Brand new kit breaking the bank? No problem. Take a snoop in the photography bargain bin to discover used camera kit that's still top quality at a fraction of the price.
It's what every photographer wants: good quality camera gear at affordable prices. Photography is a notoriously expensive art to get into and just buying some basic kit could end up costing you a cool grand, easily. With the current economic climate there's never been more urgency to save money, but that doesn't mean you have to skimp on quality.
We'll be taking a look at secondhand or slightly older photography kit that's just as good today as the day it was released. Whether that's lenses, tripods, DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, or simply useful accessories everything in the bargain bin will be much more affordable than its current-model counterpart. So let's take a look at our first piece of kit, the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8 lens.
- Focal Length: 11-16mm
- Maximum aperture: f/2.8
- Minimum aperture: f/22
- Elements/groups: 13-11
- Coating: Multi-coating
- Angle of view: 104° - 82°
- Filter size: 77mm
- Minimum focusing distance: 0.3m (11.8in)
- Number of aperture diaphragms: 9
- Weight: 550g (19.4oz)
- Mount: Canon EF and Nikon F
Floating around $340 / £250
The Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8 is a crop-sensor (APS-C) lens for Nikon and Canon mounts that offers high-quality optical performance in a small package. It's a no-frills lens that doesn't feature much beyond autofocus and manual focus options, and a zoom ring that goes from its ultra-wide 11mm to 16mm (roughly 16.5mm to 24mm effective focal length). It doesn't feature an outright AF/MF switch but instead operates the switch via the moving out and in of the focus ring on the lens body itself.
Its fast f/2.8 aperture is perfect for low light shooting and makes autofocus easier with lower light levels. The best subjects to shoot with this kind of lens would be astrophotography and landscape work where making the most of the fast aperture would be most beneficial. Though it also works well as an environmental portrait lens, especially useful for street or architectural photographers looking to fit a little more of the scene into view on their crop-sensor body. That's because it only has a minimal amount of barrel distortion and straight lines, even right up to the edge of the frame, look pretty true to life.
The sharpest section is right in the center of the frame and when shooting wide open there is a vignetting around the edge which can be easily overcome with some lens corrections in your favorite editing software. Overall though, the construction is solid and feels weighty without being too heavy. It definitely feels like a legitimate, strong lens that earns its place in your camera bag as one of the better ultra-wide zooms for APS-C cameras. It's even good for the portrait or environmental photographer that lacks the field of view where the standard 18-55mm kit lens or 24-70mm lens gets a little too close.
What I Liked
- Fast aperture
- Internal focusing
What Could Be Improved
- Limited focal length range
- Crop-sensor lens
- No image stabilization
The Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8 is a useful and versatile lens. It has minimal distortion and makes it easy to take group portraits right up to the edge of the frame without worrying about things looking odd. The fast aperture makes it an ideal lens for interior real estate, or other indoor low light shooting and is constant throughout the zoom range. Its clever design to switch between manual and autofocus is unique but easily knocked if adjusting the focus ring a bit too vigorously.
On the whole, it's a sturdy lens that feels legitimately solid and looks great in its matt black and gold trim. It's a great price secondhand now, too, which makes it a must purchase for anyone shooting on an APS-C camera who wants that extra bit of width, whether for astrophotography, landscapes, or just wanting a little extra in the frame and needing to do it in low light.