Tokina 17-35 f 4 First Impressions

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by andre_noble|5, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. Hello,

    Apologies for not posting 100% crops as I would like.

    Nevertheless I want to share first impressions after shooting about 150 images with the Tokina 17 35 f4 on my Nikon D300 using mirror
    lock up. This is a full frame lens on a DX body (so I did not get a chance to evaluate border and corners).

    Build quality feels similar to my Nikon 20-35 f2.8 AFD

    The lens is spectacular at the wider focal lengths: ultrasharp from 5.6 up.
    At 35mm however, the lens doesnt get sharp until sometime after 5.6 (It is super sharp at f8).

    Peculiarly, at 35mm f4, the images look very similar to those taken with a Zeiss softar II: (VERY low contrast with veiling flare). At 35mm
    f5.6, a Zeiss softar I.
    At 17mm f4 is a Zeiss Softar I type softness. At 17mm f5.6 sharpness begins.

    Curvilinear Distortion was unnoticeable in all images - and I am very sensitive to distortion.

    Now about the softness wide open - it was quite dissappointing until I realized there is somewhat of a sharp image underneath - in other
    words, its not a mushy softness so much as a "soft focus" type softness.

    Summary: The professional build quality, the non-existant disortion, incredible resolution at 5.6/8.0 and above, and even soft focus effect
    wide open at 35mm makes this a perfect travel, landscape, and portrait lens. There were optical compromises here, the trade off is
    dreamy soft veiling flare wide open for incredibly low distortion and high contrast and resolution capability at f5.6/f8.0 to f11/f16.
  2. Thanks a lot for sharing your impressions! Do you check the lens for front/back focus issues ?
  3. wondering why you would need that if you already have a 20-35/2.8?
  4. Paul, no I haven't yet. Eric, I sold the 20-35 f2.8. Did not like the color cast nor the distortion. I will try to upload sample images from the Tokina 17-35. All shots except building shots at 100% crop sharpened 100%, 0.5, 0 in photshop.
  5. 100% Crop at 35mm f4:
  6. 100%crop, 35mm f5.6
  7. 100%crop, 35mm f8
  8. 100%crop, 35mm f11
  9. 100%crop, 35mm f 16
  10. Another 100% crop to compare f4 vs f8, here's f4:
  11. Another 100% crop to compare f4 vs f8, here's f8:
  12. Low Distortion:
  13. More Low Distortion:
  14. Those last two shots are pretty much full frame on DX format. (minimal crop)
    Also, I illustrated the 35mm end of the zoom range because I feel this to be the "weaker" end (in terms of the softness at large apertures).
    The shots at 17mm 24mm (not shown) , etc were very confidence building in terms of great resolution and contrast at 5.6 and higher. I feel this is a first rate, professional optic. Easily the equal or better of my former Nikon 20-35 f2.8.
    (Can anyone tell me what that darkish area running roughly vertical in the middle my crop shot's sky is? - a raindrop on the filter or dust on sensor?)
  15. I've never tested a lens like you have here, but 35mm @ f/4 certainly looks odd.
    By the way, I used to work for Carnival and was on the ship in your photos for 6 months in 2004.
  16. What a coincidence. I hope the photos brought back good
  17. You lost me at the mushy wide open examples. I wonder how they could pass this off as an ATX-Pro lens when it does not even come close to the 11-16/2.8.
    Whats the point of being sharpish at F8 and higher when most AF systems need 5.6 or lower to function properly?
    Get a 16-35 F4 Nikon or a used 17-35/f2.8 Nikon from Keh. Ken Grobl did the latter when he migrated from Canon to Nikon. His business would fail if his wide zoom was poor at 2.8-5.6.
  18. Well, Niko, you win some, you lose some. I'd rather have no distortion than perfect quality wide-open. This is a wide-angle, after all.
    I'd also like to know if the CA is kept in check. And I'd also love to see an FX vs 35mm comparison! Thanks for your report, Andre.
  19. Niko, and I wonder how 35mm lens manufacturers continue
    to make wide angle lenses such as the Nikon 16-35 VR that
    have coke bottle distortion.

    Sure, I would have paid and extra $150 for Tokina to add
    nano coating (or whatever it would have taken to eliminate
    the ghosting and flare at f4 and f5.6.

    But I recognize a good optic. You will be hard pressed to
    find even a leica mount rangefinder wide angle lens with
    the Tokina 17-35's low distortion performance.
  20. Oops after further review...

    This Tokina 17-35 f4 lens is really prone to flare, even
    compared to my previous Nikon 20-35
    f2.8 lens. Oh well... I can work around it...
  21. I have one that I'm trying on a 5DII. So far, I find it works well for landscape and architecture. It's almost too soft in the corners when not stopped down. There is some CA, but not too much. I've only corrected one photo for that so far.
    Here are four shots taken with this lens:
  22. Wow! I want one!
  23. Decentering Issue Update:

    My initial tests had me concerned
    about possible asymetry of sharpness
    (due to decentering of elements).

    Unfortunately I did find that the left side
    of a DX image was noticeably softer
    the the right side - this was noticeable
    at the longer end of the zoom (from
    about 28mm to 35mm, most prominent
    at 35mm.

    I decided to return the lens to Samy's
    Camera. If the lens was demomstrating
    decentered elements on DX, it would
    be unacceptable on FX.

    This decentering may also partially
    explain the really soft images of the
    cruise ship.

    I will try to post images later.

    Other than that fatal problem, the
    optics were impressive.

Share This Page