Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Review

Out of the 10 DSLR lenses Tokina currently lists on their website, 6 are wide angle zooms (and 1 is an even wider fisheye zoom). Obviously, Tokina is specializing in wide angle zooms. What differentiates the 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens from the rest of Tokina's wide angle lenses, and from most other brands' ultra-wide angle lenses, is the ultra-wide f/2 max aperture, available throughout the entire focal length range.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Top View with Hood

Focal Length / Focal Length Range

Tokina gives this lens a "DX" designation, meaning that it is designed for APS-C (1.6x field of view crop factor) DSLR cameras. On these cameras, the 14-20mm angle of view is similar to a 22.4-32mm lens mounted on a full frame body. Based on the currently available zoom lenses with max apertures wider than f/2.8, a short focal length range is a trade-off we should be willing to accept for the wider aperture.

The (1.4x) focal length range is relatively short, but ... it is significantly longer than a prime lens provides. And, the usefulness of this range is high – higher than that of any prime within or close to this range.

Wide angle lenses, by definition, have a wide angle of view that allows a vast amount of scenery into the frame. They are commonly used in situations that do not permit a long working distance (such as in a small room) or to emphasize the subjects closer to the camera in relation to the background (such as a flower in front of a mountain landscape).

The latter example is a great use for this focal length range – landscape photography. This lens' range covers many of my most-used landscape focal lengths. Cityscapes, essentially landscape photos of cities, are a capability of this focal length range.

This focal length range works well for environmental portraits of individuals and groups captured at an immense range of locations ranging from beautiful gardens to birthday parties in small rooms. This focal length range is very event-useful. Think weddings, banquets, parties, family gatherings, etc. Note that, for portraits framed tighter than half or 2/3 body, a longer focal length than this lens has available will often be a better choice due to the more-desirable perspective they provide.

Photojournalism similarly makes use of this range as does large product, architectural and interior photography. The list goes on and on, but hopefully you have some ideas in mind. The included focal lengths are popular with videographers pursuing the same above-described uses and for documentary capture.

Here is an example of what this focal length range looks like.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Focal Length Range Example

Max Aperture

What this lens lacks in focal length range, it makes up for in max aperture. In the overall lens population, f/2 is a relatively fast aperture. The fastest lenses typically have f/1.4 max apertures (allowing 2x as much light to reach the imaging sensor) and there are a couple of f/1.2 options available. But, to date, Sigma is the only other lens manufacturer offering zoom lenses with apertures wider than f/2.8. The wide angle zoom options in that category are the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens (also an APS-C lens) and Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Lens. Obviously, neither lens is close to 14mm in angle of view, leaving the 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens in a class of its own.

Prime lenses often have very wide apertures, but ... not primes wider than 20mm. This is the first, and currently only, wider-than-f/2.8 lens to cover focal lengths below 18mm, regardless of its prime or zoom characteristic. That the f/2 aperture is available over the entire zoom range is itself a nice feature of this lens.

With its wide aperture, stopping motion (camera and subject) in low light is a big strength of this lens. Another advantage is that, even though wide angle focal lengths on an APS-C body are not going to create the strongest background blur, this lens' f/2 aperture allows it to create a stronger background blur than any other zoom lens covering the sub-18mm focal length range. With an f/2 aperture, MFD and a distant background in combination, these two examples show the maximum background blur this lens can create.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Maximum Blur Example

While the trees and landscape remain identifiable, this is a relatively strong blur that can effectively be used in imagery. Note that this comparison shows another example of the focal length range.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens on Tripod, Front View

Image Quality

According to Tokina, "The 14-20mm F2 has an all-new proprietary optical design that uses three aspherical lens elements (2 all-glass molded and 1 P-MO hybrid) to achieve superior contrast, sharpness, and correct for spherical aberrations. Additionally, Tokina uses four SD (Super-low Dispersion, “FK01” and FK03”) glass elements to control chromatic aberrations."

If you've already looked at the Tokina 14-20mm f/2's results in the site's image quality comparison tool, I have some good news for you. Things are at least somewhat better than they first appear. The left side of the frame is sharper than the right and with the tool showing the top right crops, you've seen worst case. Here is an example showing the four f/2 resolution chart corners at 20mm:

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Uneven Sharpness

Remember that the Neutral Picture Style (low contrast) with a sharpness setting of "1" is used for these crops. Along with the good news comes some bad. All four corners in this image should appear equal in sharpness, so there is a slight quality issue at play here. Apparently there is some mild misalignment in the review copy of this lens.

