Tokina 70-200mm f/4
Tokina 70-200mm f/4 VR FX (covers all formats, 67mm filters, 35.8 oz./1,015 g, 3.3'/1.0 m close focus, about $1,100 including hood but without optional tripod collar; comes in Nikon mount only.) I got mine at Adorama, it also comes from Amazon. Tokina does not seal its boxes, so never buy from a retail store or anyplace other than these approved sources since you could be slipped a used, incomplete, returned defective or unwarranted gray-market lens and never know it.
This free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. I get no government hand-outs and run no pledge drives to support my research, so please always use any of these links for the best prices and service whenever you get anything. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.
Sample Image Files top
Palm, 03 November 2014. Tokina 70-200mm wide-open at f/4 at 70mm, Nikon D810, ISO 100 at 1/500. Camera-original © 36 MP LARGE BASIC JPG file. If you look at the original image at 100% on a typical 100 DPI monitor, the complete image printed at the same magnification would be 75 x 50" (2 x 1.3 meters)!
Palm, 03 November 2014. Tokina 70-200mm wide-open at f/4 at 200mm, Nikon D810, ISO 100 at 1/500. Camera-original © 36 MP LARGE BASIC JPG file. If you look at the original image at 100% on a typical 100 DPI monitor, the complete image printed at the same magnification would be 75 x 50" (2 x 1.3 meters)!
There is no sharper telephoto zoom made. You can pay more, but no telephoto zoom is sharper. This Tokina is as sharp as the state-of-the-art Nikon 70-200mm f/4 VR and Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR II, and sharper than Nikon's older teles.
Its optics are mostly perfect, its mechanics are super tough, but its VR (Vibration Reduction) system is a little clunkier than Nikon's. Tokina's VR system always makes an audible click when it starts and when it stops. It also makes a softly audible noise while running if you hold your ear to the lens. Its AF system isn't silent; it makes a very quiet whistle as AF operates, audible only in very quiet conditions.
The VR system works, easily giving me sharp handheld shots at 1/30 at 200mm, but oddly a defect sometimes leads to a blurred shot at higher speeds, so switch it off at high speeds.
Its AF/MF and VR ON/OFF switches are very stiff, as is the zoom ring. This is a lens for a man who likes a tough lens that takes some force to move its controls.
Tokina's AF-S system works just like Nikon and Canon's: just grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual focus override.
This Tokina 70-200mm f/4 comes in Nikon mount only.
It has an internal autofocus motor, so it should work on even the cheapest Nikon DSLRs.
It works perfectly on the Nikons on which I tried it made since about 2005, but may or may not work on older Nikons on which Nikon's own 70-200/4 VR works flawlessly.
Tokina has done enough work to ensure it works on all the cameras with which anyone is likely to use this lens, but with cameras from before 2005 it may or may not work.
As a non-Nikon lens, there is never any guarantee that this Tokina lens will work perfectly with any particular model of camera, especially with cameras we might buy many years from now. Nikon doesn't want any part of you using non-camera brand lenses on their cameras. This is the chance you take with off-brand lenses.
Here are my observations:
On my Nikon F5 it focuses erratically and there is no VR. Exposure is fine, but everything else is so flaky that I wouldn't use it on my F5.
Forget it on the Nikon F4. There is no autofocus and exposure modes are confused. It even locked up the mirror on my F4 which I had to clear by putting on a real Nikon lens and firing again. VR won't work with any lens on the F4; be sure to turn off VR if you use a VR lens on the F4.
Tokina 70-200mm. enlarge.
Tokina calls this the Tokina ATX 70-200mm F4 PRO FX VCM-S (IF):
ATX: Advanced Technology-seX.
PRO: Added to justify the exotic price. "Pro" on Tokina's lenses used to mean push-pull focus ring to select autofocus or manual focus before Tokina was able to copy the same clutch mechanism as used by Nikon and Canon.
FX: Just to remind you that it covers full frame.
VCM-S: Vibration Correction Module - ultraSonic AF motor. Oddly these two completely unrelated items are connected by a hyphen.
IF: Internal Focus. Nothing moves externally as focussed.
∅67: 67mm filters.
CE: (European) Consumer Electronics safety certified.
19 elements in 14 groups.
