Tokina AT-X PRO SD 16-28mm f/2.8 (IF) FX: Full Frame Festivities
Raj Lalwani gets hands-on with the recently unveiled professional, fullframe, ultrawide Tokina AT-X PRO SD 16–28mm f/2.8 (IF) FX, a lens that creates a new price point for this category.
Canon and Nikon full frame camera owners can now rejoice. Tokina has finally released their first pro-level fast ultrawide lens, and in the process, the company has created a new price point for lenses of this nature. The AT-X 16–28f/2.8 PRO FX lens has been in the making for a long time now. While rumours about the lens had been floating for a long time, the first prototype of the lens was shown at the beginning of the year during the Photo Marketing Association trade show. The lens finally started shipping a couple of months ago, and we recently got our hands on the Canon-mount version for a full-fledged test.
The last two years have seen Tokina announcing some excellent wide-angle lenses, but none of these lenses have been compatible with full frame cameras. The 16–28mm f/2.8 is the company’s first wideangle lens for full frame users, and packs in a number of features in its hefty body. A fast constant aperture of f/2.8 makes the 16–28mm lens a great option for streetand event photographers who need to shoot in varying levels of light. 16mm on a full frame camera can be very wide indeed, and to get shallow DOF at such a wide focal length is a characteristic that only a few lenses can manage. Fast ultrawide lenses are often prone to aberrations like fringing and flaring, especially at wider apertures. To minimise these problems, the lens uses a rather exotic optical construction. It has a large sized aspherical element within the front lens group, with two more aspherical elements in the rear group. Besides these,three Super-low Dispersion glass elements have also been included.
The Tokina 16–28mm f/2.8 lens is oneof the few Tokina lenses that boast of the company’s PRO designation, and this ensures a fine, robust quality that not only inspires confidence, but also looks like it can take a little bit of a beating. When we first received the lens, the festival of Diwali was about to begin. So, we used the wide-angle capabilities of this lens to shoot street decorations, shops selling firecrackers, and rows of lanterns. These markets can be really crowded, especially in the evenings, but the superb build quality of the lens protected it, despite the fact that it suffered quite a few knocks while shooting. Interestingly, the lens has a lens hood that is not detachable—this has its own pros and cons. This helps protect the large,bulging front element of this wide-angle lens at all times. The flipside with a lens that has an attached hood, is that if the hood ever gets damaged, you will need to send the entire lens for repairs, rather than simply buying a new lens hood. Last month, just a day after Diwali, Mumbai received non-seasonal rains that took us all by surprise. However, while most others kept their cameras away, we kept on shooting with the Tokina lens. The lens boasts of superb weather sealing, and though the lens did get quite wet while shooting, it continued to function perfectly.
The elaborate optical construction of the 16–28mm lens has surely paid off. We used the lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and the image quality was superb. At f/2.8, the corners of the image are rather soft, but the centre of the image is sharp, which allows you to use the lens for most practical purposes. The quality towards the corners improves rapidly once you stop down the aperture. At f/6.3, the images are tack sharp. The lens also shows excellent control over fringing and flare, even while shooting against the light at the widest end of the zoom. There is quite a bit of vignetting at the widest aperture, but this too, improves at apertures like f/4.
There is no doubt that Tokina’s latest is a winner on most counts. It boasts of a fast aperture, excellent optics and a robust, pro build. Its pricing of Rs. 59,000 is what caught our attention most. Canon users may not be tempted to buy this lens as the 16–35mm L-series lens is only slightly more expensive, but the quality of the Tokina lens is surely comparable. For Nikon users, this Tokina lens offers a far more affordable alternative as compared to similar Nikkor lenses. The quality, too, is good enough to do justice to high-resolution cameras like the D3X. It will be interesting to see whether the other manufacturers reduce their prices to respond to this lens, but there is no doubt that the Tokina 16–28mm f/2.8 will gain a huge fan base in the next few months.
Fast aperture, full frame compatibility
Excellent optics throughout the focal range
Excellent pro-quality construction
No ability to override AF, balances well
Warranty & Support
Two year warranty
Value for Money: 3.5/5 Stars
Tags: Raj Lalwani, December 2010, Tokina AT-X PRO SD 16-28mm f/2.8 (IF) FX, Tokina, Wide-angle lens