Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Having wanted an ultra wide-angle lens (UWA, which, in terms of crop sensor DSLRs, have minimum focal lengths of 10-12mm) for quite a while, I decided, both to celebrate the end of the school year, and as an early birthday present, to treat myself to the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. The lens arrived yesterday, so I did some amazingly professional tests and analyses of the lens… I.E: A short photowalk and an impromptu longboarding shoot with a friend.

…so here’s my amazingly unscientific test of the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 UWA lens.

The constant f/2.8 aperture is great for places/times where the lighting isn’t ideal and you don’t want to have to bump up the ISO.

I don’t entirely understand the science of it, but Tokina’s 9-bladed diaphragm will, at certain angles, render round light sources as sunstars.  To me, this is a plus. A minus: at certain angles, the Tokina is prone to moderate lens flare. (e.g: bottom left corner of the above photo)

 This lens gives nicely saturated, contrasty photos right out of the camera.  I’m no expert on the various types of distortion, but I’ve noticed nothing save the obvious distortion all UWAs have (which a good thing, of course, given that UWAs are made that way).

For a while, I couldn’t decide between the Tokina and Canon’s well renowned 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5. I figured the little extra reach the Canon offered would be convenient, but the main facto that kept me indecisive was the minimum focus distance. On the Tokina, it isn’t bad; 0.3 metres (roughly a foot, which I discovered is close enough for me (see the above photo). The Canon, on the other hand, can focus closer, at 0.24 metres. In the end, I went with the Tokina because it has a constant f/2.8 aperture (versus the canon’s darker, variable 3.5-4.5), better corner sharpness, it comes with a lens hood,  and one top of all that, the Tokina is $150 cheaper. (Note: I looked at a countless reviews and comparisons of both lenses, but my primary source for comparison was Lightrules’s comparison on PBase).

Personally, I’m a fan of the distorted perspective UWAs give. The Tokina is sharp, fast, and relative to most lenses, pretty inexpensive. On a scale of 1-5, I’d put this at a 4.75 (it loses the .25 for lens flare, which isn’t too bad, and only prevalent in some situations).