Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 ATX PRO Lens - A Keeper?

Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,180
Location
Los Angeles, USA
Lately I've been looking for the ultimate cheap wide angle lens for Nikon DSLRs. My prerequisites is that it has to be auto focus, takes filters, sharp enough to render on my 24mp D750 and cost under $199 USD. I just have no desire to invest anymore into DSLRs, but I still want a cheap F-mount wide angle lens for those oft times I need it. So far some of the lenses I've tried are the Sigma 15-30mm EX DG and the Tokina 17mm f/3.5 ATX Pro lenses. The Sigma wins in overall sharpness, but has a bulbous front element, terrible purple blotch flare and hard to fix distortion. The Tokina 17mm is the most compact wide angle rectilinear prime for DSLRs, but has the weakest sharpness and doesn't sharpen up much stopped down.

My Sigma 15-30mm Review

Thoughts on the Tokina 17mm f/3.5 ATX Pro Lens

My latest find is the Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 ATX Pro zoom lens in mint condition, which meets all my prerequisites. At f/2.8 it's a tad dreamy, but with decent sharpness and at f/4 it sharpens up even better giving near crispy results...something the Tokina 17mm didn't do when stopped down. Distortion is very minimal and flare isn't half bad, giving old school sun flares, but doesn't ruin the shot like the Sigma 15-30mm. Corners aren't perfect, but for it's vintage it holds up quite well, colors are a bit on the neutral side but easily manipulated in post. Regarding build quality it feels and looks like an old crinkle finish Nikon AF-D lens, with a very stout and short lens barrel. Auto focus is fast with the screw driven D750 motor and f/2.8 allows for a brighter OVF. The only real downside is that close focus isn't very near. Also it's not nearly as wide as the Sigma 15-30mm EX DG lens, which is probably the widest Nikon F-mount lens you can purchase used for under $199 USD!

Unfortunately the biggest issue I have with the Tokina 20-35mm I acquired is that it requires a -20 AF fine tune adjustment to eek out the best sharpness and even then I could probably use a -21 fine tune if my D750 allowed it, but at that setting it's close to optimal quality based on using live view focusing as a base. I also contacted Tokina Repair here in California and they will refuse to do any lens adjustment repairs, due to lack of parts if something were to be damaged (Nikon Repair in LA have no issues doing CLA repairs on old lenses). I still have 14 days to return it if I decide, but I took a few shots to test the lens out. What do you all think? A keeper or return the lens?

If the AF fine tune wasn't so extreme I think I'd keep it, but -20 is pretty bad. My current Nikon brand lenses don't need any fine tuning whatsoever!

Some quick samples with the D750 and Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 ATX Pro Lens:

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Sample images with the Toking 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon F-Mount by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

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Sample images with the Toking 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon F-Mount by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49173740058_abeddb1c44_b.jpg
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Sample images with the Toking 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon F-Mount by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49174455282_b836d78cf1_b.jpg
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Sample images with the Toking 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon F-Mount by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49173739188_54576cc801_b.jpg
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Sample images with the Toking 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon F-Mount by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49173743128_b0eb8ed1be_b.jpg
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Sample images with the Toking 20-35mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro lens for Nikon F-Mount by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Messages
15,180
Location
Los Angeles, USA
After further testing, it might be my UV filter altering the AF fine tune! Saying that, I'm going to keep it. I like the flexibility I get from this lens and image results aren't half bad! There's not many pro-built, f/2.8, fixed barrel wide angle lenses in-between $100-200 USD!

Here's the lens mounted on my D750 and next to my Sigma 15-30mm EX DG lens:
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Pictures of the Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX DG Lens and the Tokina 20-35mm f2.8 AT-X Pro Lens by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49183992376_75e4c52ddf_b.jpg
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Pictures of the Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX DG Lens and the Tokina 20-35mm f2.8 AT-X Pro Lens by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr

49183500103_46da50864a_b.jpg
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Pictures of the Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX DG Lens and the Tokina 20-35mm f2.8 AT-X Pro Lens by Jonathan Friolo, on Flickr
 
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