Tokina AT-X 14–20mm f/2 PRO DX: Wide & Ever So Fast

 
Tokina AT-X 14–20mm f/2 PRO DX

Tokina AT-X 14–20mm f/2 PRO DX

Tokina continues to expand its wide-angle range with the new AT-X 14–20mm f/2 PRO DX, which also happens to be their fastest aperture lens. Natasha Desai puts it on the test bench.

For a lot of APS-C sensor camera users, Tokina’s ultrawide lenses have become the preferred choice, largely because their lineup presents options that are not available in proprietary lens lineups. The 11–16mm f/2.8 DX was one such lens, as was its update, the more recent 11–20mm f/2.8 DX, and now—the new 14–20mm f/2 DX (which makes its field of view similar to a 21–30mm lens). Of course, one would wonder why the company would introduce two similar lenses within the span of a year, but the new lens is the first ever wide-angle for APS-C bodies that goes down to 21mm and is as fast as f/2.

The one-stop difference means that depth control is a better now, even while shooting at the wide end. An f/2 lens on DX gives approximately a similar depth of fi eld to what an f/2.8 lens would give, on full frame. So while you lose 3mm in focal length, there is a significant advantage to be made.

Features

What is nice is that despite the aperture increase, the dimensions have increased only minimally. The lens is about 165g heavier and about 14mm longer than its predecessor. Crucially, it has stayed at an 82mm filter thread, which means that anyone looking to upgrade from the 11–20mm does not have to worry about expensive filters going to waste.

Of course, if you are still on the older 11–16mm, you will need to invest in new filters. The 14–20mm comes with 13 elements in 11 groups and offers a new optical design where it uses three aspherical lens elements, with the P-MO hybrid aspherical lens in the front for better contrast and sharpness, and to control aberrations. There is an additional Super-low Dispersion lens is the front glass element, which was not present in the 11–20mm, making it a total of four SD elements to control chromatic aberration.

The lens shows excellent control over fringing, and does not distort the elements that are there in the corners. 1/640sec at f/7.1 (ISO 200). Photograph/Natasha Desai

The lens shows excellent control over fringing, and does not distort the elements that are there in the corners. 1/640sec at f/7.1 (ISO 200). Photograph/Natasha Desai

Handling

Despite its fast maximum aperture, the 725g weight of the lens is quite manageable, and balances very well on the Nikon D7200 that we tested the lens with. That’s the real-world advantage of having dedicated cropped-sensor lenses, instead of merely using an FX lens on a DX body. As always, we were a big fan of the AF to MF one-touch clutch mechanism that is characteristic to Tokina. It allows you to go from AF to manual focus, without handling a switch. For a wide-angle lens where you’d often wish to focus manually to make use of prefocusing at hyperfocal distances, the clutch mechanism is extremely intuitive.

Performance

Any lens that allows you to produce a look that is different from others, is always a joy to use. The Tokina adds to that by being quite sharp, wide open, in the centre. Corner sharpness starts improving when you stop down, and is excellent by the time you reach f/5.6. AF is fast and accurate. It is not completely silent, which may be problematic for video use, if you aren’t recording audio separately. There is some barrel distortion, but it is minimal, consistent and easily correctable. The multi-layer coating which is designed to control flare does a good job largely, except at the wide end, when one tends to see some flare. The bokeh produced is excellent, making the lens great for environmental portraits, weddings and events.

Conclusion

The Tokina 14–20mm f/2 DX is unique. It is built well and serves well for a wide variety of genres. Its price of Rs. 72,000 may seem steep, considering that the 11–20mm f/2.8 was introduced at Rs. 48,000. But that’s the price you pay for the extra stop that you gain. A landscape photographer may not value this as much, but a portraitist or a low-light shooter would… almost like making a switch to full frame, come to think of it. It is heartening that third-party companies are stepping up the APS-C game, with Sigma’s f/1.8 zooms and now this f/2 wide-angle.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
f/2, SD glass elements, AF to MF one-touch
18/20
Performance
Sharp images, fast AF
32/35
Build Quality
Sturdy body, not weathersealed
23/25
Ergonomics
No jutting during focussing and zooming
13/15
Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, limited service in India
3/5
MRP Rs. 72,000
OVERALL 89%
VALUE FOR MONEY 3.5/5
Who should buy it? Street, wedding, landscapes photography enthusiasts.
Why? Great build quality, good performance with minimal
distortion for a wide-angle lens.
Tags: Camera Lens, Lens, Lens Price, May 2016, natasha desai, Review, Tokina, Tokina AT-X 14–20mm f/2 PRO DX