Is Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro lens worth it? TEARDOWN & Review

This 100mm macro, while optically excellent,
costs about 50% less compared to similar Nikon and Canon lenses. Question is:Is it worth
the money? Hi, I’m Mike, independent camera repair technician and I’m starting FixYourCamera.Org
to show you the photogear industry from a different point of view. No specs, no marketing
BS, talking about things you won’t hear anywhere else. Welcome! I kept figuring out some things
here and also thinking about which camera lens I should start with for the 1st teardown
and review. Meanwhile, I bought this macro lens and after just a couple days of use,
it started making some weird noises. So
instead of shipping it out I decided to fix it myself and make a teardown and review at
the same time. So Tokina m100 is the first one, problem solved. Of course this will void
my warranty, but I personally don’t care about it that much. If your lens is still under
the warranty – don’t disassemble it. Ok, so a very quick overview of this thing. There
is a manual aperture ring, there is also focus limiting switch and this is a very useful
feature. Macro lenses are usually slow as a turtle when it comes to focusing speed and
this one makes no exception. So this switch is mechanically dividing the full range of
focusing mechanism into 2 parts, so you can use this lens either as a regular prime lens
or as a typical close up macro lens. And in both cases it can make it focusing about 50%
faster which is not bad. 9 blades diaphragm which is very nice, almost perfectly round
and it’s mechanically controlled by this lever since it’s and Nikon mount. Optics are super
clean which is usually, but not always the case with brand-new lenses. Also this is an
externally focusing lens which means, that the front part moves in and out while focusing.
It’s not great but as long as it doesn’t rotate while doing this, it’s good enough. And of
course there are also MTF charts to compare and some other things, specifications and
stuff like that, but since I don’t care about this – I’m not going to talk about it here.
Let’s get to the problem. If I remember correctly there is a nice, thin ball bearing that goes
all the way around the clutch mechanism. But probably that’s not where the problem is.
It’s most likely somewhere here. My guess is that there is some grease missing inside
this lens. Someone at the factory either got lazy or made a mistake. And even if they do
have a great quality control at the factory, this type of problem is very hard to detect.
That’s because most of those parts inside have some kind of paint on them or there is
some residual grease that will make this lens work perfectly fine for some – usually short
– period of time. Or maybe something else – let’s see. Now, as with most Tokina lenses
I’ve seen so far. This is a very simple and solid construction. That’s why it’s so heavy.
It’s a very simple construction when it comes to electronics also. Just a handful of SMD
parts, an oscillator and an 8-bit microcontroller. There is also a manual focus switch and position
encoder which I’ll show you later. This gear is getting engaged or disengaged, depending
on the position of the focusing clutch mechanism. Let’s remove it now. Just a thin plastic shelll
covering some solid metal alloy parts. Even though this clutch mechanism doesn’t feel
right while I am rotating it, it’s most likely not directly related to my squeaky problem.
So I’ll take care of it in a couple of minutes. Let’s see what we got so far. One of the nicest
looking lens mounts ever. Is is very important? No! But still it looks so good that I just
couldn’t resist mentioning it. It’s solid and quite heavy too. Plastic manual aperture
ring – not much to it. Another plastic ring that goes under the lens mount. A thin plastic
shell that goes over the clutch mechanism and the clutch mechanism itself. This is how
it looks like when removed from the lens. And here’s the rest of this lens. The problem
is definitely here. I can extend the front part by rotating this black barrel and it
doesn’t feel right. It’s slightly loose, but that’s most likely fine. I can definitely
feel this friction, it’s hard to move. Here’s something els… a scratch? 2 scratches. Now
usually when I see something like this – it’s a big warning sign that something’s wrong
here: either one of the screws got loose and is getting stuck between these 2 bottles,
causing this type of scratch – or one of those barrels is out of shape, not perfectly round
and while moving its touching something else. But in this case I cannot see anything that
could cause these scratches .Maybe in order to machine these helicoid grooves within this
barrel – they are using some kind of a mounting tool at the factory, and this tool is causing
this type of scratches. I don’t know? Let’s continue and remove this front part and the
outer barrel. This friction is still here, but I feel like I’m getting close to it. Looks
like this ring here prevents the helicoid barrel from sliding out. It was stuck in place,
which is common for these. Very important: if you’re going to be working on your lenses,
not necessarily the one, but any lens – not to force anything. There are ways to get these
things unstuck and get them moving gently. I think I’m going to record another video
just about this subject. Okay so everything is clear now. It was exactly what I suspected
from the beginning. Not even a trace amount of grease. These parts are completely brand-new
with absolutely nothing applied to them. Same thing here. This barrel moves over this edge
here and this edge is completely dry with nothing on it. So yeah, no wonder it was making
those terrible noises. I’ll have to apply something to it, but overall this lens looks
pretty good inside. Not many plastic parts. Well, actually there are no plastic parts
inside this lens whatsoever. Just the outer shell is made of plastic. And it’s not like
plastic parts are always better or something?, but still, I love to see this type of old-school
primitive construction. Primitive in a good way !!! Solid and simple. And as I said before,
when it comes to electronics, there is just this mount connector, an 8 bit microcontroller,
focus position encoder. Also there is this manual focus switch and that’s all there is
to it. No GMR sensor, no silent wave or ultrasonic motor, no VR or image stabilization system,
no diaphragm flex cable. Super super simple. I am trying to set up a microscope here with
a camera, so that I can show you some interesting things in future videos, but so far I’m having
problems with it. A DSLR coupled with a microscope makes the depth of field so shallow that it’s
actually very hard to show anything sharp and in focus. I’ll have to try with some kind
of a camcorder, with a tiny sensor, image stabilization and possibly auto focus. It
