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Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the Tokina ultrawide 2.3x zoom lens for Canon & Nikon cameras.

|  Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 PRO DX in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and features

Tokina AT X PRO DX 12 28mm F4 Aspherical (6)

An ultrawide angle 2.3x zoom lens for crop sensor Canon and Nikon cameras, which costs around £540 and sports a constant maximum aperture of f/4 and virtually silent internal focusing. On a Nikon DX camera, this zoom range provides a field of view equivalent to an 18-42mm lens used on a 35mm camera. Tokina's DX ultrawide lenses have garnered an excellent reputation, so in this review, we'll take a look at whether this lens meets expectations.

Tokina AT X PRO DX 12 28mm F4 Aspherical (8)

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Handling and features

This lens feels very solidly built, which is typical of Tokina's ATX Pro range of lenses. The plastics used on the lens barrel are of very high quality and the lens feels very tough as a result. The lens weighs 530g, which makes it a perfect partner for the Nikon D300 used for testing. A rubber gasket placed around the lens mount helps to prevent ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body, although the lens itself isn't water resistant.

Autofocus is powered by a new SD-M motor, which focuses quickly and is virtually silent, but doesn't allow manual focus adjustments to be applied at any time. Tokina get around this by making autofocus easy to disengage, by simply sliding the focus ring backwards or forwards. The focusing ring is well damped, which makes it a pleasure to apply manual focus adjustments.

Focusing is performed internally, and zoom adjustments do not change the overall length of the lens, which means the 77mm filter ring doesn't move. This makes this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters.

Tokina AT X PRO DX 12 28mm F4 Aspherical (9)

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Performance

At 12mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already outstanding at maximum aperture, although clarity towards the edges of the frame falls behind somewhat. The performance towards the edges of the frame improves rapidly as the lens is stopped down, with peak sharpness across the frame being achieved at f/8 for this focal length.

Performance is similar in the centre of the frame at 20mm, and clarity towards the edges of the frame is improved at maximum aperture. As is the case at 12mm, peak sharpness across the frame is achieved at f/8 for this focal length.

Performance at 28mm is consistent with other focal lengths. Sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture remains excellent and clarity towards the edges of the frame is good. Stopping down to f/8 results in excellent sharpness across the frame at this focal length.

Resolution @ 12mm
Resolution @ 12mm
Resolution @ 20mm
Resolution @ 20mm
Resolution @ 28mm
Resolution @ 28mm

How to read our charts

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 a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled for an ultrawide lens throughout the zoom range, remaining well under three quarters of a pixel width towards the edges of the frame. This low level should pose few issues, even in big enlargements, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

Chromatic aberration @ 12mm
Chromatic aberration @ 12mm
Chromatic aberration @ 20mm
Chromatic aberration @ 20mm
Chromatic aberration @ 28mm
Chromatic aberration @ 28mm

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 a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is stronger at 12mm than 28mm. At 12mm the corners are 1.42 stops darker than the image centre at f/4, and this drops to the corners only being 0.6 stops darker at 28mm and f/4. Visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/8 at 12mm and by f/5.6 at 28mm.

Distortion is reasonably controlled for an ultra wide zoom lens. At 12mm 4.4% barrel distortion is present, which is reduced to 0.04% barrel distortion at 28mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make corrections in image editing software easy to apply if straight lines are paramount.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a decent job of shading the front element from extraneous light. Contrast is good, even when shooting into the light and only a little flare can be seen in extreme lighting conditions.

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 PRO DX Sample Photos

Value for Money

The launch price of £540 is comparable to variable aperture lenses from Nikon and Canon covering a similar range. However, Nikon's 12-24mm f/4 lens is around £260 more expensive. At this price, this lens represents decent value for money as it's optical performance is comparable, or even better than these lenses in some areas, although some people may miss the extra width the Canon 10-22mm and Nikon 10-24mm lenses provide.

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Verdict

This 12-28mm from Tokina more than meets expectations and is worthy of the reputation set by their other ultrawide lenses for crop sensor cameras. Sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range, build quality is very good and if focuses quickly and quietly. The launch price of around £540 is good value too.
Overall, this is a very good lens, that should certainly be on your short list if you're in the market for a lens covering this range.

  The Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX lens offers excellent sharpness and is good value for money.  

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Pros

Excellent sharpness
Solid build quality
Low CA
Reasonable distortion and falloff for this lens type
Good value

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Cons

Some photographers may miss full time manual focus override


Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 PRO DX Specifications

Lens Mounts
    Focal Length12mm - 28mm
    Angle of View54.73 - 99.37
    Max Aperturef/4
    Min Aperturef/22
    Filter Size77mm
    35mm equivalent18mm - 42mm
    Internal focusingYes
    Maximum magnificationNo Data
    Min Focus25cm
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsBH-77B Lens Hood, Front Lens Cap, Rear Lens Cap

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    NDODS 11 5.2k 127 United Kingdom
    25 Sep 2013 5:31PM
    An informative and well written review with lots to think about if considering to upgrade.

    Regards Nathan
    25 Sep 2013 6:34PM
    Interestingly the EXIF data when using my NIKON 12-24 f4 reports it as a TOKINA 12-24 f4....
    Could be exactly the same lens (?)

    As the Nikon sells for nearly twice the price of the Tokina it make you think.....
    StrayCat 17 19.1k 3 Canada
    17 Jun 2015 2:44AM
    This seems to be an ultra fine utility wide angle. I think I would find this much more useful than the 10-20mm Sigmas, or the Tokina 11-16mm. I think my decision would be amongst the Nikon 12-24mm f4, the tokina same, and this one. Very good review, very informative.

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