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.
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.