In days gone by, Tokina was lumped in with the rest of the third-party lens makers as a second choice to same-as-camera-brand offerings. This wasn’t so much a problem when a very tight budget had to be adhered to.
Today’s third-party lens landscape doesn’t just provide a good array of affordable options, it also provides top-quality and some of the best value glass around. This is the reason for closely focusing on Tokina zoom lenses under $1000.
We have a lot of scope to cover today as we have the broad spectrum of covering the wide to telephoto range of the market. Plus we have raided our collective piggy banks to summon up good lenses in the $1000 price bracket.
Which option you choose will be largely dependent on your favorite subject matter. Therefore, we will include a range of optics covering the most popular focal lengths, with the most versatility while also featuring great optics.
1. Tokina AT-X 24-70mm f/2.8 PRO FX (Overall Winner)
A 24-70mm is one of the most versatile zoom lenses, as it covers the most useful of focal lengths. The AT-X 24-70mm f/2.8 PRO FX is Tokina’s offering in this zone. It’s competitively priced with all the high-end optics you would expect from a pro-solution lens.
On crop sensor camera bodies, the focal length comes in at 38.4-112mm, the added extra at the telephoto length on the end being very useful for the likes of portraits.
The aperture comes in at f/2.8, which works well in low light conditions. The optical arrangement includes 15 elements in 11 groups, including three glass-molded aspherical and three SD elements. A super multi-layer coating has also been applied to all the glass elements to improve image quality and reduce lens flare and ghosting.
The 24-70mm is tack sharp at f/4 across the frame, while only being slightly behind in quality at f/2.8. The autofocus may sometimes be slow to react in low-light conditions and some chromatic aberration can be seen with the aperture at f/2.8. But in every other respect, this lens is a quality option and surprisingly a very good alternative to same-brand offerings.
I have to admit that when it usually comes to picking a 70-200mm, I would normally dive into the options of either a same-make brand or Sigma’s own 70-200mm. But when we need a zoom lens under $1000 with the same focal range, it’s the Tokina AT-X 70-200mm f/4 FX VCM-S which should be on the shortlist.
For those needing extra zoom range, the lens provides a 105-300mm view on crop sensor cameras, with the same useful f/4 aperture and optical qualities. Contained within the 980g lens barrel are 19 elements arranged in 14 groups, along with a highly usable image stabilization system that offers three stops of compensation.
This 70-200mm lens provides very sharp images at f/4 with the output staying tack sharp up to f/11. Image definition is fantastic, and although it may not have the speed or light gathering ability of the f/2.8 versions, it’s as justifiably sharp at f/4. Basically, if the same-as-camera-brand versions are out of your price range, this lens is fantastic value for money.
Tokina’s opera range is like Sigma’s Art series of glass, saying to the world that they have premium examples to fit all tastes. The opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF slots into the wide-angle zoom category, with a wide and bright f/2.8 aperture and a high-quality weight of 950g.
The optics comprise of three aspherical elements, along with three glass-molded low dispersion versions to combat color fringing and other types of lens anomalies. Aa multi-coating has been applied to all elements to improve overall color and clarity.
The autofocus system works extremely well for both stills and video, and there’s no faulting the overall sharpness and image quality for the price point. Overall, there’s a lot of plus points to this lens making it a great solution for the likes of landscape and architectural photography.
Tokina seems to offer quite a few zoom lenses in the wide-angle department. It’s almost like they’ve looked at the overall market and decided to focus their affordable efforts into the wide-angle side of things.
The 11-20mm f/2.8 CF is about as wide as you can go without venturing into fisheye lens territory, while also providing a nice wide and bright f/2.8 aperture in a reasonably weighted package of 570g.
Three aspherical and SD elements are accompanied by two glass-molded and one P-MO hybrid element, with an anti-reflective multi-layer coating to each. A water repellent coating has been applied to the front element, as it’s more than likely this lens will be dragged out into all types of weather conditions.
The clutch mechanism for changing auto to manual focus may split opinion, but in regards to optical quality, this lens is sharp throughout its aperture and focal range. You would have to spend a fair degree more to get any type of bump up in quality.
5. Tokina AT-X 14-20mm f/2 PRO DX (Budget Winner)
Yet another wide-angle zoom offering comes in the form of the AT-X 14-20mm f/2 PRO DX. This lens has a shorter range than the option above, but to its advantage has a wider f/2 aperture.
The optical arrangement of 13 elements in 11 groups includes five special elements for correcting all types of lens artifacts. Each element is treated to a multi-layer anti-reflective coating to reduce lens flare, as well as increase color and contrast.
A high-quality nine-blade rounded diaphragm is there to produce very pleasing bokeh. This feature not being the first thing you think of for a wide-angle lens, but the facilities are there if you need it.
One advantage of this short focal range is that the lens keeps its quality and definition from f/2 and upwards. As this zoom will be mostly used for the likes of landscape work, it provides plenty of detail from f/8-f/16. The lens also provides a good degree of color definition without being too saturated.
Ultimately, if none of the other wide-angle lenses above suit your needs, the 14-20mm f/2 is a very sharp option, with the benefit of having the widest aperture and most cost-effective price point.
Summing up the Best Tokina Zoom Lenses Under $1000
As originally stated, Tokina has great zoom lens offerings covering everything from the wide to the telephoto zone. In some cases, they can be an equal match to the same-as-camera or other third-party brand zoom offerings, while also providing the best exchange of optics for the money.
Next time you need to dive into a zoom lens option, it’s worth considering Tokina zoom lenses under $1000, as the overall value and quality may surprise you.