Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX: Fast, Sharp and Zoomy

Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX

Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX

With the new 11-20mm f/2.8, Tokina has taken their one-of-a-kind lens and made it even better. Aditya Nair takes it out for a spin.

Historically, or at least since digital photography became mainstream, Tokina’s ultrawide angle zoom lens have been known for being very good alternatives for APS-C users. Tokina is also the only manufacturer making such f/2.8 lenses for APS-C users.

What started with the Tokina 12–24mm f/4 branched out to become faster, sharper and wider ending with the excellent Tokina 11–16mm f/2.8. Now, it’s successor, the 11–20mm f/2.8 (16–35mm equivalent), has also gotten zoomier.

This lens is a christmas miracle. I am not just saying that because it was announced on Christmas eve last year, but because they managed to add the extra 4mm zoom without affecting overall dimensions of the lens by much. It remains just slightly larger than the predecessor and about 10g heavier. However, the filter thread has now gone from 77mm to 82mm which will mean that you will have to purchase more expensive filters for your lens.

Focusing with this lens happens internally, so the front element never juts out. The AF is fast and quite accurate. It didn’t have to hunt much in lowlight conditions either. Additionally, the lens uses a 9-blade aperture ring for better bokeh and has a magnification of 1:862.

The AF isn’t quite as silent as one would hope for video. So, if that is a major factor Canon users may want to consider the Canon EF-S 10–18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM. However, this would come at the cost of speed and sharpness.

Despite being lightweight and compact, the 11-20mm is an extremely sturdy lens. This is a lens that can take a hit.

I quite like the one-touch focus clutch mechanism of Tokina lenses to switch between MF and AF. By pulling the focusing ring towards the camera, you can manually focus. No switch is required.

If you are using the popup flash, the shadow of the lens shows up in the image at the widest focal lengths. However, this is a common problem with such lenses.

The center sharpness of this lens is incredibly good. Even at f/2.8 it remains sharp through most of the frame. The sharpness does reduce in the extreme corners till f/5.6.

The distortion is very well controlled for a lens of this nature. While a slight distortion can be seen it is easily correctable. Flare is also very well controlled even when shooting fully wide open. Slight fringing is visible, especially towards the corners and the edges. However, this can also be corrected easily.To achieve this kind of quality the lens uses a P-MO hybrid aspherical element in the front group and two glass-molded aspherical elements in the rear group. This helps minimize distortions and correct aberrations.

The fast AF of this lens allowed me to make this picture of Pushpdeep, one of the Frame the Star participants in Jaipur, as the CLA drove past him. Exposure: 1/20sec at f/2.8, (ISO 5000). Photograph/Aditya Nair

The fast AF of this lens allowed me to make this picture of Pushpdeep, one of the Frame the Star participants in Jaipur, as the CLA drove past him. Exposure: 1/20sec at f/2.8, (ISO 5000). Photograph/Aditya Nair

Additionally, it also uses three SD (superlow Dispersion, FK01 and FK03) glass elements within the lens design to further reduce chromatic aberrations. They also improve the color accuracy and clarity of images made using the Tokina 11–20mm f/2.8. A multi-layer lens coating has also aids in suppressing lens flare and ghosting.

Most of my time with this lens was spent roaming around Jaipur, photographing behind the scenes, cars, architecture and interiors. At Rs. 48,000, this was the perfect lens for the job.

As far as lens for APS-C users go, this is my favourite focal length, and the Tokina is the best available lens to do it justice. I would recommend it to everyone, whether they are shooting weddings, landscapes, travel, street. Simply put, go get one. Listen to Nike, just do it.

Fast AF, one-touch focus clutch mechanism, lacks silent motor and IS
Almost no distortion, some fringing
Build Quality
Extremely sturdy
Well balanced, not much bigger than its predecessor, has a DoF scale
Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, limited service centres        
MRP Rs. 48,000
Who should buy it? Anyone looking for a fast ultrawide angle lens add to their kit
Why? The Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 is fast, optically superior with virtual no distortion while being compact and is quite reasonably priced.


Tags: Aditya Nair, August 2015, Tokina lens, Tokina 11-20 f/2.8