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Tokina 24-70 f/2.8 Beats Nikon, Canon, & Sigma Models In Price & Performance.

By Kishore Sawh on July 6th 2016

Usurp. That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking about the trajectory of some third party brands in photography right now. Sigma is, of course, making somewhat of a mockery of the CanNikon pillars, and Tamron seems hell-bent on doing the same as their latest offerings are becoming increasingly attractive.

Tokina, on the other hand, has always been making affordable versions of much desired lenses, but where Sigma has offered no compromise, there’s always been some with the Tokina. They’re not weather sealed, lacking of image stabilization, and they’re typically just not quite as sharp wide open. Still, they’re literally half the price, and now DxO is saying their 24-70 f/2.8 is a complete stunner.

tokina-24-70mm-2.8-zoom-nikon-canon-fx-sigma-4

In a recent review of the Tokina AT-X 24-70mm f/2.8 PRO FX lens, DxO showed it to outperform the Nikon, Canon, and Sigma rivals, and going so far as to call it a ‘top performer’.

Its headline score of 32 points puts the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 in first place for all fast-aperture standard zooms that we’ve tested on the D800E, ahead of the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 at 31 points and Nikon’s own 24-70mm f/2.8G at 30 points. While all three boast comparable scores for distortion, vignetting, and transmission, the Tokina is ahead for sharpness, with a superior score of 27 P-Mpix, compared to 23 P-Mpix for the Tamron, and 21 P-Mpix for the Nikon G.

While these numbers are great it helps to add a few more: prices. When you include the prices of these lenses in the mix the Tokina goes from being something interesting into something that you should truly consider. Here’s how it stacks up against the competition in terms of price:

tokina-24-70mm-2.8-zoom-nikon-canon-fx-sigma-5

Nikon AF-S 24-70 f/2.8G ED $1796
Nikon AF-S 24-70 f/2.8E ED VR $2396
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens $1899
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM $899
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD $1299

Tokina AT-X 24-70mm f/2.8 PRO FX $879

Even if the performance numbers are only a little better than the others, they are astonishing when price is considered. The 24-70 2.8 lenses are common workhorse lenses in wedding photography, fashion, and indeed almost everywhere else, adding a strong competitor to the group is welcomed. I generally tell people when asked which lens they should have if they only had one to get a 24-70, but their prices made that a hard pill to swallow. Not anymore.

tokina-24-70mm-2.8-zoom-nikon-canon-fx-sigma

So what are you giving up for the tremendous price difference? Well, as mentioned above, it’s not weather sealed, and it’s not quite as sharp wide open.

The Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 is an excellent pro-grade standard zoom lens for Nikon full-frame DSLRs. Tested on the D800E, it delivers marginally better image quality compared to the popular third-party Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon’s own 24-70mm f/2.8G, due to its excellent sharpness between f/4 and f/11 at most focal lengths.

So it’s not quiet as sharp wide open, and that’s going to be problematic for some, but for a majority, this lens is going to be an absolute boon to your kit for what’s comparatively a couple of shillings.

[REWIND: DxO Ranks Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC DN As Best Performing E-Mount Lens – It’s Also Inexpensive]

We have a Tokina lens review coming out soon, so keep your eyes open for that one in the coming days.

You can check out the full review on DxO here, or pick one up here.

Sources: The Phoblographer, DxO

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

18 Comments

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  1. Kjellin Hedberg

    Im so happy with Sigma 24-105mm Art, Not only very, very sharp, work great with my Nikon D500. Its a fantastic tool in low light.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      That’s gotta be one of the nicest pairings out there. Close to about 35mm-150mm f/4 on the D500, making it a great travel and portrait combo, and the D500 handles low light so well f/4 isn’t a problem

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  2. Jim Dailey

    I’m sending one back as it doesn’t work on my eos 1ds, 1ds mk2, 1ds mk3 or 5d mk2.

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  3. Stephen Velasquez

    I played with this lens late 2014 and now we are getting a review on it WOW that says it all. The thing is heavy as fuck! It is a great optical piece of equipment. No Stabilisation is a drawback for this lens too. The push pull mechanism for manual/autofocus is also a drawback . It is on the pricey side too. Just bad marketing strategy on Tokina’s part because I really couldn’t discern the difference from the Tamron/Sigma/Nikon in real life use. I hope tokina 70-200 is not built like this.

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  4. Holger Foysi

    Well, the overall score is a not very useful in my opinion. What is weighted in which way? If I look at the individual sharpness profiles, the Tokina is the weakest wide open, considerably so. Stopped down, it is a tiny bit better, probably not even detectable in images taken in real life for most focal lengths.
    Additionally, only one focus distance is measured. Is the performance changing when using different subject distances?

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  5. Kyle Stauffer

    For me, I like how Tokina keeps the two things I care about most (optics & build) when making compromises for a lower price point. In this case, it looks like IS and weather sealing are the only major things lacking which i’ll gladly save the extra dough on.

    Anyone think Tokina will ever offer high demand primes such as the 35/85 and/or a 70-200ish 2.8 zoom option??

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    • adam sanford

      You’re giving up more than just a bullet point list of features with this Tokina (i.e. IS, sealing, etc.), you also are giving up *performance* in areas that test charts do not show, like AF speed, AF accuracy and how well it manages flare.

