I get many requests to help photographers decide on what lens to get next. Unfortunately there usually isn’t one perfect answer as there so many things to consider such as price, focal length and quality.
So here are some of the best Tokina lenses that I have come across for both Canon and Nikon cameras. Lets get stuck in!
How well do Tokina lenses work with Canon & Nikon cameras?
A major concern with third party lenses is how they perform with our cameras, whether that be Canon or Nikon. It’s a good thought to consider as cameras continue to advance and improve, lenses need to stay compatible, as much as possible.
The camera format is a major factor. Is the lens going on an APS-C format camera like the Nikon D3400 or Canon EOS Rebel T7? Or is the camera a full frame format like the Canon EOS 5D or Nikon D750? While the lenses will often fit on either format, an APS-C camera has the 1.5X crop factor to consider.
Mounting an APS-C lens on a full frame will trigger the camera to switch to the smaller format. You lose sensor area when that happens, and the crop factor also figures in again.
There might be some more subtle differences as well. Image stabilization and AF modes come to mind. Being completely compatible will be very important for some situations. So, deciding how you will using your new lens is an important thing to do before shopping.
Why use a Tokina lens versus a Canon or Nikon lens?
- Focal Length. Or zoom range. There may be a particular focal length we want, or a zoom range that we’re comfortable with. Maybe we came from 35mm film cameras and we miss that 28-200mm macro zoom lens we carried on trips. For APS-C cameras especially, there are some really wide ranging all-in-one zoom lenses. Ultra wide and extreme telephoto are other ranges to think about a Tokina lens.
- A macro lens in a specific focal length might be on our wish list. An out of the ordinary zoom range could also fall into this category.
- Size & Weight. Certain OEM lenses just seem so big. Many Tokina lenses are smaller and lighter weight than the camera brand models.
- Let’s face it, price is usually a prime reason to opt for a third party brand of anything, from remotes, to flashes, to lenses. In the same focal lengths, Tokina lenses are often substantially lower in price than the camera brand lens. Thankfully, we still get superb optical performance from the best Tokina lenses.
- Tokina lenses have a reputation for high quality for many years. Compared to some other third party brands, well, there just isn’t any real comparison. Next time you see a lens brand name that you don’t recognize, consider a Tokina instead. Some retail outlets sell lower end optics with their own branding label to keep kit prices down.
- It’s nice to have options. Since there are high quality third party brands like Tokina, we don’t have to either settle or break our budget.
Top 7 Best Tokina Lenses for Canon & Nikon Cameras
1. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Digital Zoom Lens (AF-S Motor) Review
First up is an excellent example of choice, focal length range, and price making this an attractive option. Designed for APS-C format cameras (like the Nikon D7200 or Canon EOS 80D), the lens covers a focal length range from very wide angle to wide angle.
A wonderful thing about this ultra wide zoom is the f/2.8 lens aperture. With many extreme range zoom lenses, the maximum aperture is often somewhat slow, and they get slower at the longer end. With that type of lens, the size and weight is kept down. Tokina 11-16 is f/2.8 all the way through its range. Filter size is large, but that’s true of most ultra wide lenses.
With the ultra wide angle of view and the f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens is an excellent choice for photographers involved in landscape, real estate, and architectural photography, also astrophotography. Anywhere a photographer needs to shoot a wider view, or is in cramped quarters, or is in marginal light conditions, this lens is a fantastic choice.
A focus motor is built in, making it compatible with all sorts of cameras. With its small size, high quality, and very reasonable price, this lens could become the wide angle lens to keep in your gear bag. It covers many situations, doing so with awesome performance. Highly recommended!
2. Tokina AF 16-28mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX Lens Review
Full frame format camera users also get an ultra wide angle zoom with a fast aperture to choose. If you are shooting with cameras such as the Nikon D750, D850, or D5, or the Canon EOS 5D mk III, or EOS 1DX mk II, this lens is designed to cover that format.
It’s a heavy lens, that’s for sure. But compared to similar focal length zooms, it is right in line with what one expects. One odd drawback I saw, no way to add a filter. A couple of other brands ultra wides are this way, too. And yet, I do see some brands with filter threads or filter drawers in their ultra wide angle lenses.
Focus motor is built in, so it is compatible with a huge number of cameras from several brands. Manual focusing has a neat trick with this lens (also on the 11-16/2.8 listed above). Even without flipping a switch on camera or lens, push and pull slightly on the focus ring to engage and disengage autofocus. Nice feature when shooting under pressure.
