Tokina 28-70mm f/2.6-2.8 AT-X Pro II

Tokina 28-70mm f/2.6-2.8 AT-X Pro II

I have heard so many good things about the Tokina 28-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro and Pro II lenses, that I had to try one out. Does this lens stand up to its legendary hype?

Build and Handling

The Tokina is built like a professional lens. It is made mostly of metal. The zoom and manual focus rings feel high quality, but the grip texture is slightly rough and pokey (not terribly comfortable and will attract dirt. The pro II version has a bayonet hood that is a nice addition, but I do suggest getting a 77mm center pinch grip cap instead of the edge pinch cap that is standard.

The lens comprises 16 elements in 12 groups. The lens is dense, weighing in at about: 28 oz. (790g) with the hood but no caps. Minimum focus is 0.7m or 2.5 ft. The diaphragm consists of 8 blades.

The Tokina uses screw drive focus, so it won’t work with handicapped bodies. Manual to auto focus is using a sliding ring, which has to be lined up at the correct spot to engage. Consider it autofocus only or manual focus only; don’t expect to be able to easily tweak the focus manually after autofocus locks.

This lens has reached legendary status with many photographers, but the question remains, how does the lens perform on FX? Read the next page to find out.

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  1. James Berry says:

    This is a very good review of the Tokina 28-70 2.6-2.8 PRO II lens. It is very accurate on the mention of haze (which is very slightly) from 50mm-70mm, but nothing that Post Processing cant take out. It is actually still very sharp at 70mm, if you take away the slight haze and sharpen it in post process, it will look very sharp. Just remember I am a pixel peeper, but if viewing the images normal and not at 100% its still very sharp at all focal lenghts.

    The color that this lens produces is amazing, some say its neutral, but I say kind of looks like film color, the colors are saturation and deep for some reason and the black are really smooth. Again this is on my D700 shooting RAW. I will do more test with this lens as I just got it from eBay, and I do notice the price of this lens going higher. I say this is a very good alternative to the Nikkor 28-70 2.8, and Tamron 28-75 2.8.

    I went for this Tokina over the Tamron because of the build quality, the focus ring if you accidentally touch it doesn’t change focus, the zooming action is INSIDE the barrel, and the weight feels good on a D700 with Grip.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks! I notice that resolution remains fairly high at f/2.8 at 70mm (MTF 20), but the MTF 50 is low. This would agree with what you state about how the images touch up. I have a Tamron 28-75mm coming from eBay as well, so I will have something to compare it against. I will update some of the comments in the conclusion once I review that lens. I definitely think the lens is worth the asking price too. I think I paid $350 US for mine from KEH, and I know some got better deals on eBay a while back. I love the build quality of the lens as well, much better than most current lenses. Also, shooting f/4 with the lens using a flash at an event and it produces excellent results.

  3. James Berry says:

    I cant wait to see how this lens compares against the Tamron 28-75 2.8. I got this lens from eBay last week at $405 not including shipping. I think prices will be slowly climbing, since its very hard to find this lens now. And I can see why, once you get to use it and try it out, you probably wont let it go!

    I did have a Nikkor 24-70 2.8, it was a love hate relationship with that lens. The zoom ring got stiff and from further researching it is a common problem, so I fixed it and did a youtube video of me doing a repair on the lens, and now my friend uses it since I sold it to him and its been fine since. I loved the Nikkor version because it produced very contrasty images.

    The Tokina compared to the Nikkor 24-70 2.8, there really isn’t a comparison, since new technology is already in the Nikkor, but the Tokina does hold its own very well and does produce good contrasty colors for a very old lens. Of course the Nikkor has better corner performance but center performance the two could be comparable.

  4. admin says:

    Actually, the Tamron looks really bad in comparison to the Tokina. The corners are soft and it really is only cut out for crop cameras I think. Seems worse than the Sigma 28-70/2.8 EX DG that I had on Canon for a while. I hope it is just a bad copy, but don’t know that it is. I will update the Tokina review to reflect that it isn’t too dated and is a very good lens 🙂 I will get the review for the Tamron up in a couple days, compiling the data right now.

  5. James Berry says:

    Thank You sir! Your work is much appreciated!

  6. I bought this lens to go with Nikon 8008s back in the film days (This was when the D4 film camera was king) . At the time I couldn’t afford the Nikon equivalent so picked this up from B&H for around $650 back then. When I shot film the results were stunning. The colors were stunningly vibrant and sharp. But as I have progressed on into the digital realm with my D7000 crop sensor I have had issues with it. First off, focus is extremely critical below f4.5. I have had soft images when shooting at 2.8. When on my crop sensor camera, f2.8 seems like f1.8 in workable dof. I’m not complaining, this has just been a learning curve. Being a full frame lens, on my crop sensor I don’t get the wide field of view, but I have found this useful for portraiture and architectural photography. When at 28mm the crop sensor gives it a equivalent of 42mm, but you still see the wide angle distortion effects of a 28. Between 50-70 this lens has been good for me. The optics are prone to severe lens flaring when shooting back lit objects or anything with lights in the shot. I’m at the point where I need a better lens shade. But it’s easy to work around. The build quality is excellent and the elements are freaken huge when it comes to large and fast glass. That said, hauling this metal and glass beast around can be taxing on a long hot day. Invest in a Blackrapid camera strap if you don’t already have one. I guess I can agree there are some fringing issues with this with respect to the color. I am not a pixel peeper, I don’t have quite that eye. I just go out and shoot what I like..

    If I could I would trade this in for a Nikon 24-70 f2.8. One of their finest and versatile pro lenses. But like in the 90’s, I still don’t have that kind of cash. Perhaps one day? All this said though I still like this lens. I like the character of the images, and the feel of it. It has served me well, and even trading it up to the Nikon may be even a hard choice for sentimental reasons.