might actually work much better than a DSLR. Oh and if you have some good idea about a
camera or camcorder that actually works very well with a microscope – please let me know.
Now let’s take a look at the diaphragm assembly here. It looks good, old school, but there
is one part I don’t like right away and it’s this manual adjustment ring. Before I tell
you why don’t like it, let me give you a quick tip here: Diaphragm assemblies are not always
easy to put back together, especially if you have completely no experience with them. With
this one, judging by its construction, it might be necessary to adjust it after reassembly.
You can do this at home, without any additional tools, just by using your camera body. And
you can get it pretty accurate – within one third of a stop or possibly better, depending
on how you do it. However, my point here is that if you don’t absolutely have to disassemble
it, don’t do it. Save yourself some trouble and time. Now back to this part. This ring
is made of brass or some similar kind of alloy. Its because of its self-lubricating properties.
This means that it can work without any kind of grease. In case of a diaphragm assembly
it’s a very good thing. But because brass is a gold colored shiny metal, it has to be
darkened before putting it into a lens. Otherwise it would cause reflections and some other
light problems. This is achieved by putting those brass parts into some chemical, I think
it’s some kind of acid, and it makes those parts very dark brown, pretty much black color.
Then they have to be cleaned and they are ready to go. So they look like this or this.
Now this ring is not dark, probably it’s good enough, but more important is that it’s not
clean. Has a lot of this brown powder on it and this dust or brown powder overtime could
make its way into optics. I just don’t like it. I’m not going to paint it or darken it
in any other way. However, it could definitely benefit from cleaning. For now let’s go back
to this clutch assembly. It’s not working correctly. It just doesn’t feel right. And
I bet that you already know what the problem is. Here are 2 rings. One on the left is metal
and one on the right is plastic. They are held together by a screwlock, which is kind
of a glue and by a piece of tape – which I removed previously. Not the best way of holding
two parts stuck together, I think. These metal tabs are acting as Springs. Under them there
are small plastic balls. These balls are actually responsible for making that clicking noise
when you switch auto to manual focus. Under that plastic ring there are 2 brass rollers,
and this is also not the type of design I love to see. These are secured by small screws
with tiny threads into a thin aluminum piece. Now I don’t want you to worry about this too
much, but I hope you can see why you should be gentle with the clutch mechanism on Tokina
lenses. Especially if you are in the manual focus mode. If you are turning the focusing
ring by hand. There is a point where it stops. Don’t force it past that point!!! Here is
the ball bearing I told you about at the beginning. There is no sign of any kind of lubricant
whatsoever, but when it comes to design I like it. It’s very nice. Now since I have
everything disassembled – here is what I think about this lens. There are 6 plastic parts,
not counting the focusing window and 2 rubbers. This one is his half plastic and half metal.
They are all outer shell mechanically not important. Everything else is metal alloys
and it’s quite solid. Overall it’s a very simple and solid construction. When it comes
to optics there just two assemblies, as you can see here. One in the back is fixed, which
means that it stays in the same position at all times. This one moves in and out while
focusing. There is no zoom mechanism, there are no complicated helicoid’s. Again, very
simple construction. I like this gear assembly. Plastic gears are a common failure point in
many kit lenses or many cheap prime lenses. One broken tooth and it stops working Here
it’s is all metal and very solid. Overall it’s a nice lens, especially if you consider
that it’s only half the price of Canon or Nikon 100mm macros. If you, like me, don’t
need any image stabilization. I am going to use 2 powerfull strobes anyway… I think
it could be a very good choice. Despite of the clutch mechanism, which I think is a weak
spot in Tokina lenses. But if you are careful and gentle with it, it should last many years
without any problems. When it comes to repairs – I would say it’s not the easiest one, but
still rather easy to disassemble and put back together – and Tokina is the only third-party
lens manufactured, that I was actually able to get the parts from in the past. It’s not
as easy as with canon; that you just call them tell them the part number and your credit
card number and you get the part within 2 days or so, but still you can talk them into
selling you parts that you need. Well at least in the states, I’m not sure how it works in
other countries. Now about all of this grease missing: I don’t know how they managed to
do that, but I know from experience that mistakes do happen for every single camera and lens
manufacturer. Every single one. And compared to other things than and products that I’ll
show you in the future, while annoying, it’s really not such a big deal. But yes, they
could have done a better job at the factory. Overall it’s way more important how the manufacturer
responds to such problems. If they are fixing them quickly or not. I’m pretty sure that
Tokina would fix it for me for free, under the warranty, no problem, but I wanted to
do a Teardown & Review of this lens anyway. So I did it myself. Okay so final test before
I put those rubbers and focusing window back in place. And it’s smooth and nice and that’s
exactly how it should be from the very beginning. I am going to keep this one. I like it now.
All Hi-Res pictures that you’ll see on FixYourCamera.Org website in the future – will be coming from
this exact lens. Also a very important thing here I don’t want you to get an overall impression
from watching this video, that every time something is squeaky or doesn’t work properly
within your camera lens – it’s the grease missing that’s causing this. In fact, I would
say, most of the time it’s not the case. One popular example here is ultrasonic motors
they don’t get squeaky overtime and there are ways of dealing with this problem. If
you apply a tiny amount of grease to it, even a thin film of grease from your finger, from
touching it – it can stop it from working completely. And those ultrasonic motors, especially
those larger ones, can set you back several hundred dollars easily. So please don’t do
it. Thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed it. More videos coming soon. See you next time!

