In the Field: The New Tokina opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

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Having previous experience reviewing the Tokina 20mm f/2 FiRIN FE AF and MF Sony-mount lenses, I was looking forward to test-driving the new Tokina opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF, which follows Tokina’s opera 50mm f/1.4 FF as the second lens—and first zoom—in Tokina’s opera-series lens lineup for full-frame Canon EF- and Nikon F-mount DSLRs.

Tokina’s FiRIN and opera-series lenses have greatly elevated the company’s standing as a first-class lens manufacturer, and based on the results I got with the new 16-28mm f/2.8 zoom, Tokina seems to have knocked yet another ball clear out of the stadium.

Photographs © 2019 Allan Weitz

An AoV range of 107.1° - 76.87° makes for interesting perspectives when shooting in the streets.

The color, contrast, saturation, and resolving power of the image files captured with Tokina’s new zoom are, in a word, outstanding. Distortion, the bugaboo of many wide-angle lenses, is well under control. Vignetting, another bugaboo of wide-angle lenses, was minimally perceptible wide open and all-but-nil once I stopped down past f/4.

This photo illustrates how well Tokina’s opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF captures dead-on levels of detail, color, contrast, and saturation.

Spec-wise, the Tokina opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF contains 15 elements in 13 groups, including a single aspherical P-MO element and a trio of glass molded Low-Dispersion (SD) elements, which together put the kibosh on chromatic and spherical aberrations. Lens construction is a combination of aluminum inner components enclosed in a moisture- and dust-resistant polycarbonate outer casing.

If you incorporate filters in your workflow, be advised: the front element is too bulbous for use with threaded filters, which means you will require a filter holder system if you plan on filtering the lens.

A beam of sunlight across a bundle of red Valentine balloons causes the balloons to explode visually from the surrounding shadows.

The design formula of Tokina’s newest zoom is similar to the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm F2.8 PRO FX, the differences being the incorporation of a new Silent Drive module using new GMR magnetic autofocus sensors for faster, smoother, and quieter AF than previous generation Tokina autofocus systems. Though I did not have an opportunity to compare the performance differences between the old and new autofocus systems, in use, Tokina’s new 16-28mm opera zoom was invariably quick and on the mark.

The background on the left side of the photo above illustrates the truly natural-looking bokeh this lens produces.

Switching between MF and AF on the fly is simply a matter of engaging the lens’s One-Touch Focus Clutch mechanism by snapping the lens’s focus ring forward to engage AF mode, or backward to engage MF mode. Though I kept the lens in AF mode most of the time, when the autofocus system would occasionally become squirrelly, all I needed to do was snap the focus ring back and instantly shift into manual mode.

The extreme AoV of Tokina’s opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF makes it a valuable tool for architectural photography

To eliminate confusion when switching between native Canon and Nikon lenses and Tokina’s opera-series lenses, the focus rings of opera-series lenses rotate in the same direction as the proprietary focus rotation of Nikon and Canon lenses.

Other features found on Tokina’s opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF include a minimum focusing distance of 11" (1:5.26), a 9-bladed aperture, and a fixed lens hood. The lens is currently available in a choice of Nikon F or Canon EF lens mounts.

The accompanying photographs here were captured using a Canon EOS 6D and a Tokina opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF lens with a Canon mount.

Capturing extremely detailed, color-saturated photographs with this lens is like shooting fish in a barrel.

The applications for lenses featuring 107.1° - 76.87° angles of view include editorial, landscape, interior, and exterior architecture, documentary, environmental portraiture, and astrophotography. The truth is, I have little doubt you’d find novel applications for this lovely lens, no matter what type of photography you practice.

Sun stars anybody? Tokina’s opera 16-28mm F2.8 FF features a 9-bladed aperture that creates stars well before f/16.

Are you an ultra-wide shooter? If so, what kind of pictures would you shoot if had an opportunity to use this lens for a few days? We’d really like to read your thoughts in the Comments field, below. Talk to us!

5 Comments

Hi! Thank you for sharing great content. Very beautiful and high-quality photos.

Nikita, Thanks fo the feedback

I sold Tokina's previous AT-X 16-28mm F2.8 PRO FX replacing it with primes.  Then the reality of wearing a lens(es) on my belt, ugh!  Seller's remorse!  Ditto with Tokina's normal focal range zoom.  These zooms don't give up much and in many shots, don't give up anything, to primes.  Will probably add this new zoom to my 2 dozen primes...  "All I want is the perfect lens..."

(1) Night sky! Pair with one of these EQ mounts (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Astrophotography/ci/3387/N/4100994440) and point it at the middle of the Milky Way.

(2) Large indoor spaces (airport atriums, train stations, museums)

Have you been able to use this on a Z body + adapter with AF? Thanks.

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