Tokina 100mm f/2.8
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 (55mm filters, 18.1 oz./513g, 1:1 close focus, about $379). enlarge. The biggest source of support for this free website is when you use these links, especially this link directly to this lens at Adorama in both Nikon or Canon EOS mounts, or at Amazon in Nikon or in Canon EOS mounts or at B&H in all mounts when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.
This Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro is a fantastic lens.
It's optical performance is as good or better than the best from Nikon and Canon, and this Tokina's ergonomics, due to its unique focus clutch, is also better than any of Nikon's or Canon's 100mm or 105mm macro lenses.
All this, and this Tokina is less than half the price, just as well built, and smaller and lighter than any other 100mm or 105mm AF macro. Go get one!
This is a full-frame (FX) lens. I will be testing it as such, as well as for DX.
This is an FX lens, and works especially well with on FX, 35mm and DX Nikons like the D7000, D700, D3X, D300s and F6. It works fantastically on manual-focus cameras like the F2AS, F3, FE and FA, since it has real manual-focus and aperture rings that work exactly as they should.
The Nikon version 100mm f/2.8 AF works great with almost every film and digital Nikon camera made since 1977. You'll need to figure out a way to add a meter coupling prong for use with Nikons made from 1959-1976, if you want meter coupling.
The only incompatibility is that it will not autofocus with the cheapest D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100 or D5000, but if you focus manually, everything else works great. These cameras have in-finder focus confirmation dots to help you.
See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AF, AF-D (screw)" column for this lens.
Warning: as a non-Nikon lens, there is never any guarantee that this Tokina lens will always work perfectly with every possible camera. I've only used it on the D3 and D7000. There is always the potential for it not to work on some models of camera, today or newer models in the future. This is the one chance you take with non-Nikon lenses.
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AF. enlarge.
Tokina calls this the Tokina AT-X PRO 100mm F2.8 D Macro.
AT-X: Advanced Technology-seX.
PRO: Tokina's designation for its lenses with its brilliant AF-MF focus clutch.
D: The lens tells the camera the distance to the subject, which helps the exposure meter, especially with on-camera flash.
9 elements in 8 groups.
Floating elements for perfect performance as you focus at any distance.
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 at f/5.6. enlarge.
9 blades, mostly straight.
Stops down to f/32 at infinity, f/64 at 1:1.
Plastic aperture ring with full-stop clicks.
Focal Length top
Controls, Tokina 100mm f/2.8. enlarge.
A rotary switch allows you to prevent the Tokina 100 2.8 from focusing through 1:2.
1 foot (0.3m), marked.
4.5" (115mm), measured.
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 at 1:1. enlarge.
As you focus more closely, the inner barrel extends.
It focuses a little past infinity, so you have to let the AF system focus for infinity.
Focus window, Tokina 100 2.8 Macro.
Not really. See the two dots? Those are for f/16 and f/32, so good luck making any use of it. The dots don't mean f/11 and f/8, sorry.
Does not rotate, but does move in and out as focused.
Tokina specifies 3.74" (95.1mm) long by 2.9" (73mm) diameter.
18.080 oz. (512.6g), measured.
Tokina specifies 19.0 oz. (540g).
Tokina 100mm f/2.8, capped with reversed hood.
BH-551 plastic bayonet, included.
Box, Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro.
Single-wall cardboard box, glossy printed.
Folded corrugated cardboard formers inside. Lens in clear plastic bag inside cardboard.
Paperwork on top of cardboard, just under box cover.
AT-X M100 PRO D
$379, April 2015.
$460, June 2013.
$490, October 2012.
$450, July 2011.
$400, November 2010.
The Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AF is one of the very best lenses I've ever tested.
Not only are its optics perfect, so are its ergonomics. This FX and DX lens is both sharper and handles better than Nikon's made-in-China, DX-only 85mm f/3.5 VR, which costs more!
This Tokina is a winner, and one of the sharpest lenses I've ever put on any camera, at any distance including infinity.
Autofocus is very fast for normal uses. This Tokina focuses much more quickly than Nikon's newest 85mm f/1.4G on an F5, for instance, but the new Nikon 85/1.4 is designed for high-precision more than speed.
In the macro range, use manual focus for your own sanity. Autofocus is reasonably fast, but it's much more sensible to turn the ring yourself than to have your camera hunting all over.
One full turn (two half-turns) of the AF screw pulls focus from infinity down to 7 feet.
AF is always consistent. Some cameras may need a little bit of AF fine-tuning. My D3 was best at +7, while my D7000 was best at about +10. Every sample of lens and camera will vary.
