Secondhand Saviour: Fstoppers Reviews the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8

Secondhand Saviour: Fstoppers Reviews the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8

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.

Tokina 11-16mm ultra-wide angle lens

The Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8 is an ultra-wide angle lens for APS-C (crop) sensor cameras

Specifications

  • 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

Price

Floating around $340 / £250

Description

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.

Interior photo with Tokina

Interior photography can be difficult with crop sensor camera bodies because of the effective crop which reduces the field of view, luckily the ultra-wide Tokina makes short work of this

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.

Group shot outside

The minimal barrel distortion and good optical sharpness makes the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 a good pick for group portraits

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

  1. Affordable
  2. Pin-sharp
  3. Fast aperture
  4. Internal focusing

What Could Be Improved

  1. Limited focal length range
  2. Crop-sensor lens
  3. No image stabilization

Verdict

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.

Architectural photo indoors

Architectural photographers will also be happy shooting with this lens because of the minimal flare due to the multicoating on the lens and minimal bending of straight lines even towards the edge of the frame

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.

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10 Comments

Stuart Carver's picture

I just traded my XM1 for a used X-T20 this week... can’t believe how powerful it is in such a compact camera, it’s main job is for sitting in my glovebox with the 27mm attached, ready to shoot when needed.

Spy Black's picture

Just don't FRY it in your glove box...

Spy Black's picture

Temps in glove boxes can get high enough to destroy your gear.

Stuart Carver's picture

Yeah. Not where I live, more likely to freeze. It’s actually in the centre console where I keep it and the car is pretty well insulated so doesn’t seem to get extreme temps either way.

Spy Black's picture

The 11-16 and 11-20 lenses are really good, but make sure it's not de-centered. Although centering optics is a simple process, nobody wants to work on Tokina lenses. I have an older full frame 28-70mm f/2.6-2.8, which is a great lens, but mine is de-centered and I can't find anyone who'll throw it on a bench.

Nick Viton's picture

I have the previous iteration of this lens. I held onto it, even though I had sold off my DX cameras. Although I don't use it often, it performs well when I need to go really wide. It works fine on full frame cameras at 16mm (at anything wider you start to lose the corners).

Gary Pardy's picture

I imagine anyone who has had a crop sensor Nikon long enough will at one point use this lens or one of its siblings. So damn good, and covers a good portion of a full frame image circle as well! My only gripe is the autofocus performance, but that seems to be a given with Tokina.

Robin Ehrenhöfer's picture

This is 11-16mm Tokina lens is a great lens.
At 16mm it even covers a full frame sensor.
But I think its transmission isn't so good.

Jerome G's picture

You forgot to mention it exists in A mount.