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Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF

Reviews Views Date of last review
12 51,750 Fri January 10, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $420.00 8.58
Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF

Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF
Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF

Successor to the manual focus SD 400mm

72mm filter size
max aperture 5.6 min aperture 22
8 blades
auto focus
angle of view 7 degrees
Mount Type: Pentax KAF2/KAF (screwdrive AF)
Price History:

Add Review of Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF
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Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,550
Lens Review Date: January 10, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, fast focus, well built
Cons: CA, need to stop it down
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-30; K-3   

I got this lens used (the only way you can get it now) from Robert's camera off of an auction website. I was looking for more reach than my HD DA 55-300 provided, for a reasonable price. I've used it for a couple years now and figured I're report!

This is a sharp lens, and I would highly recommend it with some caveats. First, never shoot it at f/5.6 if you can help it - the sweet spot if f/11 to maximize sharpness and minimize chromatic aberration. And by sweet spot, I mean you should really stick to it if you can! This is one of the major limitations of the lens, as dim lighting makes it a lot more difficult to use, especially if you need fast shutter speeds for BIF or the like. But at f/11, even at f/8 (more CA), the sharpness is just as good if not better than the HD DA 55-300, which is a good lens itself. The rendering of the Tokina with the out-of-focus areas might be a bit better.

The weight is heavy, but that's due to the solid construction of the lens. Full metal body, built-in retractable lens hood - phenomenal. It was a lot to get used to, but it's also considerably less heavy than the DFA 150-450, so... it's up to what you can handle!

The autofocus is blazing fast, for a screw-drive lens. There's only one problem with this - if you miss focus, the autofocus will go blazing fast to infinity, and then you'll be stuck there and have to autofocus on something closer to get it back. And it's noisy when it does that! There is no quick-shift clutch, so you have to flip the AF switch on the camera in order to move the focus back manually, if you'd prefer to do that. So, be careful with the autofocus, it's a blessing and a curse.

If you have a newer camera with a stop better high-iso performance, like the K-70 or K-P, this is a phenomenal budget birding lens - if you can find a copy. I plan to keep using mine for a while to come! The only comparable Pentax lens is the DA*300 with the 1.4x teleconvertor, and that is still significantly more expensive. So if you're looking for a better version of the DA55-300, this is the lens you want!
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2016
Location: Silverstone
Posts: 203

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 12, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $425.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Size/weight, internal focusing, build
Cons: Rotating focus ring, tendency to haze
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-S2   

A few copies of this lens have begun to appear on a well-known auction site. Most of the sellers are based in Japan where, I suspect, most of these lenses were originally sold. When import taxes are taken into account, the price seems to be firming up, despite the fact that several of the offerings are being advertised with flaws.

I had been looking for a birding lens with longer reach than my DA55-300 PLM. I took the plunge and bought a Tokina, reasoning that my local repairer could deal with the light haze that the seller had acknowledged. I'd then have a useful focal length without a second mortgage.

Only, he couldn't, declaring it beyond economic repair. I had bought a paperweight.

Annoyed, I returned to the afore-said auction site and bought a spanner wrench. The lens has a modular construction, and removal of the rear focusing group and the mid-rear group was easy enough. There is a grubscrew near the focus ring that needs to be loosened, then the entire front barrel unscrews. The front element drops out easily after loosening a second grubscrew.

The mid front group is too deep in the body, so has to be cleaned in-situ unless you want to do a full strip down. [UPDATE: I now have done a full knock-down and reassembly. If you are brave enough, this is the way to go] [Do screwdrive lenses have a tendency to oil haze?]

When you have the chance, renew the blackening on the internal surfaces with a good quality anti-reflection paint. The Tokina coating is almost grey, in comparison to Pentax. There is sufficient stray light to reduce contrast on a DSLR. On a Q or Q7, you'll think the fog has descended.

I'm really glad I got so annoyed. Colours are nice, sharpness acceptable, bokeh a pleasant surprise and aberrations easy to fix in PP. As other reviewers have noted, the lens does need to be stopped down, but the performance of the K-S2 at ISO1600 is so good I can manage.

