Tokina SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF Lens Review

All photos of this review were captured by Christophe Anagnostopoulos.
Graphs and Charts were provided from Tokina Global (
July 31, 2023 -> Full Review was published.

***Reading Time: 31 minutes***


Back in August 2020, I reviewed the first product of the Tokina SZ Series, the 400mm Reflex* lens (you can read my detailed review link), a prime telephoto lens with a high focal length, coming not only in an affordable price, but also designed in a compact form that it could easily fit in any camera bag.
The SZ line was further expanded first with another prime, the Tokina SZ Super Tele 500mm F8 Reflex MF (you can read my detailed review link), and lately with three (3) brand new lenses in the SZ PRO Line.

In this review I will share my thoughts on using the most interesting (for me) lens of the three: the SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF.

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Image Samples with Tokina SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF Lens


Reflex Lens?

Reflex lenses, also known as Mirror or Catadioptric, were produced back in the glory days of analog photography and they were quite popular due to their affordable price and compact design.
But, despite their popularity, they were also accompanied with some issues, the most important ones were: A) the fixed small aperture (usually F5.6 or F8) which translated in difficulties in poor lighting conditions and a film of medium to high sensitivity, and B) the relatively soft produced image (more on that later).

After all their simple optical construction was based on the Schmidt–Cassegrain design, a 200 years old optical system that was primarily used for some of the very first telescopes of the 18th century.

How a Reflex/Mirror Lens Works?

Incoming light is reflected by the main mirror, which is usually located at the back of the lens, towards a secondary smaller mirror at the front, which then reflects back the light towards the camera sensor via a correction optical element.

This simple optical design, along with the absence of glass elements provide the significant advantage of virtually no produced chromatic aberrations, low overall weight and size of the lens.

But simplicity unfortunately comes with a “price”, the central area of the optical path must be blocked in order to accommodate the secondary mirror, which unfortunately produces a strange ring effect (a.k.a “doughnut”) in the out of focus highlights.

Also, there is no mechanism for automatic focusing, and lastly but most importantly, the aperture is fixed, usually at F/8 which required from the photographer to compensate for the light loss with slower shutter speeds which by their turn required more stability (tripod) so the advantage of portability was indirectly lost.

Build Quality & Design

The Tokina SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF lens has a simple modern exterior design following all the Tokina guidelines and standards.

The lens features a high quality metallic housing with a subtle matte black finish, and it is made in Japan with high quality standards.
The build quality is very good and despite its small size, the lens feels very solid in hands.
None the less, I would be careful to avoid any light accidental hits just in case, as of course I always do with every lens (and camera gear in general).

Unfortunately the construction of the lens does not provide weather sealing, but I guess in case it rains, the lens can be easily fitted in your pocket for protection.


The lens is marketed with the following text: “Smaller Than a Cup of Coffee”.
Well, I can definitely agree to that!
For sure its smaller than a regular cola can!

The lens is so small (for a 300mm focal length) and lightweight that you simply can forget it on your camera bag!

The lens has a weight of 235gr (without caps and lens hood attached) and a size of 61×74.5mm, and it sits perfectly on any Fujifilm camera model that you may have.

Check comparison size with Tokina atx-m 23mm F1.4X and Fujinon 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens.

Tokina SZ 300mm on a Fujifilm X-H2s – Slik VariCF tripod


The mount of the lens is made of metal, and unfortunately it doesn’t have any dust protective rubber ring to prevent dust penetration, a very common problem to all mirrorless cameras, but due to catadioptric construction its not so easy to get dust inside the lens.

However, keep in mind that in case any dust sits into the front or rear elements, it will be captured as a doughnut/ring-like dot on the photos (check image below). Keeping the lens front and rear parts clean is highly advised (as also the camera sensor, but you already know that😉).

Of course, as this is a Manual Focus lens, in the mount there aren’t any electronic contacts to provide full communication with the camera body, so all camera features like Autofocus, Electronic Aperture Change, EXIF Data and In-Camera Corrections will not work or applied.
Thankfully, the very useful due to the high focal length In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) will work, in case the selected camera model has this feature.

Lastly, the lens serial number can be found on the bottom of the lens, and it is also not engraved.

Focus Ring

The focus ring has a very good size, covering around 75% of the overall lens barrel.
It has a very good solid grip και it feels very smooth when focusing, offering a relatively good level of resistance to the user.
Personally, I would like the focusing ring to be a little stiffer, as many times if I accidentally slightly touched the lens barrel and I had to re-focus even though I have acquired the right focusing point before.

A distance scale can be found on the bottom side, covering a wide range of distances, from the minimum focusing distance of 0.92m to infinity.

A small note, the lens slightly extrudes itself when focusing close to minimum focusing distance, as also rotates.

Lens Hood

The included MH-461 lens hood is made of metal and it has a black matte finish, and compared to the lens overall size it is rather big, almost doubling the size of the lens when attached.

The lens hood can prevent unwanted artifacts from incoming light, and also it can protect the front of the lens from unwanted hits or scratches.


The filter thread in the front takes regular screw-on filters of 46mm size.
Please note that the front part of the lens doesn’t stay stable as the focusing ring is rotated, which means in case you use a CPL filter, you have to re-adjust the polarizing effect.
One thing that I don’t like with the design is that the lens hood is attached directly to the filter thread, so if you use a CPL* is rather impossible to use a lens hood.
*A Circular Polarizer (CPL) filter is possibly a must-have-and-use filter in order to increase overall image contrast (in general the catadioptric design produces low image contrast) and colors.

One the other hand, if you plan to leave the lens hood attached permanently, it is ideal to use a UV or Protector filter that will keep the lens front element clean from any dust.

*Testing Notes*

A Fujifilm X-H2s was used for the samples and tests of this review.

For BTS stills, a Sony A7Rii with Tokina atx-m 23mm F1.4 E and FiRIN 20mm F2 AF lenses were used.

Other Tools used:
i) Nitecore BlowerBaby – for cleaning the camera sensor and the lens before tests,
ii) Slik VariCF-704 Tripod – for stable outdoor shots,
iii) Slik PBH-45LP Ballhead – for accurate and stable movements while on tripod,
iv) Kenko PRO1D+ Instant Action Close-Up Filters – for backstage shots,
v) Tokina SZ Super Tele Finder Lens – for better aiming fast-moving targets (birds, etc).


I’m a Global Ambassador of Tokina since 2017, however this is not a paid post, and I’m only expressing my personal thoughts and experiences using the Tokina SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF lens.

Optical Design

The Tokina SZ 500mm F8 Reflex lens features an optical design of eight (8) elements in eight (8) groups with multi-layer anti-reflection coatings, and as mentioned before, due to the catadioptric optical design, chromatic aberrations are absent.

Technical Specifications

  1. Brand: Tokina
  2. Model: SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF
  3. Mount Type: Canon EF-M, Fujifilm X and Sony E
  4. Compatible Format(s): APS-C
  5. Focal Length: 300mm (equivalent in FX: 450mm)
  6. Maximum Aperture: f/7.1
  7. Minimum Aperture: f/7.1
  8. Angle of View (FX-format): 5.4°  (Fuji X and Sony E)
    5.1° (Canon EF-M)
  9. Elements: 8
  10. Groups: 8
  11. Filter Size: 46mm
  12. Image Stabilization : N/A
  13. Autofocus: N/A
  14. Focus Mode: Manual Focus Only
  15. Macro ratio: 1:2.5
  16. Minimum Focus Distance: 0.92m
  17. Overall Length: 74.5mm
  18. Diameter: 61mm
  19. Weight (Approx.): 235 g
  20. Hood: Round Bayonet type MH-461 (included)
  21. Country of Origin: Japan

Minimum Focusing Distance

The minimum focusing distance of this lens is 0.92m and along with the tight field of view of 5.4°, gives a magnification 1:2.5 meaning that this lens can be used as a “macro” lens as well, helping the photographer to avoid shadows while shooting close up images.

Optical Performance


The catadioptric optical design in general produces medium overall contrast and relatively lower image sharpness compared to a normal optical design lens.
Based on my tests with the Tokina SZ SUPER TELE 500mm F8 Reflex MF lens, I can say that image sharpness is indeed lower from today’s standards, but for sure 100% usable, especially if you only plan to post the produced photos on social media.

Tripod Test

1/640s – ISO 1000 – Tripod (No sharpening)

100% Crop

Handheld Test

1/500s – ISO 160 – Handheld – IBIS On (No sharpening)

100% Crop

Another factor that plays a big role in the overall image sharpness is atmospheric haze.

As the lens has a high focal length number, the equivalent on Full Frame being 450mm (for my Fuji X-H2s), if the atmosphere is not clear (i.e. from humidity), the overall image sharpness will be lower due haze.

1/500s – ISO 400 – Handheld (onboard a ferry) – IBIS On

I would suggest that to get the best possible results, the In-Camera Image Stabilization (IBIS) should be “ON”, in order to minimize the chances of camera shake.
To conclude, it is relatively easy to achieve good to very good results during daytime and handheld.

