The Tokina AT-X Pro SD 12-24mm F4 (IF) DX is a member of an original triumvirate of third party wideangle zooms which were introduced just as affordable APS-C format DSLRs started to become mainstream products, along with the Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM and Tamron SP AF 11-18mm F4.5-5.6 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF). It first became available in 2004, and has since acquired a reputation as solid performer in its class. Tokina's technical details for the lens are (typically for the company) somewhat sparse, but reveal an optical formula of 13 elements in 11 groups, which features 2 aspherical elements plus SD glass elements to combat aberrations. One other outstanding feature is a one-touch focus clutch mechanism, which allows the user to switch from auto to manual focus simply by pulling the focus ring towards the camera.

Tokina has recently updated this lens; most importantly, the new 'II' model adds an autofocus motor for Nikon users (allowing AF on the D40 / D40X / D60 bodies), but also features improved coatings to reduce flare, plus a distinguishing red stripe on the name badge. However the underying optical and mechanical design remains the same, so Canon users will benefit only from the new coatings. Because these changes are relatively minor, and availability of the 'II' version is limited, we have chosen to use the original version for this review.

Tokina clearly cooperates very closely with Pentax (and its parent company Hoya), and even a cursory glance at the respective lens lineups shows many designs in common. The Pentax smc DA 12-24mm F4 ED AL (IF) shares many of its vital statistics with the Tokina, and appears to use an essentially identical optical design, although in a lighter body styled similarly to mid-range zooms such as the 17-70mm F4. It therefore seems likely that the performance of these two 12-24mm lenses will be very similar.

Of course the Tokina's major competitive disadvantage is its relatively limited wide end; many buyers will choose the Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 or Tamron 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 instead, based simply on field of view considerations. Tokina has recently addressed this (at least partially) with a new 11-16mm F2.8, but this sells alongside the 12-24mm at a higher cost (and unfortunately is not yet available to us for review). And while the F4 constant maximum aperture is sure to be an attraction for some users, Sigma has attempted to trump this with its recently-announced, although not yet shipping 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM. With this pressure from all sides, does the 12-24mm F4 have anything left on offer to tempt the discerning photographer?

Headline features

  • Ultra-wideangle 18-36mm equivalent focal length range
  • F4 constant maximum aperture
  • Available for Canon and Nikon mounts
  • Designed for APS-C/DX format DSLRs only

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range (on Nikon DX format, 1.5x).

12mm (18mm equivalent) 24mm (36mm equivalent)

Tokina AT-X Pro SD 12-24mm F4 (IF) DX specifications

Street price • US: $490 ($580 for 'II' version)
• UK: £440 (£450 for 'II' version)
Date introduced 2004
Maximum format size APS-C/DX
Focal length 12-24mm
35mm equivalent focal length
• 18-36mm (1.5x DX)
• 19-38mm (1.6x APS-C)
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 99º - 61º
Maximum aperture F4
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 13 elements/11 groups
• SD glass elements
•2 sharp-cut aspherical elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9
Minimum focus 0.30m
Maximum magnification 0.13x
AF motor type Micro Motor (Canon mount versions and Nikon mount 'II' version)
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization None
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories* • Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood BH-777
Optional accessories Fitted case
Weight 570 g (20.1 oz)
Dimensions 84 mm diameter x 89.5 mm length
(3.3 x 3.5 in)
Lens Mount Canon EF, Nikon F

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area