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Lens review

Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6

15 May 2010
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • very good image quality in the 80-300 mm range,
  • negligible chromatic aberration at 80 mm focal length,
  • low distortion level,
  • well-controlled coma,
  • very low vignetting,
  • satisfactory work of autofocus,
  • solid casing and high build quality,
  • small dimensions for such a wide focal length range,
  • tripod collar and lens hood included.

Cons:

  • weak image quality at 400 mm,
  • huge chromatic aberration in the 300-400 mm range,
  • minimum focus from as far as 2.5 meters,
  • distinct astigmatism at longer focal lengths.

My impressions concerning the work with the Tokina are very positive. In the 80-300 mm range it performs really well and this range allows many practical applications. On stopping down the lens to f/8-f/11 we are able to work at 400 mm and get effects which are quite presentable e.g. in internet photo galleries. Really huge blow-ups or 1:1 crops can be a problem at 400 mm focal length even for a moderately demanding user but at 300 mm there’s nothing to carp about; still even there it’s better to stop down the lens a bit.

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The stopping down is often a serious issue, though. F/8 aperture and 300-400 mm focal lengths require either very good lighting conditions or stabilization. Unfortunately, the Tokina doesn’t feature an in-built stabilization system so it would make this lens a perfect partner for such bodies with stabilized sensors as a Sony Alfa 100 or a Pentax K10D. The Tokina is available with Canon and Nikon mounts, though, and these manufacturers don’t offer bodies with stabilized sensors. A vicious circle…

When it comes to the 80-200 mm range there’s nothing to blame. The image quality is excellent or very good at least and all optical aberrations – properly reined in. There’s a snag, though. The usefulness of this portrait focal lengths range is often limited by the significant distance of minimum focus, which for this lens amounts to as many as 2.5 meters. If you have the Tokina on a body and you sit in a room with at least one interesting face worth immortalizing nearby, you can put the camera to your eye only to find you are too close. We don’t even mention a macro mode, which is available for example in the Sigma 70-300 APO, and would be very useful here as well.

These several disadvantages shouldn’t overshadow numerous and unquestionable Tokina’s 80-400 mm good points. In fact there are so many of them that, having a 500 $ budget at your disposal, and thinking about buying the Tokina or another 70-300 mm class instrument with stabilization we might face a tough decision. I wish everybody had such problems, though.


Sample shots:

Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 400 mm, f/5.6, exp. 1/1600 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 80 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/1600 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.8 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 190 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/500 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary
Camera:Canon 20D
Parameters: 80 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/200 sec., ISO 800
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.1 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 400 mm, f/6.3, exp. 1/1250 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.4 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 280 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/640 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.5 MB
Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary
Camera:Canon 20D
Parameters: 400 mm, f/7.1, exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.6 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 400 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/640 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.5 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 290 mm, f/8.0, exp. 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.9 MB
Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 - Summary
Camera:Canon 20D
Parameters: 400 mm, f/9.0, exp. 1/640 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.9 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 180 mm, f/5.0, exp. 1/1250 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 3.4 MB
Camera: Canon 20D
Parameters: 85 mm, f/4.5, exp. 1/250 sec., ISO 200
File: JPG, 3504x2336 pix, 2.5 MB



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