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Tokina AT-X 80-400mm F4.5-5.6

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11 35,743 Thu March 22, 2018
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $405.00 8.73
Tokina AT-X 80-400mm F4.5-5.6

All metal construction with a felt lined lens hood(hard plastic).16 element in 10 groups with a minimum aperture of f /32 and a minimum focal distance of 2.5 m (8.2 ft). The maximum aperture of f/4.5 will change to f/5.6 at the 300 mm setting. With a weight of 2.23 lb.
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Add Review of Tokina AT-X 80-400mm F4.5-5.6
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Senior Member

Registered: April, 2012
Location: Lancaster, United Kingdom
Posts: 206
Lens Review Date: March 22, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Relatively compact, wide zoom range, can be found for relatively little money
Cons: a bit soft at tele end, purple fringing
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K3   

I found the first version without the tripod collar at the local flea market for a good price. I bought a whole pile of lenses from that seller, so the price quoted is just an estimate based on the other lenses.

I took it out on a test shoot for some birds. It is a surprisingly portable lens, given its focal range. Focus is not super fast but still quick. The screw drive is noticeable, but not as bad as say a Pentax F70-210.

At lower apertures, it is notably soft at the long end. Stopping down helps considerably here. The same applies to chromatic aberrations and fringing, which can be quite bad. Most of my coot pictures had a purple fringe on the beak.

I found the colours a bit underwhelming, but it might have been the weather. But maybe I have been spoiled by some of my Pentax lenses.

Still, with a bit of practice I was able to take some decent pictures with it. I don't shoot this focal length very often, but it's good to have it available when needed.

Young coot / Junges Blesshuhn by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr

Young coots / Junge Blesshühner by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr

Geese by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr

Geese on water by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr

Geese / Gänse by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr

Geese by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr

Geese / Gänse by Christian Kliesch, on Flickr
Inactive Account

Registered: May, 2010
Location: Sydney
Posts: 217
Lens Review Date: June 16, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: zoom range, build, optics
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I have had this lens for about 6 months now but only had a chance to really test it this week. Contrary to many negative comments on its performance at 400mm, my copy actually exceeded my expectation. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a zoom lens in this range.
New Member

Registered: August, 2013
Posts: 18
Lens Review Date: October 14, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: build-build-build Beautiful optics
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Value: 9   

There are a lot of mixed reviews regarding this lens. Particularly about being soft at the long end. I absolutely love this lens. It is a pleasure to use. The build quality is second to none. The size and portability for a 400mm is fantastic and the photos I have been taking look fabulous. I am not one to get crazy technical. If I take a photo and like what I see I am happy. I don't need to study the pixels and examine the sharpness although with the few sample I have submitted I will let you be the judge. My recommendation.... If you come across one of these...BUY IT!! I have the second version. It was sold as NEW open box! Not a mark on it and came with everything ie; pouch, case, hood, paperwork and box.

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Holy Land
Posts: 912
Lens Review Date: July 22, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Optical quality, compact, well built, great focal range

A great lens for everybody who is looking for a tele-zoom (travel) lens in this focal range. It performs really good up to about 350mm, nice and crisp.
At 400mm however it becomes soft, but at F8 it's all fine again. Even with a 1.7x converter I got reasonably good results.
Junior Member

Registered: December, 2009
Location: London
Posts: 43

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 1, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Build, compactness for what it does, decent IQ especially borders
Cons: Some abberations. IQ ropey by the time you get to 400mm

Build quality is excellent. Decent metal construction and feels like it is going to last. Only the zoom lock feels a bit insubstantial but not a huge issue.

Despite the tank-like build, it's also remarkably compact and reasonably light given the range it covers. I've never been tempted by Bigmas and the like because they're so big I'd never use them. I'm sure they would outperform the Tokina, but of no interest to me if they are left behind at home.

Image quality is better than I expected it to be. This might sound like damning the lens with faint praise, but it's difficult to track down a proper professional review of the thing, and I was working on the assumption that as it's a relatively old design, and compact as noted above, then it must mean compromise.

I spent some time this afternoon comparing it with the Pentax 55-300, which to be honest I had assumed would outperform the Tokina without too much trouble. I think I may have to eat my words. I haven't posted all the shots here as frankly it's pretty dull stuff, but suffice to say that I used a tripod, SR off, remote control to trip the shutter, to try and keep the comparisons as fair as possible.

