The Tokina is a very solidly built, sharp and contrasty wide angle zoom that has gotten rave reviews. It has non-rotating front element so it works well with CP and split ND filters. We really like the Tokina ‘clutch’ for switching between manual and autofocus and the nice f/4 aperture.
The “II” version boasts improved multi-coating technology to cut down on reflections that can cause flare and ghosting. The Focus Clutch Mechanism feature provides a faster, smoother autofocus operation, with a smooth manual focus action not normally found in autofocus lenses.
Comparing the ultra-wide crop-sensor camera lenses is an extremely difficult task, so I’ll put the summary first: they all deliver excellent image quality and you can’t go wrong with any of them. To my ‘just taking pictures’ assessment, they are all excellent. There are some differences though, so I’ll try to point those out so you have a better chance at choosing the one that’s best for you.
- Sigma 8-16 f/4.5-5.6 is the widest (and remember, 8mm is 20% wider than 10mm, so it’s a very real difference). Not quite as sharp in the corners as the others, and lower maximum aperture, but it’s really pretty good, especially considering it’s the widest of the wide.
- Nikon 10-24 f/3.5-4.5G Shows a fair amount of barrel distortion at 10mm (note to self: never take girlfriend’s portrait with this lens) and doesn’t have the best corner sharpness of the group. It’s got the largest range and is fast to autofocus, which makes it a great wide-angle walkaround lens. If I was mostly going to shoot at 15-24 and occasionally shoot wider, this would be a great choice. If I was going to take lots of 10mm scenic shots, I’d probably look at one of the others – they’re a bit better at 10mm.
- Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 has a bit more distortion than the others but delivers very nice images and is also built well. It does everything well.
- Nikon 12-24 f/4G has exceptional center resolution and is very flare resistant, but does show some field curvature at 12mm. It’s a very good lens, maybe better than the competition, but not as much better as its price would suggest.
- Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 (version I or II, they aren’t very different) gives you the widest aperture if you’ll be working in low light (with ultra wides, depth of field is rarely an important point), but it’s a bit soft at f/2.8, so the aperture advantage isn’t huge (I usually shoot it at f/3.5 if I can to get it sharper). It has very little vignetting and distortion, probably the least of the group. It does show quite a bit of chromatic aberration at times, but overall it may be the best image quality of the group.
- Tokina 12-24 f/4 PRO is built like a sturdy tank (and therefore a bit heavier). It’s a good lens but does tend to give low contrast images when shot into the sun and has a tendency to show some chromatic aberration when objects are backlit. This is the one I’d take if conditions were rough: I pity the rock this bad boy falls on. Poor rock.
But like I said above: they’re all excellent. We hardly ever get anything but happy comments about any of them.
- Filter Size
- 77mm (nonrotating)
- 1.2 lb (without tripod collar)
- Minimum Focusing Distance
- 1 foot
- Maximum Magnification
- Angle of view: (crop frame)
- 99 to 61 degrees
- Zoom method
- Image Stabilization
- Focusing System
- Internal, AF-MF Clutch
- Aperture Blades
- 9, circular
- Low Dispersion Elements
- Aspherical Elements
- Weather Resistant
- Nikon F
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