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Lens review

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4

26 August 2013
Szymon Starczewski

3. Build quality

The Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 is an untypical lens, with a unique focal range – that’s why we are forced to compare it to 12-24 mm and 10-24 mm class instruments,as you can see in the following chart. It is interesting that the 12-28 mm model, with a wider focal range and more elements than featured by its 12-24 mm predecessor, still remains physically lighter. At the same time it remains heavier than its Nikon, Pentax and Tamron rivals. The Tokina’s advantages are: nine diaphragm blades and a minimum focusing distance of 0.25 of a meter (only the Tamron has it shorter).

In the photo below the tested lens is positioned between the Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 II and the full frame Tokina 17-35 mm f/4.0.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 - Build quality


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The Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 starts with a metal mount which surrounds contacts and a rear element of the lens, 18 mm in diameter. The element is mobile and at 12 mm it is situated on the same level as the mount. When passing to 28 mm it hides inside the tube almost 3 cm deep. The area around it is darkened and matted very nicely although in that position there is a quite significant crack between a small tube, surrounding the rear element, and the proper tube of the lens.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 - Build quality

The first element of the proper tube of the lens is an immobile ring on which you can find a white dot making the alignment with a camera body easier. Then you see a zoom ring, 23 mm wide, covered by ribs comfortable to the touch; its work is even and well-damped. There are focal length markings on it, at 12, 16, 20, 24 and 28 mm.

Further on, you find a plate with the name and the parameters of the lens around a window with a distance scale, expressed in metres and feet. On the opposite side there is a serial number and the info concerning the filter diameter (77 mm), the usage of aspherical elements and the fact that the lens was made in Japan.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 - Build quality

The next element is a ribbed manual focus ring, very pleasant to the touch and comfortable to use. In the MF mode it works properly well, allowing you very precise settings; running through the whole scale takes a turn through 90 degrees. Switching between AF and MF modes is a problem, though. The system is archaic, making manual readjusting of the focus in the AF mode impossible – perhaps only Tokina has been keeping that solution. If you want to change the mode you have to move the whole ring along the body of the lens. That movement is often so sudden that it can change also the distance value you set with so much care.

At the very end of the lens there is a hood mount which surrounds a non-rotating filter thread, 77 mm in diameter. The thread goes round the front element which is mobile and with a diameter of 49 mm.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 - Build quality

The optical construction of the tested lens consists of 14 elements positioned in 12 groups. The producer didn’t stint on special elements. First of all we get two low dispersion SD elements, each of them made of different kind of glass (FK01 and FK03). Apart from that there is a big, classic aspherical element in the front group and a smaller one, positioned in the rear group, made in the glass-moulded technology. Inside you also have a circular aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22.

Buyers get both caps and a petal-type hood in the box.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 12-28 mm f/4 - Build quality