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Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-235 II Lens Review (for Nikon)

Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5  


September, 2011
(tested with Nikon D7000)

The Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-235 II was released sometime in the 1990's. I've looked around for a more specific year but couldn't find anything. The original version of the lens was slightly smaller, had a filter thread of 72mm, a thinner focus ring, and included a distance scale window. I've read a few reviews which indicated that the original and version II are optically the same. This is a full frame lens originally made for film cameras. It's an AF lens, meaning it has no internal motor. As such it won't autofocus on Nikon's lower end DSLRs (the D40, D60, D3000, D3100, D5000, D5100). It will work fine on all other Nikon DSLRs. You do need to turn the aperture ring to it's smallest setting (f/22), and lock the tab or you'll get an error message.

This lens is built solid. The exterior is all metal with the exceptions of the rubber coating on the zoom and focus rings and the aperture ring tab which is plastic. The aperture ring itself is metal. Both the zoom and focus rings turn very smoothly. There's no manual focus switch on the lens so you need to use the one on the camera. The front element does rotate, but inside the barrel. The filter thread doesn't move so using a polarizer or other filter is no problem.

Wide open the lens is sharp in the center throughout the range, with just a little fall off in the corners and some border softness. Overall sharpness improves as you stop down the lens with optimum sharpness at f/8-f11. Vignetting is barely noticable wide open on a DX sensor. One stop down and it's no longer an issue. There is some barrel distortion, more so at the wide end. After correcting it very slight distortion remained from 20-24mm, but it was hardly noticable to worry about. Chromatic aberration (color fringing) is very slight wide open at 20mm, but can be easily corrected with post processing. Flare and ghosting are not an issue, even without the lens hood. Autofocus is fast and accurate. Under low light conditions the lens tended to hunt a bit.

The Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-235 II can be bought used for around $130-150. I came across a cheap copy and decided to give it a try since I had read several good reviews about it. It didn't disappoint. The lens is built like a brick. The build alone is worth the price you'll pay. When stopped down it's more than sharp enough for anything you would use it for. Wide open it's not too shabby either. On a full frame camera (FX), I'm sure the Tokina makes an excellent wide angle lens. I wouldn't use this lens for critical architectural work because of the distortion, but for normal snapshots and cityscapes it should be fine. Using it on a DX camera is a little different. The effective field of view makes it a 30-52mm lens. It's not a wide angle. It could be used for landscapes. Although it can be used for portraits something longer would be better. I think it's best use on a DX camera would be for street photography. Again, something with a longer zoom range would be better. But if you can live with it's limited range and make it work with your style of photograpy the Tokina 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-235 II may be of interest to you, especially given the price it can be bought for.



Focal length 20-35mm
Maximum aperture f/3.5 - f/4.5
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens Construction 13 elements in 11 groups
Angle of view 95o - 64o (FX format)
Closest focusing distance 40 cm (1.3 ft.)
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.18x
Number of diaphragm blades 6
Auto focus type AF
Filter diameter 77 mm
Macro No
Dimensions 75 mm (3.0 in) x 82 mm (3.2 in)
Weight 500 g (17.6 oz)

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