April 28, 2018

Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm FX lens

The Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is designed for Full Frame DSLR cameras, but can also be used on APS-C DSLR’s that have an internal motor drive in the cameras body like the Nikon D7000 series and the Canon DLSR’s that have an internal motor drive where the "Field of View" on this lens will be equivalent to about a 120-600mm lens.

Lets’ me start off by saying that this review is purely based on photos that I’ve taken with this lens attached to my Nikon D7500, and that if you’re after a wildlife lens that give you super sharp images from 80 to 400mm and very little chromatic aberration in your images, then don’t read any further. This lens isn’t for you!

But! If you’re just getting into wildlife photography and are looking for a budget lens with a reach of 400mm that’ll give you acceptable image quality at a budget price, then read this review, as this lens may be just what you’re looking for.

I bought this lens as I was looking for a second-hand budget price lens that still offered fairly good image quality at a focal length of 400mm that I could use to photograph wildlife with my daughter, as well as shooting some aircraft images. And after using it for three months I’ve found that this Tokina 80-400mm does this and does it well. This Tokina 80-400mm lens supersedes the original version of this lens the Tokina 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6 AT-X, which was built for SLR cameras and is not designed for Digital SLR cameras.

The Tokina AT-X 80-400mm sells for around AU$800 online (you won’t find it in the shops, as it’s no longer made), or about $300 to $400 for second-hand one that it’s very good condition (mine cost me $300, and was in near mint condition). So for that price it was worth taking a chance on this lens as it wasn’t that much money to outlay for a lens with a reach of 400mm.

Lens Specification for Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6

  • Focal Length: 80-400mm Full Frame DSLR / 120-600mm APS-C DSLR
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 250 cm
  • Maximum Aperture: at 80mm: F4.5/80mm and F5.6/400mm
  • Minimum Aperture: F32
  • Construction E/G: 16 Elements in 10 Groups
  • Coatings: Advanced Multi-layer
  • Angle of View: 29.5 – 6.1 degrees
  • Focusing Mode: M/AF
  • Image stabilization: No
  • Zooming System: Rotating
  • Aperture Blades: 8
  • Filter Size: 72mm
  • Lens hood Length: 75mm
  • Lens Length without hood: 150mm/80mm and 205mm/400mm
  • Weight: 1080 grams with lens hood/ 1000 grams without lens hood
  • Mounts: Canon AF, Nikon AF (non-G).

I’ve been using this Tokina 80-400mm lens on my Nikon D7500 DSLR for about three month now, and although I found quite a few things that I have to be very mindful off when taking wildlife images, I am satisfied with the performance and image quality of this lens for the price I paid for it.

This lens is built like all the Tokina lenses that I’ve owned (Like a Tank), and extend the lens to 400mm and you’ll find very little play in barrel of the lens, which cannot be said of other similar lens made primarily of plastic. The lens also comes with a felt-lined lens hood that incorporates a spring-loaded "PL Assist" wheel that allows you to re-orient the lens mounted Polarizing filter without removing the hood.

Negatives and Positives about this lens

Negatives:

1: The Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm is prone to Chromatic aberration, also known as “color fringing” or “purple fringing” at a focal length greater than 300mm and by 400mm it is very noticeable when shooting a dark object against a bright sky/background. Fortunately, this is very easily fixed when editing the image in Adobe Lightroom by clicking on “Remove Chromatic Aberration” in the Lens Correction section and then clicking on Defringe and clicking on the area of your image that has the Chromatic aberration.

2: I’ve found that the lens will focus very quickly in good lighting, but is prone to hunt in low light especially if using AF-C (continuous-servo autofocus) where the camera will continuously focus on the selected area. Although some may think of this as a huge thing, for me it’s a non-issue as I shoot 90% of my wildlife image when there’s a fair bit of daylight still around, as this is when you’ll capture the most colour in you subject anyway.

Positives:

1: In good lighting and with your subject in close proximity to you (within 25 meters), the images that you get are sharp and full of colour and detail.

2: This lens has the right focal length range for distance (within 25 meters), but is unusual for being the only modern 80-400mm zoom that isn't image-stabilized. This makes this lens much less expensive than other lenses with this focal length.

My thoughts!

The Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 feels well balance when coupled with my Nikon D7500, and holding the lens where the tripod collar makes the whole unit feel well balanced. I have to use a monopod when shooting wildlife at anything great than 200mm due to my unsteady hands, as this lens has no VR stabilization. But for someone who has steady hands, you could easily use this lens up to 400mm without a monopod, though you’d most likely get more shots in sharp focus if you were using one.

Should you buy Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6!

Even with the few negatives that I've outlined above, this lens is very hard to beat when buying it second-hand for around $350 and if you’re just starting out shooting wildlife on a tight budget, then I’d certainly recommend this lens.

Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 sample images

The images below show how much the original images have been cropped and that the clarity and sharpness of the image hasn't been compromised by reducing the size of the image.

In closing

I’ve been using the Tokina AT-X 840 AF D 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 for about three months now and I’m very happy with the performance of this lens for the price that I paid for it. Will I keep this lens? For the time being, Yes!
But I’m hoping that by early next year I’ll be able to buy the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens, as for me this would be the best lens to use for capturing wildlife and doing the odd sport shoot with.

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