Tokina AT-X M 100mm F/2.8 Lens Review

I must admit I am writing practically after 1.5 years but I had good reasons. I was not able to login to wordpress and create a blogpage. Some issue with Chrome, finally managed to login.

So for this post I want to keep it simple. I wanted to do a non technical review of one of the lenses I love which I have been using for quite sometime. I don’t usually write reviews and especially not for gear. But I was prompted to review this lens. Please do mind this, is not a technical post and I have not done any technical test shots or comparison. This is a sole review based on extensively shooting with this lens over a 6 months period. When I was shortlisting a macro lens to try, I looked for several reviews online but didn’t find much especially test shots. I have tried to include several sample shots which could give you an idea of how this lens perform.

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@100.0 mm f/3.8 with Nikon D750

I recently sold my amazing 60 mm lens, which I have been using since few years now, not that I don’t have any requirements for a dedicated macro but this lens had several limitations when using it practically.  I know not many people would agree with me, but for me this was a little too heavy to carry for everyday sessions. I also found the focusing quite slow especially when I rely completely on fast focusing with lenses like 50 mm 1.4G. Before buying this lens I had few things very clear in mind, the lens should be easy to use (focus fast) and not heavy. So before buying I rented out this lens to give it a test drive and it didn’t disappoint.

When I rented this lens to decide before I bought it, I did an extensive 3 days test shot. All the pics are a mix of these test shots on D90 a DX camera and when I actually bought the lens, I had also upgraded to D750, a FX camera. So it gave me a nice comparision between how this lens performed on a DX vs. FX camera. On D90 I was able to use it as a short telephoto lens.

The other shots are on Nikon D750 FX camera, so you can also see the difference from the DX camera. I know probably not many people find upgrading to a Full Frame camera worth it. But the bokeh rendition is completely different on a FX camera. This is a significant change I have noticed.

Specifications *

Focal Length 100mm
Maximum Aperture F2.8
Minimum Aperture F32
Construction E/G 9 Elements in 8 Groups
Minimum Focus Distance 1.0 ft (0.3 m)
Macro Ratio 1:1
Focus Limiter 1.28 – ∞
Zoom Range 100
Aperture Blades 9
Filter Size 55mm
Lens Width 2.9 in (73.66mm)
Lens Length 3.7 in (95.00mm)
Weight 1.2 lbs (540g)
Accessories Dedicated Lens Hood
Mounts Canon Full Frame, Nikon Full Frame, Canon APS-C, Nikon APS-C

*  via Tokinalens.com

 First Impressions

On handling it first, the lens really feels very solid yet quite light to use. I especially liked the size of the lens, it is not quite wide like few of my Nikon lens like 85 mm 1.8G, which though lighter, Tokina felt more compact in it’s comparison. One thing I didn’t like though was the lens hood, instead of protuding out  the lens cap snugly fits over the lens covering the AF/MF function, probably it can be done but for hassle free operation I had to remove the cap to operate the ring.  Having said that to switch the lens to manual focus has been a breeze. The ring focus feels really solid and it was just so easy for switching to manual focus. One thing how ever I didn’t use much was a FULL and LIMIT button, I tried to change the focussing, but really for me it didn’t seems to make any difference in focussing and I gave up. Maybe on prolonged use it could be more helpful, but I had limited time to check this lens.

@100.0 mm f/3.2 with Nikon D750

Vignetting and Flare

There are practically none vignetting, since also it is a small telephoto lens. I think it is much of a problem for a wide angled lens.

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@100.0 mm f/3.8 with Nikon D750

Chromatic Abrettion

At high apertures there seems to be a noticable chromatic aberation as seen in shots below. However, this is not at all as extreme as in a 50 mm lens. It is much better than a 50 mm lens. This seems to dissapear at higher apertures. I really don’t bother much unless it is noticable and this didn’t seem to be a lot controlled.

Focusing and Speed

The focusing is fast, much faster when compared to my 60 mm 2.8 D Nikon lens. I though struggled to get auto focus done for subjects at very close range. I was able to focus better on switching to manual mode, which is a breeze since shifting between manual and auto focus happens with a click of a button.

Sharpness

One thing about macro shots is the sharpness, because they are meant to be sharp, when compared to Nikon 60 mm lens, I have included samples below, though not at same time, the sharpness is superb and extremely good.

Bokeh

As you can see in this Christmas tree shot, the bokeh is more pronounced and fantastic for close up lens. Especially if you have a subject or background which glitters.

For me bokeh rendition is absolutely critical in any lens, because of the style of the photography  I do. It may not be so critical for others.


@100.0 mm f/3.3 with Nikon D750

Testing for food photography shots

I also use a lot of food subjects for my shot and the images were pretty sharp as it is.


@100.0 mm f/2.8 with Nikon D750


@100.0 mm f/3 with Nikon D750

Testing for Macro shots

This lens is build for macro purpose. So cannot complain for macro performance. However I did notice that for extremely close up shots, manual focusing is the best to go infact the only option.


@100.0 mm f/3 with Nikon D90


@100.0 mm f/3.3 with Nikon D750


@100.0 mm f/3 with Nikon D90


@100.0 mm f/2.8 with Nikon D90

Testing for portrait shots

This lens is does a commendable job when clicking portraits, the background bokeh rendition is amazing and though I don’t do much portrait shots, I tried some of my brother and daughter and they were great.


@ 100 mm f/2.8 with a Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/2.8 with a Nikon D750

@ 100 mm f/2.8 with a Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/2.8 with a Nikon D750


@ 100 mm f/3 with a Nikon D750

Testing for general purpose shots

So overall it is a great macro lens. I haven’t tried the much more popular Nikon 105 mm 2.8 macro lenses but this lens would fall a close second. Especially considering the price range and the compactness performance, it is an excellent lens for someone starting off with macro. Best part is this is not only good for Macro but can also act as a general purpose lens, including a short telephoto lens.
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@ 100 mm f/3 with Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/3.2 with Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/4 with Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/2.8 with Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/3 with Nikon D90


@ 100 mm f/4.2 with Nikon D750

My rating 4.3/5

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