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Tokina SD 400mm F5.6

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14 91,255 Mon September 10, 2018
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $169.92 8.43
Tokina SD 400mm F5.6

Tokina SD 400mm F5.6
Tokina SD 400mm F5.6
Tokina SD 400mm F5.6

Final iteration of tokina 400mm manual focus telephoto lens. Compact internal focus design, removable tripod mount plate. Can be found with both RMC and SD nameplates. The lens is pic 2 has a diy'ed replacement tripod mount.
The earlier and quite similar, apart from not having a tripod mount, RMC tokina 400mm is listed here.

Mount: Can be found with P/K, P/KA and other mounts of the era.
Focus: Manual
Min. focus distance: 4m (13.1 feet)
Filter size: 72mm
Max. aperture: 5.6
Min. aperture: 22
Diaphragm: 8 blades
Optical construction: 8 elements in 5 groups
Glass: Multicoated
Tripod mount: removable. NOTE that the tripod mounts are not necessarily transferable between lenses - I have found ones with slightly different fittings.
Weight: 984gr (2lb 3oz)
Length: 20.7cm (8.1inches) w/ hood retracted; 27.4cm (10.8inches) w/ hood extended
Other details: Contains an apochromatic element; retractable hood; internal focusing; tripod mount.
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 2
Review Date: September 10, 2018 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: The best construction from Japan, Wonderful MF ring, Great color
Cons: Lacking resolution, minimum focus distance not close enough
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 7    Camera Used: K20d   

Owning the AT-X MF version, I suspect that the SD version, AT-X version and AT-X AF version share the same optical design.

Tokina's premium lenses have been the most praised for their build. Having used AT-X PRO 28-70 2.8 and AT-X PRO 80-200 2.8, I became interested in Tokina's prime lenses. With little knowledge of Tokina lenses' characteristics, I was expecting the detailed resolution and relatively low contrast as seen from the mentioned AF lenses. It turned out to be not quite the same.

Once in my hands, I was blown away by the build quality. It felt substantial and really solid - to the extent I actually enjoy holding in my hands than the photos taken with it. More surprisingly, it might be the lightest 400 5.6 MF lens out there! Yet, I buy lenses not just to hold and feel in my hands, but to take photos I would be satisfied with. That's where the heart-breaking part comes.

Tokina AT-X 400 5.6 is the first super-telephoto lens I have ever shot with, followed by Sigma 400 5.6 APO Macro, Tamron 300 2.8 and hopefully Tamron 400 4. I was not very skeptical of its IQ at the very beginning. But then I grew a bit used to its performance and tried to ask for a lens of the same range from other Pentaxians - that's how I got the Sigma and became convinced there are better choices.

After all I have said, take a look of photos I took with this lens. It is easy to tell its IQ is inferior. But it is hard to say the photos look bad. It makes me want a Tokina AT-X 100-300 F4 AF version for Pentax!

This lens is now for sale (in Hong Kong only). If it stays with me, I might take it out and enjoy taking some shots once in a while. If it leaves, I am sure I will miss every bit of it.

New Member

Registered: July, 2013
Location: Essen / North Rhine-Westphalia
Posts: 8

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 1, 2017 Recommended | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, solid build, quite sharp stopped down, tripod collar, build-in Hood
Cons: CAs, Soft wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K20D, K-5, K-3   

This cheap Lens is solid build, all metal made, no plastics on it and it's easy to focussing. It cames with an integrated Metal-Lenshood and a small Tripod Collar.

Wide open it is very soft, much CAs and low Contrast, but stopped down it's quiet sharp with good IQ.

400mm, ISO 200, 1/250s, f8
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2014
Location: Linz
Posts: 3,098

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: July 24, 2016 Recommended | Price: $230.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: lightweight, good IQ when stopped down a little, handholdable
Cons: CA's (especially purple fringing), low contrast in backlit situations
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-3   

I bought this lens about a year ago, because I wanted a lens with a little more reach than 300mm for moon photography and occasional wildlife photography. My choice fell on the Tokina SD 400mm f5.6 because it supposedly offers sharp images (stopped down a tad) combined with a smallish size and low weight, for a lens of this focal length, for a reasonable price. Even though I don't use this lens as often as originally intended I think all those claims are correct and I am satisfied with the results I get.

The lens has good build quality and offers a tripod mount and my version also provides the A setting on the aperture ring. The retractable hood is very space-saving but despite being promptly pushed in positon has the disadvantage of being moved by gravity when the lens is held in a vertical position.

