Tokina 28-70mm F2.6-2.8 AT-X 270 PRO AF A-mount lens review by lifeispixels

reviewer#9970 date: Feb-24-2012
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 2
overall: 4.2
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Tamron 28-75 f2.8
price paid:300 (used)
positive:Beautiful colors
Respectfully sharp
Built like tank!
negative:Flare can be so bad.
Tokina's usual CA
comment:Reading so much hype about this lens as an incarnation of Angenieux, I bought a used one to try. There are many versions of this lens and I knew I had to look for the original PRO version with a short round hood and satin finish as it's said to have the optical formula of Angenieux.

First impression with this lens was very good. It's respectfully sharp. It appears soft at f2.6 or f2.8 (depending on your version if it's local Japanese or exported) however the details are all there. Contrast was low wide open so post processing if necessary.

Now what's not so good about it. Because of its constant aperture, it's meant to be used in low light. And out on the streets with low light, you can expect all kinds of light sources, many of them pointing directly at the lens. And this is when it turns ugly. The flare is very strong. One of the lens that gives strongest flair I have experienced. One particular image on the street where a spot light was seen, the flare blew images white and smeared all the details, rendering that image useless. However every lens has limitation and if you work with this in mind, you can find this lens a delight to use.

Built quality is uber impressive. The best you can find and so it's not difficult to find a used one that appears mint because it's so well built and resistant to wear. However it's quite heavy and you will notice immediately when hung around your neck. On A850, it still balanced well but on lighter bodies like A55, the weight will tip the camera down and doesn't feel balanced in your hands when taking picture which could lead to hands strain.

However the reason I kept Tokina 28-70 for 1 day and returned was the Japanese seller whom I bought the lens hid the fact that there was some fine fungus inside. So be careful when buying this lens since the outside mint appearance might mislead you to believe that this lens is well cared however there could be fungus, haze inside the optical elements already. After I returned it, I got myself a used (but latest version) Tamron 28-75 f2.8 and I never look back. The Tamron is optically much better in every regard. Colors rendition however is different and subjective. The Tamron is eye bleeding sharp right from f2.8 (make sure you micro adjust the lens since it seems to back/front a lot). I took the Tamron and went back to the same place where I tested the lens with street's spot light. The Tamron did many times better to control flare and all the details in the picture were kept well. Although Tamron's build quality is nothing special to be desired, it's good enough and on par with currently available lens in the market. The advantage is however a much lighter weight. So it's no longer a pain to carry around with A850 like it used to with Tokina 28-70. Control of CA is better with the Tamron and focusing speed is also noticeably faster.

In summary, this lens is great if you could find one in good shape for around 200 USD. The price has been inflated recently (because of the saying it's Angenieux incarnation) to the point that it's being absurd. For 300+ USD, it's much wiser to look for the new/used Tamron 28-75 f2.8 which in many areas, can even beat the Carl Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 ZA.

See my photos with Tokina AT-X 270 PRO 28-70 f2.6-2.8 and Tamron 28-75 f2.8 at:

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 31
  • sharpness: 4.45
  • color: 4.65
  • build: 5.00
  • distortion: 4.58
  • flare control: 3.87
  • overall: 4.51 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania