The £5 Cheap Lens Challenge – Part 3

In my vintage lens adventures, I’ve rarely come across any that were truly awful. Indeed many have initially been underdogs on paper, but have then surprised me in use.

So I decided to set myself a challenge that encompassed the two aspects of my 35hunter approach – finding a lens that met certain criteria, then finding some tiny pockets of beauty to photograph with it.

Being something of a cheapskate, I decided to set my spending limit to just £5. Could I find a usable lens for £5 or less, and get some decent results with it?

Read part 1, with the MC Sun Zoom 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro here.

Read part 2 which featured the Paragon 300mm f/5.6, in M42 mount here.

Part 3 then today, highlights a Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom in Pentax KA mount. 


I previously had a similar Tokina on a Minolta, although that was Autofocus and physically quite different.

Nevertheless, its performance really impressed me, so I was going (back) into the world of Tokina completely blind.

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

I came across this lens on the auction site with a starting price of £5, watching until the dying seconds then putting in a bid, which it turns out was the only one.

£5 plus a few pounds postage puts it neatly in the running for this cheap lens series.

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

So the Tokina is a zoom (not my favourite kind of lens), with a very useful focal range of 28-70mm and reasonably fast at f/3.5. Minimum focus is 0.7m, which is not so great but at the 70mm end this actually gets you pretty close.

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

Plus it has a “macro” range, enabled by turning the zoom barrel beyond 70mm.

Whilst you can focus much closer, the actual focal length seems to revert to about 50mm, rather than just making the 70mm end closer focusing like some other lenses I’ve used.

Either way it’s a pretty useful addition, and 50mm is a field of view I’m well used to on film and digital APS-C cameras.

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

The lens is also KA mount, meaning it has a manual aperture ring, but also an A (Auto) setting, so with compatible cameras you can set the aperture to A and control it via the camera, not the lens.

On my two Pentax K DSLRs this makes it very easy to use on Aperture Priority (Av) mode, and of course you have open aperture metering too.

There’s not a lot else to say about the Tokina SD 28-70mm.

It handles well enough, but the zoom or focus rings inevitably aren’t as smooth as a Pentax-M or Takumar.

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

It’s fairly compact and light for a mostly metal and glass lens, and balances well on the Samsung GX-1S, which is what I’ve mostly used it on so far.

Optically, the Tokina has been the best of the three in this cheap lens series so far.

On the GX-1S with its 6MP CCD sensor, the colours are pretty vibrant and smile inducing.

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

I’ll let the photographs here say the rest. 

For £5 the Tokina is a steal, and you could argue that with its 28-70mm focal range covering classic wide, normal and portrait perspectives, it could be the only lens many photographers would need.

Which makes it an astonishing bargain.  

Samsung GX-1S, Tokina SD 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens

What have been your most satisfying results with cameras and/or lenses you’ve only spent peanuts on? How do you feel using cheap kit compared with far more expensive?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.


4 thoughts on “The £5 Cheap Lens Challenge – Part 3”

    1. Jim, I would say this is more down to the camera than lens, though the Tokina is very capable.

      This 6MP Samsung GX-1S and its big brother the 10MP Pentax K10D with their (Sony) CCD sensors have hugely impressed me all round, not least of all with how they capture reds and yellows.

      Both colours have been tricky with other cameras in the past, nearly always ending up overblown and too saturated. The CCDs seem to take them in their stride though. They’re even better with Takumars!

      Not that I’m trying to sway you a step closer to a K10D of course… : )

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