The focus throw between MFD and infinity focus is covered in approximately 95 movement of the well damped focus ring. Focus can comfortably be adjusted with your fingertips even when you handhold this lens when you lay the tripod mount of the lens in your palm. But it certainly needs practicing to keep a fast approaching or departing subject in focus.

Despite having a focal lenght of 400mm this lens is easily handholdable because of it's low weight and on a good day (steady-hand-wise) I was able to get sharp images down to shutter speeds of 1/60 sec.

As others have mentioned the Tokina reaches best sharpness when stopped down a tad, I commonly use apertures between f7.1 - f11 for best results. I don't have a TC and I also can't present any pixel shift results but I think the resolving power of this lens is sufficient for the K-3 and I can't complain about sharpness with this lens + body combination.

A negative aspect of the lens is, due to the fact that f5.6 is the widest aperture, it is necessary to crank up the ISO on overcast days to achieve fast enough shutter speeds.

CAs are a little problem of this lens. The lens especially tends to purple fringe which can easily be fixed in post processing, but this might be an issue if you wanna use jpegs right out of the camera.

Another problem of the lens is low contrast in backlit situations. Because the lens coatings are not as good as in modern lenses, internal reflections influence the IQ of darker areas of the picture.

Despite it's flaws I like this lens very much and can recommend it for amateurs and enthusiasts who desire a longer focal lenght than provided by the common consumer zooms, with reasonable IQ, without breaking the bank.

Last but not least some examples:
ISO-800, f8, 1/400 sec, handheld
Blast furnace by Patrick Bittermann, auf Flickr
ISO-800, f7.1, 1/6400 sec, handheld
Against the Sun by Patrick Bittermann, auf Flickr
ISO-640, f8, 1/1600 sec, handheld
Crossing by Patrick Bittermann, auf Flickr
ISO-500, f11, 1/1000 sec, handheld
Ufer by Patrick Bittermann, auf Flickr
New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: May 16, 2016 Recommended | Price: $170.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Weight and size, cheap, decent colors and image quality, A mode
Cons: Not sharp, low contrast, CA
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K-S1   

I bought this lens because it's the best compromise between quality and price (around 150-200 ). At first i was looking at the Smc Pentax A 400mm f 5.6, but when i lost an auction for it, I decided to temporarily take something less expensive.
This Tokina it's better than the sigma 400mm f 5.6, and similar to the Sigma 400mm f 5.6 apo (the Tokina too have an Apo element) but i choose the Tokina SD because is lighter and does not suffer moisture infiltration or dust.
For 150 you can't expect miracles from a 400mm prime lens that usually costs at least 400 : obviously wide open it's not usable, it's soft at 6.3 and reach its best at f 7 - f 9.
This type of supertele is for a very specific use, so consider purchase only if you do photo hunting or astrophotography. For other genres is not really good, the minimum focus distance is 4 meters and the focal equivalent on APS-C is 600mm. One positive note above all, is the weight. 900 grams are nothing for a 400mm prime, you can use it freehand without problems with shutter speed faster than 1/125. IQ and contrast are better with appropriate light, not so good in backlit.
For aroung 150 you can't find a better lens, but keep in mind that it can be only a temporarily choice if you want to do some really serious things. But if you're an amateur who makes photo hunt sporadically, it's a good choice (and still better than an expensive mirror lens)
Took with my Tokina
And in low quality below
New Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Binghamton, NY
Posts: 23

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 25, 2015 Recommended | Price: $160.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: PRICE, good sharpness by 6.3, handholdable, my copy is PK/A
Cons: Purple fringing, softish wide open, low contrast
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

I purchased this lens used on Ebay along with a Tokina RMC doubler (2x teleconverter). My primary intended use for this lens is bird photography, probably handheld most of the time.

This lens is soft and shows significant PF wide open. However, by f/6.3 sharpness is already well improved, and it's definitely pretty good at f/8. PF is a significant problem, and clears up a bit later than the sharpness improves. PF doesn't completely disappear unless you stop close to all the way down, which I don't generally think is *that* important, since PF is so easy to fix in Lightroom.

I actually find that f/6.3 is sufficient for acceptable sharpness, which is very nice. See below:

Sharpness goes down a bit by f/11, and the image is quite noticeably softer by f/16. I would say that this lens shows maximum sharpness across a broad range, from f/6.3 to f/10.

I found that my copy tends to underexpose, but I attribute this to the fact that it had some damage to the aperture control lever, which I had to fix. I have not seen a complaint of underexposing elsewhere, so I assume that this is due either to small changes in the aperture control mechanism resulting from my tinkering.

I also noticed that the focus ring can get extremely stiff in cold weather.

