Tokina AF 16-50mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX (Nikon) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Page 1 of 3
Lens kindly provided by Karsten Scheidel!
The Tokina AF 16-50mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX has been announced at the PMA ... not 2007 but
2006. Ever since then it was and still is a phantom lens for users in many countries. At the
time of this review the Tokina is available in some parts of Asia and there are the
first few sightings in the USA just right now.
So what is so special about this lens ? Well, obviously it offers a little extra kick at the
wide end of the zoom range. The dedicated APS-C lens has a field-of-view equivalent to 24-75mm
(full format) so many (Nikon-)users may survive without an additional ultra-wide lens. Another
potential advantage is promised by the AT-X Pro (Advanced Technology - Extra Professional)
portion in the name - these lenses are part of Tokina's pro grade lens lineup which is renowned
for superb build quality. A lesser known aspect is the design background of the lens. It has been
co-developed with Pentax where we'll seen a slightly different incarnation later this year
(Pentax SMC DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 AL ED [IF] SDM). The Pentax-Tokina relationship is not a new one
actually - e.g. the Tokina AF 12-24mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX and Tokina AF 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX,
both highly regarded lenses, have the same origins so what we have here is a third-party lens
with a little spice and glory from a genuine manufacturer. As of time of this review the pricing
is still a bit fuzzy but it seems to head towards a street price around 600€/US$ which is
quite a bit more than the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 or Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 but still significantly
less than the for Nikkor/Canon 17-55mm f/2.8.
As already hinted above the build quality of the lens is excellent although it's not perfect
because the Tokina uses a so-called duo-cam system (two inner lens tubes) to extend the lens
when zooming towards the long end of the zoom range. At 50mm you can move the inner tube a
little but the lens system does not "rattle" at this setting. The lens body is made of a combination
of "armalite" (Tokina's metal alloy) and very high quality plastics. The applied crinkle finish
is pretty similar to the one used in some of the pro-grade Nikkors like the AF 80-200mm f/2.8ED.
Due to the large front element (77mm filter thread) and the high quality materials the Tokina
is a comparatively big and heavy standard zoom lens (although still smaller than the massive
Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8). The zoom and focus control rings operate both smooth and slightly damped - a
rare characteristic these days. Thanks to an inner focusing (IF) group the lens does not extend
during focusing and the front element does not rotate - using a polarizer remains easily possible.
The front element has also a special WP ("Water Proof") coating which is supposed to allow an
easier cleaning from water drops or finger prints (it feels more "silky").
The Tokina offers a one-touch focus clutch mechanism to switch between manual- and auto-focus
by moving the focus ring back and forth. This can be done in any focus position (unlike on
older implementations of the system). The lens has no internal AF motor and relies on a slotted
drive screw operated by the camera. This generates some noise during AF operations but the
AF speed is actually pretty fast - also a side-effect of the very short focus path
(~50 degrees). The AF accuracy of the tested sample was very good.
|Equiv. focal length||24-75 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. aperture||f/4.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)|
|Optical construction||15 elements in 12 groups inc. 2? aspherical elements and 1 SD element|
|Number of aperture blades||9|
|min. focus distance||0.30 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:4.88)|
|Dimensions||84 x 97 mm|
|Filter size||77 mm (non-rotating)|
|Other features||focus-clutch AF/MF switch|