100 Replies to “Is Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro lens worth it? TEARDOWN & Review”

  1. Exceptional video, 10/10. Several of us have this lens, so this video was truly interesting. Thank you and yes, I have subscribed.

  2. What type of grease you use? What do you think about graphite powder "dissolved" in alcohol? I tried it once and the result was great.
    Tell us about fixing squeaking ring motors!! 🙂

  3. That was great! I had never seen a lens torn down like that. Very interesting and informative! Looking forward to seeing more!!! Thank you for the insight! 8)

  4. I owned the Nikon 105mm f2.8 G VR macro and still own the Nikon the 105mm AF-D. Both lenses focus hunt in low light and I didn't see much improvement from the $900 VR lens. So I sold the VR version. Have you examined the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro which sells for $619 in the US? I'm wondering what your thoughts are.

  5. excellent video, very useful. Thank you! I have this lens and I really like it, very sturdy and sharper than any other macro i ever used, including Canon 100L.

  6. Would be very nice if you'd do a detailed video on how to clean a camera sensor. thanks. And, thank you for this video Mike.

  7. Fantastic video, thanks for posting this. I own this lens, it's not the highest build quality but it's optically better than my Nikon 105 micro. I look forward to more videos, keep up the great work.

  8. Impressive presentation !! got hooked from the first second !! Great audio , video , technique and information !!! Please keep this going !!!!

  9. Fantastic !!! i really like this video, and its nice to hear what he say's (opinion) as he's taking it to bits.. at last
    someone knows what there talking about when it comes to lenes…
    Thanks a lot buddy, great filming you did too..

  10. I started with your website,and thoroughly enjoyed your impressive articles! and now I'm enjoying your video.Thank You for this very informative channel! I even enjoy articles not related to my brand (Canon & Tokina).A Big thanks again!

  11. What is it that is bad, when an externally focusing lens rotates while moving in and out? Is there a technical reason?

