Tokina 17-35 mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX SD & Nikon D3200 (N-APS-C)
The Tokina 17-35 mm was announced in the middle of 2011 and became available in the autumn of 2011. Choosing for f/4 enabled the designers of Tokina to make this lens more compact and lighter than, for example, the Tokina 16-28mm 2.8, which weighs almost a kilogram. The Tokina 17-35 mm is suitable for cameras with a full-size sensor, but can also be used on cameras with an APS-C sensor. We have tested the Tokina 17-35 mm on a camera with a DX sensor: the Nikon D3200 . We have to admit that a Tokina 11-16 mm, in terms of viewing angle, seems a more logical choice for a camera with a DX / APS-C sensor. However, the Tokina 11-16 mm currently has no built-in focusing motor and neither has the Nikon D3200 , which limits this combination to manual focus only.
Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX SD @ 17 mm
FOV Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX SD @ 35 mm
On a camera with a DX / APS-C sensor, the zoom range of the Tokina 17-35 mm corresponds to a 26-50 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. You thus have a 2x zoom range that extends from wide-angle lens to standard lens.
Construction and autofocus
The Tokina 17-35 mm is extremely well made, similar to the Tokina 16-28 mm we have tested earlier with a Canon mount. The robust housing deserves its name as a member of the Tokina AT-X Pro Series. Yet, the Tokina 17-35 mm is almost 150 grams lighter and a lot cheaper than the Nikon 17-35 mm.
The Tokina AT-X lenses have their own way for choosing between autofocus and manual focus. This is done by means of a ring at the end of the lens, and not through a switch on the side of the lens, as with most other brands.
If you pull out the ring, you can use the AF. Pull it towards you, and then you can focus manually.
The lens is equipped with the newly developed SD-M (Silent Drive-Module) AF system for accurate and quiet autofocus. The AF is, despite its name, not very quiet.
The Tokina 17-35 mm has no built-in image stabilization.
Vignetting Tokina 17-35
In practice, you will see no noticeable vignetting when using the Tokina 17-35 mm on a camera with an APS-C / DX sensor. The Imatest measurements for vignetting by the Tokina 17-35 mm prove vignetting is low throughout the entire zoom range and at all apertures. That in itself is not very surprising, because this lens is designed for a camera with a full-frame sensor.
Yet it is a good performance, because there are many lenses with a focal length of 17 mm that do show vignetting on a camera with an APS-C sensor.
Distortion Tokina 17-35 mm
Distortion is kept low by the Tokina 17-35 mm. For a wide-angle zoom lens, this is quite a good performance. Imatest measurements show distortion is very low over the entire zoom range and goes from light barrel (at 17 mm) to light pin cushion (~ above 20 mm).
We test distortion of lenses, if possible, using in-camera correction of distortion. However, camera manufacturers only correct the distortion of their own brand. In this light, these measurement results of the Tokina 17-35 mm are very good.
The diaphragm consists of 12 blades. This gives a nice round bokeh. Because the center sharpness at all apertures is very high, you can produce images with a very sharp subject in the foreground and a reasonable background blur. With a focal length of 17 mm, the background is still somewhat bemused by the large depth of field with aperture 4. It also shows the bokeh extra rings. Click on the image for a larger version, or click here for a 100% magnification of the image area of an image made with the Tokina 17-35 mm @ 17 mm.
At a focal length of 35 mm, the background blur and bokeh are nicer than 16 mm, but still there are visible rings in the bokeh. Here you see a crop of a photo taken at a focal length of 35 mm. Click on the image for a larger version, or click here for a 100% crop of a picture made with the Tokina 17-35 mm @ 35 mm.
Wide-angle zoom lenses designed for full-size sensors are complex designs with many elements and a convex front lens. This type of lens is nearly always sensitive to flare. This also applies to the Tokina 17-35 mm, which consists of 13 lens elements. Both at focal lengths of 17 mm to 23 mm, we encountered flare and ghosting in the studio. Here, you see an example of an image taken at a focal length of 17 mm. At a focal length of 35 mm, we did not observe any flare or ghosting.
Resolution Tokina 17-35 mm
We have analyzed the resolution of jpg files created with the Tokina 17-35 mm and the Nikon D3200 . At 24 mm, the sharpness is soft at f/4, but for the other focal lengths, you can see: the sharpness in the center at aperture 4 is already high, reaches a maximum at f/5.6 of more than 3500 LW/PH, and then very slowly decreases. Starting at f/5.6, the sharpness in the corners equals the sharpness in the center. Only at a focal length of 35 mm, the sharpness in the corners lags behind the center. However, thanks to the high resolution of the Nikon D3200 , even then the resolution remains above 1500 LW/PH, which is a value that is a typical value for the center resolution of lenses on a 12-16 MP APS-C camera. This is a very good performance.
Chromatic aberration Tokina 17-35 mm
Tokina succeeded to keep chromatic aberration limited in the design of the Tokina 17-35 mm. The lens design of the Tokina AT-X 17-35 mm includes an aspheric glass element and two "Super-Low Dispersion" glass elements to minimize chromatic aberrations. At f/4, you may observe some chromatic aberration in sharp contrast transitions at the corners of the image in 100% crops of jpg files. The smaller the aperture used, the lower the chromatic aberration in the corners.
Conclusion Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX SD review
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get"
High optical performance: resolution, vignetting and distortion
Suitable for full frame
Chromatic aberration visible at f/4 and large magnifications
Susceptible for flare at 17 mm
The Tokina 17-35 mm may be a less obvious choice for a camera with a DX sensor than the Tokina 11-16 mm, but the optical performance of this lens on a Nikon D3200 is just very good. The finish of this lens is at a professional level. The supplied lens hood prevents ghosting, but it will not always be prevented. Put the Tokina 17-35 mm lens on a Nikon D3200 , set your camera to Aperture Priority, f/8, and shoot!
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.