Junior Member

Registered: October, 2012
Location: Pathum Thani, Thailand
Posts: 47

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 20, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $368.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, build, Size, internal focusing
Cons: Built in hood cannot be locked in position, rotating focus ring when auto-focus engaged
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

Limited testing so far, but looks to be really sharp with only slight tendency to purple fringing, easily fixed.

I had been looking for a lens in this focal length for a while to go with my Pentax F*300. It might seem a small step up, but the extra 100mm gives significant additional reach (33% more) and it is noticeable. Especially useful for birds as I either get a 33% larger if shot from the same distance, or I don't have to get quite so close to get a useable image... So it allows me to be less intrusive to the birds I'm photographing.

The focus ring rotates when in auto-focus, so I need to adjust where I hold the lens, but there's plenty of fixed bodywork to the lens to grab hold of, this is only a minor problem and easy to learn a new grip to avoid it.

Screw-driven auto focus is fast and accurate, no problems there, and it's only marginally noisier than the F*300mm.

Other minor annoyance is the built-in lens hood... it's good to haveand is a good length, but there is no means of locking it in either extended of collapsed positions, so it keeps flopping forward/back if the lens is tilted too much... nothing a rubber-band won't remedy, but would be better if it were lockable as is the case with the F*300mm

Here's an early test shot in the garden of a "boring" Eurasian Tree Sparrow (male)

Would I prefer to keep things in the Pentax family of lenses, probably yes... but I cannot justify the considerable expense of going with even a manual focus pentax 400mm, much less one with auto-focus, especially having now seen the results possible out of this lens.

Very happy with it!
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2014
Posts: 714
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: AF speed, build quality, price, IQ
Cons: minor things at this price- CA, softer at 5.6
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

AF is very fast. MF is usable. Build quality is top notch, all metal construction with a tripod mount.

Its pretty darn sharp. Better than the DA 55-300 for sure. On par with my canon 100-300 5.6L. Stopping down yield nice sharpness. CA can be alight problem in high contrast areas, but is easily fixed in post. Again it handle CA better than the DS 55-300.

lacks a little contrast, but again this is easy to fix on digital. The hard stops at the ends of the focus range make a metallic "clang". But these are really picky detail.

I honestly feel like I stole this thing. I don't think there is another lens in this range that can compete for less than $700. They are semi rare and can be found ebay about once a month. Its a joy to use and I can imagine someone being dissatisfied with it at this price.

New Member

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: April 9, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $370.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size, weight, IQ, fast focus
Cons: Unusable manual focus due to sensitive focusing ring
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5iis   

Very nice lens for shooting birds, animals etc. Very light weight at such long focal distance is a great advantage making this lens as a prime in a wildlife trip. It has very sensitive focus mostly unusable in manual mode but very fast in AF mode. The best IQ is at f8 and it is equivalent to IQ of DA55-300 at 300mm f11 in the center of frame. Tokina has much better IQ at the corner of the frame in comparing to DA55-300. And it seems that its distortion is very low. Sometime I find light violet CA when zooming image to 100%. But overall Tokina is much better than DA55-300 at a long end. Very usable lens!
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2008
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,447

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 28, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $475.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Price, Weight, Color
Cons: N/A
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5iis/K30   

My first impression of the Tokina ATX 400mm f5.6 was how small and light it is. Compared to my Sigma 100-300 f4, it's about half the weight and half the diameter. It takes 72mm filters, and the built in lens hood is handy.

I purchased this lens for my GF to augment her DA 55-300 for shooting critters, because all the 1.4x TC we've tried just really didn't work well with that lens, and sometimes she's wanted more reach

After a few test shots and a somewhat unfair comparison against my 100-300, she's quite thrilled with the results, and I will add that it's a pretty decent lens. Are the optics pixel peeping pro quality? I'd say with good lighting, they are just short of a lens that runs 2-3 times it's price. Until I zoomed to about 50-67%, I didn't notice much difference between images from the 2 lenses. For web and smaller prints (8x12), I doubt you'd really see any difference in terms of sharpness or IQ.

The colors seem to be a little more saturated than my Sigma's and the Tokina seems to underexpose by 2/3 of a stop. The Tokina's images have good contrast and the bokeh is not too bad, though that's the least of my concerns on a telephoto lens.

