The Tokina 11–16mm f/2.8 is an ultra-wide-angle lens, and not to be confused with a fisheye lens. You have no control of the distortion a fisheye causes in an image, but some control of an ultra-wide’s distortion, when used correctly. The Tokina, therefore, becomes a powerful creative tool in the hands of a photographer who understands ultra-wide-angle lenses.
Read real customer reviews of the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 here.
2. Manipulating Subject Matter.
The Tokina 11–16mm f/2.8 is not a lens for general-purpose photography. Instead, it’s best used by positioning the lens very close to a subject you want to emphasize in relation to the background.
This is why ultra-wide-angle lenses are a favorite of landscape photographers, who, for instance, want to fill the foreground of an image with a spread of wildflowers, but also show the contrasting mountains or spectacular sky across the back of the photo.
Architecture photographers also understand the benefit of an ultra-wide, such as the Tokina 11–16mm. It helps them create amazing photographs of interior spaces, with the ceiling, floor and as many as three of the walls in the frame. Automobile photographers also use ultra-wide-angles to shoot interiors and engine compartments.
You can have great fun photographing people with the Tokina, although the pictures will be anything but flattering, as noses seem to distend from the face and heads from the neck. This lens is appropriate for group photos and lifestyle portraits, when you photograph an individual within an environment that represents and defines he or she.
3. Format Compatibility.
The DX, or digital format, designation in the Tokina 11–16mm lens’ name means its image is smaller than a full-frame, so the lens is compatible with APS-C/1.6x/1.5x FOVCF DSLRs. The Tokina’s full-frame DSLR equivalent is actually a 17.6–25.6mm lens.
4. Stopping Action in Low Light.
Since the Tokina 11–16mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the entire range of its limited focal lengths, it is an excellent lens for low-light action, even hand held.
5. Uncommonly Good Optics.
Considering the extreme nature of the Tokina 11–16mm lens, it is gratifying to see that its image sharpness is similar to many “normal” lenses. The center portion of the image is clear and precise at the wide f/2.8 aperture, and then becomes even more exact as you move to smaller apertures. As would be expected, the corners are soft at f/2.8, but improve rather quickly through f/4 to f/5.6. Landscape photographers will appreciate the realism of images at f/8.
6. Technical Distortion.
The technical distortion of the Tokina 11–16mm lens is not a barrier to benefiting fully from distorting images creatively. There is the barest suggestion of moustache barrel distortion at 11mm, and it essentially disappears when you shoot at the 14–16mm end.
7. The Best Control of Vignetting.
Vignetting registers and then fades similarly to the Tokina’s barrel distortion. The two stops of vignetting seen in the corners at f/2.8 weaken with longer focal lengths and smaller apertures. Even though approximately .8 to .6 stops persist in the corners at f/8, the Tokina passes this test better than its competitors.
8. A Flare for Flare.
When you shoot outdoors with the Tokina 11–16mm, it will be difficult to keep the sun or other light sources from entering the frame, or editing flare from your images in post processing. Of course, this is an excellent challenge of your compositional skills, both to frame your photos to avoid the sun and to learn how to use lens flare creatively, but sparingly.
9. Fix Chromatic Aberration in Post.
Although this Tokina lens exhibits chromatic aberration in the corners at all focal lengths, it rates as one of the best in this class of lenses. This makes it easier to fix on your computer.
10. Focus Freedom.
Because of the limited uses of an ultra-wide-angle lens, the auto-focus system doesn’t particularly need to be fast (You won’t be shooting race cars with it). The Tokina’s AF is certainly not the quickest, as the micro-motor AF drive will usually adjust focus twice, but, again, this shouldn’t disrupt the shooting process. Maybe, more importantly, the Tokina’s AF delivers the precision necessary for a lens with such a narrow depth of field.
Tokina has included what it calls the One Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism. The focus ring does not rotate during AF. Instead, it moves forward or backward to disengage (AF) or engage (MF) the manual focus gears.
11. Quality and Value.
Any ultra-wide-angle lens is a strange creature, but there is a competing menagerie in the marketplace. The Tokina 11–16mm f/2.8 Pro DX AT-X lens scores very high in most categories, but does have a few flaws. That being said, it can go toe-to-toe with other ultra-wide-angles. These include the Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5–5.6 DC HSM lens, Sigma 10–20mm f/4–5.6 EX DC HSM lens and the Canon EF-S 10–22mm f/3.5–4.5 USM lens, among others. The Tokina is priced in the middle at approximately $650. The Sigma 10–20mm is approximately $400; its brother is also $650; and the Canon is approximately $800. Please notice, however, that the Tokina has a wider aperture. This and its other capabilities have made it a popular choice, and it still is.
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