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Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Review

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 high zoom ratio lens.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6
Price : £570
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens

This high zoom ratio lens from Tokina is available to fit Canon and Nikon cameras with an APS-C sized sensor and costs around £570. The wide angle of 16.5mm provides an angle of view equivalent to a 25mm lens on a 35mm camera and the 8x zoom range provides plenty of flexibility in a compact package.

Canon's closest equivalent is the EF-S 18-135mm IS lens, which costs around £340 and sports a fast, silent focusing motor and image stabilisation, but lacks the wide angle of the Tokina optic.

Nikon's closest equivalent from their current range is the AF-S 18-105mm DX VR lens, which costs around £225 and also has a fast, silent focusing motor plus vibration reduction, but loses out to the Tokina at both the wide and telephoto ends of the zoom range.

In this review we'll take a close look at how this lens performs and whether the extra cost over the manufacturer's own lenses is justified.

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6: Handling and features

Weighing 610g, this lens is neither especially lightweight or heavy and balances perfectly on the Nikon D300 used for testing. Tough black plastics with a textured finish look very smart and feel pretty sturdy, although not up to the standard of Tokina's professional optics. The deeply knurled zoom and focus rings provide plenty of grip and operate very smoothly.

The lens barrel is quite wide, which makes the lens look shorter by comparison. Zooming the lens to 135mm almost doubles its length, as the lens barrel extends in two sections. Focusing is performed internally, which makes the use of polarising and graduated filters possible without any issues. The lens accepts 77mm filters, which may suit those who have other lenses with this filter size as it is quite common.

Focusing is performed with a reasonable amount of urgency, although the standard focusing motor fitted to this optic isn't as fast, smooth or quiet as the silent offerings from other manufacturers. The minimum focus distance of 50cm is reasonable for a lens of this type, and allows for frame filling close-ups at the long end of the zoom range.

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6: Performance

Shooting wide open at 16.5mm, this lens already produces very good sharpness in the centre of the frame, and the quality towards the edges is fairly good. Stopping the lens down improves sharpness and peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where the sharpness in the centre is outstanding, and the quality towards the edges approaches excellent levels.

Zooming to 50mm results in a drop in quality at maximum aperture, with results being fairly good in the centre and fair towards the edges. Stopping down dramatically improves the quality though and by f/8 sharpness is excellent across the frame.

Finally at 135mm the sharpness at maximum aperture in the centre of the frame is fair, but the quality towards the edges is sub-par. The lens really benefits from being closed down a stop and by f/11 the sharpness in the centre is excellent, and good towards the edges.

Resolution at 16.5mm   Resolution at 50mm
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Resolution at 16.5mm   Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Resolution at 50mm
Resolution at 135mm  

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 ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Resolution at 135mm  

At the wider end of the zoom range, chromatic aberrations are well enough controlled to pose few issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edge of the frame. However at 135mm it is a different story altogether, with fringing exceeding two pixel widths near the edges of the frame at every aperture.

Chromatic Aberrations at 16.5mm   Chromatic Aberrations at 50mm
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Chromatic Aberrations at 16.5mm   Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Chromatic Aberrations at 50mm
Chromatic Aberrations at 135mm  

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 ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Chromatic Aberrations at 135mm  

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is kept to acceptable levels at the wide end, with the corners only being 1.3stops darker than the centre at f/3.5. Visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/5.6 at this focal length. At the telephoto end of the range, falloff is even less noticeable. Here the corners are only 0.6stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/7.1.

As is typical for high zoom ratio lenses, barrel distortion is quite strong at the wide end of the range at 6.15%. At the telephoto setting, this barrel distortion is traded for very mild pincushion distortion. Here Imatest detected 0.5% pincushion distortion which will be very hard to spot in normal images. The distortion pattern at each end of the zoom is uniform across the frame, and so should be easy enough to correct in image editing software afterwards.

A deep petal shaped hood is supplied with this lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss of contrast. When shooting directly into strong light sources, contrast can suffer, especially at the telephoto end of the range, but under normal conditions the lens is quite resistant to flare.

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens The 16.5mm wide angle provides a view equivalent to a 25mm lens on a 35mm camera   Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens The 135mm telephoto provides a view equivalent to a 200mm lens on a 35mm camera
The 16.5mm wide angle provides a view equivalent to a 25mm lens on a 35mm camera - ISO200, 1/200. f/11, 16.5mm (35mm equiv: 25mm)   The 135mm telephoto provides a view equivalent to a 200mm lens on a 35mm camera - ISO360, 1/125. f/11, 135mm (35mm equiv: 200mm)
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Wide angle   Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Telephoto
Wide angle - ISO200, 1/200. f/11, 16.5mm (35mm equiv: 25mm)   Telephoto - ISO450, 1/125. f/11, 135mm (35mm equiv: 200mm)
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Sharpness is very good at shorter focal lengths   Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Performance is much improved at the telephoto end when the lens is stopped down
Sharpness is very good at shorter focal lengths - ISO200, 1/1250. f/4, 16.5mm (35mm equiv: 25mm)   Performance is much improved at the telephoto end when the lens is stopped down - ISO200, 1/200. f/8, 135mm (35mm equiv: 200mm)
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Maximum magnification   Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens The zoom range is useful for close-ups as well as wider views
Maximum magnification - ISO560, 1/125. f/8, 135mm (35mm equiv: 200mm)   The zoom range is useful for close-ups as well as wider views - ISO200, 1/125. f/8, 135mm (35mm equiv: 200mm)

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6: Verdict

Although the performance at the wide end of the zoom is excellent, this lens' performance further into the zoom range at maximum aperture is a disappointment, especially as this lens is more expensive than the manufacturer’s own offerings and doesn't include any stabilisation technology, which would really help if shooting with the lens stopped down in lower lighting conditions.

Saying that, the extra wide angle range is useful, the build quality is good and the performance when stopped down is excellent for this kind of lens, so it may be of interest to some. Unfortunately most people after a lens like this will benefit more from image stabilisation, than from the wider view offered by this optic.

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6: Pros

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Very good optical performance at 16.5mm
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Good when stopped down to f/8 through the rest of the range
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Good build quality
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Useful wide angle

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6: Cons

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Sharpness at maximum aperture at longer focal lengths
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Chromatic aberrations at 135mm
Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Price

FEATURES Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
HANDLING Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
PERFORMANCE Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
VALUE FOR MONEY Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
OVERALL Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens

Tokina ATX AF 16.5-135mm f/3.5-5.6: Specification

Price £570
Contact www.kenro.co.uk
Filter size 77mm
Format APS-C
Construction 15 elements in 9 groups
Angle-of-view 82° ~ 12°
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body) 25-200mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 50cm
Maximum aperture f/3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture f/22-36
Weight 610g
Size (lxw) 84mm x 78mm
In the box Lens hood, lens caps

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