A wide-angle, yes, but which one? (Part 1)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lens Recommendations
A wide-angle, yes, but which one? (Part 1)

Very wide-angle lenses allow photographers to produce an image composed of a large number of objects and to frame very large subjects (such as buildings) at close proximity, and to photograph objects on different geometrical planes that can be very far apart. Such lenses also accentuate perspective, with the most noticeable result being the distortion of straight lines.

These lenses are used to shoot landscapes, panoramic images, and architectural subjects (again, for this last, with resulting straight line deformation).
 
We tested a Tokina very wide-angle lens on Nikon and Canon mounts - the Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX Nikon and the Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX Canon.

Since their appearance in 2004, these lenses have been joined by some serious competitors: the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (2007), the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM II Canon (2011), the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR (2010), and the Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Nikon (2003).
 
Let’s take a look at the results for the Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX on the Nikon D7000 and the Canon EOS 7D:

What we liked:

  • A good balance between quality and price.
  • Very good resolution for this type of lens.
  • Very good homogeneity across the field.
  • Negligeable distortion.

What we didn’t like:

  • Significant chromatic aberrations.
  • The lens is a rather heavy.

Comparisons

Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX Canon vs Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM vs Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM II Canon on a Canon EOS 7D:

Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX Canon

Strong points Weak points
Price Low transmission
Good resolution Significant chromatic  aberrations
Low distortion  
Weak vignetting  

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Strong points Weak points
Good resolution Price
High transmission Weight
Low distortion Strong vignetting
Quality of the L-series Significant chromatic  aberrations

Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM II Canon

Strong points Weak points
Good resolution Weak transmission
  Strong vignetting
  Significant chromatic aberrations

Please note that the comparison were made on an APS-C camera (the Canon 7D), if you own a full frame Canon, here is the comparison on the 1Ds Mark III (without the Tokina which isn't compliant with full frame cameras).

Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX Nikon vs Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR vs Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Nikon on a Nikon D7000:

Tokina AT-X 12-24 AF PRO DX Nikon

Strong points Weak points
Price Significant chromatic aberrations
Weight  
Good resolution  
Low distortion  
Weak vignetting  
Good transmission  

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

Strong points Weak points
Good resolution Price
High transmission Weight
Few chromatic aberrations Strong vignetting
Low distortion

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Nikon

Strong points Weak points
Good resolution Price
Low distortion Weak transmission
Strong vignetting
Significant chromatic aberrations

Please note that the comparison were made on an APS-C camera (the Nikon D7000), if you own a full frame Nikon, here is the comparison on the D3X (without the Tokina which isn't compliant with full frame cameras).

Conclusion

Just from looking at the tabled comparisons above, the Tokina appears to have the upper hand, offering good quality for a better price.