Tokina is a top-rated third-party manufacturer of quality lenses. It has a good selection of lenses for Nikon and Canon full-frame and APS-C sensor cameras. In this guide, we look at five of the top Tokina zoom lenses under $500.
Tokina specializes in wide-angle lenses and often provides great maximum apertures. This means their lenses are suitable for artistic photography if you want to create smooth bokeh effects. Generally, Tokina lenses have an internal focusing system and do not benefit from image stabilization.
Nonetheless, you can still expect consistent quality and great performance from these budget lenses.
1. Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX
Our recommended pick for Tokina zoom lenses under $500 is the AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX. This top lens is a versatile ultra-wide-angle model with a solid set of features. It is compatible with APS-C DX Nikon cameras and there is a Canon version available too.
The maximum aperture of f/2.8 provides great control over depth of field, and also makes this budget lens suitable for low-light compositions. It has a lens element that contains three SD ultra-low dispersion elements, which help maintain image consistency and contrast.
Also, the external glass elements have multi-layer protective coatings to help reduce dust and moisture. There are two aspherical lens elements that greatly reduce distortions like chromatic aberration, lens flare, and ghosting.
Weighing just 1.23lbs, and with an overall length of 3.62 inches, this cheap lens is also portable and a solid travel option.
2. Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 PRO FX
Another affordable option is the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 PRO FX. This lens offers a slightly larger focal distance and is compatible with Nikon FX full-frame DSLR cameras. There is also a Canon version available which is slightly more expensive.
This is a good lens choice, especially in the under $500 range. It has an excellent lens construction with several spherical lens elements that help reduce common distortions. In addition, F&R aspherical elements provide superior performance and help correct aberrations. Finally, there are several Super-Low Dispersion lens elements to minimize noise and improve image consistency.
The AT-X 16-28mm comes with a decent internal focusing system. This autofocusing system provides fast operation and is highly accurate. You can switch between AF and MF easily using the special focus clutch function.
A downside of this lens is that it has no built-in image stabilization. However, the wide-angle focal distance and large maximum aperture should still allow you to use this lens handheld.
3. Tokina AT-X 11-16mm f/2.8 PRO DX II
The Tokina AT-X 11-16mm f/2.8 PRO DX II is one of the best Tokina zoom lenses in this price range for Canon DSLR cameras and wide-angle photography. This model is available for Canon APS-C sensor cameras, and the Canon EF-S mount.
The lens construction features two aspheric lens elements and two super-low dispersion elements. These combine to provide superior image quality and consistent performance at both ends of the focal range.
It also has a compact design and weighs just 1.21lbs. Its overall length is 3.51 inches when fully extended. This makes it a decent travel lens and one that is easy to carry. The basic package comes with a lens hood, and this lens accepts 77mm filters.
The maximum aperture of f/2.8 offers good versatility, and it has a minimum aperture of f/22. Combine that with the 11-16mm focal range and you have a flexible, wide-angle lens that is suitable for multiple purposes.
4. Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 PRO FX
The Tokina AT-X 17-35mm f/4 PRO FX offers one of the largest focal distances a Tokina zoom lens has to offer. If you want telephoto zoom distances, you will have to spend a little more, unfortunately. However, this is a versatile lens that serves well as a kit lens.
It is available for Nikon DX cameras, and suitable for 35mm sensor models. Useful features include a focus clutch mechanism that allows you to switch between AF and MF instantly. Also, it has an external display that allows you to see the current focusing range.
The lens element features Tokina’s special molded glass and a combination of aspherical and low-dispersion elements. This means that you can expect consistent image quality throughout. You will also notice minimal distortion and softening, even at the maximum zoom.
We also like the constant maximum aperture of f/4. Although this is not as large as the other models in this list, it still allows for consistent performance.
5. Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF (Budget Winner)
Our top pick for good lenses at an affordable price is the Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF. This lens is available for both Canon and Nikon cameras and for Canon EF mount DSLRs.
Weighing just 1.22lbs, and with a maximum length of 3.61 inches, this lens is relatively portable and compact. Also, it has a durable design and is comfortable to hold due to the dual external textured grips.
The external glass element has multi-layer coatings and some resistance to dust and moisture. Inside, the lens elements feature aspheric and ED glass that minimize distortions and give consistent performance. Colors, contrast, and sharpness remain excellent regardless of the focal distance.
The constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 is also a huge bonus and gives extra flexibility. Unfortunately, the Tokina atx-i 11-16mm f/2.8 CF does not have any built-in image stabilization. However, you should still be able to use it handheld. Also, it features an internal focusing system that gives accurate and quick focusing.
Third-Party Just Makes Sense with Tokina Zoom Lenses Under $500
Instead of purchasing a more expensive lens straight from the camera manufacturer, why not try a third-party alternative? These Tokina zoom lenses under $500 are great options and offer just as good quality as official manufacturer models. When choosing a Tokina zoom lens, be sure to check the compatibility and lens mount it is available for.