More good news is that this lens copy performs more evenly at longer focus distances. I'll share some examples below showing the top left corner of the frame (to insure you see the best) as well as a more-distant-focused top-right extremity crop in a night sky image to best illustrate the total image quality from this lens.

At 14mm, this lens is very sharp in the center of the frame and shows very little improvement when stopped down. As the focal length is increased, the center of the frame gradually softens until somewhat soft at 20mm. If using the image quality tool for comparisons, don't confuse size of the chart details with indication of sharpness. Distortion (described soon) is responsible for detail size differentials in these comparisons. Look most closely for the much-desired sharp transition between white and black areas of the chart as well as the blackness relative to the whiteness.

Stopping down to f/2.8 makes little difference in the center of the 14mm frame, but brings the long end up to a very sharp description. Stopping down further results in little sharpness change in the center. Let's look at some real world examples.

The following images are center of the frame, 100% resolution crops that were captured in RAW format with an Canon EOS 80D. These images were processed in DPP using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "1".

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

As promised, following are top left of the frame samples captured identically to the above.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

The 14mm f/2 sample appears decent, but a significant improvement is seen at f/2.8 where this lens performs quite well. At f/4, the extreme corner sharpens noticeably and little improvement is achieved by stopping down further.

In the 20mm example, pay closest attention to the large foreground tree trunk toward the left side. Watch as the tree gradually sharpens with narrower apertures until it becomes very sharp at f/5.6.

Seen in the corner examples above is some vignetting. With just over 1 stop of corner shading, the amount is relatively mild for an f/2 lens used at f/2. Vignetting clears with narrower apertures until reaching about .5 stops in f/5.6 corners. Little change is seen beyond f/5.6.

A moderate amount of lateral (transverse) CA is seen in the corners throughout the entire focal length range. A 100% crop from the top right corners of 14mm and 20mm images are seen below.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens CA Example

Purple fringing, axial CA and similar do not appear to be strong impacting issues for this lens. Strong color fringing is not seen at or near the point of focus in this subject that readily highlights these aberrations.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

Note that the above image is a 50%-reduced crop – reduced to show more potentially affected subject matter.

Flare is an aberration that is very difficult to post process out of some images and it is present in an average amount in Tokina 14-20 f/2 images captured with a bright light in the corner of the frame.

Coma is generally recognized by sharp detail contrast towards the center of an image and long, soft contrast transition toward the image periphery. Coma is most visible in wide aperture corners and significantly resolves when the lens is stopped down. The pin-point stars in the night sky are the subject that brings this aberration out most easily for me. Here is a 100% crop taken from the top right corner of an EOS 80D frame.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Coma

Though these stars are not completely round, they look good in comparison to what many other lenses produce.

This lens has a slightly unusual linear distortion profile. While the moderate barrel distortion at the wide end is not unusual nor is the very low distortion present in the mid focal lengths, the long end of the range does not continue into pincushion distortion as most zoom lenses do. The distortion at 20mm is very mild, but it appears to have a slight wave or mustache curve to it. The following examples are crops showing the top of full width (resized) images.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens CA Example

I have nothing unusual to report in regards to bokeh. Here are some f/5.6 examples showing out-of-focus specular highlights.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Bokeh Example

As the specular highlight borders reveal, this lens has a 9-bladed diaphragm. With an odd-numbered aperture blade count, distant point light sources showing a star-like effect will have 18 points due to the odd number blade count.

Overall, the 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens turns in attractive image quality and I would expect a properly aligned lens to perform even slightly better in terms of sharpness.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Side

Focusing

The Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens internally focuses with modest speed, though a full extent autofocus change will be noticeable in timeframe. Autofocusing is relatively quiet, but an audible shhhh between clicks and clunks is generally heard.

To get the most out of a lens' image quality of course requires the lens to be focused accurately. When a lens consistently focuses slightly in front of or behind a subject, calibration can be adjusted either by the manufacturer or via AF Microadjustment in-camera (if that feature is available). However, if the lens focuses inconsistently, there is less hope for correction. When a lens has a wide aperture, shallow depth of field can be obtained and focus precision becomes more critical.

Unfortunately, my AF experience with this lens was not great. Here are 100% crops taken from 10 consecutively captured 14mm f/2 images of a not-yet-finished work of art, all with autofocus intitiated from a slightly de-focused position.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens AF Consistency Example

These images were a small selection from a much larger test group and show the typical results from this lens. An EOS 60D was used for this particular test and results were similar in EOS 80D-based testing. I'm not looking for sharpness in this test, but I want all to appear similar, showing consistency. If the subject is somewhat far away and/or a narrow aperture is used, AF accuracy is less critical and results from this lens are better.