  12. I've owned this lens for 2 months and all of a sudden auto focus stop working. Took it to a repair shop they say it may be the auto focus chip may need to be replaced. how can I find out if it's under warranty? I bought it from the pawn shop it was brand new in the box

  13. Thanks for the detailed video..
    Can you tell me what type of grease you used and if possible guide me where to buy it. I have Nikon 55mm f3.5 AIS with very stiff focusing ring and I want to clean the old one and then apply a new one, hopefully this will loosen the ring again…
    Thanks in advance.

  14. There are many youtube photography channels I visit on a regular basis, but you are the first I've decided to subscribe to, after watching just this one video. I've been taking things apart since childhood (toys, mechanical banks, etc.), pissing off my dad since about age 5. Eventually I learned how to put them back together and even fix things in the process, moving into deeper waters (cars, home appliances, musical keyboards, computers…), but hadn't ventured into DSLRs or lenses. Because of you that will change. Mad props.

  15. i just received my brand new tokina 100mm f2.8 macro.

    it had 3 issues

    1. oil mark on one of the aperture blades
    2. big dust particle inside the lens very visable
    3.glue residue on the rear of the lenshood

    could demand for this lens make them rush in the factory and make
    mistakes? i have now been advised i can return the lens for another new
    one hopefully no more issues like this

  16. Great video, your explanations are easy to understand and the quality of your presentation is excellent. Subscribed!

  17. Mike, I have a Nikon 55-300mm G and the lever on the rear mount doesn't open the aperture blades. It must have became detached from them somehow. Nikon wants $161.00 to fix it. Any suggestions on how to fix it or another trusted repair shop?

  18. Thank you so much for your video, your efforts! But really! This is PRICELESS that you cannot get from anywhere else!

    I was decided to buy this Tokina 100m f2.8 after days of searching for a macro for my new dslr, but after watching your video and reading one of the below comment I am definitely not going to buy this lens. Such QC issues are like in low end China factories.

  19. I got this lens for my Nikon D3200 and the auto focus isn't working at all. Do you know what I need to do to make it work?

  20. I just found this channel (for no purpose, really), and thought "Cool! This guy can definitely help me fix my future broken stuff!" And then you used a soldering gun and removed some component…and I laughed and laughed and laughed.

    Subscribed nonetheless (-:

  21. What an excellent video. Interesting, informative and extremely well filmed. Thanks. I look forward to watching more of your stuff.

  22. I have this lens, which I use on my Nikon D810. I have had nothing but outstanding results with it. I bought the lens based on the reviews of "The Angry Photographer" which gave it great review. The quality of the pictures are very good. The "sharpness" of the pics in RAW are "tack sharp". And yes, I saved a lot of money vs's the Nikon 105mm. When it comes to cost; you have be very carful vs's quality. Do your homework; because the lowest price is not always the best. But in this case go with the Tokina, and save $600.Its my "go to" lens for macro.

  23. @fixyourcameraORG great video! would this tear down apply to a tokina 16-50 mm lens. i am having a problem with the focus and zoom sticking because of something loose inside of the lens. it seems like the piece is jamming in the gear that i seen on the this video. please help.

    thanks in advance

  24. WOW! Just amazing video and boat loads of great info!
    BTW, whois a good source that I can order a main board for the 5D2 camera, and how can I know if its a oem board vs a copy? Thanks!

  25. Love this video Mike. I'd love to learn to repair lenses but I can't afford to fix the ones I use.

    Can you suggest any very cheap lenses that would be good to practice on. And a list of essential tools you'd recommend having?

    Keep up the quality videos!

  26. Im just about to get this lens, and your video made me question the purchase. I was wondering if you have encountered another tokina 100mm lens that seemed to have the same problem? Or was this a rare case? Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed how technical it was.

  27. hello! mine has fungus in the front element, can i remove the front assembly without unscrewing anything? thanks!

  28. thanx so much for making this channel 🙂 its helps me to know every weaknes of the lens, so i can use it properly and its also helping me to decide to buy these lenses or not (and for this case, yes i will take this 100mm tokina lenses 🙂

  29. I bought this lens based on the Angry Photographer recommendation.
    And by the way, I don't agree with all his reviews but I will say he was spot on with this lens.

    It is TACK sharp and for your ££ it's money well spent. Used it on my D90 and was excellent but it came to life on my D750, the results I get with Portrait and Macro are really outstanding.

    Solid and heavy , not the fastest at focus but worth the extra wait ! 🙂

  30. My Tokina 100mm lost autofocus today. Out of the blue. Any ideas what might went wrong? I know about the af/mf lock, it is not it. Then after 10 trial today, I got it working again for another 10 seconds, and then again it died. Almost like it has connection issues.

