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Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the ultra wide-angle Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX lens - find out how it performs in our review.

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Handling and features

Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4

An ultra-wide angle 2x zoom lens for full frame Canon and Nikon cameras, which costs around £600 and sports a constant maximum aperture of f/4 and internal focusing.


Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Handling and features

As is the case for other Tokina AT-X lenses, this lens feels very solidly built. The plastics used on the lens barrel are tough and everything feels very well put together. Even so, this lens only weighs 600g, which is quite light for this kind of lens and it balances very well on the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III used for testing. The lens has been designed to be 'more water resistant' with better seals than previous AT-X lenses. A rubber gasket placed around the lens mount helps to prevent ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body. The Canon version tested is actually quite stiff to turn on the lens mount due to this seal, which can make placing and removing the lens a little difficult.

Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4

Autofocus is powered by a standard micro motor, which makes a slight grinding noise during operation. Focusing is reasonably quick, but certainly not as responsive as manufacturer's own lenses using silent focusing motors. Autofocus can be disengaged quickly by pulling the focusing ring towards the camera. The focusing ring is well damped, which makes it a pleasure to apply manual focus adjustments.

Tokina AT-X 17-35mm F/4

Focusing is performed internally, and zoom adjustments do not change the overall length of the lens, which means the 82mm filter ring stays put. This is ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters.


Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Performance

At 17mm and maximum aperture, sharpness just reaches good levels in the centre of the frame, and can only be considered fair towards the edges. Stopping the lens down improves sharpness dramatically and peak performance is achieved at f/8 where sharpness in the centre is outstanding and excellent towards the edges of the frame.

With the lens zoomed to 24mm. Sharpness at maximum aperture drops off further and can only be considered fair across the frame. Images have a slight hazy appearance, which is often a sign of spherical aberrations reducing sharpness. As is the case at 17mm, stopping down improves sharpness dramatically, reaching the same lofty heights of excellence at f/8.

Finally, at 35mm, the same issues with spherical aberrations occurs at maximum aperture, resulting in fair sharpness in the centre and fairly poor sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Peak sharpness for 35mm is achieved between f/8 and f/11. At f/11 sharpness is excellent across the frame.


Resolution at 17mm
Resolution at 17mm
Resolution at 24mm
Resolution at 24mm
Resolution at 35mm
Resolution at 35mm

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 Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are kept well under control throughout the zoom range, remaining well under one 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 at 17mm
Chromatic aberration at 17mm
Chromatic aberration at 24mm
Chromatic aberration at 24mm
Chromatic aberration at 35mm
Chromatic aberration 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 a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is more pronounced at 17mm than 35mm. At 17mm the corners are 2.09 stops darker than the image centre at f/4, and this drops to the corners only being 0.3 stops darker at 35mm and f/4. Visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/8 at 17mm and by f/5.6 at 35mm.

Distortion is very low for an ultra wide zoom lens. At 17mm only 3.4% barrel distortion is present, which is replaced by 0.226% pincushion at 35mm. 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 reasonable job of shading the front element from extraneous light. The hood attachs to the lens in the same direction as the lens is mounted on Canon cameras, which can cause issues when removing the lens from the camera. At 17mm, this lens is a little prone to flare, especially with bright sources of light towards the edges of the frame. Contrast remains good, even when shooting into the light.

Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 PRO FX Sample Photos


Value for Money

If sharpness at fast apertures is important to you, then this lens would be poor value, even if it were substantially cheaper. Nikon users who take most of their images stopped down, may find this a good alternative to the 16-35mm f/4 VR as it costs a fair bit less, and performs well when stopped down.

As there is little difference in price between this and Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens, it is harder to make a case for this lens for Canon users, unless the corner softness issue of the 17-40mm lens is a massive issue for you, and you take your images stopped down.


Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Verdict

For a lens costing around £600, I would normally expect better performance at maximum aperture. Saying that, the sharpness that is possible with the lens stopped down comes close to redeeming this lens.

If you intend to use this lens stopped down much of the time, require a filter thread and don't want to spend more than £600, then this could be the lens for you. If, however, you can see yourself using apertures brighter than f/5.6, then this lens is probably best avoided.


Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Pros

Very sharp when stopped down
Good build
Some moisture sealing
Low CA and distortion


Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 Pro FX Cons

Performance at maximum aperture could be better
Not much difference in price between this and the Canon alternative (Nikon users may see more appeal in this lens)



Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 PRO FX Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF D
  • Canon EOS
Focal Length17mm - 35mm
Angle of View64.74 - 103.96
Max Aperturef/4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size82mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus27.9cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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