In summary, this is a REALLY compact, well built but VERY light lens for 400mm and f5.6, so it should be great for longer critter shooting sessions and hikes. Colors are pleasing with good saturation, but with hint of red fringing in high contrast areas.

I'd say the overall IQ is at least on par with the DA 55-300 so this makes it a great second lens and a very strong alternative to messing with TCs. Plus you don't lose that extra stop of light.
Inactive Account

Registered: January, 2013
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: February 2, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $420.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: AF, price
Cons: Weight
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Very good lens for wildlife photography and nature. Good magnification, better than the mirrors.
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Alta
Posts: 279
Lens Review Date: August 10, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $472.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size, AF speed, weight, sharpness
Cons: Some latheral abberations, but not a problem really
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I bought this lens cause I wanted 400mm with AF. I have the SMC Pentax A 400mm 1:5.6, but it's not as easy to use efficiently.

On my K-5, the Tokina has VERY fast AF in my experience. It snaps to focus so fast, it really surprised me how fast it was. The lens is also very small and light. It's smaller than my Tamron 70-200, and quite a bit shorter than my SMC Pentax A 400mm 1:5.6. If you have enough light, this can easily be used handheld all day.

Here are pictures from my first proper and extensive use of the lens. A few hours of motocross at the local track.

There are some lateral aberrations, but for me it's not a problem. There is also a bit of purple fringing, but I can live with it at this price.

The sharpness wide open is sharp enough for me. I have only used it wide open so far, but I'll do a controlled test with it stopped down as well, so I don't know yet if it gets sharper stopped down.

Highly recommended.
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 1,432

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 1, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $420.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very portable, sharp when stopped down, fine color
Cons: Soft wide open, sometimes CA when backlit
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

A great, portable birding and "critter" lens. Small enough to carry in a daypack, and long enough to get "up close & personal" with wildlife. Very sharp at F8 through F11. Some very interesting CA on backlit subjects, and at areas of high contrast, but easily correctable in PP. Although it will do even better with a tripod, I've found handheld shots to be quite acceptable, especially with careful long lens technique. Bokeh is usually very nice to my (uneducated) eyes. Close focusing is a plus - am looking forward to using this lens on some shier odonates this summer!

Posted some sample shots here:
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 431

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 21, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Well-built, sharp, light weight and fast AF.
Cons: CA at wider apertures.

Need to stop down for this lens and from f8 you will get very sharp images.
If not the Fringing/CA issue at wider apertures, then this is an excellent lens for Pentax Dslr. If you want to have a 400mm prime lens, this lens is indeed worth to try. However, because of its small aperture f5.6, I have never try this lens with a tele-converter.

Sample pics from this lens:

Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Mississippi, USA
Posts: 825
Lens Review Date: August 24, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Well built, small for focal length, nice contrast, sharp
Cons: Colors a bit cooler than I prefer.

A very nice long lens. A bit soft wide open but Sharpening brings it around. Very sharp at f8. AF is quick and accurate. Contrast very good. Color on mine leans toward cooler tones.
Used for birding and wildlife. Light enough to hand hold in direct sun light.
Works well with the Pentax Rear Converter A 1.4x-s, manual focus only.
An excellent lens for the price
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 11,311
Lens Review Date: January 16, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: compact & solid, price, sharp when stopped down, nice color & contrast
Cons: Soft & CA at wider apertures

This a very well-built lens with a built-in hood. It's also very compact for its FL so it's easy to carry and handles wonderfully. AF is quick & accurate. It is rather soft at wider apertures but wonderfully sharp at f8 (in the center, at least--I haven't really tested corners). "Fringing" (LoCA?) is also an issue at wider apertures.

Bottom line: this lens has definite limitations but, at f8 or above, it's a joy to use and great for birding. It's probably a 7 in terms of optical performance compared to the big-bucks lenses but--factoring in price and ease of handling--I'm giving it an 8.

As has been noted in reviews of the MF version, this lens tempts you to hand-hold because it handles so well. Do yourself a favor: use a 'pod--it is a 400mm, after all.
Add Review of Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF

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