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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #1
condyk
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Thumbs up Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II

Ok, to give this guy his full name:

Tokina AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 SD AT-X 840AF II

This is a very short initial impressions review. When I first started researching this lens I found very little about the new Mk II version, so maybe this will help someone.

The price gap between the decent cheaper stuff like Sigma 70-300mm APO DG or Canon 100-300mm USM and the mid-range options like the superb Sigma 100-300mm 4.0 EX and 50-500mm 4.0-6.3EX is relatively huge to the average punter/amateur; it's even larger when you next look at the Canon 300mm 4.0 IS L, 400mm 5.6 L and 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 IS L rung of the ladder. I'll leave aside the silly money stuff because I really don't care enough about photography to go there.

So, what are you gonna do? Keep the the cheap stuff or set the wallet alight with the bigger stuff? Well, what I did is take a chance on the brand new mark II version of the Tokina 80-400mm and initial impressions are pretty good I'm not gonna pixel peep here because I don't need to. I can already tell it will deliver decent results if I use it well, I ran several length and aperture tests, and it has no 'QA issues' that make me want to return it.



It's not as good as the L's above, but it is enough of an improvement to make it a great, cost effective upgrade from the cheapo stuff. Jury is out about whether it can compete with the Bigma, but at less than half the price even if it gets close I will be happy.

Build is typically Tokina and so it makes the L's look like the poorer, tho' trendier, relations from just a tad over the tracks. Design is old school for sure so we're losing out a tad in the who's coolest competition, but they are the only lenses than seem as solid as my classic old Zeiss and Pentax gear: think metal rather than plastic. Manual focus isn't L or EX quality but when am I gonna use that really? AF is typically a tad noisy, same as pretty much any none USM/HSM motor system. Who cares? Not me.

You get a pretty Ok lens pouch, built in adjustable tripod mount ring, lens hood, front and rear caps of course (front one is typically Tokina - cheesy!) a user manual, and I also got a free 7 year international Mac warranty. I paid less than 300 new

Filter Size is 72mm and, as you can guess from that, this really is an extremely small big boy zoom. You can see size compared against the 24-105mm 4.0 IS L, which is fine in all respects for day to day use. Dimensions (Length x Diameter) 5.4 in. (136mm) x 3.0in. (77.2mm). Weight is also very friendly at 37.0 oz. (1050g). So, if you want length and you want portable, even walkaround style, then this is a real contenter.

Of course, however small and light it may be we only want to carry the thing if the IQ is decent. There are plenty of super-light zoom that suck in that department so luckily my initial findings are favourable, actually better than I expected.

The previous model was well enough liked but probably not loved, with some reports mentioning CA and softness at 400mm. Again, hardly unique in a longer zoom, but we don't really want too much trouble from that kinda stuff. This is a whole new design with new coatings so Tokina have taken things seriously. It's not just a rehash.

This new model doesn't seem to suffer with CA, tho' I haven't pushed it hard and wouldn't normally anyway in real world use. It shows softness wide open at 400mm 5.6 but show me an affordable zoom that doesn't. I generally use a long zoom at f8.0 and by then this one is nice and sharp, requiring only the same two or three pass mild USM as I apply to my 24-105mm IS L shots.

At the opposite extreme is it pretty sharp wide open and firms up at 5.6, even more by 6.3. It's possibly intended for safari use, tho' I'm more likely to get another 50-500mm Bigma for that next year, so f8.0 isn't going to be an issue except for dawn and dusk shooting. Previous experience shows most of my shots aren't taken at those times so I am not concerned.

First shot above shows the 24-105mm 4.0 IS L next to the Tokina 80-400mm II, with the Tokina hood to the right. Second shot below shows both fully extended based on encouragement from a nosey pot plant and Cat. Yes, it is ultra-tiny for the range My eyes nearly popped out when I saw it!

Final shot below is the first one out the camera using typical 'me' long range settings, i.e. 400mm f8.0. I can't be bothered PPing loads of 100% crops. You can believe me or not I never print larger than A4 and I know this lens will do fine.


