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REVIEW: Tokina 12-24mm f/4

I rented this little beauty from Ziplens.com and I’ve been shooting with it all week. It’s a fun lens if a bit of a specialty item. There are a lot of very technical and in-depth reviews of this lens on the internet (here’s a good one that compares all of the wide-angle offerings) so I’ll stick to my impressions rather than delving into charts and graphs.

First of all, the good: the build of this lens is very nice. It’s got a very satisfying heft. The focus and zoom rings are both wide and operate smoothly. I especially like the clutch mechanism in the focus ring for switching between manual and auto-focus. It focuses accurately and reasonably quickly. The focus mechanism isn’t silent but it’s quieter than some of my other lenses (my 50mm is louder).

As for the optics, it’s satisfyingly sharp in the center. Sharpness gradually decreases towards the edges where the image is most distorted, especially at the shorter focal lengths. But it performs well even at 12mm and f/4. I didn’t have any problems with flare and all of my images were nicely saturated with good contrast.

1/800 @ f/4, 12mm
1/800 @ f/4, 12mm

I was thinking of buying one as a complement to my 18-70mm for when I need to go really wide but I think I’ll hold off. The only bad thing about this lens is finding a use for it. It’s great for super-wide closeups (this baby focuses extremely close) but that style isn’t what I do, primarily. And for landscapes, my 18-70mm is wide enough 99% of the time and more versatile to boot. It’s a fun lens with excellent optics and build. Just double check that you actually have a use for it before you plunk down $500 for one.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you’re interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

  • woo song

    i have the canon mount of the 12-24 tokina. i love it – it’s great for wedding photography when you want to get the whole chapel in the shot. i probably only use it 10% of the time compared to my other lenses, but it’s a nice option to have. plus, it’s built like a tank. i’ve dropped at 3 feet onto an asphalt street – still works great.

  • Rainer

    I bought some weeks ago this fantastic lens – very sharp, low distorsion and very well build – better than the Sigma 10-20 and much better than the Tamron 11-18 and sharper than the Sigma 12-24 and the Canon 10-22 – (I tested them all). Its on the same level than the expensive Canon L 14 and Tamron 14. I bought it about 460 Euros (520$) and I am really happy and satisfied.

  • Thank you for the review. I bought the Tokina for my 400D and have been very impressed by it. Even at 12mm and f5.6 the edge sharpness is superb. If a lens of this quality were built by Carl Zeiss it would cost a fortune. If you have a compatible digital camera and an interest in wideangle photography then don’t think twice about this little beauty. If you want some sort of feel for how sharp this lens is, and you don’t mind a long download time, please visit http://www.nightfolio.co.uk/subpages/as008.html and see a very large sample image.

  • Wish this had a built in AF motor so it could auto focus on my D40x. Oh well, look’s like my only choices are the Sigma 10-20 mm (which sounds like a good lens, and goes a little wider) or the expensive Nikon 12-24 mm if I want AF…

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