      Consider:

      AF: http://goo.gl/TDkiwM

      Flare: http://goo.gl/BiEXwn

      Again, the lens is a great sharpness-per-dollar value, but you will miss the occasional shot that better lenses will not.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      Adam, I did not realize that the AF issues were that bad. I had also assumed the new focus motor would have brought focus speed closer to the competition.

      I realize that a lens half the price of the competition probably won’t have all of the amenities of a lens like my Nikon 24-70. However, what I appreciate about Tokina is their attempt to bring the cost down without creating a piece of unreliable plastic, or inflating the cost with “un-necessary” bells and whistles.I hope that they continue to improve on the things you noted.

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  6. Steve VanSickle

    I realize that the Tokina won’t win over everyone with the special features other lenses have (weather sealing, autofocus speed, etc.). However, I’m still pumped that, from an optics perspective, more 3rd party companies are offering viable alternatives to the camera brands.

    That said, I’m still kind of chuckling at this piece because a 24-70 f/2.8 is the one industry-standard lens I’ve never owned any version of. I have a friend that does 95% of her work with her 24-70. But for me, I’ve got the Sigma 24-105 f/4 Art lens and couldn’t be happier. It’s one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used, and while it’s a full f-stop slower, I just switch to primes if I need a bigger aperture.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      You’re not alone there. That 24-105 has become an chosen variant in place of the 24-70 for many, and rightly so. Some photographers will scoff at the slower speed, but i just want to shake them and tell them that not everyone lives at 2.8 or wider.

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    • Colin Woods

      I’m loving my 24-120mm f4, that extra 50mm of reach is well worth the price of that 1 stop.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      If i wasn’t so stuck on the 24-70, the 24-120 would be my next choice, Colin. For my personal use the next lens I have my eye on is the Sigma 50-100 1.8 Just incredible in terms of range and speed.

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  7. Paul Wynn

    Yes exciting times for us when more cost effective options to challenge Canon and Nikon become available. Personally I’ve given up on the crazy expensive 24-70 f2.8, I’ve never been happy with the overall experience from the Nikon model.
    Great to see the likes of Sigma, Tamron and now Tokina hitting the mark. Canon and Nikon, your crowns are slipping.

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  8. Marshall Christensen

    Kishore, the Tokina impresses in lab-test-only. First, not impressed that it beat the extremely old Canon version 1, my old Tamron 28-75mm could nearly match the photo quality of it (I owned both until a year 1/2 ago). When I purchased the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II there is no comparison to version 1, the new smokes it on all levels.
    HOWEVER, based upon my positive experience with the old Tamron and DXOmark reviews of new Tamron I purchased the new Tamron 24-70 prior to the Canon thinking the money savings would make it worthwhile. The Tamron is a POS, cheap build quality and “autofocus” a joke, even on a tripod focusing on a stable subject it missed focus about 25% of the time (and color /contrast not even close to the Canon), returned it and bought the Canon. What’s the point? The DXOmark gives the Tamron a higher score. I am not the only one with this experience, you can find MANY (well known) photographers with similar experiences.
    Tokina from reviews I have seen has similar build quality to the Tamron (crap) and similar auto focus (crap). How do you use a lens that misses focus almost 10% of the time and will likely fall apart in a year with professional daily use?
    And regarding build quality, after purchasing the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II, I sold my version 1 for guess what – the exact amount I paid for it brand new many years before. What will the Tokina be worth 5 years from now? A paper weight.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Marshall, hi there. I’m never going to be that person who sits by lab tests, and while I have some discernible ability to pixel peep, I choose not to. That said, at no point have I suggested this as anything other than interesting, nor that the Tokina should be the go-to alternative for anyone considering a 24-70.

      Understand that the audience for SLRL is as broad in skill-set as in budget. The fact is many people want a 24-70 2.8 but are unable to justify the significant cost of those lenses. Many are not looking down the barrel of time and considering lens depreciation or re-sale value; they want to shoot with the flexibility the lens affords, perhaps without feeling the need to justify the cost by producing with it other than for enjoyment. Without question, this, while not my choice for my work or that of other working photographers, will satisfy a significant market.

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    • Dave Lyons

      “What will the Tokina be worth 5 years from now? A paper weight.” depends on model, i have a tokina 100mm 2.8 macro and when I bought it I couldn’t find a used one as they’re so good nobody sells them and when they do it’s about $20 less than a new one. Although the af is a bit slow and i’ve had a lot of tokina’s and build quality has always held up even through torrid rain but I’m not a fan of the af/mf release clutch.

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  9. adam sanford

    Kishore — a correction is in order. The Tokina is *available* in the EF mount, but it didn’t outperform the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II.

    In fact, no Canon data at all is reported at your link. The test only compares the Tokina to the Tamron and Nikon.

    The Tokina is wonderfully sharp but packs a host of limitations that the remarkably lab-test-only reviewers at DXO shockingly skated right past — it’s a hot mess with flare / bright light in the frame and the AF is both slow and sadly inaccurate wide open (7% misses reported at Lens Tip). So I think you get what you pay for with this lens.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Adam, while I don’t have the benefit of experience with the lens, the scores are quite telling, especially if you don’t live at 2.8. Re. Canon – agree their direct comparison didn’t include Canon, but if you check their rating of the Canon variant 1, you’ll see it bests that, though not quite as good as the new one. That said, the new one was resolved on a 5DS. Did that make a difference? Maybe, maybe not.

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