In my testing (using a scantron, haha), I found that sharpness at 100% under ideal conditions (ISO 100, careful live view focusing, mirror lockup, steady mount) was pretty acceptable. Using the 2x Tokina teleconverter that I purchased along with the lens did not provide a meaningful increase in resolving power, while seriously decreasing usability, so I don't think this lens has the resolving power to tolerate a 2x teleconverter. It's possible that one might be able to obtain an increase in resolving power with a quality 1.4x TC, but I doubt it.
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 13

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 1, 2013 Recommended | Price: $189.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: solid, well built, good value

I have too many lenses but none of them are longer than 300mm so I bought this one so I could go a little longer. The copy I bought looks like it has never been used, so for less than $200 I thought I got a pretty good deal. It is a PK A version which to me is very handy in a manual focus lens for Pentax. It is compact and relatively light for a 400mm but of course it is an all-metal lens and has some heft to it. It has a very nice tripod mount. The 72mm filter size is also handy. The built-in lens hood slides back and forth a little too easily but to me that is a minor problem. I tried a 77mm Canon 500D achromatic closeup lens on it and took a shot of a US penny which completely filled the frame. I never had a 400mm before so I noticed a big difference trying to hand hold it. Your slightest movement is really magnified as compared to a 300mm. I think you mostly need a tripod when using it or at minimum you need to steady it against something. I noticed that Tokina has made various versions of this lens including one under the Vivitar label with a TX mount and also a M42 version. They go a bit cheaper on e-bay but to me it is better to have the PK A mount on a manual focus lens. For it's price it easily deserves a 9. To get anything better you would have to spend a lot more money. I have noticed that there are quite a few older 400mm lenses on e-bay that are heavier and less compact than this lens and that use 77mm filters. I had considered them but I think I made a good decision choosing this one. Some of the older ones might not have multi-coating. I think it is always better with an older lens like this to pay a little extra and get as good a copy as you can find.
New Member

Registered: May, 2012
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 23, 2013 Recommended | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, solid build, quite sharp, compact size, A-Mode works with modern DSLRs
Cons: CAs
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

I recently bought this lens to be used with Pentac K5 and K-01. and Pentax Q. The lens is quite sharp, it there is time taken to adjust the focus manually. Tripod is needed. Best to be used with F8. My DA* 300 is better, however to get the same image size compared to the Tokina 400 some cropping is needed. Then the result is almost the same. Tests with Pentax Q will follow, Crop Factor 5.5 = 2200 mm !!! should be great for moon shots.
CAs quite strong, but easy to remove with Lightroom / Photoshop.

For some first example see:
Pentax k-01, Distance 20 Meters, Tripod, 1/60 second !, cropped but look at the head !
Impossible to get this shot sharp with an automatic focus

Distance 10 Meters, Pentax K200, only 10 MPixels

Distance 30 Meters, cropped, Pentax K200, only 10 MPixels

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 589
Review Date: August 1, 2011 Recommended | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, well built
Cons: CA/blue fringing in high contrast

Beautifully constructed lens, feels fantastic in the hand and relatively light weight make it easy for hand holding. In high contrast, it has quite significant CA. Stopped down a little it is quite sharp, but not as sharp as the DA*300 f4.

The linked photo is a 50% crop which was resized to 1000 pixels across. I think the result was easily worth the USD220 that the lens cost.
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2008
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 4,180
Review Date: February 25, 2011 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, easily handheld--great build--nice built in hood--price
Cons: none

I am having a hard time believing the 2nd review, above, is for the same lens. I know there was a pre-SD version of this lens, which was poor with Ca, but realize copies can very greatly in performance.

Anyway, I once owned a pristine copy of this lens, but foolishly sold it @ our forum for $200--no way I can get this performance, @ 400mm, for that kind of money. I truly miss the lens and regret the sale. I found its control of PF/CA to be very good, though, like any lens, some conditions are better avoided.

For me, the lens was easy to handhold, and I did so a lot, with nice sharp pics. The lens never felt like 2 pounds to me, and when I read it weighed that, just before I did the review, I was very surprised. The lens has nice colors, good contrast and is beautifully made. It had a great rubber, knurled focus ring, and a neat built in hood. Mine looked much like new, a testament to its build. I would have liked it if it could focus closer, so minus one point here. But

if you like to manually focus, and want very good IQ at a modest price, try finding one of these--you'll be happy.
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 278
Review Date: October 20, 2010 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, Solid Build, very sharp, great IQ, easy to focus, tripod collar.
Cons: A little heavy, some CA