The Tokina 14-20 f/2 does not have FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing available, but the focus ring does not turn during autofocusing.

Tokina has said that their "... exclusive One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism allows the photographer to switch between AF and MF simply by snapping the focus ring forward for AF and back toward the lens mount for manual focusing." [Tokina]

As I've said before, Tokina's MF clutch system is not my favorite design and seems antiquated. When pulling rearward on the focus ring to engage MF mode, the gear teeth must be aligned. When the gears do not mesh perfectly, the focus ring is inadvertently rotated a small amount with the shift process. If you autofocus and then switch to MF mode, the autofocus-set focus distance may not be precisely maintained. The ring shifting also results in an audible "snap" if you are not carefully avoiding this. Your wedding guests are going to hear the noise during the ceremony unless you exhibit this care.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Side View with Hood

The manual focus ring partially slides up under the raised portion of the lens barrel. This hard edge is easy to find.

The manual focus ring is very smooth with a small amount of play, very light resistance and a relatively wide range of adjustment for an ultra-wide angle lens. The front filter threads on this lens do not rotate during focusing. Video shooters will also appreciate the lack of focus breathing – subject size and framing does not change with focus adjustment. If not completely so, this lens copy of the 14-20 is very close to being parfocal (focus distance adjustment is not required after zooming). This feature means that you *might* be able to get away with zooming during video recording without having to adjust focus at the same time, especially with a narrow aperture in use.

While it may be best in class for its wide aperture, the Tokina 14-20mm f/2 ties for last place in the MM (Maximum Magnification) category. A wide angle lens, with its low inherent magnification, requires a very short MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) to render subjects large in the frame.

ModelMFDMM
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens9.4"(239mm)0.13x
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens8.7"(220mm)0.15x
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens9.4"(240mm)0.15x
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens9.4"(240mm)0.15x
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens9.4"(240mm)0.17x
Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX Lens9.5"(241mm)0.20x
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens9.4"(240mm)0.20x
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens11.8"(300mm)0.09x
Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens11.0"(280mm)0.12x
Tokina 12-28mm f/4.0 AT-X Pro DX Lens9.8"(250mm)0.20x
Nikon 12-24mm f/4G AF-S DX Lens12.0"(305mm)0.12x
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG II HSM Lens11.0"(280mm)0.17x
Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens11.0"(280mm)0.12x
Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens13.8"(350mm)0.21x
Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E AF-S DX VR Lens13.8"(350mm)0.22x
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens11.0"(280mm)0.23x

To see what this MM looks like, here is an approximately 4" (102mm) wide flower captured at MFD.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Minimum Focus Distance and Maximum Magnification Example

This image was captured using a wide open f/2 aperture.

Reducing MFD and MM can often be accomplished using extension tubes, but only a very short ET will work behind this lens. With a 12mm ET mounted, the MFD is precisely against the end of the lens at 20mm. You will need a backlit subject to photograph at that distance.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens on Tripod

Build Quality & Features

Altough the Tokina's design appears ready for a makeover, it does not seem to be a poor quality lens. Especially notable is the zoom ring, featuring no play, a nice resistance and a coarsely-ribbed raised rubber surface that is ideally located and is easy to find. Note that the focal lengths are oriented on the ring similar to Nikon lenses (opposite of Canon lenses). The front lens element retracts within the lens barrel when 20mm is selected and, extended fully at 14mm, remains within the confines of the lens barrel.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated        Compare »

This lens has no switches or other external moving parts aside from the focus and zoom rings already discussed.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Mount

A rear mount gasket indicates that some level of weather sealing is being provided, but I am not clear regarding the extent of this sealing.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Center View

