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Gear Reviews

Wide Angle Showdown: Canon 16-35mm L II vs Tokina 16-28mm

By Anthony Thurston on September 9th 2013


Canon and their L series lenses have a great reputation as far as image and build quality pretty much across the board. Tokina has one of the best reputations among 3rd party manufacturers in the wide spectrum of lenses. What happens when you pit the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 vs the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8? Find out below.

Dave always does great reviews, he doesn’t have some ulterior motive or reason to recommend one lens over another. He gives you his honest opinion, and shows you the proof to back up his claims. In this case he chose the Tokina over the Canon, for what are obvious reasons in my mind.

The Tokina 16-28mm was sharper throughout the image, was cheaper, and had overall better image quality(in my mind). That is not to say there were not some advantages to the Canon, like its much better bokeh and ability to use filters. But overall the Tokina is the clear winner.

What are your thoughts on this comparison? Do you agree with Dave and I that the Tokina is the better lens here, or do you disagree and choose the Canon? Let us know in a comment below. 

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. brian

    thanks so much for this review!! it will save me a bunch of money.
    I also saw the Tokina 16mm-50mm f2.8 (about $1,200), how does this one measure up in your book?
    it looks like you can put a filter on it – bonus.

    btw: I loved your 5DM3 vs 6D review as well.

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    • brian

      ahhh – i see that it is a cropped sensor lens.

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  2. Tony Fernandez

    Thanks for the review, I just got the Tokina in and it’s a BEAST! I’m excited to see what it can do. Thanks again,

    Tony Fernandez

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  3. Catherine Lacey Dodd

    Was just about to buy the Canon. Thanks for the $1k save.

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  4. Lion

    Thanks for the review!
    When I look at the pictures, I get the feeling that the Canon lens shows more contrast and a more saturated colors. Am I right?

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    • Dave Dugdale

      The color and contrast looked the same to me, I forgot to talk about that in the review.

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  5. Miguel

    I ‘ve had this lens for two years, and definitely is a sharp lens, even better than the 16-35 canon, as Dave said in the video, the construction is a drawback, sadly something inside fell off, I cannot see it but sounds every time I turn the lens up or down, it seems a loss screw that sometimes gets stuck when I am zooming, I am afraid that someday the “little thing” will block the aperture blades and ruin my images or the lens while I am on a paid job, therefore I will take it to repair or get a new one to have it as a backup.

    Anyone has experienced this ? Please note that I hasn’t drop it,I use it for architecture photography and interiors, and It hasn’t been smashed


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  6. Elmer Escobar

    After my Nikon 14-24 was stolen (and at the time, no I didn’t have insurance) I was debating spending another 2k on a wide angle which I was using less and less. I decided to go with Tokina and they did it right. It’s a little slower than the 14-24 to focus and sometimes it shoots before it’s fully in focus (the 14-24 never did), but overall if you give it that half a second it’ll be just as good. I have no regrets. It’s a great buy.

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  7. michael cook

    Great video….have to check out the lens some time. Really like the video at the end great work.

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    • Dave Dugdale

      Thanks Michael! It was a fun review to do.

      The only reason I knew of this Tokina lens was this blog, so they saved me about $1,000. Thanks Anthony!

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  8. Zack

    I’m sending a Tokina 16-28 back today that I rented from LensRentals, I was very pleased with how it performed. It is heavy and the lack of a simple filter solution is kind of a bummer, but I shot some long exposure scenes last night and found that it creates these rainbow flares around light sources. See pic:

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  9. Philipp

    I juts bought one recently in light of a review. I think more of these third party lenses need to be known!
    Usually AF is lacking on them; but in an UWA, it’s rarely an issue. :)

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  10. Alan Hughes

    Ahhhh, I just sold my Tokina 11-16mm after upgrading to full frame. I really loved that lens and ended up buying the Canon 17-40mm f/4 to replace it, which is pretty good, but I would have probably bought that 16-28mm Tokina if I knew it existed at the time. Oh well =/

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