Tokina AT-X 840 AF for Pentax 80-400 mm Lens For Pentax Reviews

Tokina AT-X 840 AF for Pentax 80-400 mm Lens For Pentax

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An excellent alternative to the Canon EF 100-400mm L IS

Nov 26, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Compact, light, excellent handling, good optical quality, excellent build quality, value for money

Cons:No stabilization, no USM motor

The Bottom Line: Need IS and USM? Then buy the Canon, it's a great lens. Otherwise buy the Tokina, it more compact, lighter, cheaper, well built, and of excellent quality.


I bought this lens after looking long and hard at the Canon EF 100-400mm L IS on the basis of its compact size (5.4" versus 8"), relatively low weight (2lbs rather than 3lbs), handling, and of course price (about 1/3 the cost of the Canon lens). The Canon lens was BIG and HEAVY by comparison. It is also is of the push-pull zoom type which I dislike, preferring the good old rotating collar action.

The Canon's USM motor meant it appeared to be sometimes faster and certainly quieter in focusing. But the Tokina is pretty quiet, though not silent, and is also pretty good in the focusing speed department in its own right. Subjectively there did not seem much in it e.g. I have used the Tokina to capture motor sports with no problems at all.

Optically the Tokina is just fine, and I have not seen (at least with the naked eye) the sometimes reported softness at the 400mm end.

Whether the image stabilzer feature of the Canon lens is an advantage or not, is a bit moot. I own and have used other Canon IS lenses and they do indeed do as Canon claim - they allow you to hand hold at 1 to 2 shutter speeds slower than normal. But even these have their limits, and the IS technology probably goes some way to explain why their 100-400 zoom is so relatively bulky and heavy. I regularly hand jold the Tokina, though I must admit to using 400ASA film when I do. I guess if you are a professional user trying to squeeze the last drop of resolution out of Velvia slide film, the IS feature could be of real benefit.

The final plus for the Tokina is its excellent black finish rather than the much more obtrusive white of the Canon lens.

So is the Tokina an excellent alternative to the Canon, well the answer is a qualified "yes". I have to admit I still have a longing for Canon L lenses, as L stands for luxury and they are indeed luxurious lenses capable of producing fabulous images. But then Tokina produce excellent glass and pro level build quality in their own lenses too.

So if you think you need the IS feature and can afford it then buy the Canon lens; but if you don't need it or are like me on a budget, don't hesitate to buy the Tokina - it's excellent.


Recommend this product? Yes

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