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Review by Markus Stamm, published January 2013
Special thanks to Markus Danz for providing the lens!
We usually focus on current lenses here at photozone, or very popular ones among the discontinued ones. However, sometimes we're offered somewhat exotic or rare lenses that out of curiosity we simply can not resist to review. One such lens is the Tokina AF 300mm f/4 AT-X (or, as it was called in the catalog, the AT-X 304AF).
Not much information is available online about this lens (it isn't even mentioned on Tokina's own web site). It was introduced in the 90's and discontinued early in the new century. Despite being very affordable compared to the OEM offerings of the time, it seems the lens was never very popular, which makes it a rare item nowadays.
One property remained, though: if you can actually find one for sale, the price is usually very low. The unit we had available for this review sold for just 200 EUR.
So, let's have a look at how the lens performs on our current FX test camera, the Nikon D3x.
The build quality of the lens is excellent and up to professional grade standards. The surface features a crinkle finish very similar to the one on high-end Nikon lenses of the same era.
The rubberized focus ring is nicely damped and operates smoothly. However, it rotates during AF operations. There is no AF/M switch on the lens, MF mode has to be set on the camera.
The lens comes with a built-in hood and a (non-removable) tripod collar. Despite all these additions, the Tokina is still quite compact for a 300mm f/4 lens.
The lens has no internal AF motor and relies on a slotted drive screw operated by the camera, so AF is not available on entry-level Nikon DSLRs. As a result of the screw drive, AF operation will generate a moderate degree of noise. However, the AF speed is quite fast.
Thanks to a rear focus group, the physical length of the lens remains constant regardless of the focus setting and the front element does not rotate. Using a polarizer is therefore no problem.
The Tokina is not a G-type lens, so it still features a classic aperture ring. It is, however, already a D-type lens and provides distance information to the camera (required for a modern camera's matrix metering to work).
|Optical construction||9 elements in 7 groups including 2 SD elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9|
|min. focus distance||2.0 m|
|Dimensions||187 x 84 mm|
|Filter size||77 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||barrel-shaped, slide-out (built-in)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera|