Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX Lens

I recently rented the Tokina 11-16 lens for Nikon and Canon 1.6 (crop factor) or DX cameras.  I spent 10 days at Walt Disney World using this lens, so you should consider this review fairly informal.  I did not conduct any “real tests”.  I used this lens day and night in all kinds of different situations and can base my opinions only on the experience that I had.  I have divided this review into two different sections:  The first is only concerned with the lens, its performance, its feel, build quality and the second part will cover the practicality of carrying and using this lens at Walt Disney World.


Part 1-  The Tokina 11-16mm DX lens:

craig-bendeleThe Tokina Lens seems very well built.  It is surprisingly short- it is actually shorter in length than my Nikkor 18-200, and only a little heavier.  I am very impressed with its zoom ring.  It is incredibly smooth with no grinding feel like on my 18-200!  The auto/manual focus ring is pretty neat too.  It is not as good as the newer Nikon lenses which require nothing other than grabbing the focus ring and focusing manually, but is better than older Nikon lenses.  The Tokina focus ring moves up and down to switch between auto and manual. It can be done by feel, and does not require you to switch the camera button to manual.  I did no manual focusing though, and only played with it a little.

My biggest problem with the lens is the lens hood.  The copy I rented had a terribly poor fitting lens hood.  My first impression is that it came broken.  But, it wasn’t- Tokina’s hood is held on with almost no friction.  You put it on, and twist it freely until it “kind of” locks into place.  If it was my personal lens, I probably would have to figure out a way to tape the hood on.  The hood would not stay on whenever the camera was stashed in a bag.  When it finally fell off on a monorail platform, I never put it back on, and left it in the room the rest of the trip.

The lens zooms from 11mm – 16mm.  I usually only shot at one end or the other.  11mm is very wide and gives you a whole new perspective of the world.  11mm will distort lines in your picture.  You have to be aware of this, and either change your perspective or accept it.  When shooting at 11mm, make sure to check the ENTIRE viewfinder around the edges to make sure there is nothing extra in your picture, or you will have to crop it out later, and eliminate the purpose of shooting this wide.  11mm is very unflattering for shooting pictures of people.  They will look stretched out and crooked.  Do not shoot pictures of your family at 11mm unless you want them to look strange and you only want to stand 12” away!

At 16mm,however people shots are doable.  I would use 16mm whenever I took people pictures or wanted lines to be as straight as possible in the photo.  However, 16mmdidn’t feel much wider than the 18mm lenses that a lot of us have. I believe this lens is really designed to be shot at 11mm, and the 16mm end is a nice convenience if needed.  The lens focuses very close!  It is great!  I found that my camera would usually focus from about 12-20” away.  This worked great, because you can include a subject right at the front of the picture.  The lens does not have VR/IS, but does not need it!  At f2.8 you can easily hold this lens for a long shutter speed.  Being so wide, it is very easy.

I used a UV filter for lens protection on the lens during most of the trip.  I started out with no filter, because I was afraid of bad effects coming from the filter.  But, the front element is pretty bulbous, and with the very poor hood coming off, I became nervous of hurting the front element in all the different lines and traffic encountered in WDW.  The filter caused no problems, and if I owned the lens, a filter would always be on it just for protection.  The lens seemed sharp enough.  I do not notice any blurry photos that cannot be explained.  Again,this was an informal test, so there is no “real” evidence.  All my pictures however, are a sharp as they need to be for a trip to WDW.


Part 2- Using the lens on vacation at Walt Disney World:

The lens is great to carry around in the parks.  It is not heavy, and not long enough that it bumps into things.  I felt that I had the best experience with the lens in Tomorrowland.  It also worked fantastic at different Resorts and buildings.  It allows you to see an entire room or building in one shot!

That being said, I have decided that it is a special purpose lens.  It is not a good “walk around” lens at WDW,unless your goal is to walk around and get strange new photos!  I missed several photos because something was too far away and I didn’t change to another lens.  I have never changed lenses so much during a trip to WDW!  I would need to change a lens to take a couple of pictures and then switch back to the 11-16.  The lens at f2.8 is not fast enough for dark rides

After the ninth day, I became exhausted.  I spent nine days pushing my way to the front of every picture spot leaning over fences and bushes.  I also grew tired of movingmy eye around the entire viewfinder for EVERY shot.  I grew tired of switching lenses back and forth every 15-30 minutes.  11mm is also so wide, that you have to wait a LONG time to get your composed photo without other guests in the immediate focus of the picture.  Twice, I literally almost fell over fences trying to get closer to the subject!  In front of the castle hub, I had to stand on the bench in front of Walt and Mickey to get the composed shot I wanted.  And at three feet away, they were still too far away!  I almost tumbled into the planter, and just barely caught myself.  And this was happening while other people were having their PhotoPass pictures taken there.  I grew tired of having to be such an obnoxious guest.

To sum up:

It is a good lens with a very special purpose.  I will not be buying it but I would consider renting it again in the future, if I made plans just to walk around and take crazy pictures with no other agenda.  I did get some great photos that would not be possible without this lens!

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Available for Nikon or Canon            

Ed. note:  Craig Bendele is a major contributor to the TMIP Message Forums; he also has his own websites, cdbendele.comand


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