Lens review

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8

8 September 2015
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

The Tokina 11–16 mm f/2.8 is a truly unique lens; so far no other producer has offered an ultra wide angle zoom lens to owners of reflex cameras with smaller sensors which would be so fast aperture-wise. It seems Sigma came the closest with their 10–20 mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM model; its fans might claim that it had a far better focal range than the Tokinas. Launching the 11-20 mm f/2.8 model Tokina made that argument pretty void because their lens is much more unique. A comparison between the Tokina 11-20 mm f/2.8, its predecessor and the Sigma is presented in the following chart.

In the photo below you see the Tokina 11–16 mm II next to the 11-20 mm model, tested here.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8 - Build quality

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The Tokina 11–20 mm f/2.8 starts with a metal mount surrounding the contacts and a rear element, 22 mm in diameter. The element is mobile; it is positioned on the same level as the mount at 11 mm and when you pass to 20 mm it hides inside the tube almost 2 cm deep. The area around it is very nicely blackened and matted but between the casing of the rear element and the tube of the lens there is a slit through which you can get a glimpse of electronic parts inside.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8 - Build quality

The first part of the proper tube is an immobile ring on which you see a red dot, making an alignment with a camera easier. Next there is a zoom ring, 26 mm wide, covered by ribs which are pleasant to the touch; it is properly damped and there are focal lengths marks on it at 11,14,16,18 and 20 mm focal length.

Further on you see a plate with the name and parameters of the lens inside which there is a window with a distance scale expressed in meters and feet. On the other side you find the serial number of the instrument and information that it was produced in Japan.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8 - Build quality

The next part is a ribbed manual focus ring, very comfortable and pleasing to the touch. It works properly well in the MF mode allowing you precise settings. Running through the whole distance scale takes a turn through an angle of less than 90 degrees.

I have to admit I hope that somebody working for Tokina one day will use their head, see the light and decide to introduce an ordinary AF/MF mode switch. Unfortunately each time Tokina repeats the same mistake, employing a really horrible and failed solution they proudly call One-touch Focus Clutch Mechanism. It is one of the most tragic technical solutions, at least in the form used by Tokina, I’ve ever seen. In the case of the Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11–20 mm f/2.8 (and I have to say I checked two specimens of that lens) it moved so badly that it made me fly into a rage after a while. If you want to pass from the AF to the MF mode you have to move the whole ring toward the mount of the lens. It has two consequences. Firstly in the AF mode the ring turns idly and is quite loose as there is no full time manual (FTM) mechanism. Secondly there is no chance to introduce micro corrections manually; passing to the MF mode is always connected with a jerk which causes a small but noticeable jump on the focus scale and thwarts all the autofocus work. As a result everything has to be set manually from the very beginning…What’s more, in the lens I tested the ring often got jammed, was set at a wrong angle and, in order to put it in a right position you had to struggle with it quite vigorously. Tokina, don’t follow that path any longer!

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8 - Build quality

At the very end of the lens you see a hood mount which surrounds a non-rotating filter thread, 82 mm in diameter. The thread goes round a front element which doesn’t move as well and is 51 mm in diameter.

The optical construction of the lens consists of 14 elements positioned in 12 groups. The producers weren’t stingy with special elements either. One of them is made of low dispersion SD glass (FK03) and another – of SD (FK01) glass. One element is at the same time aspherical and made of low dispersion (SD FK01) glass. Additionally the construction boasts two other aspherical elements: an ordinary one and a P-MO lens element. There is also an aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22.

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8 - Build quality

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

Tokina AT-X PRO DX 11-20 mm f/2.8 - Build quality