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06-10-2010, 07:13 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Tokina AF (235) 3.5-4.5/20-35mm version I & II.

Last year I was in the search for a convenient wide angle zoom something from around 15-20 to 35-40mm. After some research I found these lenses to be the ideal purchase:

Pentax 4/20-35mm
Sigma 3.5-4.5/15-30mm
Sigma 2.8/20-40mm
Tokina AT-X 2.8/20-35mm
Tokina 3.5-4.5/20-35mm I
Tokina 3.5-4.5/20-35mm II

I ruled out these for the following reasons:

Pentax: the price is usually much too high compared to newer, better built lenses that can deliver similar, the same or even better results.
Sigma 15-30mm: I found it a bit short at the long end and a bit oversized.

Sigma 20-40mm: have not seen it for ages for sale. Maybe one day when it pops up somewhere I'll buy it. Update: I finally came across this Sigma and bought it from a fellow Pentaxian who changed system.

So the Tokinas remained. Unfortunately the AT-X 2.8/20-35mm is rarely available second hand and is discontinued so the last two were the most promising options.

Not long after having this decision made I bumped into the first version of 3.5-4.5/20-35mm Tokina which I finally picked up. I have been using this lens for some months now and I am really satisfied with it (details later in this review/comparison), although different reviews kept me thinking about the II version of this lens.

So recently when I had the opportunity I bought the II version as well because I was really bothered by reviewers stating very mixed opinions.
Now having both lenses in hand (which is the point when you can have a proper opinion) here are my findings for everyones' benefit.

The mount end of the lenses with the rear elements are identical to 100%, so are the zoom rings. The first difference is the distance scale window. While the first version has it Tokina abandoned it on the second version and used the place gained to build a wider focusing ring with a painted distance scale.

The second (or third if you consider the focus ring) difference is the filter thread. The first version has a rotating block which accommodates the front element of the lens with a filter thread of 72mm, therefore the lens has a rotating front element/filter thread. On the second version Tokina fixed the filter thread, made it bigger (77mm) and separated it from the structure that holds the front element.
And this is where the myth disappears. I read in some reviews that the II version has a non-rotating front element so the use of polar filters and petal type lens hood is possible. This is partly true. The front element still ROTATES!!!! It is even the same size on both lenses and have the same rings that keep and fix the elements in place. It is only the filter thread that is fixed, non-rotating.

So as far as it goes Tokina only mechanically upgraded the first version of the lens, but they did not change anything else. Therefore talking about better picture quality in regards of the II version (or some say I version) is a false statement. I dare say that the two versions have the same optics built into them which is also proven by the fact that I have not discovered any difference between the pictures taken with the two lenses (under the same conditions, settings etc.). Only Tokina and some formal test could tell the truth though.

So... if you consider buying one of these lenses you might want to consider the following:

I. version:
Advantages:
smaller, comfortable size (72mm filter) at the end of lens
distance scale window (if this is and advantage at all)
Disadvantage:
rotating filter thread
narrower focusing ring

II. version
Advantages:
non-rotating filter thread
Disadvantages:
bigger in size (77mm filter)

Some people say the II version is better in regards of vignetting when a filter is used, because the filter ring does not cause vignetting, while it does on the first version, but I cannot comment on that. I tested both lenses on digital, but only the first version on film and without filter, although I put it on my LX to see if it has visible vignetting with a filter fitted but I did not notice it by eye.

At the end I still owe you my opinion. I would give both lenses a 8/10. They are very well built, have a very handy focal range (even on digital) and a decent picture quality. If you are on a short budget and want a good lens buy one of these.

P.S.: Please note, that both lenses have the same colour of reflection on the elements in reality. The pictures show some difference but it is due the light reaching the lenses from a slightly different angle.

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Last edited by Zivelot; 09-22-2010 at 01:37 PM. Reason: correction of data
03-28-2011, 12:24 PM   #2
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Thanks a lot for your review! Very informative!
04-02-2011, 09:23 AM   #3
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Thanks. I tried to do my best.
04-02-2011, 11:36 AM   #4
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don't know about the Tokina's but I disagree about the Pentax 20-35

QuoteOriginally posted by Zivelot Quote

*snip*

I ruled out these for the following reasons:

Pentax: the price is usually much too high compared to newer, better built lenses that can deliver similar, the same or even better results.

*snip*
Actually the Pentax 20-35 gives very very good results. It is highly rated in the pentax database and I can attest to it's IQ quality. As far a build quality is concerned, I have no idea what you are talking about unless you are one of those who insist on all metal construction. After shooting all winter with all metal and polycarbonite lenses I can unequivocably state that polycarbonite bodied lenses are easier to use, fog up less and the AF isn't nearly as sluggish as an all metal bodied lens.
It is also smaller and lighter than the Tokinas or the Sigma.

NaCl(after using my 20-35 for 5 years I couldn't disagree with your assessment more)H2O

05-11-2012, 06:14 AM   #5
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maybe no-one will come to read this, but i am looking for my first "ultra-wide" lens -- this info has been very useful to me.
are these 'old-threads' monitored occasionaly?
could some kind of 'new-activity' alert be used if new people become interested in 'old' topics?
05-12-2012, 08:44 AM   #6
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Tokina 20-35mm 1st version

I have the 1st version of Tokina 20-35mm (Canon mount) for a year now and overall I'm very impressed. I use it on full format Canon 5D and even on a full format camera this lens is a very good performer. Thanks again for your review! It saved me some money.
05-13-2012, 02:03 AM   #7
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My favorite in this region is a recently acquired Cosina-built Vivitar Series 1 19-35/3.5-4.5 in PK-A mount. Cost me all of US$35 (shipped) from the Marketplace here. I see the KAF version available NIB on Amazon for about US$300. (I haven't checked eBay.) Some slight CA (easily fixable) but very sharp and good bokeh and no barrel distortion. My old Lentar-Tokina 21/3.8 is getting lonely now...
05-31-2012, 04:17 AM   #8
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well, it seems this thread is again alive and well
i have just purchased my first ulra-wide lens
it is a coisina 19-35 zoom lens, and is apparently identical in specs to the vivitar (but, i suspect that the vivitar version is made from first-quality components, while my cosina may contain some 'seconds')
the cosina was brand new, with warranty, and the price was right, compared to 'used' vivitar lens
i don't expect miracles from it
but, i am using it on a 30+ year old Pentax ME-F, so it should do the job quite adequately


the information in the article above was very useful to me

Rob

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05-31-2012, 11:32 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rob-48 Quote
i have just purchased my first ulra-wide lens
it is a coisina 19-35 zoom lens, and is apparently identical in specs to the vivitar (but, i suspect that the vivitar version is made from first-quality components, while my cosina may contain some 'seconds')
the cosina was brand new, with warranty, and the price was right, compared to 'used' vivitar lens
i don't expect miracles from it
but, i am using it on a 30+ year old Pentax ME-F, so it should do the job quite adequately
Congrats! Is yours the MF or AF version? I'll guess AF, since I saw the Vivitar version offered NIB at Amazon. Can you give us some hint of price? My MF Vivitar copy has a fairly constant home on my ZX-M, where its FOV is equivalent to the DA12-24 on APS -- a really excellent FF UWA range! And I see virtually zero barrel distortion with my copy. Yours should have the same optics, with similar fine results. Enjoy!
05-31-2012, 12:27 PM   #10
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Looking back I have to admit that I regret selling the Tokina 1st version (I sort of preferred the first version because of being smaller and was a perfect fit/balance for my MZ-S). I have been using the Sigma 20-40mm, it is a very good lens but it is huge.

I also had the Cosina 19-35mm (pictured/posted here by Rob-48) for a while and it is indeed a nice lens for its price. Plasticky (although quite sturdy) but still has metal mount and a fair picture quality. I totally agree to buy that as well if you need wide angle and do not want or cannot spend much on a lens.
05-31-2012, 03:18 PM   #11
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Cosina AF lens

thanks for all of the above info
the brand new cosina lens (pictured above) cost $120, delivered, from Germany, brand new, with warranty
the Pentax 20-80 & Pentax 80-200, & 'plain-label' 2x TC, were all '2nd-hand'
and the cosina lens 'matches' the camera, with its other 2 lenses -- looks really 'cool' on the old camera
feels 'plasticy', but as long as it works ...
and, i can't justify spending big $$ on expensive lenses for this camera -- that is reserved for my DSLR

i have not had a chance to use the lens yet, and then there is a day delay to get the film processed (my local camera shop has a 24hr turnaround, unless i drop it in early A.M., and pick it up same afternoon)
i hope to post a couple of pics here, after i scan them into my PC
Rob
06-01-2012, 04:06 PM   #12
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My favorite lens in this class is the second version of the Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8-4 EX DG, the one with the 77mm filter thread. For some reason the lens tends to get overlooked a lot.
06-01-2012, 09:40 PM   #13
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the only sigma 17-35 lens i could find was a recent series, with no aperture ring, making it unsuitable for my manual camera, and it was 3x the price.
i usually like sigma lenses -- good quality, and good value for money
06-02-2012, 06:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rob-48 Quote
the only sigma 17-35 lens i could find was a recent series, with no aperture ring, making it unsuitable for my manual camera, and it was 3x the price.
i usually like sigma lenses -- good quality, and good value for money
Yes the one I'm talking about came out around 2004 (it won an award in Europe that year), and it has an aperture ring. It does come up every once in a while in the used market, but not often.
06-09-2012, 12:38 AM   #15
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I had the Sigma 17-35mm for a while and only sold it because that time I already had the Sigma 20-40mm and my Sigma 16mm manual lens covered the ultra wide angle section.

I think the 17-35mm Sigma is underrated by peope who only managed to get this lens below 8 average score. I do not really understand when someone gives a low score for a lens just because it is "bulky" or has "limited zoom range".
First of all the f2.8-4 pushes up the size. (If the lens had a f3.5-4.5 max aperture that would be a reason for some to give the lens low score saying: It is too slow).

Secondly: A longer zoom range with acceptable f-stop would push up size as well. Just think of Canon's full frame 17-40mm lens or even if you look at Pentax's digital lenses they are big if they have a low or constant F number (for example Pentax 16-45 or 16-50 are quite big with their 67mm and 77mm filter rings.)

So this is like in the joke weather the bunny wears a hat or not he will still get beaten.

I almost forgot. I had the Sigma 17-35mm DG which has the smoother rubber grip and also an aperture ring. As far as I can remember they can be bought between 100-150 GBP depending on your luck, which is not a bad price for this lens as it is wide enough on digital as well.

Last edited by Zivelot; 06-09-2012 at 03:05 AM.
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