  31. Dear Sir hello, I am using a Tokina 100 for the first time. Put it on my new D500, both lens and camera on autamic and button on limit. ISO on automatic and P program. It is low light but in the view finder the F EE is flashing? Can you please advise me. Thank you very much.

  32. Yes I agree, Exceptional video, 10/10. I will have this lens, soon so the video was very interesting, I hope mine is ok when it arrives. Thank you and subscribed also.

  33. Unfortunately for me, they do not make this lens in Pentax mount. Having seen you excellent video only now, and one were available, I would spring for this lens. Thanks for the great video. Just saw two more. Excellent videos!


  34. Fantastic video work and detailed discussions regarding all your "Fixyourcamera" videos Mike.  I have just purchased a Tokina AT-X AF 80-200mm lens and it has fungus and dust down deep in the lens elements.  I would like to know how I could remove the parts, to get down to clean these components.  Cheers Wally.

  35. Awesome video! So informative!
    Can you please make a teardown for the Canon 100mm Macro USM? That would be so great. No information available on this lens of mine so far.

  36. How are focusing issues corrected with this lens ? I have one on my D750. The fine tune is maxed out at plus 20 but it is still not right. Is it a shimming correction possibly ?

  37. Probably the best lens I have ever owned. Built to last a lifetime – awesome build and optics…! Just buy one…!!!

  38. Fantastic video, great narration and I'm a tad envy of your skills, it seems to be a very rewarding vocation. Keep up the great work, it's fascinating to see the working internals of camera equipment.

  39. This video is a real gem! I really hope you keep doing this kind of thing. I'd be really interested to see what's inside the main manufacturer kit lenses

  40. I was looking for a review on this lens and found your channel. WOW! You are awesome. You have one new subscriber, just because I love unassembling things, I just don't have the skills to put them back together hehe. With that being said, know I won't be doing this to any of my lenses anytime soon. I will be checking out your other videos later.

  41. It's been a while since this video came out so you probably found it, but the cheap video microscope that would work for you is dinolite.

  42. great video.  I am confused about the next lens purchase for my canon 6D,  between this Tokina and Canon's overpriced 100mm f/2.8 IS L Macro, want your suggestion, or if you have any other lens in mind. Don't like Sigma at all, since i follow Ken Wheeler's philosophy. Also don't like the Tamron 90.   Canon has 15 elements (too many), while Tokina has only 9 which is ideal for 3D depth in images.  Thanks

  43. I just ordered one yesterday. From what I have been hearing it's quite a value compared to other Macro lenses. People are very impressed with image quality. Great video thanks.

  44. Great review, came here from angry. Cemented what I found, buying this Monday. Was going to get the 105 VR, but only need it for small details, what bothered me was construction but you explained workings, now I understand what I got off angrys page, then Darren mills, then yours. You saved me money subbed. Checked amazon reviews, then off to eBay 😉 cheers.

  45. I go some problem with the af swicth, i open the lens and fix it, but now i dont get near a infinity posicion, i dont understand why..

  46. What are those white gel and the blue gel that you use to lubricate the barrel and the screw? Thank you very much in advance.

  47. thanks for the teardown – mine with canon-mount shows "Err 1" in some situations. I think, its the positionencoder, because it happens only in a small focus-range. I hope, i can fix it myself. If not, i will buy a new one. Its now ~9 years old and served me well.

  48. Spectacular video, narration, image quality, and explanation, you are a master of reviewing and analyzing lenses, you got my like, subscription and admiration. Go on uploading videos. You are the best.

  49. So I have the Canon version of this lens and when in manual, turning the ring moves the lens, but the motor is also still engaged.
    In auto mode the motor freespins and doesn't move the lens. Uuuufggghhhhh!!

  50. I love this lens. It is sharp and easy to work with, in manual mode.

    Great video. Detailed, technical, flowing. Thank you very much. Subscribed.

  51. wow!!!!! gotta love engineers!!!! That is why we get paid bcp $$$$$! Amazing vids! Loving my Tokina 100mm on d750! Happy hunting!!!!

  52. Great videos. Sorry to see you're not creating them anymore. Really makes me appreciate the high prices on DSLR"s. I just bought this lens. Fantastically sharp.

  53. About the microscope i use a webcam removed from old laptop. It is not quite light sensitive, but works ok and give me good DOF. Nice video! 🙂

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