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Tokina 17-35mm f/4
Ultra-Low Distortion AT-X PRO FX
© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 in Nikon mount (82mm filters, 20.9 oz./592g, about $720). enlarge. It also comes in Canon EOS mount. This website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially directly to it in Nikon mount at Adorama, Nikon mount at Amazon, Canon EOS mount at Adorama or Canon EOS mount at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken. This is a limited production lens, so if you want one, you'll have to order it and be patient.

 

11-11-2011     More Tokina Reviews   All reviews

Nikon Reviews    Nikon Lenses    Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses

How to Use Ultrawide Lenses

 

Optics:
Mechanics:
Ergonomics:
Usefulness:
Availability: new, so hard-to-find
Overall:

 

Ideal Uses: Perfect for use on FX digital and 35mm as an ultrawide.

Not for: Won't work on manual-focus cameras. It's foolish to use this on a DX or 1.6x Canon camera; for them, the Tokina 11-16mm — or even a kit lens — is a much smarter idea.

Good: Very low distortion: half the distortion of any other zoom even at triple the price. As sharp as Nikon's professional 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S, in a smaller, lighter and less expensive package. Also much smaller than Nikon's 16-35mm VR.

Bad: Not as sharp and lacks the VR of Nikon's 16-35mm VR.

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Formats and Versions   Compatibility

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This Tokina 17-35mm f/4 is as sharp as Nikon's professional 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S.

It's not quite as sharp and lacks the VR of Nikon's 16-35mm VR.

This Tokina lens has much less distortion than any other ultrawide zoom, regardless of price. Unlike any other ultrawide zoom, this Tokina's distortion is invisible at almost every setting. Nikon and Canon's best pro ultrawide zooms have double this distortion!

Considering that this Tokina 17-35mm is smaller and lighter than either of the Nikon lenses, and costs half as much, it's easy to recommend it for all full-frame film and digital cameras.

I haven't yet tested the otherwise identical Canon EOS version, however I'll extrapolate that this Tokina 17-35 is also as good optically as Canon's 17-40mm f/4 L and Canon's top-of-the-line professional16-35mm f/2.8 L II, however since the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L costs about the same, I see no reason to get this Tokina for Canon unless its price drops.

 

Formats and Versions       intro      top

This Tokina 17-35mm f/4 comes in in both Nikon and Canon EOS mounts. I am addressing the Nikon mount version here; you may make the usual extrapolations for Canon.

This is a full-frame (FX) lens, and I will be testing it as such.

It makes no sense to use this lens on smaller formats; on a D7000 or other small-frame camera, use any 16-85mm or kit lens for better results with a lot less size, weight and expense.

 

Compatibility       intro     top

Nikon Version

Everything should work perfectly on every digital Nikon, both FX and DX, and even on Nikon's cheapest digitals like the D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100 or D5000.

It also should be perfect on decent or recent AF film cameras like the F6, F100, F5, N80 and N75.

The incompatibilities for older or cheaper film cameras are that:

1.) It won't autofocus with the cheapest new AF 35mm cameras like the N55, but if you focus manually, everything else should work great. Even if you lose autofocus, these cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.

2.) Late 1980s ~ early 1990s AF cameras like the N90s, N70 and F4 should autofocus just fine, but you'll lose Manual and Aperture-priority since you have no way to set the aperture on the camera or on the lens.

3.) You're really pushing it with the oldest AF cameras like the N2020, N6006 and N8008. You'll have no AF, and confused exposure modes. Manual focus is fine, with electronic focus indications.

4.) Since it has no aperture ring, it's just about useless with manual focus film cameras. It will shoot every shot at its minimum aperture.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details with your camera. Read down the "AF-S, AF-I," and "G" columns for this lens. You'll get the least of all the features displayed in all columns, since "G" (gelding) is a deliberate handicap which removes features.

Warning: as a non-Nikon and non-Canon lens, there is never any guarantee that this Tokina lens will always work perfectly with every possible camera. I've only used it on the Nikon D3 and D7000. There is always the potential for it not to work on some models of camera, today or newer models in the future. This is the chance you take with non-Nikon or non-Canon lenses.

 

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX. enlarge.

 

Canon Version

The Tokina 17-35mm should work fine on every Canon camera made since 1987.

 

Specifications        top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Name       specs       top

Tokina calls this the Tokina AT-X 17~35mm F4 PRO FX.

     AT-X: Advanced Technology-seX.

     F4: f/4.

     PRO: Tokina's designation for its lenses with its brilliant AF-MF focus clutch.

     FX: Full-frame 35mm.

Tokina claims a "silent DC motor," but that's just a trade name. It most certainly isn't silent.

