This can't be called random...first of all because John is an occasional contributor to TOP (with his own Category in the right-hand sidebar), but also because this directly relates to our recent posts about a B&W-only sensor and my thoughts on "temptations." For not only does John do some outstanding B&W conversions, but he routinely crops to a square! He referred to these in a recent email as his "Fauxliflex" shots, which made me smile.
Both his Canon 5D's recently died, so this shot was taken with a Canon Rebel.
The lens was developed in cooperation with Tokina, and Tokina sells its version in a different barrel design for both Canon and Nikon mounts. The lens is a true sleeper: an optical paragon, you might even say, and yet it flies almost completely under the radar. It's not even particularly expensive (less than half the price of the Pentax). But very few people know about it.
John wrote, "...You convinced me to try the Tokina version. I don't know if it's an optical twin [of the Pentax DA Macro —MJ] but in any case it's just wonderful. Certainly one of the two most impressive designed-for-digital lenses I've used (the other is the Olympus 50mm macro) and better both technically and aesthetically than the Canon 35/2, which itself is no slouch."
The shot at the top of the page was made wide open. The Tokina Macro 35 is a textbook example of the fact that there is a lot more to any lens than just resolution. It's one of the best lenses you can buy for digital photography, regardless of maker, regardless of price. Always assuming that you don't evaluate lenses like the blind men describing the elephant.
(If you want to purchase one from B&H, however, best hurry, because they're about to go on hiatus for more than ten days for Succos. You have until 7 a.m. ET tomorrow morning if you want anything you order to ship before the break.)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Jim Weekes: "Let me add to the kudos for that lens. When Carl and Mike first wrote about it I was in the process of changing from Canons to Pentaxes. I snapped up the 35 f/2.8 DA Macro for my 20D. It was and is incredible. I got a K-5 and it shone a little brighter on the upgraded sensor. It was so good that I kept my T2i because it weighs so little and got the Tokina version for it. It is just as good. It—the Pentax version—was one of two lenses I took to France for our 30-day stay, along with a 17–135mm zoom. I would say that 80% of my pictures from the Pentax were with the 35mm. If I was to try Mike's one lens and camera for a year it would be the K-5 and the 35mm."
Featured Comment by Miserere: "As a Pentax shooter and photography blogger who has read way too much about lenses, I am as confident as any outsider can be (I don't work for either Tokina or Pentax) that both these lenses share the same optical design and differ only in exterior body design and coatings on the glass surfaces. The Pentax version sports their famous SMC while Tokina uses its own coating formula. As for John Kennerdell, he'd make great photos with a Kodak Brownie, but I'm glad he likes the Pentax/Tokina 35mm."
Featured Comment by Emmanuel Huybrechts: "The Pentax version is much more compact and lighter and has quick-shift (instant manual focus override, so useful). Its price at launch was similar to the Tokina. I'm still kicking myself for not buying it at that time. I finally got this lens (the Pentax) this summer and it was an instant love. A perfect lens, except for the focal length itself. 35mm is in a kind of no-mans-land for me. Not wide enough, not long enough."
Mike replies: That was also what both Carl and I concluded, separately and together. We both want a similar lens in the 24–26mm ballpark. Neither of us are holding our breath.