Three SD glass elements (FK01, same as Nikon's ED and Canon's UD glass).
Front and rear groups move inside the barrel as zoomed. The outer barrel never moves.
Rated 3 stops.
Tokina 70-200mm f/4 at f/32 and 200mm.
9 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/32.
Focal Length top
Angle of View top
34.45º ~ 12.42°
3.3 feet (1.0 meters).
67mm front cap and rear cap included.
The rear cap is poor, and the front cap is pretty good.
Tokina 70-200/4 with BH-672 hood.
BH-672 plastic bayonet hood, included.
3.2" (82mm) diameter by 6.6" (167.5mm) long.
35.810 oz. (1,015.2 g) measured.
Tokina specifies 34.6 oz. (2.2 pounds or 980g).
Made in Japan.
Box end, Tokina 70-200mm f/4. bigger.
3 year USA.
Only buy from approved sources to ensure you get the 3 year USA warranty.
$1,100, November 2014.
Box, Tokina 70-200mm f/4. bigger.
The Tokina 70-200mm is ultra sharp, but its flaky VR system may make it a no-go.
Autofocus is about the same as other lenses. It's very fast but not instantaneous, just like my Nikon lenses.
AF is always dead-on on my D810.
Manual focus is beautiful! It's smooth and perfectly damped, and the big metal ring feels great.
The focus ring turns 165º from infinity to the closest focus distance.
The Tokina 70-200mm has typical barrel distortion at 70mm and pincushion at 200mm. It's about the same as other 70-200 lenses and the same as Nikon's 70-200/4 VR.
Plug these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter to correct it. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2014 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Ergonomics are solid, with tough build quality, solid rubber grips and even a metal focus ring.
The VR and AF switches take a strong hand to move. They don't move as easily as Nikon's or Canon's slide switches.
Zooming is stiffly damped. This allows very precise framing for landscape work, but it's too stiff and slow for sports. Your fingers will get quite a workout and you'll develop the vice-like grip of a professional guitarist.
The rubber-covered metal focus ring and overall construction makes this lens feel much more solid than Nikon or Canon's midline lenses.
The rear element is fixed and sealed, so no air pumps in or out of the 70-200mm f/4 as zoomed.
This will help keep your sensor cleaner than lenses that pump air in and out.
I've greatly exaggerated what little falloff there is by shooting a flat gray field and placing these on a flat gray background:
There is no problem with vignetting on full frame, even with three stacked thick rotating filters. You can stack even more on a DX camera.
The filter ring never moves.
Ghosts, 200mm at f/11.
This Tokina has more flare and ghosts than other recent lenses.
You'll usually get a dim blob opposite the sun when pointed into a brilliant sunrise or sunset.
While Nikon and Canon have the multicoating technology to put 19 glass elements in a tube and control the flare, this Tokina doesn't control it as well.
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from the Tokina 70-200 f4 gets larger as focused more closely.
As shot on the 36MP Nikon D810, there are no lateral color fringes. The D810 usually corrects this automatically if and when there is any lateral color.
This Tokina focuses very close:
Omega Constellation at 200mm at close-focus distance on full frame. Monday, 03 November 2014.
Crop from above 36MP FX image at 100%. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your monitor, the complete image printed at this same magnification would be 75 x 50" (2 x 1.3 meters)!
This is wide-open at f/4. It will be even sharper, and more will be in focus, stopped down. In this shot, the only thing really in focus is the day indicator, and the hands are completely out of focus. What looks like noise is actually the watch's finish as seen in direct sunlight.
Rear, Tokina 70-200mm f/4. enlarge.
This is a tough lens, much tougher than the all-plastic offerings from others.
When first opened from the factory, my lens was super clean without any dust on its outside or inside.
Hood Bayonet Mount
Metal; rubber covered.
Distance markings seen behind a clear plastic window.
Plastic; rubber covered.
Aft Barrel Exterior
Metal and plastic.
Metal. Mounts as well as Nikon's mounts, not grittier as other 3rd-party lenses often feel.
Debossed gold-look plastic plate on midbarrel.
Sticker glued into a recess on the bottom of the barrel.
Rain seal at mount
Noises When Shaken
Moderate to strong clattering from all of what's floating around inside.
