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Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX Lens Review (for Nikon)

Tokina 12-24mm AT-X 124 AF Pro DX Lens Review  


May, 2011 (Updated Feb., 2013)
(tested with Nikon D90)

The Tokina AT-X 124 AF Pro DX wide angle lens was released in 2005. (The Pro II was announced September 2008. The newer version has improved coatings and the Nikon version has a built in motor so it will autofocus on Nikon's lower end DSLRs, such as the D3100 and D5100). It's designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C sensors (DX, etc). At the time it was Tokina's widest angle lens available (the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 has since been released). On a smaller cropped sensor it has the equivalent range of 18-36mm.

The build quality of the lens is solid. It's a Tokina pro grade lens, Advanced Technology - Extra Professional (AT-X Pro). The outside of the lens is made of polycarbonate plastic. The zooming mechanism is metal. The zoom and focus rings are rubber coated and turn smoothly. The lens has a clutch mechanism to switch between auto and manual focus, achieved by pulling the focus ring back and forth. The zooming is internal so the lens does not extend forward and the end doesn't rotate, so using filters isn't a problem. The lens has a distance scale and a metal mount. There is no internal motor, so the lens won't auto focus with lower end Nikon cameras.

Center sharpness throughout the zoom range is excellent, although it drops off a little at the long end. The lens is sharp wide open at 12mm, decreases slightly when stopped down to f/8, and falls off a little more at f/11. The borders are a little soft wide open, with the corners somewhat softer, but both sharpen up at f/5.6, even better by f/8. Overall I found center sharpness to be best at 12mm and f/4, and the borders and corners sharpest at 18mm and f/8. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) was a bit of an issue at various apertures throughout the zoom range. It shouldn't be much of a concern though as it can be easily removed in camera (if available), or with post processing in an image editor such as Photoshop.

Barrel distortion at the wide end was a little high, but not unexpected for a wide angle. The distortion decreased as the zoom was increased. Unless I shot straight lines it wasn't very noticable and not really an issue. It was easily corrected in post processing. Flare was well controlled and only really a problem when the lens was pointed into the sun or directly at a light source at close range. Vignetting was visible wide open at 12mm. Stopping down to f/5.6 and it was no longer an issue. Throughout the rest of the zoom range it was barely noticable, even wide open.

I heard and read many good things about this lens. I had the chance to buy a used copy cheap, so I decided to see if it would be good enough to replace my Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 lens (see review here). When comparing the two I found the Tokina only slightly sharper. I could see the difference only when viewing images at 100%. Optically I would say these two lenses are equal except in one area. The Tokina has less distortion at the wide end. But the Sigma's wide end is 10mm. At 12mm the Sigma had a little less distortion. The Tokina has the advantage of being better built, has a constant aperture of f/4, and also has a slightly longer reach. But I eventually decided to keep my Sigma for one reason, that being the 10mm on the wide end. On a DX sensor the Sigma has a 3mm advantage over the Tokina. Update: after choosing the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 over the Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 lens I compared it head to head with the 12-24mm. I eventually switched to this one for the extra reach on the long end. If you're keeping score I chose the Sigma 10-20mm over the Tokina 12-24mm, the Tokina 11-16mm over the Sigma 10-20mm, and then the Tokina 12-24mm over the Tokina 11-16mm. I could probably keep going in circles forever. Both Tokinas and the Sigma are very good lenses and the image quality from all three is for the most part equal. If you're looking for a wide angle lens any of the three will be a good choice.

(Update Feb., 2013 - I sold the Tokina 12-24mm when i switched to full frame format).


Shop for the Tokina 12-24mm on Amazon.com


Focal length 12-24mm
Maximum aperture f/4
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens Construction 13 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view  99.5o - 61.4o
Closest focusing distance 11.8 in (30cm)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:8
Number of diaphragm blades 9
Auto focus type AF (screw drive)
Filter diameter 77 mm
Macro No
Dimensions 83 mm (3.3 in) x 89.5 mm (3.5 in)(Diameter x Length)
Weight 570g (20.1 oz)

For additional info visit Tokina's product page.

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