Manual focus is beautiful!
It's smooth and perfectly geared for the best possible combination of speed and precision.
Bokeh varies with distance. Bokeh is mostly wonderful.
Bokeh is the character of out of focus areas, not simply how far out of focus they are.
Ryan on 25-year-old Kodachrome 64. Shot on Nikon F5, Tokina 100mm f/2.8 and SB-600, 1/125 at f/5.6, simple color correction with a curves layer. Original © Scan. EXIF data, frame 25. Dwayne's process and scan.
I don't notice any different color rendition from my NIKKOR lenses.
I see no coma.
Coma would be weird smeared blobs that appear around bright points of light in the corners. See also sagittal coma flare.
The Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AF has no visible distortion.
These figures may reduce it even further for critical photogrammetric use by plugging these into Photoshop's lens distortion filter, however, even as of CS5 I don't see that Photoshop can work with figures this low. This lens is too good! These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AF. enlarge.
Ergonomics are perfect, better than any Nikon AF Micro lens.
In AF, turning the big, fat focus ring does nothing, so you can get a good, solid grip on it without affecting AF. Nothing moves on the barrel as it autofocuses, except for the forebarrel moving in and out.
To get manual focus, simply pull the focus ring towards you, and it clicks into manual focus mode. Now turn the big, silky-smooth rubber-covered metal focus ring for easy manual focus.
Nikon's 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro is an ergonomic nightmare: you have to release a lock and rotate a ring to get the manual focus ring to respond.
Nikon's newest made-in-China 105mm VR is also no picnic: if you turn the focus ring by accident, which is easy to do because that's how you hold the lens, you accidentally go into manual focus mode.
By comparison, and all by itself, Tokina's focus clutch mechanism is brilliant. I wish my Nikon lenses were this good.
As if the focusing wasn't enough to make me love this lens, did you notice the rubber ring at the rear of the lens? It doesn't turn: it's the grab ring for mounting and unmounting. Bella!
As the 100mm f/2.8 AF-S is focused in and out, very little air pumps in and out of the rear of the lens, thus I can't detect any air blowing out of my eyepiece.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background.
The plastic filter ring never rotates, but it does move in and out with focus.
There is no problem with vignetting, even with stacks of several thick 55mm filters on FX.
On DX, I can't see how you could get any vignetting, even with a dozen stacked 55mm filters.
On Nikon, I'd use a 55->52mm step-down ring for sanity's sake. I also can use several stacked 52mm filters on FX without vignetting.
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, for instance, a couple having a conversation, the image from the Tokina 100 2.8 macro gets slightly larger as focused more closely.
Macro works great; this is a macro lens.
1:1 means the image is life-sized, or that you can make something just an inch across fill your picture.
As one focuses more closely, the maximum aperture diminishes due to the greater magnification.
Nikon AF cameras calculate all this automatically, but it often will throw off some users who can't understand why they can't get f/2.8 as they focus more closely.
Rear, Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro. enlarge.
This Tokina is a tough, well-made lens.
Metal; rubber covered.
Focus Limiter Switch
Mid and Aft Barrel Exterior
Seem like metal and plastic.
Plastic with painted numbers.
Light-gold-colored metal. Mounts almost as well as Nikon's mounts.
Black and gold debossed plate, with clear plastic window for focus scale.
Bottom, Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro. enlarge.
Serial number on sticker on bottom rear of barrel
Ass-Gasket (rain seal at mount)
Noises When Shaken
Mild clicking from the diaphragm blades and actuation system.
The Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro is as sharp as any lens I've ever tested. If you're splitting pixels, it's sharper than Nikon's own 85mm f/3.5 DX VR, which costs more.
It's completely sharp and contrast at every aperture, everywhere in the field of both FX 12MP D3 and DX 16MP D7000. It's as sharp as Nikon's 105mm f/2.8 VR and 105mm f/2.8 AF-D. Any of these three lenses will let you get the best of Nikon's best D3X or D7000.
At the tiniest apertures, of course diffraction limits performance. With a lens this good, f/5.6 is the sharpest aperture, and by f/8, diffraction is already limiting sharpness, presuming you have a perfectly flat and perfectly in-focus subject.
Here's a photo of my neighbor's lawn furniture:
and here's a crop at 100% from a 16MP DX image from a Nikon D7000:
This is shot wide-open at f/2.8!
If you enlarged the entire image at this same scale as seen on a standard (100DPI) monitor, you'd be looking at about a 50 x 33" (125 x 85cm) gallery print.