 

Optics       specs       top

13 elements in 12 groups.

One of these is aspheric.

Two of these are SD super-low dispersion glass, similar to Nikon's ED glass.

Internal focusing.

Multicoated.

 

Coverage        top

35mm film, FX and DX.

 

Angle of View       specs       top

104º - 64.7º on 35mm and FX.

Less on smaller formats.

 

Diaphragm       specs       top

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Focal Length        top

17-35mm.

When used on a Nikon DX camera, it gives angles of view similar to what a 24-53mm lens gives when used on an FX or 35mm camera.

When used on a Canon 1.6x camera, it gives angles of view similar to what a 27-56mm lens gives when used on an FX or 35mm camera.

When used on a Canon 1.3x camera, it gives angles of view similar to what a 22-45mm lens gives when used on an FX or 35mm camera.

 

Close Focus       specs       top

0.9 feet (0.28m), marked.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio       specs       top

1:4.82.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?       specs       top

No.

Let the AF system focus for infinity.

 

Focus Scale       specs       top

Yes.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale       specs       top

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index       specs       top

No.

 

Aperture Ring       specs       top

No.

 

Filter Thread       specs       top

82mm.

Plastic.

 

Hood       specs       top

Tokina 17-35mm front cap

Tokina 17-35/4 with BH-821 hood.

The plastic bayonet BH-821 hood is included.

 

Size       specs       top

Tokina specifies 3.7" (94.5mm) long by 3.5" (89mm) diameter.

 

Weight       specs       top

Nikon version: 20.880 oz. (591.85g), measured.

Tokina specifies 21.1 oz. (600g) for both versions.

 

Case       specs       top

None.

 

Quality       specs       top

Made in Japan.

Serial numbers printed and bar-coded on stickers on both the box and the warranty card.

Three-year USA warranty.

 

Packaging       specs       top

Box, Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Box, Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 FX.

Single-wall cardboard box, glossy printed.

Folded corrugated cardboard formers inside. Lens in clear plastic bag inside cardboard.

Paperwork on top of cardboard, just under box cover.

Includes hood, big folded instruction sheet and warrantee card.

 

Introduced       specs       top

June 2011 .

 

Shipping Since       specs       top

November 2011.

 

Tokina Product Number       specs       top

Nikon: ATX175PROFXN.

Canon: ATX175PROFXC.

 

Warranty, USA       specs       top

Three Years.

 

Price, USA       specs       top

$720, November 2011.

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Overall   Auto and Manual Focus    Bokeh   Caps    Color    Coma    

Distortion   Ergonomics   Eyeblow   Falloff    Filters   Flare and Ghosts

Focus Breathing   Color Fringes     Mechanics    

Sharpness   Sunstars   Survivability

 

Overall      performance      top

Nikon

Smaller, lighter and less expensive than the 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S, and just as sharp.

Not as good as the Nikon 16-35mm VR, but smaller, lighter and less expensive.

 

Canon

This Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX ATX should be as good optically as Canon's 17-40mm f/4 L and Canon's top-of-the-line professional16-35mm f/2.8 L II, which are as good as Nikon's 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S.

However, since the Canon 17-40mm f/4 L costs the same as this Tokina, there's no reason to buy this lens for Canon unless the Tokina's price drops significantly.

 

Auto and Manual Focus      performance      top

This Tokina lens has a small internal motor to focus itself.

 

AF Speed

Autofocus is about as fast as the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S and Nikon 16-35mm VR, however this Tokina lens isn't silent: you can hear its little motor buzzing as it focuses.

 

AF Accuracy

AF is perfect at every focal length on my Nikon D3.

 

AF Noise

This Tokina has a much noisier AF motor than the Silent Wave Motor of Nikon's lenses.

It is not a Silent Motor as in Canon and Nikon lenses. This Tokina sounds like it has a regular electric motor in it, like from a toy car.

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus is great; just pull the focus ring towards you and go!

It turns in the correct direction, something Sigma lenses often do not.

 

Bokeh      performance      top

Bokeh is rarely visible with ultrawide lenses, since very few things ever get out-of-focus.

Bokeh is the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are.

If you can see the bokeh, which you only will at the 35mm end and with very close subjects so that the background is thrown out of focus, bokeh is very good.

Diaphragm, Tokina 17-35mm f/4 at f/5.6

Focused at 1 foot at 35mm at f/4: smooth backgrounds.

 

Caps      performance      top

Diaphragm, Tokina 17-35mm f/4 at f/5.6

Capped Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

The front cap is Tokina's usual excellent pinch-type cap, almost as good as Nikon's and far better than Canon's front caps.

