Tokina 20-35mm F2.8 AT-X 235 AF PRO A-mount lens review by Dynaton-DK

reviewer#5578 date: Jun-22-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma AF10-20, Sigma AF17-70, Sigma AF18-200, Minolta AF24-50, Minolta AF24-85, Minolta AF24-105D, Minolta AF28-135, Quantaray AF24 Super Wide II, Minolta AF28, Tokina ATX 17 Pro.
price paid:286 (Used)
positive:Fairly sharp wide open
Perfectly sharp from f3.5-4.5
Build quality
negative:Autofocus sluggish
Autofocus can miss in low light
comment:As others have reported this lens has pro's and con's. At first it had me in a situation of both liking it and at the same time disliking it. After being more familiar with the lens I like it a lot. It has become one of my favorite lenses and is in the same league as the Minolta AF28-135.

Pro's are constant f2.8 and ability to use it without a flash in those situations where you do not want to ruin the atmosphere by flashing lights. It is fairly sharp at the centre even at f2.8 - borders and corners are soft at f2.8. It can be used indoor with good results even without a flash.
Stop down to f3.3-f3.5 and it sharpens up - becoming close to perfectly sharp at f4-f4.5.
The lens is almost as sharp as the Minolta AF28-135 and delivers near-perfect results when stopped down a little. However, wide open the results are more than acceptable.

Build quality is perfect and color is fine (but not as saturated as classical Minolta lenses).

Contrast is a little weak/low, but it seems that the engineering focus has been on designing a lens with high resolution in image details. However, just as for the Minolta AF28-135 (that has similar slightly low/weak contrast) this issue is easily handled in PP.

My copy is sharpest at 20mm and becomes marginally softer at 35mm. Note that the minimum focus distance changes a little over the zoom range (closer at 20mm and a little longer at 35mm).

Con is the Autofocus that can be sluggish and can miss the correct focus in low light. The latter is the most significant problem with this lens as the whole purpose of having a fast f2.8 zoom ought to be the ability to use it in low light. This is especially annoying as the lens in fact is very sharp indeed - as said even sharp wide open. When the lens is used outdoor the Autofocus is fast and reliable.

Distortion is lower than expected - buildings are not bending at any length.
Flare control is average, and easy to control.

So on one hand I really like the sharpness and image details of the lens and on the other hand I'm annoyed with the inconsistent indoor focus. In spite of my critic against the con's of this lens, I'll keep it both due to the excellent sharpness and due to the fact it fills in the gab between the sigma AF10-20 and the Minolta AF28-135 (and has one stop more light than the Minolta AF24-50).

A highly recommendable lens if you can find it.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 9
  • sharpness: 4.33
  • color: 4.56
  • build: 4.89
  • distortion: 4.78
  • flare control: 3.89
  • overall: 4.49 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania