Lens Test: Tokina AT-X 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AF D

Distance shooters and filter fans get an internal-focusing powerhouse zoom.

Lens-Test-Tokina-AT-X-80-400mm-f-4.5-5.6-AF-D
Lens-Test-Tokina-AT-X-80-400mm-f-4.5-5.6-AF-D

HANDS ON: With all-metal construction and a heavy, rugged feel, it has a nonremovable tripod collar and a zoom lock that holds it at its most compact size for transport. Its new felt-lined lenshood incorporates a spring-loaded "PL Assist" wheel that allows you to reorient lensmounted filters without removing the hood. The zoom action is stiff; the manual focusing action seems underdamped.

IN THE LAB: SQF data were about average for a long tele zoom, with results in the Excellent range at 80 and 135mm. At 200mm, image quality fell to Very Good, and at 400mm to Good, a significant improvement over Tokina's first version of this lens. In DxO Analyzer 2.0 tests, it showed surprisingly good distortion control, with Imperceptible barrel distortion at 80mm (0.02%) and Slight pincushion distortion at 135mm (0.22%), 200mm, and 400mm (both 0.29%), another improvement. Edge vignetting, while disappointing, was still better than before, especially at 200mm. Light falloff was gone by f/8 at 80mm, f/9.5 at 135mm and 400mm, and by f/13 at 200mm. At the uniform close focusing distance of about 8.5 feet, maximum magnification ratios ranged from 1:28.5 at 80mm to 1:5.43 at 400mm.

What's Hot Ruggedly constructed. Minimal distortion. What's Not Canon and Nikon mounts only. Heavy.

CONCLUSION: With the right focal length range for distance (think wildlife and sports), this lens is unusual for being about the only 80-400mm zoom that isn't image-stabilized.That makes it much less expensive. If you're on a limited budget and want a sharp, well-built, tele zoom, give this lens a look, especially if you're a big filter fan.

Specifications
80-400mm (82.99-399.83mm tested), f/4.5-5.6 (f/4.52-n.a.* tested), 16 elements in 10 groups. Focusing turns 110 degrees clockwise. Zoom ring turns 150 degrees counterclockwise. Focal lengths marked at 80-, 100-, 135-, 200-, and 400mm.
Diagonal view angle: 29 -- 6 degrees.
Weight: 2.23 lb.
Filter size: 72mm.
Mounts: Canon AF, Nikon AF (non-G).
Included: Lenshood.
Street price: $650.

*Tested value not available due to instrument limitation.