First thing is that colours between the two lenses are actually remarkably close. Tokina seems to have a similar and slightly warmer response that I am used to from Pentax lenses, rather than the cooler tones of some Sigmas and Tamrons that I've used. The Pentax looks marginally more contrasty.

Second is that the 55-300 undoubtedly does better at dealing with fringing and aberrations, although the Tokina is not awful in this regard.

My thoughts on sharpness at different focal lengths:


Centre - the Pentax lens is sharper wide open, and the Tokina does not catch up until around f8.

Borders - the Tokina is better around the borders - signficantly so - even at the widest aperture.


Centre - again the Pentax is better wide open in the centre, but the Tokina matches it by around f6.3, and if anything is marginally sharper if you stop down further although barely noticeable.

Borders - the story is similar to above - the Tokina performs better at every aperture.


Centre - the tables begin to turn. The Tokina is faster than the Pentax at this point, and the Tokina shot at f4.5 is as sharp as the Pentax at f5.6. There is very little difference in sharpness between the two from f8 onwards, although the Tokina may just about have the edge as you stop down further. These differences are barely worth talking about.

Borders - again, the Tokina holds things together better around the edges.


Centre - the Tokina outperforms my copy of the Pentax at every aperture, although the difference is small. Neither of them are especially good wide open.

Borders - no surprise here - the Tokina performs better. At the longest lengths, the Pentax controls fringing notably better than the Tokina, and in the shots I was comparing this was particularly notable around the borders (but the Tokina fringes everywhere).

Finally, from comparing the Tokina at 300mm and at 400mm, it would seem to me that below f8, you'd be better sticking to 300mm and cropping. Only beyond f8 does there appear to be an advantage in going to full telephoto. Next job is to see how much further you can go beyond 300mm before the decline in quality means it's no longer worth it...

Some early photos can be found here:

Hope this lot was interesting to someone other than me!
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 28
Lens Review Date: March 7, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Serious reach for a reasonable price
Cons: Soft at 400 but still quite good

I bought this lens on eBay (new, old stock) over the summer specifically for sports photography, specifically girls lacrosse. My body is a K20d with grip.

Season started last month. Here is my zenfolio site:

This lens is _very_ sharp at 200 and thereabouts:

Softer around 400 but still very nice:

I had considered buying a Bigma and I am glad chose this lens instead. For the money it's a better value. And the results speak for themselves.

Updating this review now about a year into ownership. I spent some time yesterday examining the latest shots I took. The sweet spot is definately between 200-300mm and f8 +/-1 f-stop.

Here are some of the latest examples:

Here are some newer shots:

New Member

Registered: January, 2010
Lens Review Date: January 29, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sturdy, 5x,lightweight and compact, very sharp till 200mm
Cons: soften from 200mm to 400mm

I have version 1 lens without collar tripod.

This a lens very good for travel: it's sturdy, lightweight enough (you can easily use it for hand held photography), compact when closed, no zoom creeping, it ranges from 80mm to 400mm (a great 5x!). It's the smaller 400mm you can find on the market: it's a joy for nature/birds shooting.

It is very sharp from 80mm to 200m from F4.5.
When I bought it I was worried about the softness towards 400mm: after using it I have to admit that, while it's true that it softens from 200m to 400mm, I was able to get a lot of beatiful shots at 400mm, especially not wide open (F8 or more).

Autofocus is fast on my K10D, though sometimes it hunts a bit at the long end.

I love this lens. Sure you can find better tele lenses on the market, but at this price you can find nothing resembling all these features.
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Hogtown, ON, Canada
Posts: 329
Lens Review Date: September 1, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Long zoom range,relative small and light for range
Cons: soft at extreme ends of the zoom

I have the version 2 with the tripod collar.

I was fortunate to came across this lens for sale by a friend of a friend. At the time of purchase the eBay price for it was over 600.

