Lens review

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX

30 March 2016
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

The tested lens’s parameters are so original that it would be hard to find its match; that’s why in the following chart we compare it to other wide angle Tokina lenses designed for APS-C/DX sensors. The difference caused by a faster aperture is immediately visible - the Tokina 14-20 mm is notably the heaviest and the longest lens in this group. Its filter diameter is also impressive, amounting to 82 mm.

In the photo below the tested lens is positioned next to other Tokina devices – two full frame models, the 16–28 mm f/2.8 and the 24–70 mm f/2.8.

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX - Build quality

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The Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14–20 mm f/2 (IF) DX starts with a metal mount which surrounds a contact plate and a rear element, 24 mm in diameter. It moves and it is situated on the same level as the mount at the 14 mm focal length. When you pass to 20 mm it hides inside the tube about 1 cm deep. The area surrounding it is very nicely blackened and matted – you cannot spot any bigger slits so dirt and dust won’t invade the interior of the lens so easily.

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX - Build quality

The first part of the proper tube is an immobile ring on which you can find a red dot, making the alignment with a camera body easier. Then you see a zoom ring as wide as 27 mm. It is covered by ribbing which is very pleasant to the touch and properly damped. On the ring there are focal lengths markings at 14, 15, 16, 18 and 20 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 other side there is also the serial number of the instrument and information that it was produced in Japan.

The next part is a manual focus ring – ribbed and comfortable to use. In the MF mode is works properly well, allowing you quite precise settings. Running through the whole distance scale needs a turn through less than 90 degrees.

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX - Build quality

Unfortunately there is no normal AF/MF mode switch - Tokina keeps repeating the same fatal mistake proudly calling it the One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism; as presented by Tokina it remains one of the most unfortunate solutions I’ve ever seen. Passing from the AF to the MF mode you have to move the whole ring toward the mount of the lens. Firstly it makes the ring turn unproductively and with a quite pronounced play in the AF mode (as there are no FTM full time manual mechanism there); secondly you can’t readjust your autofocus settings. The switch to the MF mode always entails a jerk which makes a slight change on the distance scale and negates all your previous settings. You have to redo your focusing settings manually, practically from scratch…If you want to move the ring downward you have to be very delicate and precise, shifting it perfectly along the axis; even a slight slant of the ring (a very easy mistake to make) can make the ring jam and you cannot switch between the modes. Overall you have to jerk the lens a lot before you find your perfect settings. Sometimes everything gets blocked anyway and you might face a situation we described in our autofocus chapter…

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX - Build quality

At the very end of the lens you can find a hood mount which goes round a non-rotating filter thread, 82 mm in diameter. The thread for a change surrounds the front element with a diameter of 56 mm.

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX - Build quality

The optical formula of the lens consists of 13 elements positioned in 11 groups. There are plenty of special elements inside: one of them is made of low dispersion SD glass and the other – of the SD (EK01) glass. Two elements are both low dispersion (SD FK01) and aspherical. Additionally there is one aspherical P-MO (Precision Molded Optics) lens and an 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 with the lens.

Tokina AT-X PRO SD 14-20 mm f/2 (IF) DX - Build quality