Friday, 30 July 2010

First images with Tokina 19-35mm f3.4/4.5

Lens arrived this morning, and I was able to take a few quick shots at lunchtime to get some very quick first impressions.

First, my copy looks mint - very clean body and exceptional glass, so I'm very happy on that score.

Also, the quality of the fit and finish on the Tokina is indeed impressive for a third-party consumer-grade lens offering. It looks, and feels, like it is built to last. Even the lens hood seems to be made from a thicker, tougher plastic than many of the Nikon hoods I own. Very nice.

The lens handles nicely on the A200 - it's about the right size and weight, and the rubber grip around the zoom is, well, nice and grippy :-)  It doesn't make too much noise when focusing (no more than my Minolta 35-70mm f4) and latched on to focus quickly (outside in bright daylight). So far, so good.

I've purchased this as a landscape lens, so my initial test was with this in mind. I set the A200 to ISO 100, shooting RAW, and worked in aperture priority with the aperture set to f8. This should give me a fairly good idea as to the overall sharpness on the Tokina when used for landscapes. When I actually get it out into the field for some real landscape work, I'll probably go to at least f11 or f16 - and use a tripod - but for a quick test using the lens hand-held, f8 was fine.

As you can see from the few images posted here, f8 was more than enough for back-to-front sharp images. These were all shot at the 19mm setting - although as other reviewers have noted about this lens, the metadata would suggest that the Tokina is actually shooting at 20mm?

That would mean I'm getting an equivalent field of view of a 30mm lens in traditional film terms - not 'ultra' wide, but wide enough. And because the Tokina is a full-frame compatible lens, once I upgrade to a full-frame Sony camera, then the 19/20mm will really be a 19/20mm!

But talk of 'ultra-wide' aside, the first few images I've taken with this lens on the A200 have been very positive. Really nice colors, good contrast, lots of detail, and great front-to-back sharpness from the f8 aperture. Initial impressions are that the Tokina 19-35mm well deserves its legendary status as the 'plastic fantastic'.

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