I agree that there is a IQ drop off at the extreme ends like the others. I can deal with it for the extended range this lens offers. My 300/4EDIF is better but I love the versatility of this lens especially th AF to help these aging eyes.
I also had a Vivitar Ser 1 100-500 which is longer and heavier.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2007
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 167
Lens Review Date: June 11, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: size and weight; easily hand-holdable, especially with SR;
Cons: clunky autofocus, not really sharp untill f11 at 400mm (f8 OK)

This review is for the first version without tripod collar (see Arjay Bee's pictures above)

The positives:
- The greatest feature of this lens is its size, it is a bit more than 1.5 times the length of a 50-200mm, and only weights 960gr (2lbs). In contrast to all other 400mm it fits in a normal photo-bag.
- since it is not very heavy and the zoom ring is sufficiently wide (at least in this version) it is easy to handhold it. The shake reduction works very well, I get reliable results at 1/125sec at 400mm. At an overcast day I can shoot with f8 at iso 400.
- It does not have a tripod collar which would only make it bigger and would be in the way. It is light enough to mount the camera directly on the tripod.
- The pentax mount is fully supported, it transmits the focal length and f-stop correctly to the camera (the exif says, though, it is a Sigma 80-200mm lens), I was worried about this considering its age.
- although it is not very sharp compared to the Tamron it is still usable at f5.6 or f8 at 400mm.

The negatives:
- The autofocus is fast but tends to hunt. The whole front part of the lens moves for focusing, which produces quite some torque. You can feel a kickback when the focus starts and locks in. This also makes it difficult to use a polarizer.
- manual focus is to easy to turn. It does not have a focus clutch, so one has to set the camera switch to manual to be able to focus manually.
- the zoom is not linear it only takes 1/8th of a turn to go from 200-400mm.
- not tripod-collar, but if I really should need one I just got one cheap at ebay from China which should fit (I will report back).
- The sharpness could be better unless you stop it down to f11.
- bokeh has flares (see grass in the back in examples below)

I am very happy with this lens- it is perfect for taking on a hike since it is very light and small for reaching 400mm.

To bad it is not made for Pentax any more, combined with the in-camera shake reduction this lens would be a big seller, especially since there is no other lens like this for Pentax. It does not make sense that it is now only offered for the 2 brands (Nikon and Canon) which do not have in-camera SR.

Here is a comparison to my Tamron SP 400/ f4 as reference, they were done outside on an overcast day.

tamron f4


tamron f5.6 - tokina f5.6:

tamron f5.6 - tokina f5.6 crops:

tamron f8 - tokina f8:

tamron f8 - tokina f8 crops:

tamron f11 - tokina f11:

tamron f11 - tokina f11 crops:

Junior Member

Registered: November, 2007
Location: Elliot Lake, Ontario Canada
Posts: 46
Lens Review Date: January 7, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light weight, pleasing bokeh, solid metal construction
Cons: noisy

I've had this lens for about a year now and have had a great time with it.
I find it the sharpest between 100-350mm at f11 and in good light it focuses quickly.
I've been using it on the K10D and they make a good couple. If I could find something like this with a constant f2.8 I would be closer to heaven...and bankrupcy.

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Bamaga, QLD
Posts: 3,308
Lens Review Date: August 26, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Solid all metal construction with little play, AF, short overall considering FL, average to good IQ
Cons: Softens up at the 400mm end

I had my eye for this focal length for some months and was aware of this lens and its reputation from reviews on Fred Miranda and DP Review. Was very happy to win this one even though it is not the series II depicted in the image above.

Mine is the Series one model without the tripod collar and series two coatings and focus locking screw. Focus creep is not an issue for this example however and zooming is perhaps more on the cludgy side.

IQ is reasonable, as others have said, with PF when pointed in the wrong direction. Sharp enough at wider fls it does soften at the longest end. I just back it up a tad as it is better at 350 than my other long tele zoom (the M42 Promura 100-300) at 300 which I hoped and expected going into the deal. I do a lot of PJ images for the local newspaper and the AF and IQ is adequate to the job. Works with my Sigma P-TTL flash as expected.

Came with the front and rear lens covers and bag as in pic but without the lens hood. Mine has a small dint in the filter ring preventing a filter from attaching there(My next project). I have since opened it up and cleaned the oil haze on one of the inner lens elements - I was afraid it was fungus but it came straight off with lens cleaner. The images I have taken with it since, show a remarkable impovement by losing the lens flare and a lot of the softness.

This lens came as a job lot with a lot of other gear so once I conservatively subtract the other stuff and allow for general wear and tear the above price is about right.
Closed down

Opened up

On the fully operational SFX it came with:

The SFX is not a small body so as you can see this a rather weighty piece of metal and glass but that is good for hand holding at full zoom length. This combo has the archetypal shutter and powerwind noise.
Cheers, Arjay
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