Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

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Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:09 am

Tokina 80-200mm f/2.8, Canon EOS/EF mount. Beast of a lens, you could just about use it as a billy club. Came up on Craigslist, guy was selling off pieces of his Canon collection to finance a 5D MkII upgrade. I had watched a couple pass by on eBay and decided his $400 asking price was reasonable. We met, I tried a few back-to-back shots against my 70-200mm f/4L at f/4 and fixed shutter times, and the results were close enough that I bought it and popped the f/4L on to pay for it. All expenses considered, it was a break-even purchase.

So far, I'm reasonably impressed. The only thing that hinders this Tokina from being an ideal acquisition is a breathing front-focus with a rotating front element, and the AF is on the slow side. I'll live with it for now, as having a constant f/2.8 minimum aperture is worth it to me, and I don't have $1100 lying around for a Canon f/2.8L. Here are some quick test shots that I fired in my kitchen, using Aperture Priority and a card-diffused 550EX flash, all at 800 ISO on a Canon 40D. These are 1900x1425 crops from a 10MP image, resized (at a very slight quality loss, of course) to 1024x768 for convenience. There is otherwise no post-processing:

Image

Image

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At 200mm f/2.8, it's definitely running soft, but IMO not unreasonably so. At f/4 (as noted) things have improved greatly, and by f/8 it's pretty much peaked. So far, performance outdoors seems consistent with these results. Here's an 800 ISO, 200mm f/5.6 shot with mild PP. Foreground is at a distance of about two miles, background mountains are about 5-6 miles distant, lighting is dusk:

Image

Long-term performance remains to be seen but given that the alternates run in the $700 range (Sigma, Tamron) or $1100 on up (Canon), this looks to be a reasonable budget piece for someone whose hobby is not yet generating income. It also sharpens up slightly below about 150mm or so, and the minimum aperture is a respectable f/32.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:14 am

Hehe, looks like ludi has some Tokina love going on (together with your recent 12-24/4 acquisition) :D .

Agree that it's a bit soft at 200mm @ f/2.8, but it sharpens up respectably by f/4, and the softness will probably not be detrimental when shooting portraiture. I imagine it's also a lot sharper at 150mm and below.

What's the bokeh like? Some lenses struggle with this despite otherwise respectable characteristics.

A word of caution from someone who's been there - it's very tempting to get better and faster lenses, but I found that as my lenses became bigger and bulkier, I started carrying my camera out less and less until I stopped doing so altogether :roll: .

Finally, the straw broke the camel's back, and I retired my 40D and L lenses in favour of Micro Four Thirds. Definitely not the path I'd advise for everyone, but it's worked out well for me so far. Now I just have to be careful not to replicate my mistakes with the new format (lusting after that Voigtlander Nokton 50/1.1 atm*...).

*It's bigger, but no heavier than my current SMC Takumar 50/1.4 + M42 adapter

BTW, Got to play with the Tokina 11-16/2.8 the other day, but as I didn't bring my Canon body, don't have any samples to show. Build quality is pretty good (about on par with Sigma's EX line), and it has a clutch AF/MF mechanism similar to some Tamrons (probably useless on an ultra wide). It's got pretty good distortion and resolution as long as you don't mind correcting CA in post (which, if you use Lightroom, you can probably automate with lens profiles).
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:22 pm

So far I've got my entire camera outfit confined to one Lowepro Fastpack 350, and carriage hasn't become an issue. The size of my collection has pretty much stabilized and new lenses generally replace old ones, which get sold (the new UWAZ being an exception since it fills a new niche). I generally pull and store bits and pieces for trips based on the type of destination, so that I don't have the entire menagerie to contend with when I know I won't need it.

There seems to be a lot of good Tokina glass flying below the radar. And my experience with selling the f/4L is giving me a bad taste for Canon L-glass buyers. The kinds of questions and nitpicking that go on, you'd think these people were appraising a Picasso instead of buying a functional piece of machinery :roll:
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:08 pm

Reminds me of my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. Soft at f2.8, at f/4 it sharpens up nicely. Some CA in bright light on occasion, but otherwise a good lens all round. Tokina lenses are built better than the Sigma equivalents, where Sigma paint slowly peels off the camera, leaving the lens looking unappealing and show half naked chrome.

