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Lens review

Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX II AF 11-16 mm f/2.8

17 August 2013
Szymon Starczewski

6. Distortion


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The lenses of the same style as the Tokina 11-16 mm use a projection which tries not to bend straight lines (rectilinear) - at a given focal length, they provide a narrower field of view than the projection used in a ‘fisheye’ and also they cause significant oversharpness in the corners of the frame. It’s worth to go back to primary school geography lessons and remind here the gnomonic map projection, on which all meridians and equators are shown as straight lines. Near the equator and the tropics the distortion of the continents and shapes of particular countries were slight but the monstrous shape of Greenland, positioned close to the pole, was always offensive – anyway on an ordinary globe it looked quite different.

Most of ultra wide-angle lenses, tested on small sensors, at the widest angle had barrel distortion near –2% which decreased below –1% at longer focal lengths. The Tokina 11-16 mm, despite its small range of focal lengths, didn’t compare well here. At 11 mm we got barrel distortions as high as –2.95% which decreased to 1.44% in the middle of the range and then further to –0.69% at the maximum focal length. Although that results don’t impress us, it’s good to understand what we gain by buying such a lens. All kinds of standard zooms designed for APS-C sensors, with their focal lengths starting from 15-18 mm, at the widest angle show distortion reaching near –4%. It is a quite bothersome value; in order to correct it you need to crop the field of view. If you own the Tokina 11-16 mm you can enjoy the wide angle, offered by the 14-16 mm focal lengths, a good fastness and the lack of troublesome distortion as well.

Canon 50D, 11 mm
Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX II AF 11-16 mm f/2.8 - Distortion
Canon 50D, 13.5 mm
Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX II AF 11-16 mm f/2.8 - Distortion
Canon 50D, 16 mm
Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX II AF 11-16 mm f/2.8 - Distortion