December 20, 2017

Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro DX lens

The Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro DX lens is designed for crop-sensored DSLR cameras, and is well suited for photographers who like capturing wide angle day-time landscapes and those, who like me spend many cold winter nights capturing images of the Milky Way (Astrophotographers).

The Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 Pro is the latest lens released by Tokina and is rated as one of the best ultra-wide angle lens ( on the market for crop-sensored DSLR cameras. It supersedes the Tokina AT-X 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX ll lens which is also a very good ultra-wide angle lens, but isn’t as sharp as the Tokina 11-20mm lens.

Although the Tokina 11-20mm sells for about $800 ($200 more than the Tokina 11-16mm lens) which sells at about $600, the extra money is well spent once you start using this lens and see how sharp this lens is, as well as the colours being more vivid than the Tokina 11-16mm lens.

Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8
Focal Length: 11-20mm
Maximum Aperture: F2.8
Minimum Aperture: F22
Construction E/G: 14 Elements in 12 Groups
Coatings: Advanced Multi-layer
Angle of View 104.34 - 72.42°
Minimum Focus Distance: 28 cm
Focusing Mode: AF
Zooming System: Rotating
Aperture Blades: 9
SD Glass: 3 elements
Filter Size: 82mm
Lens Length: 92mm
Weight: 560g

Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8
Focal Length: 11-16mm
Maximum Aperture: F2.8
Minimum Aperture: F22
Construction E/G: 13 Elements in 11 Groups
Coatings: Multi-layer
Angle of View: 104 - 84°
Minimum Focus Distance: 30cm
Focusing Mode: Internal Focusing
Zooming System: Rotating
Aperture Blades: 9
Filter Size: 77mm
Lens Length: 89.2mm
Weight: 550g

I’ve been using the Tokina 11-20mm on my Nikon D7500 and Nikon D5500 DSLR's for about a month now, and I’m pleased with how good this lens is for both for Landscape and Astrophotography. This lens is built like a tank, and you’ll know it’s on the end of your DLSR due to its weight. But! It’s this weight that makes it such a great lens, as it has so much glass in it compared to other lenses in this category.

Below are some of the more common Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) lens that offer the zoom range that the Tokina 11-20mm offers.
But none of the above lenses offer a f2.8 constant aperture across the zoom range of the lens. This is why the Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 lens is such a sought after lens, especially for those photographers who shoot in low light (Astrophotography).

Nikon AF-P 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G D VR $550 Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM $770 Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM $400 Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM $700 Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD SP AF $900
Using the Tokina 11-20mm f.28 lens for Landscape or Astrophotography

Using a UWA lens like the Tokina 11-20mm in Landscape or Astrophotography is great, as it lets you capture so much of the landscape that is in front of your camera. But, there’s a few things that you need to remember when using such a lens.

  • Most ultra wide lenses suffer from lens distortion, and the Tokina 11-20mm like most suffers from mild lens distortion, but this is easily fixed in Lightroom CC or any other image editing program.
  • Having your horizon straight is crucial, since any building or tall tree on the outer edges will tend to lean into the image, and although this is easily fixed when editing your image. But if the horizon wasn’t straight, and you straighten it while editing it, then you’ll find that the distortion will be very difficult to remove which the image below gives an example of this.
My thoughts!
  • Holding the Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 in your hand gives you confidence that this is no cheaply made lens, as the lens weights about 600grams with the hood attached.
  • The motor-drive in this lens is quieter than the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 that I used to own before upgrading to a full frame DSLR camera, but this has apparently been resolved in the latest release of the 11-16mm lens.
  • The focus speed isn’t as quick as some of the more expensive zoom lenses, but for landscape and night-time photography it is reliable and works very well in low light.
  • The images that I’ve taken at f2.8 have been sharp, though not as sharp as a portrait lens. This is to be expected though, as this lens is for landscape and night-time photographers, not for portrait photographers.
Should you buy Tokina 11-20mm f2.8! lens

The Tokina 11-20mm isn’t the type of lens that you’d leave on your camera as a walk-around lens, due to its very wide field of view. You’d be better suited to use a lens with a focal range of 18-100mm for that purpose.

The Tokina 11-20mm is well suited to capturing images of wide open landscapes or the night sky (perfect for capturing the Milky Way). It is also great to use when capturing images in tight area where you’re restricted is space, like at the base of waterfalls.

There are many other uses for a UWA lens like the Tokina 11-20mm, and shown below is an example of this. I didn’t have much space to move around in this room and I really wanting to photograph the staircase, as well as showing the ceiling and floor above it.

Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 Day-time sample images

Below are 4 sample images taken at with the Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 lens at 11mm f2.8 and f5.6, and at 20mm and f2.8 and f5.6 to highlight how sharp this lens is at f2.8 and at f5.6 or higher. There is a noticeable difference in sharpness in the images between 11m and 20mm, as the lens was only about 30cm from the head of the bird.

This difference in sharpness would be less noticeable in normal landscape photography where your focal point could be anywhere from 10 meters or further in front of the camera. The main difference that you’d notice when using an aperture of f2.8 compared to f5.6 would be the amount of foreground in your image that would be in focus.

Tokina 11-20mm f2.8 Night-time sample images

When photographing the stars at night, most photographers like using an aperture of f2.8 to allow as much light into the camera as possible. At night though the foreground is often darker than the sky, so you wouldn’t see much difference in your image if you used an aperture of f4 apart from a slight increase in sharpness in the stars compared to f2.8. Which in most images would hardly be noticeable, unless you printed the image at AO poster size.

In closing

I’ve been using the Tokina 11-20mm for a month now and I’m finding hard to find any faults with it. It’s proved itself as an outstanding Ultra Wide Angle Lens for shooting wide vista scenes at sunrise/sunset, during the day and at the base of waterfalls. But at night is where this lens excels with its constant f2.8 aperture, you’re able to capture the night sky with lower ISO settings than any of its competitors.

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