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Tokina Beats Nikon To 70-200 f/4!!! – CameraTalk w/ Matthew Saville

By Matthew Saville on February 4th 2012

I know this won’t be of too much importance to Canon users, who have enjoyed the amazing performance of the 70-200 f/4 L, (with and without IS stabilization) …however Nikon users may be happy to know that they will soon be able to acquire a Tokina 70-200 f/4 as an affordable, light-weight alternative to the weighty f/2.8 telephotos.

Unfortunately we don’t yet know anything about the sharpness, (duh!) and neither do we know my other two favorite specs, the weight and price.However, one spec that I *AM* excicted about is, the new autofocus system that is designed similarly to Canon’s USM and Nikon’s SWM.(Ultrasonic, Hypersonic, whatever you wanna call it)

Tokina has made some killer lenses over the years, from the famous 12-24 DX that rivaled Nikon’s 12-24 DX but for way less $$, to the newer and equally if not MORE popular Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, the ONLY ultra-wide crop-sensor lens available, and a lens that rivals even full-frame ultra-wide sharpness! Last but not least, the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro is a great alternative macro lens, built solid like an L lens and bristling with corner-to-corner sharpness.Oh, and my personal favorite, the Tokina 17mm f/3.5 ATX Pro– a classic, older lens that makes a great wide-angle prime on crop-sensors, or an even more awesome ultra-wide prime on full-frame cameras!(The widest prime available that offers filter threads, by the way, and 77mm not 82mm!)

However, Tokina’s one downfall has been a lack of the newer style of autofocus, like Canon’s USM and Nikon’s SWM or Sigma’s HSM.This isn’t really a big deal on the wider lenses since the older style of AF can totally handle it, but when you get to the longer focal lengths you start to notice a difference. That is why I didn’t mention the Tokina 16-50 2.8 or the 50-135 2.8, both which are still amazingly sharp and built to that rugged standard that Tokina prides themselves in.For more telephoto third-party lenses, I usually recommend the Sigma EX alternatives

So, that’s why this is big news.Tokina is finally beginning to offer next-generation lens technology, in addition to their usual standards of amazing sharpness and rugged quality.As usual time will tell whether or not the lens is actually sharp, and whether or not the new AF system actually works well.But for now I’m at least excited to see how the lens turns out!

At the very least, the release of this lens is a VERY good sign that Nikon will soon be making a 70-200 f/4 VR of their own.For those of you elitists who prefer only name-grand glass lol, this is at least a rumbling in the right direction!Keep your eyes peeled in case Nikon (and Canon) have more pro or semi-pro lenses to announce at the upcoming CP+ trade show in Japan this next week.

BTW, I need to clarify one reason why this particular lens and aperture excites me-As a landscape photographer by hobby, I just kinda don’t care for f/2.8.All it does is add extra weight for an aperture that I’m never going to use.Canon has already proven with their 70-200 f/4 that you can get FLAWLESS sharpness out of an f/4 zoom, even though f/4 is usually designated as “amateur” glass.So, that’s why I’m interested in f/4 zooms.Size, weight, and price but WITHOUT sacrificing sharpness.For landscape and other types of photography.HOWEVER, for my full-time job, (portraits and weddings) …I do still often need f/2.8 at my disposal.If this is the case but you’re still on a ~$1000 budget, then you can try one of the un-stabilized f/2.8’s like the older Canon 70-200 2.8 L, or the Nikon 80-200 2.8


Take care,


 Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 on a Canon 7D

100% crop from 11mm and f/5.6

Tokina 17mm f/3.5 on a Nikon D70


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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Sandu Butnaru

    “Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, the ONLY ultra-wide crop-sensor lens available”… Sigma 8-16 takes the 1st place on this, then Tokina 11-16.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Good catch, Sandu, I meant to say that this was the only f/2.8 ultra-wide zoom available for crop-sensors. The Sigma 8-16 is indeed wider, but it is extremely limited as its aperture is much slower, and wide open it is also quite soft.

      Either way, now we have both the new Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 and the Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 to choose from, both f/2.8 and both dedicated to crop sensors. Thanks for reading! :-)

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  2. preston

    Goes to show how widely companies differ on announcement philosophies. Tokina showed a mockup of this lens in February 2012, then “announced” it in January 2013, and yet it still hasn’t been released (as of September 2013). In the meantime, the Nikon 70-200 f/4 was announced in October 2012 and was available to purchase by January 2013 at the latest (may have been December, but I remember it in January).

    Since Tokina always shares what they’re working on, kind of like pre-announcements, it maybe wasn’t fair to Nikon to publish this headline at the time.

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  3. Hi

    Thanks for the article! rge

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  4. Ivan Cabrera

    Great article very informative. kudos!

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