Although this lens' size and weight are very nice to use, this is easily the heavyweight of its class. Though only modestly longer than the other lenses, the extra glass required to obtain an f/2 aperture makes a noticeable weight difference.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens19.6 oz(555g)3.0 x 4.2"(75.0 x 105.7mm)n/a2010
Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens8.5 oz(240g)2.9 x 2.8"(74.6 x 72mm)67mm2014
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens18.4 oz(520g)3.4 x 3.5"(87.3 x 88.2mm)82mm2010
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens16.6 oz(470g)3.3 x 3.2"(83.3 x 81mm)77mm2008
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens13.6 oz(385g)3.3 x 3.5"(84 x 90mm)77mm2004
Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX Lens16.2 oz(460g)3.2 x 3.4"(82.5 x 87mm)77mm2009
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens14.3 oz(406g)3.3 x 3.4"(83.2 x 86.5mm)77mm2010
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens19.4 oz(550g)3.3 x 3.5"(84 x 89.2mm)77mm2012
Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens19.8 oz(560g)3.5 x 3.6"(89 x 92mm)82mm2015
Tokina 12-28mm f/4.0 AT-X Pro DX Lens18.7 oz(530g)3.3 x 3.6"(84 x 90.2mm)77mm2013
Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens25.6 oz(725g)3.5 x 4.2"(89 x 106mm)82mm2016
Nikon 12-24mm f/4G AF-S DX Lens16.4 oz(465g)3.2 x 3.5"(82.5 x 90mm)77mm2003
Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens20.3 oz(575g)3.2 x 3.4"(81.6 x 87.5mm)72mm2009
Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4E AF-S DX VR Lens16.9 oz(480g)3.1 x 3.4"(80 x 85.5mm)72mm2015

For many more comparisons, review the complete Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

I'll share a couple of visual comparisons showing a selection of wide angle zoom lenses. The first image shows all lenses in their most-retracted positions. Remember, some lenses including many wide angle lenses, are most-retracted (at least the front element is most retracted), at their longest focal length. Also note that the Tokina lens mount caps are shallower than Canon's caps – the lenses are aligned on their mounts.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens
Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens
Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens to other lenses.

While not small or inexpensive, the 82mm filters accepted by this lens have become an increasingly common size, making sharing easier without a step-up filter adapter ring needed. And, most smaller filter-threaded lenses can use 82mm filters with a step-up ring adapter if desired.

Though I see a barely noticeable difference in vignetting when using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter, I'd choose a slim variant for this lens regardless.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Angle View with Hood

The Tokina BH-823 lens hood is included in the box. This all-plastic, ringed interior lens hood is reasonably rigid and offers some meaningful protection to the end of the lens. Protection from both bright lights and from moderate impacts.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Cap

No lens case is included in the box. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case for a very nice and affordable solutions for single lens storage, transport and carry.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Top View

Price and Value

This Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens is priced in the higher range of available APS-C lenses, as might be expected for a "Pro" line lens with the widest aperture available. It is hard to place a value on a lens with no direct alternatives. I think that this lens is reasonably priced for the feature set if offers, especially the f/2 max aperture.

The Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens is available in Canon (reviewed) and Nikon mounts. My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third party lenses. Since Tokina reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer AF algorithms, there is always the possibility that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Usually a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update (send-in service), but this cannot be guaranteed. There is also the risk of a problem that results in the lens and body manufacturers directing blame at each other. These issues are infrequent today, but awareness is important. Tokina provides a limited 3-year warranty with this lens.

The reviewed Tokina 14-20 was online retail acquired.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Angle View

Alternatives to the Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens

If you are looking for an f/2 max aperture lens wider than 18mm, as of review time, your search is over. There is no other lens offering this feature.

The f/2 aperture is very useful, but if you are willing to sacrifice that feature, you can save some size, weight and money. If f/2.8 is wide enough, the Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX II Lens are your currently available wide angle APS-C zoom lens options.

At review time, the 11-16 is priced 50% less than the 14-20. The 14-20 is a bit sharper than the 11-16 at f/2.8 and equivalent focal lengths; however, the 11-16 does not have much focal length range overlap with the 14-20.

The 11-20 is priced modestly higher than the 11-16, but still significantly less than the 14-20 and it completely covers the 14-20mm focal length range while adding noticeably to the wide end. With zooming required to reach 14mm, the 11-20 has less distortion at this focal length. The 11-20 is slightly sharper at the widest-matching aperture (f/2.8).

If most important to you is simply the focal length range that you need to cover, there are plethora of options, many of which are included in the tables on this page. You may find that a camera brand-matching lens provides the best autofocus performance with the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens and EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens being the Canon brand options.

Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Front View

Summary

While not good, the uneven sharpness issue I encountered is not likely pervasive among copies of this lens model. I am more uneasy about the AF inconsistency I experienced, this being the only reservation I have in recommending this lens model. The push/pull MF ring setup is not my favorite and this lens is not going to win any beauty pageants, but ... the images from this lens just might win a photo contest. The focal length range, though short, is a very useful complement to most kits and having an f/2 aperture in this range sets this lens apart. The Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens is ready to capture your low light indoor and outdoor events.

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My Recommended Tokina 14-20mm f/2 AT-X Pro DX Lens Retailers

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