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Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews a 35mm f/2.8 macro lens from Tokina, which fits Nikon and Canon DSLR's with an APS-C sized sensor.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Price : £376
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Available to fit Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras with an APS-C sized sensor, this 35mm f/2.8 Macro lens from Tokina is currently unique as neither manufacturer produces a macro lens at this focal length.

Priced at £370, this lens offers a compact and lightweight solution for those looking for an introduction to macro photography.

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens: Handling and features
At only 60mm long when focused to infinity, this lens is small enough to stow away in the bottom of a kit bag until it is needed, and weighing only 340g, it is very lightweight too. Despite the light weight, it feels very sturdy and the front element is deeply recessed inside the lens, protecting it from any bumps and scrapes. The textured black finish gives the lens a very high quality appearance, which compliments the Nikon D300 used for testing perfectly.

Pulling the manual focus ring towards the camera instantly switches from auto focus to manual focusing, which although not as elegant a solution as full time manual over ride, it still works well. In use the manual focus ring is nicely damped, making it easy to make fine adjustments quickly. A standard built in motor powers the auto focus mechanism and at normal distances, focus speeds are adequate. A focus limiter switch is provided to prevent the lens from tracking through the entire focus range, which can help to speed up focusing in difficult situations.

Focus isn't performed internally, and the lens extends by a couple of centimetres at minimum focus. Due to the short 35mm focal length, working distances can be tight, and it can be difficult to get enough light on your subject, especially at maximum magnification. The lens accepts 52mm filters and the lens barrel does not rotate during focusing, making it straightforward to use polarising and graduated filters.

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens: Performance
Shooting wide open the performance across the frame is already excellent. Stopping the lens down to f/4 increases the sharpness in the centre to outstanding levels and the quality towards the edges remains close to excellent. Stopping the lens down any further reduces sharpness due to diffraction, but sharpness levels remain very good right down to f/16.

Resolution at 35mm  

How to read our graphs

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Nikon D300 using Imatest.
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Resolution at 35mm  

Levels of chromatic aberrations towards the edges of the frame are higher than I would normally expect from a macro lens, and this phenomenon appears to get worse as the lens is stopped down. At f/22 coloured fringing towards the edge of the frame exceeds 2.5 pixel widths, which may pose issues along high contrast edges, especially at large print sizes.

Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm  

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on an Nikon D300 using Imatest.
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Chromatic Aberrations at 35mm  

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very well controlled. At f/2.8 the corners are only 0.85stops darker than the image centre, and stopping down to f.4 results in visually uniform illumination.

Slightly more barrel distortion than I'd normally expect from a fixed macro lens is present. Imatest detected 1.1% barrel distortion, which shouldn't pose too many issues. If straight lines are paramount, the distortion should be easy enough to correct in image editing software as the pattern is uniform across the frame.

The recessed front element is already well protected from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss of contrast, but for a little extra protection, a round metal lens hood can be screwed into the front filter thread. When shooting into the light, I did not notice any flare, but contrast can drop dramatically, especially if the light source is very strong.

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Out of focus areas are rendered smoothly   Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens A short macro lens allows more of the background to be captured in the frame
Out of focus areas are rendered smoothly – ISO200, 1/640. f/5.6, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)   A short macro lens allows more of the background to be captured in the frame – ISO200, 1/320, f/8, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens The short focal length can make working distances a little tight   Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Life size magnification allows frame filling shots of very small objects
The short focal length can make working distances a little tight - ISO200, 1/60. f/11, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)   Life size magnification allows frame filling shots of very small objects - ISO200, 1/60. f/11, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens A 35mm lens used on an APS-C camera provides a natural perspective   Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Very fine details are rendered clearly
A 35mm lens used on an APS-C camera provides a natural perspective - ISO200, 1/800. f/8, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)   Very fine details are rendered clearly - ISO200, 1/60. f/8, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Shooting into the light can sometimes result in a loss on contrast, especially when shooting wide open   Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Under more favourable conditions, images are sharp and contrasty from edge to edge
Shooting into the light can sometimes result in a loss on contrast, especially when shooting wide open - ISO200, 1/2500. f/2.8, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)   Under more favourable conditions, images are sharp and contrasty from edge to edge - ISO200, 1/60 f/16, 35mm (35mm equiv: 52.5mm)

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens: Verdict
Overall this Tokina makes for a compelling choice, especially for those looking for a lightweight macro optic on a budget, for applications where the short working distance won't be an issue.

Optically, this lens is a superb performer, yielding sharp, contrasty images, even when shooting with the aperture wide open. Its only weaknesses are the levels of chromatic fringing towards the edges of the frame, and its tendency to lose contrast when shooting into the light. Saying that, for the price, the performance is still superb.

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens: Pros
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Excellent sharpness across the frame
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Good build quality
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Compact
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Lightweight
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Keenly priced

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens: Cons
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Chromatic aberrations towards the edge of the frame when stopped down
Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Loss of contrast when shooting into the light

FEATURES Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
HANDLING Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
PERFORMANCE Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
VALUE FOR MONEY Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
OVERALL Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Tokina AT-X M35 Pro DX 35mm f/2.8 Macro Lens: Specification
Price £370.00
Contact www.kenro.co.uk
Filter size 52mm
Format APS-C
Construction 9 elements in 9 groups
Angle-of-view 43°
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 52.5mm
Internal focusing No
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 14cm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Weight 340g
Size (lxw) 73.2mm x 60.4mm
In the box Metal lens hood

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    Comments


    JackAllTog e2
    5 3.6k 58 United Kingdom
    13 May 2011 10:48AM
    the minimum focus distance of 14cm, is this a negative too? That said, it still sounds like a good lens.

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    Chaitanya 4 14 1 India
    13 May 2011 6:42PM
    with wider lenses for macro the focusing distance is going to drop down. Heres and example(for nikon lenses):
    60mm macro Af-s has a working distance of 5cms from the front element of glass.
    105mm macro AF-s has a working distance of 13cm
    and a Sigma 150mm(nikon f-mount) has a working distance of 20cms.

    So longer the focal length of the lens the longer of MFD. Depending on your requirement you need to choose the macro lens.
    konu 6 31 United Kingdom
    14 May 2011 10:49AM
    I am using this lens since last year; it's quite nice general purpose lens with macro advantage.
    One of fav shot in epz pf is here
    theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
    18 May 2011 6:43PM

    Quote: The minimum focus distance of 14cm, is this a negative too? That said, it still sounds like a good lens.


    Quote: The minimum focus distance of 14cm, is this a negative too? That said, it still sounds like a good lens.

    Not really a negative point in my opinion, it's just a feature of the shorter focal length. There's not really much that can be done about it, except make a longer focal length lens.

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