Friday, October 11, 2013

Tokina AF 19-35 mm f/3.5-4.5

A very cheap ultra-wide zoom lens for full frame Nikons (presumably also for other mounts). The price is the main factor here: You can find them for about $100 used - that's hard to bypass for a lens that can be used on an FX Nikon and goes as wide as 19mm. The question is, should you bypass it.

+ Excellent price, a very cheap ultra-wide lens for full frame.
+ Very good resolution, especially in the center.
+ Good construction quality.

-Although the resolution is quite good, there are other weaknesses (vignetting is visibly present, and flares/ghosts are hideous).
- Obsolete design, I didn't like the ergonomics (thin-ish rings, particularly the zoom ring)
- Although 19mm is wide, it's not as wide as I like my ultra-wides to be

Pretty telling example of bad flare control - made even more complex by the additional reflection on the water.

Intended Users
Great for:
  • Full-frame users who want the absolute cheapest ultra-wide (sort of) lens.
  • Landscapes pictures - but not in backllight
  • Thanks to the zoom range, the good resolving power, and the fast-ish max aperture, good for decayed interiors - factories, abandoned buildings.

Not for:
  • Carefree landscape work. Unacceptably bad against the light.
  • DX. Pointless, obviously enough. Just pick any 18-xx zoom.
  • People. Like with most ultra-wides, the distortion is too complex and visible.

Final Verdict
It's really cheap, and like with all lenses that are cheap, there are some flaws. Tokina had to cut from somewhere designing this lens (with this price in mind), and sadly, the drawbacks are such that, in my humble opinion, don't fit well with the intended uses of this lens. An ultra-wide is very often used for landscapes (outdoors, in any way), but the very poor performance of the lens against the light makes it a bad choice for this kind of work. The resolution is good, but it's useless to have good resolution when light sources create all sorts of ghosts and heavy flaring, also lowering the contrast. I'd pass on this one, unless you absolutely want an ultra-wide and can't afford anything else - like the much better Samyang 14mm f/2.8

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