Quick MTF of the Tokina 24-70 f/2.8 PRO Fx

Published July 31, 2015
Courtesy Tokina, USA

Tokina is releasing a new competitor in the 24-70mm f/2.8 standard zoom lens group. It’s a reasonably sized lens, having an 82mm diameter front ring, measuring 4.25 inches long, and weighing 2.2 pounds. That’s just a bit smaller and lighter than the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD or Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Mk II L lenses, a bit shorter and heavier than the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 AF-S G. Of course there is an ultrasonic motor and 9 bladed aperture assembly.

The Tokina has 15 elements in 11 groups with 3 molded aspheric and 3 ultra-low dispersion glass elements.

The release price is $1,000, making it a bit less expensive than the Tamron and far less expensive than the name brand 24-70 f/2.8 lenses. If the Tokina can deliver performance in the neighborhood of the other 24-70 lenses, its aggressive pricing should make it very popular.

We got our hands on one copy of the Tokina today. As you know, I prefer to test at least 10 copies to get and idea about the range of sample variation with a new lens, but it may be weeks before we get more of these, so I ran the one we had through our MTF bench just to get an idea of what it would be like. I’ll directly compare it to the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC USD lens in this post.

Focal Length Comparison

Most zoom lenses have better resolution at certain focal lengths. All of the 24-70 f/2.8 zooms we’ve tested have been weakest at 70mm and strongest at 24mm, which makes sense for a couple of reasons. The Tokina is certainly no exception, being awesomely sharp at 24mm but fading a bit at 50mm through 70mm.  (I apologize to those who can’t see the entire 800-pixel image without scrolling. We try to stay at 600 pixels, but this just isn’t readable at that size.)

Roger Cicala and Brandon Dube,, 2015

Comparison with the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC

The logical comparison for the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 PRO Fx is with the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC USM since they are the two primary third-party lenses in this focal length range. (Yes, Sigma has a 24-70mm zoom, but it’s a much older, soon to be replaced design and just not as good as the newer lenses.) If you’d like to see how it compares with the manufacturer’s 24-70 f/2.8 lenses you can see their measurements in our previous 24-70mm post.

Both lenses are at their best at 24mm. The Tokina, though, is clearly better in the center. In the outer 1/3 of the image there’s not a lot of difference, however.

Roger Cicala and Brandon Dube,, 2015


At 50mm things are remarkably even. I wouldn’t even begin to try to hair-split any differences.

Roger Cicala and Brandon Dube,, 2015


At 70mm, as we saw in the 24-70mm comparison we did last week, the Tamron really falls off. The Tokina remains every bit as good as it was at 50mm, and is clearly better than the Tamron.

Roger Cicala and Brandon Dube,, 2015


So What Does This Mean?

Well that really depends how much stock you put in MTF of your lenses. From that standpoint, it looks like the Tokina has better resolution than the Tamron at 70mm and in the center at 24mm. Otherwise, they’re very even. Based on MTF, and with a lower price point, I’d have to declare the Tokina the better lens.

There’s a lot more to it than that, though. The Tamron has vibration control and depending upon your shooting habits that may be a huge difference. Higher MTF doesn’t matter a bit in a motion-blurred photograph. Plus the Tamron has been available for some time and is known as a reliable lens with low copy-to-copy variation. There would also be a slightly different choice depending upon which brand you shoot with. The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Mk II is a really good lens; a bit better than the Tokina. If I shot Canon and money was no object, the Canon lens would be the way to go. The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S isn’t the best Nikkor zoom, so if I was a Nikon shooter, I’d be strongly leaning to one of the third-party zooms. Or waiting for the new Nikon 24-70mm lens to arrive.

And let’s remember, this is one copy of the Tokina compared to the average of multiple Tamron lenses. I’ll feel a lot more comfortable when I’ve tested 10 copies of the Tokina and seen how much sample variation there is. But for now, the Tokina is looking like a really good lens and an awesomely good price.


Roger Cicala and Brandon Dube

July, 2015

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Equipment
  • Michelle Bernard

    Were these tests done at f/2.8? Thanks!

  • Are you going to compare more copies of the Tokina 24-70? I would like to learn more about this lens.

  • any new update on the Tokina 24-70mm with the other copies you got so far?

  • Albert Silver

    Comparing the MTF results of the Tokina with the Nikkor and the Canon, the Tokina is nothing short of incredible. At 24mm they are roughly the same, at 50mm the Nikon is sharpest in the center, while the Tokina is the least impressive, but at 70mm, the Tokina is king!

  • Hi Roger,
    You mentioned the lens has an ultrasonic motor. Are you sure ?
    Tokina website ( says nothing about ultrasonic when it comes to 24-70. It only mentions a Silent Drive-Module, same as 16-28 F2.8.

    PS: Tokina is not shy to brag about ultrasonic drives – check the webpage for 70-200 f/4.

  • anonymous

    Could you do comparison of distortion and chromatic aberration too? I’ve been noticing that some “sharp” lenses might have these shortcomings, and that they might be overlooked by most ppl. I’m very curious whether tokina has better chromatic aberration or distortion control.

  • John Mc

    Agree with Chris the your weight comparison is incorrect; even worse than he indicated, if Tokina Press Release correct (1010g). 1010g ~= 2.222 lbs. It does zoom the Canon way; the Tamron doesn’t; for those that care.

  • Roger Cicala

    CarVac,they are, but they’re having to change their programming a bit because of the focal length thing first.

  • Roger Cicala

    Ah, thanks, got that fixed!

  • Matt

    The last graph in the first image is (probably) incorrect. It shows the Tamron lens, but you probably meant to compare the Tokina to itself at all 3 focal lengths. It appears to be correctly labeled, at least.

  • Chris Jankowski


    I the article you say:

    >>>Tokina is releasing a new competitor in the 24-70mm f/2.8 standard zoom lens group. It’s a reasonably sized lens, having an 82mm diameter front ring, measuring 4.25 inches long, and weighing 2.2 pounds. That’s just a bit smaller and lighter than the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD or Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Mk II L lenses, a bit shorter and heavier than the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 AF-S G.

    The weight comparison is certainly incorrect. The Canon zoom weighs 805g and Tamron 820g whereas the Tokina is 910g. So the Tokina is significantly heavier than both Canon and Tamron.

  • Brandon


    They are with time. Bryan has his own work to attend to, is working on the back-end for the “Image Quality Maps,” and I delivered over 1300 files to him this week to update the tool. It takes quite a while to add everything, check that it works, etc.

  • CarVac

    Are the zooms’ MTFs not going up on The-Digital-Picture?

  • Lilien

    No, there seems to be an error, you have posted the Tamron 70 mm chart in the first three charts (24/50/70 mm).

  • Roger Cicala

    Tom, yes, that’s what we posted.

  • Did you mean to have three Tokina charts in the first comparison 24,50,70?

  • For Pentax users this could bode well, if their lens relationship still holds, though I’m sure the Pentax version wouldn’t be as reasonably priced, at least it should be a pretty good performer.

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