Just curious, a 70-300mm not fast enough for you? I tend not to bring out my 70-200mm very often (due to weight) as I generally only use it to shoot people portraits.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:48 pm

etilena wrote:Just curious, a 70-300mm not fast enough for you? I tend not to bring out my 70-200mm very often (due to weight) as I generally only use it to shoot people portraits.

I like to shoot indoors quite a bit, and sometimes outdoors after dusk. Depending on the type of shot and DoF I'm looking for, I do shoot below 3.5-4.5, which is where most consumer and prosumer zooms start. The Canon 70-300mm IS might not be a bad lens for me but that's still in the $500 range. Last time I spent that much money on one lens, it was the f/4L that I just sold.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:02 pm

If the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM wasn't meeting your needs for low light indoor photography, you would probably be disappointed with the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM.
See the table that I assembled in this previous post:
viewtopic.php?f=37&t=64735&p=919662&hilit=#p919662
70-84mm : f/4.0
85-153mm: f/4.5
154-199mm: f/5.0
200-300mm: f/5.6
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:30 pm

ludi wrote:
etilena wrote:Just curious, a 70-300mm not fast enough for you? I tend not to bring out my 70-200mm very often (due to weight) as I generally only use it to shoot people portraits.

I like to shoot indoors quite a bit, and sometimes outdoors after dusk. Depending on the type of shot and DoF I'm looking for, I do shoot below 3.5-4.5, which is where most consumer and prosumer zooms start. The Canon 70-300mm IS might not be a bad lens for me but that's still in the $500 range. Last time I spent that much money on one lens, it was the f/4L that I just sold.


That is interesting, I didn't think I'd have enough space to maneuver a 70-200mm indoors, unless it's a hallway or you like to get in real close. I use my 85mm 1.8 a lot for indoor shots, but it's of an older design, so is a bit slow in autofocusing.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:38 pm

I don't recall my former EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM focusing any faster than my EF 85mm f/1.8 USM does. Both are slower-focusing than my EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, but the 85mm f/1.8 USM has focused plenty fast enough for everything at which I've pointed it. 85mm on a crop body is a pretty narrow field of view for anything except close-up portraits.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:07 pm

For indoor portraits on APS-C, I've had decent results with the Canon EF 50/1.4 USM (a bit soft wide open) and the Tamron 60/2 Macro (a bit sharp for portraits). Neither is perfect, but they're both interesting options. The 50/1.4 sharpens up by f/2, but unfortunately the nice bokeh at f/1.4 starts to deteriorate as you stop down - principally highlights polygonizing. If you don't have highlights in the scene it's still quite smooth. The Sigma 50/1.4 EX is sharper but suffers from ugly spots in highlights (similar to the EF-S 17-55/2.8) and has focus shift at close distances. I had the EF 50/1.4 lying around from my film days, so just kept on using it.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:50 pm

Folks in the photography forums seem to love the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM... once they get a copy that focuses just right. I've considered the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, but as long as I'm using the 17-55/2.8 with a crop sensor, I'm thinking that the Sigma DC 30mm f/1.4 EX HSM or the EF 35mm f/1.4L USM would provide a handier focal length.

Honestly, I get my best indoor shots using the 17-55/2.8 with the Speedlite 580EX II bounced off of the ceiling.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:29 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Folks in the photography forums seem to love the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM... once they get a copy that focuses just right. I've considered the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, but as long as I'm using the 17-55/2.8 with a crop sensor, I'm thinking that the Sigma DC 30mm f/1.4 EX HSM or the EF 35mm f/1.4L USM would provide a handier focal length.


