The Tokina AT-X 24-70 mm f/2.8 PRO FX is an affordable workhorse for the professional photographer or prosumer, designed to even fulfill the requirements of photographing with a full-frame 50-megapixel sensor. This universal zoom lens, available for Canon and Nikon cameras, is—due to its constant, high brightness and 24-70 mm zoom range—universally (from wide angle to medium telephoto) perfect for landscape, portrait, documentary, indoor, sports or theater photography. You can leave the flash at home and get more atmosphere in your shots. According to Tokina, they use the very newest insights and techniques to achieve the very highest image quality. Throw in the fact that the price of the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 PRO is more than 50% lower than that of the original Canon and Nikon 24-70 zooms, and you immediately want to know: How well does the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 perform on a modern professional SLR, like the Canon 5Ds, Nikon D810 or Canon 5DsR? We explored that on a Nikon D810 and a Canon 5DsR (for the extra resolution).
Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD: shop price just above 1000 euros
A full 3 cast, aspherical elements are combined with 3 super-low dispersion (SD) lens elements for the highest possible resolution and contrast. This kind of complex lens design makes it possible to get contrast-rich pictures, where vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion are limited to a minimum. The strikingly flat front lens reduces the risk of damage and, along with the innovative optical construction, ensures a minimum of reflections.
Build and auto focus
If you compare the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 with the new Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8E, it is noticeable that the two design teams went for completely different solutions. The Nikon 24-70 mm lens is much longer than the Tokina. The Tokina lens is built like a tank, and I think that no metal on the inside has been replaced with plastic, as in, for example, the most recent Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8L mk2. Use of plastic or not, I do not expect that they differ much as far as robustness is concerned. The 82-mm front lens is big, but—I suspect—is necessary to ensure that vignetting remains limited. With the Tokina 24-70 mm, you do not have to brighten up the corners with software, which is a plus for the signal-to-noise ratio in the corners of your shots.
From the pattern on the rubber ring, you can feel whether you are touching the focus ring (horizontal and vertical grooves) or the zoom ring (only vertical grooves). The front lens does not turn during focusing, thanks to the internal focus mechanism, which is nice for using filters. The AF motor is a bit less quiet and on average a bit slower than the AF motors of the most modern Canon and Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lenses. For testing the AF speed, the Tokina 24-70/Nikon D810 combination stands out in reliability: the AF speed is very reproducible and reliable. On average, the Nikon and Canon zooms are faster, but both sometimes needed much longer to focus when testing the AF and sometimes missed the mark. That did not happen with the Tokina 24-70 mm/D810 combination a single time. The switch from AF to manual focusing is simple with the familiar clutch mechanism of Tokina (and Olympus). This zoom lens is available with Canon and Nikon mounts.
Very modest distortion and vignetting
Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD @ 70 mm f/2.8, 1/250 sec, 64 ISO
Many designers choose to design a lens with more than 2 stops of vignetting at full aperture. That is less expensive and offers the ability to use a smaller lens diameter. The dark corners are then automatically made lighter with software, in the camera when saving the jpg files or when opening RAW files on your computer. The disadvantage of this method is that the signal-to-noise ratio of your shots deteriorates in the corners. Lens correction can also produce an irregular light distribution if the correction profile does not correspond with the vignetting of the lens. Tokina makes the design harder for themselves by also limiting the vignetting, and we benefit from that as photographers. At full aperture, the vignetting is a bit more than 1 stop, which is very low for this kind of lens. After stopping down 1 stop, all visible vignetting disappears. That is simply very good. The distortion runs from visible barrel-shaped to visible pincushion-shaped in the same way as with other high-end 24-70 mm lenses that we have reviewed recently.
Remarkably little flare
The strikingly flat front lens reduces the risk of damage and, together with the innovative optical construction, ensures a minimum of reflections. In order to prevent flare, multi-coating is applied to the two front lens elements and the rear lens elements. It works. Flare and ghosting are clearly minimized. If you take pictures at f/16, then a sharp light source can create a beautiful 18-point sunburst.
Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD @ 24 mm f/8,64 ISO
Resolution of the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 PRO: Perfect match for a 50-megapixel camera.
The Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 Pro delivers very sharp images starting at full aperture, whereby the optimal center sharpness is reached after stopping down two stops. Just as with many 24-70 mm zooms, the center sharpness is the highest at the shortest focal length. But even at 50 mm, this zoom lens aims high when it comes to center sharpness. The Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 does better in our list of reviews than many lenses with a fixed focal point. If you compare the Tokina 24-70 mm with the Tamron 24-70 mm or Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8E, then the Tokina wins on center sharpness.
Resolution of jpg files from the Canon 5DsR.
Across the largest part of the zoom range, the chromatic aberration is kept well in check. Only at 24 mm are there colored edges visible at sharp contrast transitions. This is very simple to correct with software. The lens correction profiles in Lightroom, Photoshop and DxOMark make it possible to adjust all your shots at the same time with 1 press of a button. At the time of the test, there was not yet a lens correction profile available for the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8, but that will be resolved with the next software update.
Bokeh Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD
Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD @ 70 mm f/2.8,100 ISO
The Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 is a lens for bokeh fans.
The 9 rounded aperture blades and the high brightness of this zoom lens ensure a beautiful background blur, so that you clearly isolate your subject from the background. The high sharpness at full aperture amplifies that effect. When aspherical lens elements are applied in a lens—and that currently happens with all high-end zoom lenses—then there is a chance of onion-ring bokeh, where rings occur in the bokeh of light sources in the background blur. We encounter that a lot, but not with the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 PRO. That is probably thanks to the cast aspherical elements. Onion-ring bokeh is caused by the grinding process of aspherical lenses. By casting the lens elements, which is not simple to do, technically speaking, Tokina prevents the ugly onion rings in the bokeh. Another source that can disrupt the bokeh is vignetting. As a result of vignetting, the bokeh changes from round in the center to cat’s-eye shaped at the edges and in the corners. This phenomenon occurs to an extreme degree with bright zoom lenses. Thanks to the remarkably low vignetting, the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 also aims high.
Conclusion Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD review with Nikon D810
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Look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. 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 if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of lens correction profiles in DxO Optics, Photoshop or Lightroom for the conversion of RAW files, then the scores for vignetting, chromatic aberration and vignetting are (even) higher.
High image quality
Beautiful bokeh, partly thanks to unique aspherical lens elements
High build quality
AF is audible
No image stabilization
Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 PRO = compact, maximum resolution, minimum vignetting/distortion.
Between the time that we first heard about a new Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 and the actual appearance of the Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX SD, a considerable amount of time passed. Understandable, since designing a lens for cameras with a full-frame, 50-megapixel sensor is not simple. Tokina succeeded well.
This is a frequently used lens for a very critical target audience, while there are already a number of optically good lenses (Canon 24-70 f/2.8L mk2, Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 and the recently appeared Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8E) on the market. The Tokina 24-70 mm f/2.8 PRO is convincing, with unparalleled high center sharpness, and it is a welcome addition to this group. The lack of built-in image stabilization is a disadvantage for some people in comparison with the competition. But not all photographers place the same emphasis on built-in image stabilization. The exceptionally solid build and the handy Focus Clutch mechanism for simply switching to manual focus are two important plus points for the Tokina. Take a good look at the list and shop price of this bright, professional all-around zoom. It might be clear that very high image quality has become achievable for a large group of photographers, who until recently could only dream of a 36- to 50-megapixel full-frame camera with an all-around zoom lens that lets the high resolution of these cameras come fully into its own.
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.
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