We previously reviewed the Tokina 12-24 mm, a successful item from Tokina, on a Canon 60D. This time, we're reviewing the Tokina 12-24 mm on a Nikon D7100, a camera with 24 megapixels. A 12-24 mm zoom lens is often seen as 'the' ideal lens for landscape photography, but architecture and interior photographers will also appreciate the Tokina 12-24 mm. In terms of zoom range, the Tokina 12-24 mm is good in combination with a kit lens of 18-55 mm or 24-70 mm. If you want to get more into the photo, or add a fisheye perspective to your shot for a totally different effect, then you could also choose the Tokina 10-17 mm Fisheye or the Tokina 11-16 mm. There's currently a version of the Tokina 11-16 mm with a built-in AF motor, which also makes this lens suitable for Nikon cameras that don't have an AF motor, like the Nikon D3200.
Tokina 12-24 mm 4.0 AT-X PRO DX II @12 mm
Field of view Tokina 12-24 mm 4.0 AT-X PRO DX II @ 24 mm
On a camera with a DX sensor, such as the Nikon D3200 or Nikon D7100, the 2x zoom range of the Tokina 12-24 mm is comparable with the view angle of an 18-36 mm on a camera with a full-frame sensor. That isn't a spectacularly large range if you want to bring in the details, but in wide-angle range that's usually not the case.
Construction and autofocus
Lens experts know immediately that this is a Tokina, as soon as they see the ring with which you choose between MF and AF. If you want to focus manually, the you push the focus ring towards you. Both the zoom ring and the focus ring have just the right friction throughout their ranges. The filter mount does not turn, which is great when using polarized or ND filters. The Tokina 12-24 mm lens feels solid. The mechanism of the autofocus differs from a classic mechanism. You hear during focus a soft whirring sound. The focusing of the Nikon D3200 and D7100 go pretty fast, and there's no sign of searching in low light.
Vignetting Tokina 12-24 mm
Only at a zoom distance of 12 mm and f/4 or f/5.6 is the vignetting of the Tokina 12-24 mm clearly visible, in both RAW and jpg files. As an illustration, you see below the two worst cases. The vignetting in RAW files was around 0.1 stop higher than the vignetting in jpg files, possibly because the Nikon D3200 corrected for the vignetting from this lens when saving the jpg files. In-camera correction for 3rd party lenses has been thoroughly explained by Roger Cicela of LensRentals. At a focal length of 12 mm f/4, the vignetting of the Tokina 12-24 mm is disturbing. With the right software, the vignetting of the Tokina 12-24 mm is simple to correct. Despite the vignetting at 12 mm f/4, this is a good performance for a super wide angle zoom lens.
Move your mouse over the image for the Imatest results for RAW files.
In our previous review of the Tokina 12-24 mm on a Canon camera, we found a strong (-2%) distortion at 12 mm. In this review, we found for jpg files a lower distortion at 12 mm. In a RAW file, the distortion is about the same as in our earlier review of this lens on a Canon camera. The distortion is visible at 12 mm and 18 mm, for example in photographs of buildings, but it's simple to correct with the help of software. When testing lenses, we use in-camera corrections as much as possible. On the Nikon D3200, we set the camera to correct for distortion. You would expect that this correction would only work for Nikon D and G lenses, and for the Tokina 12-24 mm it wouldn't have an effect. But the Nikon D3200 apparently sees the Tokina 12-24 mm as a Nikon 12-24 mm lens and applied the correction to the jpg files anyway. Read more about this in: Unwanted corrections for 3rd party lenses?
Blurred elements in the background appear, due to the rings, somewhat disruptive. All in all, the bokeh is not that great. Click on the image for an enlarged version, where you can see the bokeh at a focal length of 12 mm at 100%.
Wide angle zoom lenses are always constructed from a large number of lens elements. Inherent in a complex design is a greater sensitivity to flares. With a bright light source, some flares arise and you get ghosting. While photographing, you must therefore, as much as possible, use the included lens hood and be careful not to get the sun directly in the lens.
Resolution Tokina 12-24 mm
We measured the resolution with a Nikon D3200 and a Nikon D7100. We did this in order to make possible a direct comparison of the resolution with that of the Tokina 12-28 mm . The Nikon D7100 has no moiré filter and the RAW files should thus be less sharp than a RAW file from the Nikon D3200. The sharpness of the Tokina 12-24 mm in the center at all focal lengths is very high; stopping down is not necessary. The Tokina 12-24 mm delivers a very good performance, because the center sharpness is nicely constant over all apertures. The measurements indicate that the resolutions in the corners are lower at full aperture, but you don't see this in the practice shots. Possibly, that difference comes from field curvature, whereby the sharpness is not completely in 1 plane. Field curvature is common.
When you click on the graph, then you see the graph for resolution at other focal lengths.
Both the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D7100 apply reduction of chromatic aberration in the camera, because the chromatic aberration of the Tokina 12-24 mm is more clearly visible in RAW files than in jpg files, as you can see in the image below. The chromatic aberration of the Tokina 12-24 mm in jpg files is low at all focal lengths and apertures. At 12 mm, the chromatic aberration of jpg files, relatively seen, is the highest, but even then it's only noticeable at the really sharp contrast changes in the corners at 200% enlargement. Anyone who photographs in RAW will, with subjects with high contrast, have to correct for chromatic aberration with the right software to get the same good results as the jpg files.
When you click on the graph, then you see the graph for chromatic aberration at other focal lengths.
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".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
Already very good resolution in the center at full aperture
Good resolution in the corners at f/8.0
Low distortion at 18 mm and 24 mm
Low vignetting except for 12 mm/4.0
High distortion at 12mm
High vignetting at 12 mm/4.0
Less attractive bokeh
There's a reason the Tokina 12-24 mm 4.0 DX II is a success. The sharpness is high, the distortion at 18 mm and 24 mm is low, and only at 12 mm/4.0 is the vignetting high. The lens feels solid and the autofocus works well. With the right software, the high CA and the vignetting at 12 mm can be corrected. The bokeh, the display of fuzzy elements, could be better. All in all, the Tokina 12-24 mm, certain given the attractive price, is recommended.