As far as vintage wide angle primes go, once you go below 20mm, there aren’t many to choose from at all!
Tokina RMC 17mm F3.5 is one of the most affordable ultra wide vintage lenses out there, so if you are on a budget, this is the one you should be taking a closer look at. I originally came across one while doing my usual ebay searches and snapped up this baby for just £60/$90 which was a real bargain for such wide lens.
To give it some well deserved treatment, I took it with me on my short break to a picturesque part of England (perfect place to shoot some lens tests), where I shot the video above with my little, but very capable Sony NEX 5N; at the time my go-to camera for lens tests when I needed to travel light.
On APC-S sensor camera like 5N this lens is around 25mm in FF equivalent, which is not exactly ultra wide, but still wide enough for natural looking shots. You can of course get the whole ultra wide 17mm field of view if you use it on a full frame camera or if you combine it with a focal reducer like the Lens Turbo II one I’ve been using for a long time now.
In terms of performance I think it’s easy to agree that it’s definitely worth the price I paid for it. Although it benefits from being stopped down, it can be used even wide open if you really need to or want to get the most character out of it (video above was shot wide open). Tokina RMC 17mm producers nice, but not overpowering flares, handles chromatic aberration very well (I couldn’t detect any at all) and has very little distortion. You can even get decent amount of shallow depth of field on APC size sensor at F3.5, which is crazy for 17mm lens. Overall very cinematic image and in terms of optical performance definitely a great lens for video work.
Build Quality & Usability:
As you could expect from a vintage Tokina, it’s a fully metal, very solid lens, which will survive many more knocks than the plasticky modern kit/low/mid range lenses. The focusing ring is very smooth and dampened with a good amount focusing rotation (helps with precise focusing) and obviously there are hard stops at each end of the focusing range (will not mess up focusing marks on a follow focus). The close focusing distance is just 0.25m/0.8ft, which is absolutely awesome for those cool, close and at the same time wide shots. I love lenses that can focus so close and it’s a big plus for me. The front of the lens doesn’t rotate, so using any type of filters will not be a problem.
You can find this lens in most vintage mounts including Olympus OM, Nikon F, Canon FD, Contax C/Y, Minolta MD & Pentax K, so with the right adapter you can use such lens on just about any camera
- Optical Construction: 11 Elements in 9 Groups
- Field of View: 103° (on full frame)
- Aperture Range: F3.5 to F16 in 5 click-stops
- Aperture Blades: 6
- Filter Thread: 67mm
- Focus Ring Rotation: approx. 150°
- Closest Focusing Distance: 0.25m
- Weight: 305g
Now, let’s take a look at its pros and cons!
- Ultra wide angle lens with full frame coverage
- Very Affordable
- Beautiful flares
- Great built quality
- Not “ultra-wide” on anything other than full frame unless used with a focal reducer
- Flares easily
- Not very fast at F3.5 wide open
- Not very sharp wide open
Since I shot the test video above, I’ve used this lens for multiple projects, and there are literally no real complaints I have regarding this lens, especially at the price I paid for it. If you get lucky, you might find one at a similar price, but generally be prepared to pay at-least $150 for it, which is still a great price for a 17mm prime with full frame coverage. If you can’t find this one cheap, check out the Vivitar 17mm F3.5, which is a re-branded version of Tokina, pretty much exactly the same lens, but usually can be found cheaper! Overall, I highly recommend lens!
I try my best to make this website a great resource for people interested in vintage lenses for video use, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this & other posts. I sure hope they will help you save some money on your future lens investments too. I’ve joined the ebay affiliate program to help me run this website, fund my tests & lens giveaways, so if you find this content useful and would like to help me produce more similar content, please use the links in this post if you’re planning to buy one of these lenses or bookmark and/or use this link if you want to buy anything else on eBay.com or this link if you shop on eBay.co.uk. You will not be spending a penny more using these links, while still helping as eBay will pay out a small percentage from any purchase or successful bid, which in turn will support new content on www.vintagelensesforvideo.com. Thank you.