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Review by Markus Stamm, published October 2011
Until just recently, when Nikon introduced its 40mm DX Micro Nikkor, the Tokina 35mm AT-X was the only dedicated DX macro lens that could also be used as a normal prime.
Just as many other Tokina DX lenses, the AT-X M35 was co-developed with Pentax, which offer it as part of their higher grade Limited lens line-up. The Tokina variant shares the optical formula with its K-mount cousin, but comes with a different exterior design.
In this review we will have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.
Typical for most current Tokina lenses, the build quality of the lens is on a very high level. The main lens tube is made out of high quality and strong plastic based on a metal mount.
The focus ring is well damped and also works as a focus clutch, which is another typical Tokina feature. To switch from autofocus to manual focus, the whole ring has to be pulled towards the camera. Unlike on other AT-X lenses, however, the clutch is rather stiff and requires some force. During the tests, it often got jammed on our review unit, which may be a consequence of the high amount of force required.
As can be seen in the images below, the inner lens tube extends significantly when focusing to closer distances. However, the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer remains easily possible.
The front part of the lens tube is actually a small metal hood, that can be unscrewed. It remains a little mystery why Tokina did not simply extend the lens tube by the same amount instead. The front lens is deeply recessed and well protected by the tube itself already.
The direction of the focus ring is the same as on Nikon lenses, so anyone used to focus manually with a Nikkor lens won't have to readjust his or her muscle memory.
Talking about manual focus: the Tokina still relies on a slotted drive screw operated by the camera to focus. Since entry-level Nikon DSLRs no longer feature this screw, the lens can only be focused manually on these cameras. On those cameras that still support screw-driven AF the focus action is quite fast, especially for a macro lens.
The lens features a limiter switch which limits the focus range to either 0.17 to infinity for normal shooting or to 0.14m to 0.16m for close-up work. The focus distance currently set when the switch is engaged determines which focus range is used.
The AT-X M35 is a G-type lens and thus does not offer an aperture ring.
|Equiv. focal length||52.5 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. max. f-stops||f/4.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field - not speed)|
|Optical construction||9 elements in 8 groups|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.14 m (max. magnification ratio 1:1)|
|Dimensions||73.2 mm x 60.4 mm|
|Filter size||52 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||MH-522, barrel shaped, metal, screw mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera|