Lens review

Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17-35 mm f/4 (IF)

16 September 2013
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

The competition on the market of full frame ultra wide angle zooms is really fierce. Even if you omit the f/2.8 fixed aperture devices, you can still find at least several solid rivals of the Tokina which basic parameters we presented in the following chart. All lenses, shown here, constitute a quite similar group when it comes to their parameters and physical dimensions. The best aperture fastness of the Tamron and the lack of any autofocus motor in the Tokina and the Tamron seem to be the most important differences.

In the photo below the tested Tokina is positioned next to two other Tokina lenses, designed for smaller sensors, the 11–16 mm f/2.8 and the 12–28 mm f/4.0.

Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17-35 mm f/4 (IF)  - Build quality

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The Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17–35 mm f/4 (IF) starts with a metal mount which surrounds contacts and a rear element, 22 mm in diameter. It is interesting that the two Tokinas designed for smaller sensors, the 11-16 mm and the 12-28 mm, tested by us not so long ago, featured rear elements of similar size. I admit it is a bit strange that a full frame model has such a small rear element. The element is mobile; at 17 mm it isn’t situated on the same level as the mount but it sticks out a bit like the contacts. After passing to 35 mm the element hides inside the tube about 2.5 cm deep. The surrounding area is very nicely blackened and matted but at some point a quite significant crack is formed between the small tube, which surrounds the rear element, and the proper tube of the lens.

Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17-35 mm f/4 (IF)  - Build quality

An immobile ring with a white dot, making the alignment with a camera body easier, is the first element of the proper tube of the lens. Next, you see a zoom ring, 24 mm wide, covered by comfortable ribbing, nice to the touch; it moves evenly and is properly damped. On it you can find focal lengths markings at 17, 21, 24, 28 and 35 mm.

Further on, you see a plate with the name and the parameters of the lens which surrounds a window with a distance scale, expressed in meters and feet. On the opposite side of that window you can find further information about the tested device, like its serial number, the usage of aspherical elements, and the fact that it was produced in Japan.

Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17-35 mm f/4 (IF)  - Build quality

The next element is a ribbed manual focus ring, very comfortable to use and pleasant to the touch. It works properly in the MF mode, allowing you precise settings; running through the full scale needs a turn through an angle of less than 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 so long. 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 you can accidentally change also the distance scale and the value you set with so much care.

At the very end of the lens you can find a hood mount which surrounds a non-rotating filter thread, 82 mm in diameter. It goes round a front element which is mobile and 49 mm in diameter. Once again its size is not bigger than in wide angle Tokinas, designed for smaller sensors.

Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17-35 mm f/4 (IF)  - Build quality

The optical construction of the tested lens consists of 13 elements positioned in 12 groups. The producer claims that two elements were made of low dispersion SD glass and one element is aspherical. Still, in a diagram attached to the product documentation there are two elements marked as aspherical. Inside you also find a circular aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22.

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

Tokina AT-X PRO FX SD 17-35 mm f/4 (IF)  - Build quality