The Mighty Rexatar
A review of the Rexatar 36-100mm f3.5 Lens
Just to save time, this is a terrible lens.
Let’s start at the begining
I found this lens at a local thrift store. I saw it in the glass case and I did a quick Googling and I only this only showed up on eBay. The few lenses I saw were running about $20 and none of them were a Nikon AI mount. I typically avoid vintage zoom lenses, but it was only $5. I got it in my hands and this thing is quite weighty for its size. This is a two-touch lens. One ring for focus and one ring for zoom as opposed to pushing and pulling for zoom. I absolutely hate push-pull zoom lenses. There is a constant aperture of 3.5, which is generally appealing to me.
When mounted to a Nikon FM2n
It doesn’t feel great. It feels off-balance. However, it actually feels better when mounted to a my N70 (don’t judge). The N70 has a better grip so it counters the awkwardness of the lens.
The focus is very tight and smooth. The zoom ring is a lighter, but smooth and there’s a long throw. Focusing at 36mm is damn near impossible. The split prism needs to focus on a high contrast area to get a good view. This issue went away once I zoomed to 50mm and further. While focusing, the image size changes which is a little distracting to me. Generally, it doesn’t bother me if the front element spins while focusing, this one does. I don’t use a polarizing filter too often though. Which also brings me to the reason I wouldn’t recommend using a polarizing or a color correction filter on this lens. This lens is very slow. I know f3.5 is not that bad, but it doesn’t transmit that much light. When I loaded ISO 100 film into my camera it was drastically noticeable.
How are the images?
Not very good. This has to be one of the worst performers I have ever seen. Don’t shoot wide open. The corners fall apart. Especially if you accidentally focus past infinity (there’s a little breathing room on this lens). The image quality get dramatically better at f5.6 and even better at f8 and as you zoom to 60mm. Shooting at f3.5 at the 100mm the image quality wasn’t very good.
I can say, the color and contrast were pretty decent. That surprised me, in a good way of course. There didn’t seem to be a lot of flair, even while shooting right into the sun. That said, if you could get bokeh, it’s not very nice.
I cannot confirm this, I suspect this lens was made by Tokina. I say that, because I had a Vivitar push on cap that perfectly fit to the front of the lens. This cap came from a Tokina made Vivitar 28mm f2.8 lens. Tokina has made some very nice glass for a long time, this isn’t one of them.
I have never had good luck with zoom lenses in this general focal range made by third-party manufacturers from this era. In fact, a lot of first party zooms were not that great either. I’m not surprised that this lens is also terrible. I still believe that you can make a nice picture with any lens’, as long as you work within its limitations. You can also use weaknesses as a way to create an effect you are looking for.
With that, if you see this lens and you are thinking about buying it, don’t. I can’t recommend this lens in good conscience.
I shot a roll of Kodak T-Max 100, developed in D76 1:1 with a Nikon FM2n and mounted to a crop sensor Fujifilm X-E1 with an adapter.