A seagull flying back to land


Reflex lenses are notorious for the Ring-like/Doughnut bokeh effect, which you will either like or dislike.
From my knowledge, for some people is totally distracting, while for others is something new and creative that can experiment with.

So, it’s up to you to decide if you like or not.
Other than that, the transition between in-focus and out of focus regions is very mild, easily creating a separation between your subject and the background.

Chromatic Aberration

As mentioned before, due to the catadioptric design chromatic aberrations are virtually not existent, thus meaning that you don’t have to worry about them.

Flaring & Ghosting

Thanks to Tokina’s Multi Coatings, any flaring issues are kept to a very good level with the SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF lens, especially when the lens hood is attached, as in my tests there weren’t any visible flare issues.

However, keep in mind that on some occasions, and depending on the incoming light angle, some ghosting issues might occur, but it in most cases is rather subtle (check image below):


Color Rendering

As color rendering is bound to contrast, and since the lens contrast levels are at best close to medium due to its catadioptric design, it will definitely require a contrast and vibrance boost in post processing in order to get the proper colors. But that also depends on the light conditions and the exposure settings that will be used.
In overall, in almost all my shots for this review I had to increase the Vibrance slider by +20, as also the Contrast slider.


From my tests I couldn’t see any visible sign of vignetting, even when shooting directly towards the sky.


Based on the results of my tests with the Tokina SZ 300mmPRO Reflex F7.1 MF CF lens, there is no visible distortion in the produced images.

Personal Thoughts

So far, through this section in all my reviews, I’m always sharing my sincere thoughts about the product in review and I will continue to do so not only in this particular one, but in every review that I hope to write in the future.

This lens might have its issues, mainly about the overall lack of contrast and reduced sharpness, but all these are directly forgotten when I think that I can carry a 450mm lens on my camera bag permanently without hurting my back.

Yes, this lens is not sharp by todays standards and of course it does not have an autofocus system to work with, but if it had: first it wouldn’t cost 399$ and secondly and most importantly, it wouldn’t be so small! It has some small issues, but it can also produce good images when used properly.
And hey, lets be honest, with that size you can take some “not-planned” tele shots no matter where you are!

Let’s say for example, that you are visiting another city or country. You can easily take this lens along, without having an issue at your carry-on bag (either in weight or in overall size), and you can still capture that great tower/building/monument that is far away.

As you can see from the above example, my goal was to capture the far-away small church which is located in an isolated rock in the middle of the sea, while at the moment capture as “different layers” not only the island that I was at, but the in-between uninhabited islands as well.
Oh, and all of that handheld.

I can definitely recommend this lens to travel photographers who don’t want to carry a lot of gear with them on their trips (or simply they cannot due to carry-on regulations), keeping their bag as light as possible.
Also, I can recommend it to entry level wildlife photographers who want to test this type of photography first without breaking the bank, creating some good tele pictures.
I’m not sure I could recommend it to professional wildlife photographers due to the lack of AF and of course the overall low contrast and sharpness.
And the same applies for sport photographers as well.
But hey, with such a low retail price (for its focal length) and with that amazing small size, it cannot compare to the giant AF telephoto lenses on any camera brand.
For sure though I could recommend it to amateur wildlife & sport photographer, or to those that are now starting this type of photography.
And now that I’m thinking it over, maybe it could be a good idea to test this lens on street photography! But I have to wait to get back to the city after the summer season (currently on Antiparos island..).

An ATR-72-400 airplane is taking off from the nearby island of Paros (shot taken from Antiparos island)


A very affordable option in the medium-long (450mm) telephoto range, coming in a super small form that you can always carry it on your camera bag. It is ideal for casual travel photography and landscapes, and if the lighting conditions are optimal, you can easily create some stunning shots.

A surfer in search of a new wave, moments before sunset.


Build Quality:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Handling:7.8 out of 10 stars (7.8 / 10)
Size and Weight:9.6 out of 10 stars (9.6 / 10)
Optical Performance:7.1 out of 10 stars (7.1 / 10)
Manual Focus Accuracy:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)
Bokeh:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)
Features:5.1 out of 10 stars (5.1 / 10)
Versatility:7.9 out of 10 stars (7.9 / 10)
Price Tag:8.7 out of 10 stars (8.7 / 10)
Average:7.6 out of 10 stars (7.6 / 10)

Did You Know?

Tokina SZ and SZ Pro Lineups offers a wide range of high focal length telephoto primes, from 300mm to 900mm?
Find out more here! 

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