Is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 terribly difficult to manual focus?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by M-5, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. M-5 macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2008
    I own a Nikon D5000 and a 35mm 1.8 lens, and I'm planning on purchasing another lens as a Christmas gift, and I think what I need most right now is a wide-angle lens.

    I don't own the kit lens, so I've been using the 35mm for a little over a year, and with the 35mm being almost 50mm on my crop body, I've found it to be difficult to photograph group family photos or some things indoors.

    I was looking at many lenses and was considering a 20mm prime, but on my camera it would be 30mm, and that's not wide enough, so I've almost decided on the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 because of how wide it is and how relatively fast it is (for indoor shots), except for the fact that I'll have to manually focus this lens. It's around $600, and I won't be able to buy anything that's more expensive, so does anyone have experience with manually focusing it, or would anyone like to recommend anything else?

    I'll also eventually need something with more reach than the 35mm for the telephoto end, and I was considering getting the 85mm 1.8 perhaps next year since it's relatively inexpensive, but I'd also have to manually focus it as well.

    The only experience I have manually focusing is with my 35mm 1.8 when I switch the lens to Manual, and for me it's almost impossible to get the focus right. I just can't tell when the subject is in focus, and I was wondering if every other lens would give me the same experience.
  2. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Unless you really need the f/2.8, you might want to consider the Tokina 12-24 f/4 (version II) which has a built-in motor that would AF on your camera. Image quality is similar to the 11-16, and a much more useful range, IMHO. Also, it's less money, equal build quality.
    I have the original version of this lens, and I've never felt it wasn't fast enough at f/4.
  3. TheReef macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2007
    NSW, Australia.
    ^ I'm with pdxflint here and would suggest the Tokina 12-24mm.

    For "indoors family shots" I'm thinking the 11-16mm will be way to wide to be flattering (people on the edges of the frame will stretch out).

    Rather than the f/2.8 aperture, you might want to consider some external lighting for photographing people, and using a tripod for things like capturing a large static room.

    Dof at shorter focal lengths will be greater, so it will be easier to manually focus than your 35mm f/1.8, I don't think you'd enjoy doing it though.

    My vote would be for the 12-24mm because of it's (imo) more suitable range, and it's inbuilt focus motor.
  4. MSM Hobbes macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2006
    NE Hoosierana
    Guess I'm a bit confused... this lens does have both AF and MF modes - at least mine does, that goes onto my Canon. Does not the Nikon version have AF too? :confused: In any case, this is a great lens, is fast AF, sturdy build, great colors, and has the fast aperture for low light / interior conditions, and times when you can't / don't want to use a flash. Seriously, it all depends on what you want to use the lens for... portraits, landscapes, nature, macros, architecture, etc., there are lens that best fit each and some of these styles. Just depends on you. And the Tokina 116 is excellent for some of these. Its biggest negative is that it doesn't have the range of the 12-24... but then the 12-24 doesn't have the fast aperture. Trade-off. So, which is more important to you? As said, I've the 11-16, and also a Canon 70-200 f4 IS, 55-250 (macro), and 28-135, the latter two being kit lens, but honestly quite good ones. But nevertheless, I'm acquiring a Canon 17-55, so will have range from 11 - 200 covered with quality glass,,, plus a true macro [Sigma 135 soon to be released] and a true portrait [50 f/1.4]. Sorry about that, I digress a bit, but to give a bit of background as to why for me, the 116 is a great fit, and why I'd recommend it.
  5. M-5 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2008
    Thank you guys for the feedback. It was a difficult decision for me, but I decided to go with the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, because I figured that the extra speed would be really helpful when I shoot indoors where I'll be using this lens a lot.

    @TheReef: I forgot about the fact that DoF will be greater on this shorter focal length, so thanks for bringing that up. I'm thinking that it focusing should be much more manageable than with my 35mm 1.8.

    @MSM Hobbes: The lens that I bought will only autofocus on the Nikon camera bodies that have the internal focusing mechanism, which mine unfortunately doesn't have. I'm not sure how this applies to their lenses for Canon systems since I'm pretty sure their mounts and focusing mechanisms are completely different.

    I'm not concerned very much by the smaller range of the focal length compared to the 12-24mm, because I was originally considering getting a prime and don't even own a zoom, so I don't think I'll be bothered very much by it.

    And I agree about considering some external lighting, but I'll just have to hold off on that until I can afford it.
  6. Abstract, Dec 15, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2010

    Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    For indoor photos, it will be wide enough the majority of the time. Heck, I think it's too wide, especially for family group photos (unless you have 10 brothers and sisters or something). I suppose if you want to get their entire body into the photo (and how boring would those photos be....), shooting just from the shoulders and up is OK for me. If it's not OK for you, then just get a 24 mm or 28 mm prime.

    I have a Sigma 30 mm f/1.4, and I think it's fantastic for indoor photos of 2 or 3 people. Beyond 3 people, it gets a bit crowded.

    Regardless, I'd get a prime lens for indoor photos. If you shoot with a wide-angle zoom, there's always too much distortion, and it either makes people look much fatter than they are, or much thinner. It distorts too much to be used people photography.

    Prime lenses are much faster, much sharper (not that important for people, but still....), and better overall. Sorry, but f/2.8 isn't fast --- not if you're talking about indoor photography. My Sigma 30mm and 50 mm f/1.4 lenses are great indoors. My Tokina 12-24 mm? Not so much, and it wouldn't be usable at f/2.8 either unless I used flash.

    As for manual focusing, it's very difficult to manual focus when using a wide-angle lens because everything appears so far away. You need to rely on that focus "dot" that appears on the bottom-left corner of the viewfinder when your subject is focused, and personally, I hate doing that. I'd use it, but I also like the ability to use my own vision to double-check. With a longer lens that can get closer up to the subject, you'd have more details to judge focus.

    On the other hand, a wide-angle lens like the Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 is probably very easy to manually focus because their depth-of-field of is very long (due to the short focal lengths of the lens), and so you don't need to nail the focusing to get sharp photos all the time. Everything that's 1' behind your family, and 1' in front of them, will probably be considered "sharp".
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Seconded, that's the main reason the Sigma is my always on lens :)
  8. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2008
    I think it would be pretty similar on other lenses. Entry-level DSLRs aren't really made with manual focusing in mind, apart from focusing with live-view. I think the focusing screen on entry-level cameras prioritize clarity over focus accuracy, meaning it's very hard to manual focus...

Share This Page