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Review by Markus Stamm, published February 2013
Tokina expands its line of FX lenses with another wide-angle zoom. Obviously Tokina thinks wide-angles is what they can do best (in fact they earned a fair amount of reputation for their wide lenses), or it's simply where they see the biggest market opportunities for a 3rd party manufacturer. In any case, at the time of this review their web page lists a moderately sized portfolio of 8 DSLR lenses, 7 of which being wide-angles.
Compared to Tokina's other FX wide-angle zoom, the AT-X 16-28/2.8 Pro FX, the newer 17-35 offers a bit less angle of view and it's one stop slower. On the other hand, the zoom range is larger and the lens itself smaller and lighter. Unlike the 16-28 it features a filter thread (albeit a large one, requiring rather expensive 82mm filters) and, last but not least, it's more affordable.
Let's have a look at how the lens performs on our current FX test camera, the Nikon D3x.
Typical for many recent Tokina lenses, the build quality of the lens is excellent. The lens tube is made out of high quality plastic and tightly assembled. There is no wobbling whatsoever.
A classic Tokina feature is the one-touch focus clutch mechanism to switch between AF and MF by pushing/pulling the focus ring. This can be done in any focus position and works reasonably well, however it takes some getting used to. Many would probably prefer a simple switch instead.
The focus ring is only slightly damped and operates smoothly. The zoom ring is more stiff. Both rings rotate in the same direction as on Nikon lenses.
During zooming only an inner tube moves slightly, the physical size of the whole lens remains constant. The front element does not rotate, so using a polarizer is possible without any problems even with attached hood.
The lens features an integrate DC motor that works relatively quiet. It sounds a bit rough, though, and is no comparison to a silent ultrasonic drive. The AF works reasonably fast for a wide angle lens, but it's not a speed deamon.
|Optical construction||13 elements in 12 groups including 2 SD and 2 aspherical elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.28m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.8)|
|Dimensions||89 mm x 94 mm|
|Filter size||82mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||BH-821, petal-shaped, bayonet mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Lens provides distance (D) information to the camera. Internal DC motor.|