I purchased this lens not long ago and finally had a chance to give it a real test run. I have to say I was impressed. Overall, color and contrast are very good. I don't think the color was flat at all. It's not a Pentax lens but it does a great job with color for a Tokina. It's very easy to focus and keep in focus on a moving target. As previously mentioned, it is quick and it is accurate. Thus far I've only used it hand held and have been happy with the results. Although it can be hand held reasonably well, it is a bit heavy and should probably be tripod mounted for best results. I noticed very minor fringing on branches against a bright clear blue sky. If you allow your camera to over expose images, either through exposure compensation or Auto, you will get lots of really noticeable purple fringing, so don't over expose. Smaller apertures also help with eliminating fringing.
Build quality is excellent - thusly it is a little heavy. My only complaint on the build quality is the hood seems a bit loose and won't stay extended when the lens is pointing straight up. With the use of a futuristic expansible elastic rubber loop (AKA rubber band) the hood slide issue was easily fixed. I was able to find one of these cheap, and if you find one for anything less then $120, snatch it up, you won't regret it.
New Member

Registered: July, 2010
Location: Jakarta
Posts: 13

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 20, 2010 Recommended | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, light for its size, good built
Cons: Some CA in high contrast

This lens surprise me because it can produce sharp image even wide open. The bokeh is nice at f/5.6 to f/8.

The same image cropped:

I tried to find some birds, but they are moving too fast, so instead I found a slower animal:

I would have given it a 9, but this lens gives some CA in an image with high contrast, so I give it a solid 8.

Here is another photo, taken at f/9.0:

and cropped:

I am really happy with this lens, with a 2X tele extender I want to try to take picture of the Moon. I will upload it soon.

Inactive Account

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 40
Review Date: May 6, 2009 Recommended | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: light, easy to hand hold, quick internal focus design, well built!
Cons: little soft at f5.6 with CA/PF

The build quality on this lens is top rate! It is a pleasure to use in the field as it has a fast internal focus design, thereby making hand holding/focusing a rewarding experience. Given the focal length, you should probable not make a habit of hand holding this lens however, the temptation for me proved to be too strong, and I largely ignored the tripod when I owned this lens. This lens works well with the K10D and the built in shake reduction, as I could get acceptably sharp images at 1/60 second!

The SD lens does a good job of dealing with CA/PF by f8.0, however you will likely still have to correct for these defects in your post processing software. CA/PF is noticeable on high contrast edges and PF will be magnified on 'gray' overcast days.

This is one of the few manual lenses that I managed to get reasonable bird in flight images, largely because of the quick and accurate manual focusing mechanism!
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2008
Location: hawaii
Posts: 62
Review Date: February 16, 2009 Recommended | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: well, it's 400mm!, has a tripod mount and built in hood
Cons: LOTS of fringing on contrasty areas, really heavy, slow

not a hand-held lens, it's just too slow and heavy. on a tripod with plenty of light, it's better. watch for color fringing (green one way, red another) in high contrast areas.

for birding, the DOF is very narrow, as should be expected at this length, and focusing is pretty tricky. the colors are fairly flat, especially if you're used to pentax branded lenses, and it's heavy at 2.5 lbs - be careful and hold both camera and lens while transporting. you can pick one of these up fairly cheaply online if you're patient and not specifically looking for "tokina" in the title. i'm glad i have it, but hope for something faster and even possibly lighter.
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2007
Location: Boston
Posts: 1,993
Review Date: February 15, 2009 Recommended | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small size, light weight, good IQ, price
Cons: Short focus throw, long minimum focus distance

This lens displays typical Tokina build, meaning it's sturdy, but all moving parts are smooth. Its IQ is top notch showing no clear CA or PF; while not razor sharp wide open (and who is?) I have no qualms using it at f/5.6 when low light requires it. On sunny days f/8 will give you very sharp results.

If you do not get sharp images with this lens, it will be due to user error, not the lens's fault. Given its small size and light weight you might be tricked into thinking it can be hand-held just like a 50mm prime, but it is a 400mm lens and its long focal length must be taken into account. I'm not saying you cannot shoot this lens hand-held, you can, I'm saying that to do so you need to follow the usual long-glass recipes for clear shots.

I found it baffling that this lens would have such a short focus throw, seeing as it is manual focus. At 90 degrees (1/4 turn) it makes precise focusing a little tough; 1/3 of a turn would have been appreciated.

For some it might be a hindrance that the minimum focus distance is so long, 4m (13.1 feet), but then again, you should be using this lens to photograph far-away objects

Despite its minor drawbacks, I would definitely recommend this lens given its low price in the used market and its many positive attributes.
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