Here's a macro shot on FX:
Photograph of Nikon 200mm f/4D AF Micro-NIKKOR. original © 1.3 MB file.
This shot was made at f/25 under studio strobes. Here is the original file.
Why f/25 if sharpness goes down from f/8? Simple: f/8 only counts for flat subjects, as used in meaningless tests. As soon as you add depth, as in a real subject worth photographing, you have to stop down. See Selecting the Sharpest Aperture. For most macro work, f/32 is standard, since nothing real is ever flat enough at close range.
Also, f/25 is what I need with 500 Watt-seconds of Novatron strobe at ISO 200.
This Tokina shows just a tiny bit of spherochromatism.
Out-of-focus background highlights can take on slight green color fringes, and foreground highlights can take on very minor magenta color fringes. Laypeople sometimes mistakenly call spherochromatism "color bokeh."
Sunstar, crop from 100% D7000 image at f/8.
With its mostly straight 9-bladed diaphragm, this Tokina 100 2.8 can make great 18 -pointed sunstars on bright points of light.
This is much better than anything from Canon or Nikon.
Nikon uses either 7-blades, or rounds their 9-bladed diaphragms which won't make sunstars.
Canon's uses 8 blades, giving only hokey 8-pointed stars, or 9 rounded blades, which won't do much for sunstars, like Nikon's newest VR lens.
The Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro seems pretty tough, so long as you don't bash the front of the lens.
If you hit the front of the lens, since it is what has to move in and out precisely as focused, you could damage the focus system.
Reverse from a cruise control on a Mercedes, push the focus ring away from you for autofocus, and pull it toward you for manual focus. Leave your camera set to autofocus.
For manual-focus lock, set your camera to manual focus, and push the ring to autofocus. This disconnects the focus ring, so focus stays fixed.
Use the focus limiter all the time, which merely locks-out the range from 1:2 to 1:1, which no one ever uses, but takes up half the length of the focus scale. Few macro shooters every need to get this close, and if you do, turn off the limiter.
There is no need for a hood; the front element is well inset at every focus distance.
The focus limiter prevents the lens from turning past the 1:2 setting halfway along the focus scale. Therefore it either limits focus to go between infinity and 1:2 (0.6 meters), or between 1:2 and 1:1 (0.6 to 0.3 meters).
See also Best Macro Lenses Compared.
I compared it directly to the Nikon 85mm f/3.5 DX, and this Tokina is sharper.
Otherwise, all 100mm and 105mm macro lenses are the sharpest and least distorting lenses you can get; I wouldn't sweat any optical differences among these. They are all superb.
If you must split hairs, this Tokina has superior ergonomics to any other autofocus lens here because of its brilliant one-touch focus clutch.
This Tokina has superior optics because it generates superior 18-point sunstars, which these other lenses can't do, or don't do well.
This Tokina is optically superior to Canon and Nikon's offerings because it has much less light falloff.
(To get used prices this good, see How to Win at eBay.)
See also How to Shoot Macro.
This Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AF Macro is a great lens for macro, and especially good for any use as a portrait or telephoto lens. It is probably the best 100mm or 105mm macro there is, and costs half of what other lenses cost.
If you want to shoot dedicated macro, 200mm lenses are better because you get more working distance between your camera and your subject to make lighting, and your subject, more comfortable.
This Tokina's image quality is unsurpassed, and its ergonomics with the push-pull focus clutch are superior to both Canon's and Nikon's own 100mm and 105mm lenses!
I prefer the optics of this Tokina to Nikon and Canon, because this Tokina uses the correct 9-bladed diaphragm, where Nikon uses either only 7 blades, or rounds their 9-blade diaphragms which eliminates sunstars. Canon is completely clueless with their 8-bladed diaphragms, or again attempts to round their 9-bladed diaphragms.
With this Tokina lens, you've got a top-quality lens at a bargain price, and it's built to last. It has the same or better optics than either Canon or Nikon's lenses, and is smaller, lighter, less expensive, and handles better.
VR and IS are merely sales features in macro lenses. They are handy for hand-held available light shooting, but for dedicated macro shooting, we use strobes, so VR and IS are unneeded.
I'd use a 55->52mm step-down ring with the Nikon system, or a 55->58mm step-up ring with the Canon system. You want all your lenses to have the same filter size for sanity's sake.
Using an adapter ring has the added benefit of giving us a metal filter thread. Attach the adapter ring, and treat this lens like it's 52mm (Nikon) or 58mm (Canon) forever.
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October 2012, July 2011, November 2010