As is expected from Tokina, image quality is superb. Don’t get this and put it on an APS-C sensor camera, you would be wasting the awesome potential this lens brings to the table. I thought the price was very reasonable for what the 16-28mm f/2.8 lens does.
3. Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 PRO D Macro Lens Review
Fast f-stop, 1:1 macro, full frame coverage, and very high image quality. Using a longer than normal lens for macro photography is preferred by many photographers, this 100mm Tokina also doubles as a great portrait lens.
At maximum aperture, selective focus effects are possible, whether in portrait or macro photography. There is a very convenient focus limiter switch that can lock the focus out of the macro focus range making it focus faster for general use. Also on the topic of focus, a convenient manual focus clutch lets you manually tweak focus even while in AF modes.
With no built in focus motor, there is only manual focus available for entry level Nikon DX cameras like the D3400 or D5600. The Canon version has a focus motor, but it is rather slow compared to other lenses. If using on an APS-C format camera, be sure to figure in the 1.5X or 1.6X crop factor.
4. Tokina 12-28mm f/4.0 AT-X Pro DX Lens Review
Another option for APS-C format photographers is the 12-28mm f/4.0 lens. Still a very wide angle of view, this lens is smaller and lighter with the one stop slower maximum aperture.
With the slower f/4.0 f-stop, Tokina was able to keep size and weight way down for this lens. For smaller APS-C format cameras, like the Canon SL1 or Nikon D3400, that can become an important consideration for some users. Filter size is somewhat large (72mm), but at least it has filter threads!
Autofocus motor is built in, and it also has that focus ring feature for switching quickly from AF to MF. With f/4.0 as the maximum aperture, low light shooting may be limited. That’s only one stop of difference, but in marginal lighting, that will sometimes be the difference between hand held and using a tripod.
5. Tokina ATXAF120DXN 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro DX Lens Review
I told you there would be choices! Meant for APS-C camera users, it covers a little bit more range than some other wide zooms. Field of view is 74-104 degrees. So, from moderately wide to very wide.
Since it has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a significant wide zoom range, you might expect this lens to be large and heavy. You would be right, but it’s still slightly smaller and lighter than similar optics from other brands.
Size is not the reason to choose this lens, however. The reason to get this Tokina is for heavy duty construction and absolutely stellar optical performance. It’s really good. Everything about this lens feels like it is made for demanding work.
Filter size is gigantic, 82mm, so you may keep that in mind if you use ND or Pols a lot. It’s big, heavy, and costs a fair bit. But it’s still smaller, lighter, and less expensive than many lenses of similar build and performance.
6. Tokina 80-400/4.5-5.6 AT-X 840 D Telephoto Zoom Lens Review
A long telephoto with an enhanced range, this lens is one of the smaller 400mm capable lenses I have come across. Covering full frame format, you can mount it on APS-C format cameras for a long end in the super telephoto range. Equivalent view when using crop factor is impressive, 120-600 for 1.5X, 128-640 for 1.6X.
On the full frame cameras it’s meant for, no issues at all. Focus and exposure modes work across the board of brands and models of full frame cameras.
Relatively compact, it grows almost in length when zoomed to 400mm. Even so, it is still smaller than the first 400mm f/5.6 lens I ever bought. Maximum aperture is 4.5 at 80mm and 5.6 at 400mm. Not the perfect choice for some sports or wildlife photographers, but significantly smaller and less expensive than even single focal length lenses of wider aperture. Look at a 300mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/2.8 to see what I mean.
It has a very useful tripod collar, which balances better than trying to have your camera hold it on its own tripod mount. I wish the collar were removeable, but it’s pretty necessary to have it on this lens.
7. Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens Review
Full frame format, wide to very wide zoom range, moderate aperture, size, and price. Angle of view is 65-104 degrees. That’s a lot of wide angle, let tell you.
Don’t waste this lens by using it on crop format cameras. It is meant for the discriminating full frame user. A heavy duty build and amazing sharpness set this lens apart from less worthy competitors and puts it in nearly the same class as OEM lenses.
AF motor is louder than similar lenses, but that focus ring AF/MF switching is a great feature. Besides being sharp, this lens also has very little distortion for such an extreme wide angle.
As you can see, many fine choices are available when lens shopping if you include the best Tokina lenses in your search. If you want to up your photography game, I recommend heading over to my resource on online photography courses that you can take for free and go at your own pace!