DxO mark recently came up with a test analysis of the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for the Nikon FX mount. They went as far as to mark it better than even the Nikon variations – the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED (priced at around $1800) and the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR (priced at around $2400) both excellent lenses. They even rated the Tokina ahead of rival Tamron’s SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD (priced at $1300). Obviously when you rate a third party lens way over products offered by the original equipment manufacturer (and that too Nikon) there is bound to be some speculations. Is the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 PRO FX that good? Let’s take a look at its features and find out more about the lens.
- Maximum aperture of f/2.8
- Three glass molded aspherical elements
- Internal focusing design
- One touch focus clutch
- Three SD Super-low Dispersion Elements
- Multi-layer lens coatings
- Silent drive module AF system
- Lens diaphragm constitutes of 9-blades
Most definitely the 24-70mm stakes claim to be the most versatile when it comes to shooting everyday moments. But why only everyday moments? You will find the 24-70mm on a majority of professional shooters. This is probably the world’s favorite walk-around lens.
The 24-70mm, along with the 14-24mm and the 70-200mm forms what is known as the holy trinity of focal lengths. Nikon makes a wonderful collection of these lenses. All have a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8.
The Tokina has been widely considered to be better than the rest of its peers. Well I am speaking only from optical point of view here. Canon for example makes a stunning 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens and the optical performance of the Tokina is comparable with that lens.
There are three aspherical elements and three super-low dispersion elements that ensure minimal impact due to chromatic and other aberrations. Wide angle lenses tend to get affected by flares and ghosting when shooting wide open. To counter this multi-layer coating has been provided. These coating ensures greater degree of color accuracy then lenses which do not have such coating.
Overall auto-focusing performance is ok. It is not as fast as some of its competitors in this segment. One of the drawbacks of the lens is the distinct sound that it makes when auto-focusing. This isn’t the most silent of all lenses. This is one of the grey areas of this lens and something that the other lenses could use as a bargaining chip.
The Tokina SD 24-70mm f/2.8 has a one touch focus clutch mechanism. You will need to grab the focusing ring and pull it inwards. A click confirms that focusing mode has switched from auto to manual. If you are used to shooting with Nikon or Canon systems this would need a bit of getting used to. Many times clumsy pulling can result in the ring shifting unevenly. If that happens with you simply pull the ring out and try again.
The focus clutch mechanism means there is no instant overriding from auto to manual focusing, like you would normally do with Nikon and Canon lenses. This is technically still manual focusing override but there is an obligatory step before you are able to correct focusing manually.
Fairly well built. The lens weight 2.6 lb and is comparable with the weight of other lenses that we have referred to in this review. The front filter thread for using filters measures 82mm. Design wise the Tokina SD 24-70mm f/2.8 is very similar to the other lenses in the Tokina stable. Not much change. The large rubberized gripped focusing ring dominates the front end of the barrel. The rear end has the focal length ring for shuffling between wide angle 24mm to tele 70mm. The focal length ring has a single lined rubberized grip unlike the focusing ring.
The barrel when zoomed out is slightly smaller than the rest of 24-70mm lenses that we have discussed thus far. However, the front element of the lens is pretty large and matches the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR and the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. Overall this is a no-nonsense functional design. There are a total of 15 elements that have been arranged in 11 groups.
The real test for any lens is when you pair it with a camera and take it out for a spin. By all regards the Tokina SD 24-70mm f/2.8 is sharp. It is sharp at f/2.8 and sharp when you stop it down all the way to f/11. It is sharp when you are shooting wide angle and sharp when you are at the tele end of the focal length.
The 9-blade diaphragm creates soft out of focus effect. So, is there anything that the lens probably does not do or have? Yes. There is no image stabilization on the Tokina SD 24-70mm f/2.8. But that shouldn’t deter you as many of the competing 24-70mm lenses that were referred to in this review also do not have any image stabilization.
Priced at $879, the Tokina SD 24-70mm f/2.8 is way cheaper than any of the other lenses that we have mentioned in this article. The Tokina is definitely a well-made lens that is both extremely good and extremely good.
The Tokina SD 24-70mm f/2.8 is certainly cheaper than its competition. But that is not the only USP of this lens. It has extremely good optics, something that even the other lenses on this list will envy. It has good build quality and a fast auto-focusing system. Sure, auto-focusing isn’t quiet and the manual focusing override is a bit of a hassle to work with, but the lens does its job. Overall this is a wonderful bargain and one that any full frame Nikon user would not go wrong with.