See also Sample Image Files.
This Tokina 70-200mm is always ultrasharp, especially in the corners wide-open at every focal length setting.
Here are Tokina's claimed MTF curves:
Sunstar, 70mm at f/8.
Sunstar, 70mm at f/16.
Sunstar, 70mm at f/22.
With its curved 9-bladed diaphragm, this Tokina 70-200 usually doesn't make sunstars unless stopped way down. At f/16 and smaller you'll get broad 18-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light, but not much of anything at f/8 and larger.
Each dagger is spread over a slight arc due to the curved blades so sunstars are more diffuse and less visible than the sharp daggers made by straight diaphragm blades.
The Tokina 70-200mm f/4 is pretty tough.
All zooming and focus is internal to the barrel, so beating the outside of the lens won't directly impact any of the internal mechanisms.
It autofocuses with an internal motor. If this specialized motor dies and Tokina won't fix it or supply parts, you no longer have autofocus, but manual focus will work.
It's typical that as the years roll on that this lens may or may not work on newer cameras. We take for granted that ten or twenty years down the road that our Canon EF and Nikon lenses will work with any newer camera we buy, but it is not uncommon for off-brand lenses to have compatibility problems with some models years in the future, and that there probably will be no fix for that.
VR works well at slow speeds, locking down the image in the finder as soon as it activates.
I had no problem getting super sharp hand-held images at 1/30 at 200mm.
One problem is that the VR system is somewhat defective in that it sometimes can make images worse at high shutter speeds! In other words, if some of your shots at 1/250 and 1/500 aren't as sharp as you'd expect, turn off VR.
This Tokina is as sharp as the best Nikon and Canon lenses.
It has the same distortion, but poorer ghost and flare performance.
This Tokina will have more compatibility and VR problems than genuine Nikon and Canon lenses.
Tokina 70-200mm. enlarge.
AF means autofocus, and you can grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual override.
MF means it won't autofocus at all. Move the ring to focus.
VCM ON/OFF switch
This is the Image Stabilization (VR or IS) system.
I'd leave it ON, but turn it off on a tripod or at shutter speeds above 1/125.
This lens is intended for amateurs who demand the sharpest possible lens, and to whom a few hundred dollars saved buying a new lens is more important than this lens' extra weight, clunky VR system and more limited compatibility with older cameras, or cameras purchased in the future.
There is no sharper tele zoom made at any price. Pixels per dollar, this is the best value VR tele made for Nikon by anyone.
Personally and to professionals, saving a few hundred dollars on a very important thousand-dollar lens is insignificant. I'd get the genuine Nikon's 70-200/4 VR instead and save myself any future hassles, as well as get a more reliable VR system and a lighter lens to carry.
See Is It Worth It. If you use this lens daily or make your living with it, by all means get the Nikon's 70-200/4 VR, but if saving a few hundred dollars on a thousand-dollar lens is more important, then you might want to consider this lens.
If money mattered to me, for the same price as this Tokina 70-200 f/4 I'd upgrade to the fully professional Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D and never look back. The Nikon 80-200/2.8D works with every full-frame and 35mm Nikon made since 1977 and is built to last a lifetime. I'd much rather have an extra stop of speed and a much better-made lens in exchange for the iffy VR system of this Tokina.
This Tokina lens is unsurpassed for sharpness. There is no sharper telephoto zoom made by anyone. Nikon's 70-200/4 VR and Nikon 70-200/2.8 VR II are just as insanely sharp as well, but there is much more than just sharpness that define a good lens.
If you've found my research helpful, know that no one pays me to write and share these reviews. I receive nothing for all my effort and expense if you use my help here and then foolishly risk buying at retail.
My main source of support for this free website comes from when you get your things at any of these links, and if you get this lens, I'd get it at Adorama as I got mine, or get it from Amazon. Tokina does not seal its boxes, so never buy from a retail store or anyplace other than these approved sources since you could be slipped a used, incomplete, returned defective or unwarranted gray-market lens and never know it.
Thanks for using any of these links to get the best prices and best service whenever you get anything. You save time, money and trouble, and it supports me to keep adding more information and reviews for everyone's benefit. Everyone wins, so thanks again for helping me help you! Ken.
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