The rear cap is Tokina's usual; it's just fine.

 

Color Rendition      performance      top

Color rendition appears identical to my NIKKOR lenses.

 

Coma      performance      top

There is almost no coma wide-open at 17mm, although the corners do get smeary. There isn't any coma at 24mm and 35mm.

Coma is weird smeared blobs that appear around bright points of light in the corners. It's not a problem with this lens.

See also sagittal coma flare.

 

Distortion      performance      top

The Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX has far less distortion than any other ultrawide zoom.

In fact, it has only about half the distortion of any other similar lens, even at triple the price. The Nikon 16-35mm VR has four times the distortion at 16mm!

The Tokina 17-35mm's distortion is invisible, except possibly for some minor barrel distortion only at 17mm. Here's how it looks at its worst:

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Distortion at 17mm, Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX. enlarge.

For more critical use, plug these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

 
FX and Film at 3m (10')
17mm
+2.0
21mm
+0.5
24mm
-0.5
28mm
-1.0
35mm
-1.1

© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Even better than suggested by these low numbers is that the distortion is all first-order, making it trivial to correct completely in Photoshop's lens distortion filter.

 

Ergonomics      performance      top

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX. enlarge.

Ergonomics are swell.

The first thing you'll notice is that the zoom ring is very stiffly damped. It wants two fingers to adjust, unlike Nikon's 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S which can be zoomed with just one finger.

The metal focus ring works great; push away for AF and pull towards you for manual focus switching.

This is a tight, tough little lens. The wide front keeps your fingers out of the picture.

 

Eyeblow       performance     top

As some zoom lenses zoom in and out, air can pump in and out, and can blow out of a camera eyepiece.

This Tokina has no eyeblow; its front doesn't pump in and out enough to move enough air. This is good.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)      performance      top

Falloff on FX is somewhat visible wide open at 17mm, and goes away otherwise.

It will be even less of an issue on DX (see crop factor).

I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background:

 

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX falloff on FX and film, no correction, Nikon.

 
f/4
f/5.6
f/8
17mm
24mm
35mm

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with      performance      top

Look out: 82mm filters are uncommon and expensive.

A 6mm-thick UV filter worked fine, as did an 82mm Tiffen digital HT ND 0.6 grad in rotating mount — but watch it: these filters almost vignette and anything thicker would cause vignetting at 17mm on full-frame.

Don't use a polarizer on any 17mm lens.

 

Flare and Ghosts      performance      top

Flare and Ghosts, Tokina 17-35

Flare and Ghosts at 27mm at f/8.

If you point it straight into the sun, overexpose and put something dark against which you can see ghosts in the other corner, it's easy to get some green blobs opposite the sun.

These are never a problem for normal use, but if they bother you, camera-brand lenses are better.

 

Focus Breathing      performance      top

Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, for instance, a couple having a conversation, the image from the Tokina 17-35/4 gets slightly smaller as focused more closely.

 

Lateral Color Fringes      performance      top

Nikon

There are no lateral color fringes on the D3, which corrects them automatically.

 

Canon

Haven't tried yet.

 

Mechanics      performance      top

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Rear, Tokina 17-35mm f/4, Nikon mount. enlarge.

This Tokina is a tough, well-made lens. It seems like it will take quite a beating; what plastic there is is very tough.

 

Hood

Plastic.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Mount

Plastic.

 

Fore Barrel

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Metal; rubber covered.

 

Mid and Aft Barrel Exterior

Plastic.

 

Zoom Ring

Plastic; rubber covered.

 

Internals

Metal and plastic.

 

Mount

Metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Identity Plate

Black and gold debossed metal plate, with clear plastic window for focus scale.

 

Serial Number

Serial number is printed on a glued-on sticker on the bottom rear of barrel

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

Yes.

 

Noises When Shaken

Lots of clicking and clunking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness      performance      top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

The Tokina 17-35mm f/4 is as sharp as Nikon's professional 17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S that costs more than twice as much.

It's not as sharp as Nikon's 16-35mm VR, but no other SLR zoom lens is, either.

This Tokina is blurrier in the corners of FX at 17mm at f/4, just like Nikon's 17-35mm. Both these lenses get sharper in the corners as stopped down, and are sharp at 17mm throughout most of the image, even at f/4.

At 24mm, this Tokina lens is sharp corner-to-corner on FX even at f/4, which is better than the Nikon 17-35mm.

At 35mm, this Tokina is slightly softer at f/4 throughout the frame, and super-sharp from f/5.6 on.

 

Sunstars      performance      top

Tokina 17-35mm Sunstar

Sunstar, Tokina 17-35 at f/11.

