Hands On Tokina’s New 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom

I first heard about this lens several months ago from NikonRumors.com which has been fairly reliable for early news unless I hear it from a manufacturer like I usually do with Zeiss. I don’t have a very deep relationship with Tokina so I had to wait like everyone else to confirm this new zoom. The focal length intrigued me since it picked up right where the 11-16mm left off. As many of you know, I love the 11-16mm. It’s not the end-all-be-all of wide zooms, but the price for performance ratio is simply unbeatable. With the next lens in the lineup Tokina made a few improvements, but not without sacrifice. The 16-28mm is now an FX format lens which means that it covers a 35mm full frame sensor. Excellent for me and my Nikon D700, but even more important, it would work well with a Canon 5D mkII or the upcoming RED FF35 sensor.

side view of the new miniature pro zoom from Tokina. 16-28mm f/2.8 FX.

This was exciting for me since we had much success with our previous cine conversion of the 11-16mm that works very well for motion picture, this new lens would excel on almost any format. When I saw the first sample photos of the lens I started to get even more psyched because it appeared to have the same design and body dimensions as the wider 11-16mm which would mean that we could use many of the existing parts from our 11-16mm conversion process. I waited for months to see a real production model surface but after the initial announcement there wasn’t much buzz around the little third party lens. Then I received a call from a friend at a local camera store that told me the there Tokina rep got his hands on one of a few demo lenses in the world and would be in town for a few hours. Needless to say, I grabbed my calipers and my camera and drove over to see the mysterious zoom. When I got there I was immediately disappointed since the lens was clearly larger than the 11-16mm. Oh well… At this point I was more concerned about how it performed. The demo the rep had was the Nikon mount version conveniently suitable for my D700 (full frame) so I gave it a go on the camera first. The images it made were excellent from a non scientific standpoint. From what I saw on my LCD (not as accurate as putting it on my test projector) there was very little distortion even at the wide end and absolutely no vignetting even on a full frame sensor. The only drawback I noticed was that the lens used a front shroud similar to that of the 14-24mm Nikkor with a built in flower with no threads for a filter. Meh… not too big of a deal since I would just use a mattebox anyway. The lens still lacks a manual aperture ring (for now.. hehe). The auto focus is quick and accurate just as I suspected. In manual mode the focus has nice solid stops at both ends of travel. The zoom throw is very short but that doesn’t really effect anything. As a motion picture lens, it will work fine but needs the Duclos Lenses treatment. For still photography, I would MUCH rather carry this around than the far more expensive and heavy Nikkor 14-24mm. I already have the lens pre-ordered from several vendors tosee who delivers first.

Comparing the size of the new Tokina 16-28mm lens to the pint size power house, 11-16mm.

Published by

Matthew Duclos

A connoisseur of fine motion picture lenses, Matthew has spent over half his life servicing, refining, selling, manufacturing, and collecting cinema lenses from around the world. Chief Operating Officer of Duclos Lenses and Founder of TheCineLens.com, Matthew has been contributing to the motion picture industry for over 15 years, and to this site for over 5 years.

4 thoughts on “Hands On Tokina’s New 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom”

  1. So, you’re going to cine-moddit? Now, that’s a good idea, if only you can gave a longer focus throw (something in between cine and stills). Is this something that add very high cost?

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