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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #2
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Thanks! It looks like a good lens. Perhaps something to replace my 70-300 in a few months/years when I have the money (300 is a bit short sometimes )

If you do post more shots, could you tell me (take it to the zoo for some real safari practice!!!)
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #3
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Looks decent at those sizes...at least at f/8...which it should. Surprisingly compact. Thanks for the thorough analysis, although I'm a bit pixel-peeper curious!
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #4
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Very interesting at that price!

Might have a look more closely when I have some money again.
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #5
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

hmm interesting. Might give it a try someday. Thanks for the info CondyK
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #6
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lakiluno
If you do post more shots, could you tell me (take it to the zoo for some real safari practice!!!)
I will take it out on my usual weekend walkaround, if not before. I'll then post some shots. My 15-30mm Ex and 24-105mm IS L are both very consistent performers so this lens has tough competition to live up to. Let's hope he does the business and delivers a good keeper ratio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdi-ink.com
Thanks for the thorough analysis, although I'm a bit pixel-peeper curious!
Can't be bothered with that myself. As long as it delivers a good A4 shot.
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #7
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by condyk

Can't be bothered with that myself. As long as it delivers a good A4 shot.
Good idea! Once you start the pixel peeping, you will never be satisfied!

nice write up also!
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #8
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by condyk
Can't be bothered with that myself. As long as it delivers a good A4 shot.
No worries. I don't generally pixel peep either...check focus and that's about it. I'm just curious about what full size does look like. I mean it covers nearly what Bigma covers, and is SO much smaller! Looks like a good lens for poundin' around with though...for sure.
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Old 21st of August 2006 (Mon)   #9
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

So what's the focal length on the cat? And how much does it weigh? Will I need to buy a POTN strap for the cat?
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Old 22nd of August 2006 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by grego
So what's the focal length on the cat? And how much does it weigh? Will I need to buy a POTN strap for the cat?
Not sure about focal length but she's got a very large aperture making her excellent at night and indoors without flash. Weight is the problem. Her brother is long, lithe and slinky and she is short and chunky. I tried her with a strap once and no way is that ever gonna happen. She has been fitted with a collar in the past tho', but not sure where I'd attach the tripod
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Old 22nd of August 2006 (Tue)   #11
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by condyk
not sure where I'd attach the tripod
I know this one! *Raises hand* Pick me! Pick me! Ooo oo oo! Pick me!
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Old 22nd of August 2006 (Tue)   #12
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdi-ink.com
I know this one! *Raises hand* Pick me! Pick me! Ooo oo oo! Pick me!
No! You are a very naughty boy. Go stand in the corner right now
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Old 22nd of August 2006 (Tue)   #13
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

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Old 22nd of August 2006 (Tue)   #14
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

We have this lens (to be more exact, my husband does and I've used it a few times). I like it a lot. The worst part is that with no image stabilization it's hard to keep still without a tripod (I was using it with the MKIIN and it's a heavy combo) on 400mm. But it has nice saturation of colors and pretty good sharpness to the edge of the lens. We use it for wildlife shots. The problem will be finding it. Now Tokina has come out with a new model 80-400 ATX-D and this one isn't available anymore (unless used). I think Amazon sold out of their last one and when we were buying it, we bought the last one BH photo had.

edit: BH appears to have the 80-400 (not the II) and it is a far different lens, with terrible reviews...

Last edited by Permagrin : 22nd of August 2006 (Tue) at 13:59.
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Old 22nd of August 2006 (Tue)   #15
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Default Re: Tokina AF 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 II initial impressions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peregrin
Now Tokina has come out with a new model 80-400 ATX-D and this one isn't available anymore (unless used). I think Amazon sold out of their last one and when we were buying it, we bought the last one BH photo had.

edit: BH appears to have the 80-400 (not the II) and it is a far different lens, with terrible reviews...
This is the brand new model just released see here
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