calculated by the camera for proper exposure by aperture priority automatic mode “A”.

Classic vs. modern super-zoom lens review travelling to a wild bee hotel with a Ninebot MAX G30 e-Scooter
A wild bee hotel: The classic vs modern superzoom lens review will check lens sharpness in center and corner of the test photos

Read more about wild bee hotels here in this very informative paper from Michigan State University:

The classic and modern superzoom lens center and corner sharpness at 28mm, 50mm, 70mm, 135mm and 200mm focal lengths

Superzoom lenses like the Sony FE 24-240mm f3.5-f6.3 on a Sony A7 series full-frame camera are wonderful travel lenses. From 24mm wide-angle to 240mm telephoto you cover a wide band of focus lengths with just a single lens, no need to change your lens and much less weight than carrying many prime lenses.

But how does the modern Sony superzoom lens perform against a 30-plus-year-old Tokina classic superzoom lens?

Look at the photos to compare the center and corner sharpness of both lenses at 28mm, 50mm, 70mm, 135mm and 200mm focal length on a Sony A7ii full-frame camera:

Click on the photos to enlarge to Full HD resolution

Some extra photos from the classic Tokina and modern Sony FE superzooms

All photos with the Tokina superzoom lens are made with the 1:4 Macro function:

Click on the photos to enlarge to 4K UHD resolution


Does the classic superzoom lens from 1987 for EUR 50 beat the modern superzoom lens for EUR 1,000 in lens sharpness? The answer is no. In addition, the modern superzoom has a very good auto-focus, while the classic zoom-lens is fully manual in focus and aperture setting.

But the classic superzoom is much closer to the modern superzoom in lens sharpness than the price difference might imply. Especially at higher focal lengths of 135mm and 200mm, the classic superzoom delivers a higher lens sharpness in the center and comes very close for lens sharpness in the corner.

So for EUR 50, the Tokina SZ-X 28-200mm superzoom is a very good deal if you buy a lens in good condition, without lens fungus, haze, balsam separation and scratches on the lenses.

On an APS-C camera like the Sony a6000 series, the classic Tokina superzoom lens might perform even better in the edges because only the sharp sweet spot of the lens will be used. I will verify this assumption sometime in the future with a pixel-peeping review.

You will need an additional adapter for Canon-FD, Minolda MD or Nikon F-Mount to Sony e-mount. It should cost approx. EUR 25 to mount the Tokina classic superzoom at a Sony a7 series full-frame camera or a Sony series 6000 APS-C camera.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *