Am I being too picky with a recently acquired Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X Pro AF lens?

Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,348
Location
Los Angeles, USA
* Cross posted on FM for additional opinions

I recently acquired a used, but minty Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon. I picked up this lens from eBay hoping to replace my Sigma 15-30mm EX DG lens as my budget wide angle. Despite the Sigma's flaws of being bulky, having a bulbous front element and terrible purple sun flaring, where it makes up is the ultra wide 15mm FOV, bitingly sharp center sharpness (causes moire on the AA filtered D750) and I bought for under $200 USD!

I like all the external aspects of the Tokina due to being built-well, having a non-moving front element and it's the most compact AF rectilinear wide angle prime that takes filters. The good optical aspects of the lens is that it has minimal distortion, excellent flare control, nice colors and decent contrast. Though I find the sharpness is average at best on a more a recent 24mp D750 sensor. I've already AF adjusted the lens and usually stop down to f/4.5 to eek out a bit more sharpness. Does anyone have experience with this lens?

Is it possible I have a bad copy and should consider finding another lens or am I just expecting too much from an old lens? I own lots of old Nikon AI-S MF glass and despite being old designs, they all still perform well on my D750, so I know age can't be too much of a factor! The only other thing I can think of is switching to a body with a better screw drive motor (maybe a D3/D4/D5 series body). Thanks for any opinions!

A couple samples from the Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X Pro AF lens + D750. Everything looks okay from regular viewing distances, but it doesn't have that extra bite you get from decently sharp lenses when viewing up-close:
49068217822_eb2f9593b2_b.jpg
Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X PRO AF Lens sample images for Nikon F-Mount
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49068215272_90ab52648d_b.jpg
Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X PRO AF Lens sample images for Nikon F-Mount
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49068007211_6ac7ec6423_b.jpg
Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X PRO AF Lens sample images for Nikon F-Mount
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49068005371_98638fea73_b.jpg
Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X PRO AF Lens sample images for Nikon F-Mount
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

Lens mounted on the D750:
49067571373_d15b21a9d7_b.jpg
Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X PRO AF Lens sample images for Nikon F-Mount
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49068295097_1e9fe4b26d_b.jpg
Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X PRO AF Lens sample images for Nikon F-Mount
by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,476
Location
Lompoc, CA
I guess I wouldn't necessarily expect the Tokina to be "bittingly sharp." I had the Sigma 15-30 way back in the day and thought it was pretty sharp, at least in the center, so I wouldn't be shocked that the Tokina is not an improvement.
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
2,447
Location
South Orange, NJ
I recall owning this lens but only for a few months. It was a good bargain but I think the price was telling. I recall some distortion and softness in the corners and just didn't use it enough to justify it.
 
Joined
Mar 10, 2008
Messages
1,116
Location
New York
You have a bad copy IMHO. I have this lens and it is very good. Use it on D700, D750, Sony NEX6 with adaptor in manual mode. Takes better pictures than my Tamron 20-40 F2.7-3.5, except some wide angle distortion. The only problem I have with it sometimes does not want to focus on some object close to infinity, so I focus on something close and recompose. It took some focus adjustments at the beginning.
 

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