The Sigma 50/1.4 EX is great... as a normal lens on a FF body. On a crop body, the bokeh is obnoxious enough to render it undesirable as a portrait lens (the main reason I'm not a fan of the 17-55/2.8 ). It's also more expensive than the 50/1.4 and trades off some gains (sharpness) for others (bokeh, focus accuracy), so it's not necessarily a clear-cut choice. If I were shopping for a normal lens on a full-frame body, I'd probably go for the Sigma, but if I wanted a portrait prime on EF-S, I'd have to think long and hard about the options (I'd probably toss up between the EF 50/1.4 and the Tamron 60/2 Macro. The former for its pleasant rendering qualities and the latter for its added versatility).

I'd be leery of recommending the 35/1.4L on a crop body, because you're paying for a lot of glass that you won't use, and you'll have to carry all that glass around with you. The cheap-as-chips 35/2 is actually more consistent across the frame and sharper at the borders than the 35/1.4L*. Of course, on a crop sensor, the dismal edge performance of the 35/1.4L is cropped away, but it is clear that the 35/1.4L has made compromises to reach its speed (a bit silly IMO, because edge performance is more important on wide angles than, say, a portrait lens). Bokeh is a bit smoother on the 35/1.4L (though still not perfect), and a bit more nervous and busy on the 35/2, but bokeh is not generally considered critical on a normal lens equivalent (56 mm).

Ken Rockwell was pretty succint on the Sigma 30/1.4 :

If you shoot Canon, forget this Sigma and get the superior Canon 28mm f/1.8 EF for less money.


Photozone similarly rated it 2 stars out of 5 optically. Mind you, the Canon 28/1.8 USM didn't fare much better. EF-S can be a bit of a wasteland for good lenses :-? .


* EDIT: A common misconception I come across is that the fastest lens in a stable is the best. While they're almost always the most expensive, fast lenses may have had to have compromises in their optical design to achieve their speed. It is more accurate to think of ultra-fast lenses as specialty lenses rather than necessarily the best lens in the range. Sometimes, the fastest lens does work out to be the best, but it's safer to reach that conclusion from tests (both objective and subjective) than to assume it will be so. /gets off the pulpit :P
Last edited by Voldenuit on Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:36 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Honestly, I get my best indoor shots using the 17-55/2.8 with the Speedlite 580EX II bounced off of the ceiling.


That is true, I also use the equivalent Nikon range to get the best indoor shots. It is the most versatile, but I swap lenses only to force myself to get a different angle of view on images. The 85mm is a bit long on a crop sensor body for indoor shots, but it does make some compelling shots.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:46 am

etilena wrote:That is interesting, I didn't think I'd have enough space to maneuver a 70-200mm indoors, unless it's a hallway or you like to get in real close. I use my 85mm 1.8 a lot for indoor shots, but it's of an older design, so is a bit slow in autofocusing.

In fact I do have the 85mm f/1.8. It's a beautiful portrait lens, here are a couple of my favorites (nephew, BIL, sister):

Image

Image

However, I've discovered that for indoor event photography, a wide-aperture long zoom is a huge plus for capturing a speaker on a stage or getting candids of people having random conversations, or perhaps sharing moments around a dinner table. You're 30-50 feet away in a dark room, they don't even know you're there, and sometimes a flash can be avoided, as well. But you can't always feet-zoom to the exact distance that a prime might require for optimal framing, so a zoom lens is hugely helpful for that sort of thing.

So far I've only done serious practice work at a charity benefit dinner early this year (that discussion was here), a couple 1yo birthday parties, and more recently, my cousin's wedding, so I've got some technique to work on yet. But I wouldn't mind doing a couple for-profit shoots if the opportunity arose, and for that I need to have a decent selection of wide-aperture lenses. Right now the only lens in my bag that can't do at least f/2.8 is my new-to-me UWAZ (Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4).

Also, wildlife photography in low light...a wide, long zoom can be useful there, as well.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:12 am

I can't help but notice your shutter speeds are too slow for handholding. Try to hit SS of faster than 1/(85*1.6) = 1/136s. 1/160 is probably the closest setting.
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Re: Tokina AT-X 80-200mm f/2.8

Postposted on Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:32 am

Yeah...IIRC, I shot those with flash and a Red #29 and it was entirely impromptu, so I really wasn't using the right camera settings at all. But the composition on those two came out well enough that I kept 'em anyway.
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