Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Lens Review

Wednesday, 11 September 2013
Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Lens Review - the Tokina ultrawide 2.3x zoom lens for Canon & Nikon cameras.
An ultrawide angle 2.3x zoom lens for crop sensor Canon and Nikon cameras, which costs around £540 and sports a constant maximum aperture of f/4 and virtually silent internal focusing. On a Nikon DX camera, this zoom range provides a field of view equivalent to an 18-42mm lens used on a 35mm camera. Tokina's DX ultrawide lenses have garnered an excellent reputation, so in this review, we'll take a look at whether this lens meets expectations.

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Handling and Features:

This lens feels very solidly built, which is typical of Tokina's ATX Pro range of lenses. The plastics used on the lens barrel are of very high quality and the lens feels very tough as a result. The lens weighs 530g, which makes it a perfect partner for the Nikon D300 used for testing. A rubber gasket placed around the lens mount helps to prevent ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body, although the lens itself isn't water resistant.

Autofocus is powered by a new SD-M motor, which focuses quickly and is virtually silent, but doesn't allow manual focus adjustments to be applied at any time. Tokina get around this by making autofocus easy to disengage, by simply sliding the focus ring backwards or forwards. The focusing ring is well damped, which makes it a pleasure to apply manual focus adjustments.

Focusing is performed internally, and zoom adjustments do not change the overall length of the lens, which means the 77mm filter ring doesn't move. This makes this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarizing filters.

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Performance:

At 12mm, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already outstanding at maximum aperture, although clarity towards the edges of the frame falls behind somewhat. The performance towards the edges of the frame improves rapidly as the lens is stopped down, with peak sharpness across the frame being achieved at f/8 for this focal length.

Performance is similar in the centre of the frame at 20mm, and clarity towards the edges of the frame is improved at maximum aperture. As is the case at 12mm, peak sharpness across the frame is achieved at f/8 for this focal length.

Performance at 28mm is consistent with other focal lengths. Sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture remains excellent and clarity towards the edges of the frame is good. Stopping down to f/8 results in excellent sharpness across the frame at this focal length.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is stronger at 12mm than 28mm. At 12mm the corners are 1.42 stops darker than the image centre at f/4, and this drops to the corners only being 0.6 stops darker at 28mm and f/4. Visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/8 at 12mm and by f/5.6 at 28mm.

Distortion is reasonably controlled for an ultra wide zoom lens. At 12mm 4.4% barrel distortion is present, which is reduced to 0.04% barrel distortion at 28mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make corrections in image editing software easy to apply if straight lines are paramount.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a decent job of shading the front element from extraneous light. Contrast is good, even when shooting into the light and only a little flare can be seen in extreme lighting conditions.

Value for Money:

The launch price of £540 is comparable to variable aperture lenses from Nikon and Canon covering a similar range. However, Nikon's 12-24mm f/4 lens is around £260 more expensive. At this price, this lens represents decent value for money as it's optical performance is comparable, or even better than these lenses in some areas, although some people may miss the extra width the Canon 10-22mm and Nikon 10-24mm lenses provide.

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Verdict:

This 12-28mm from Tokina more than meets expectations and is worthy of the reputation set by their other ultrawide lenses for crop sensor cameras. Sharpness is excellent throughout the zoom range, build quality is very good and if focuses quickly and quietly. The launch price of around £540 is good value too.

Overall, this is a very good lens, that should certainly be on your short list if you're in the market for a lens covering this range.

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 Pro DX Pros:

  • Excellent Sharpness
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Low CA
  • Reasonable distortion and falloff for this lens type
  • Good value

Tokina AT-X 12-28mm f/4 PRO DX Specifications:


Lens Mounts


Focal Length
12mm - 28mm

Angle of View
54.73° - 99.37°

Max Aperture

Min Aperture

Filter Size

35mm equivalent
18mm - 42mm

Internal focusing

Min Focus




Box Contents

Box Contents
BH-77B Lens Hood, Front Lens Cap, Rear Lens Cap