With its slightly rounded 9-bladed diaphragm, this Tokina 17-35 makes somewhat softer 18-pointed sunstars.

 

Survivability       performance     top

The Tokina 17-35mm f/4 seems pretty tough. So long as you don't hit the recessed glass, I doubt you can kill it.

The exterior is a solid barrel, inside of which the lens elements move in and out. Pop on a filter, and it's invincible because the barrel never moves.

The AF motor can die, and I'm unsure how much luck you'll have getting it serviced in 20 or 30 years.

 

Compared             top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AF

Nikon 17-35/2.8, 16-35mm VR and Tokina 17-35mm f/4. enlarge.

As I've said before, this Tokina is the smallest and lightest current ultrawide full-frame zoom, it's as sharp as most other professional ultrawide zooms, and has the lowest distortion of any of them at any price.

If I had to find something it can't do as well as one other lens, the Nikon 16-35mm VR is sharper and does have VR, but the 16-35 VR has much more distortion.

 

Versus Tokina

 
Introduced
2011
2010
1990s
1990s
Filter Size
82mm
none
77mm
77mm
Filter Threads
plastic
none
Metal
Metal
Distortion (W~T)
Diaphragm Blades
9 rounded
9 rounded
6
9
Sunstars
18 soft points
18 soft points
6 points
18 points
Focus
motor
motor
screw
screw
Instant manual-focus override?
no
no
no
no
AF/MF switch
pull ring
pull ring
move camera switch
pull ring
Weight
592g
946g
504g
601g
Made in
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Price, 11/2011
$100 used
$300 used

 

Versus Nikon

 
Introduced
2011
1999
2010
2000
1993
Filter Size
82mm
77mm
77mm
77mm
77mm
Filter Threads
plastic
Metal
plastic
plastic
Metal
Distortion (W~T)
Diaphragm Blades
9 rounded
9 rounded
9 rounded
7
9
Sunstars
18 soft points
18 soft points
18 soft points
14 points
18 points
Focus
motor
AF-S SWM
AF-S SWM
screw
screw
Instant manual-focus override?
no
Yes
Yes
no
no
AF/MF switch
pull ring
slide switch
slide switch
on camera
locking ring
Weight
592g
730g
678g
370g
588g
Made in
Japan
Japan
Thailand
Japan
Japan
Price, 11/2011
$700 used

 

Versus Canon

 
Anni
1993-2007
1989-1995
2003-
2007-
2001-2007
2011-
Maximum Aperture
f/3.5-4.5
f/2.8
f/4
f/2.8
f/2.8
f/4
Filter Size
77mm
72mm
77mm
82mm
77mm
82mm
Filter Threads
plastic
Metal
plastic
Metal
Metal
plastic
Length
69mm
89mm
97mm
112mm
103mm
94.5mm
Distortion (W~T)
Diaphragm Blades
5
6
7
7
7
9 rounded
Sunstars
10 points
6 points
14 points
14 points
14 points
18 soft points
Focus
USM
motor
USM
USM
USM
motor
Instant manual-focus override?
Yes
no
Yes
Yes
Yes
no
AF/MF switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
pull ring
Weight
331g
549g
474g
634g
599g
592g
Made in
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Price, 1/2012
$200 used
$600 used
$1,000 used

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

This Tokina has less distortion than any other ultrawide zoom, it's built tough, and it's as sharp as Nikon's and Canon's professional lenses.

If you've found the effort I put into researching and sharing all this information for free, this website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially directly to it in Nikon mount at Adorama, Nikon mount at Amazon, Canon EOS mount at Adorama or Canon EOS mount at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken. This is a limited production lens, so if you want one, you'll have to order it and be patient.

 

Specifically for Nikon

This Tokina 17-35mm f/4 FX is a great choice if you don't want to buy — or to carry — Nikon's superior (but not professional) 16-35 VR. The 16-35 VR is sharper and adds VR, which makes it my personal choice, even if it has a lot more easy-to-correct distortion.

Nikon's 18-35 is a sleeper here and I haven't mentioned it except in the comparison table above. It costs less than the Tokina and is about as sharp, but it has a lot more distortion and is built much less tough. It also weighs a lot less than any of the other lenses for Nikon.

Pros still pay $1,770 for Nikon's 17-35/2.8 because it's tough and because it has instant manual-focus override. If you're not shooting it every day for a living, sure, this Tokina is excellent!

 

Specifically for Canon

With Canon, our choice is easy: Tokina's lens is nice, but since the genuine Canon 17-40 L sells for about the same price, I wouldn't bother with this Tokina for Canon unless its price comes way down – or if you really need the lowest possible distortion.

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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