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A Quick Review of Tokina’s New 11-16mm DX V-Lens + How It Stacks Up To The Original

Tokina’s 11-16mm lens has been somewhat of a legend amongst indie filmmakers and photographers alike, largely because it’s one of the only non-fisheye wide angle zooms out there, Not to mention it’s constant F2.8 aperture is almost unheard of on this type of glass. While the original 11-16 is still as relevant as ever, Tokina has now developed a new version of their flagship zoom lens that offers some improvements over it’s predecessor – most notably an integrated follow focus ring.

 

Tokina DX V 11-16mm lens review

 

Before we jump into the new DX V Lens, it’s worth noting that Tokina has offered more traditional cinema lenses for some time now. For instance, the Tokina Cinema 11-16mm T3.0 is a fully functioning cinema lens, equipped with manual aperture and focus, a geared iris ring, PL mount option, and more.

 

Tokina Cinema Lens

 

The new V-Lens however, fits right in the middle of their original Tokina 11-16mm and their higher end cinema model. Like the original 11-16, the DX V has both autofocus and manual focus (which can be switched easily by pulling the focus barrel up or down), and the overall housing and size of the two lenses are virtually the same. Take a look at the two side by side:

 

tokina 11-16 dx v lens comparison

 

At first glance, the only physical differences between the lenses appear to be the geared follow focus ring, and the red markings on the DX V. But under the hood, there have been some other improvements made to the glass itself. Here’s a quote from Tokina:

Razor sharp images are achieved through the inclusion of a new aspherical lens and super-low dispersion glass. 

A PM-O aspherical lens element is placed in the front group. This element working in combination with the glass-molded aspherical lens placed in the rear group corrects or various aberrations while ideally correcting distortions as well. The further correction of chromatic aberrations is achieved through the use of two more elements of SD (Super-Low Dispersion) glass “FK03” which is essentially close to fluorite glass.

So how different do these lenses actually perform in reality? I took a few test shots to find out, and while it’s no surprise that the lenses are quite similar in almost every regard, there were a couple of noticeable differences.

It’s worth noting that I aimed to test out these lenses much in the way that I would actually shoot with them: At their widest focal length and aperture. All of the tests below were captured at 11mm/F2.8 for consistency.

The goal with the first test shot I took was to see which lens would be sharper at it’s closest focal length.

Tokina 11-16mm DX V / 11mm @ F2.8

TOKINA_V_1

Tokina 11-16mm DX / 11mm @ F2.8

TOKINA_R_1

The first and most obvious thing I noticed here was that the original 11-16 DX lens was unable to achieve focus at the same distance as the newer DX V Lens (you may need to click to enlarge the images to see this). Even though all the camera and lens settings were identical, the DX V was able to focus at a slightly closer distance, which was surprising. In order to get the original 11-16 DX lens to focus properly, I had to move it back several inches. This is what the frame looked like after repositioning the camera:

TOKINA_R_1_1

The next thing I wanted to test was the sharpness of both lenses at infinity focus, and under difficult circumstances. To do this, I captured a wide landscape shot of the hills from my balcony, and set my camera to a windowed crop mode. This allowed me to punch in closer on the shot in-camera, to reveal any sharpness/softness differences between the lenses more obviously. It’s also the reason why the images below aren’t tack-sharp.

Tokina 11-16mm DX V / 11mm @ F2.8

TOKINA_V_2

Tokina 11-16mm DX / 11mm @ F2.8

TOKINA_R_2

In this regard I think it’s basically a wash. When zoomed in as far as 400% on my monitor, there was almost no discernible difference in sharpness between the two lenses. That said, there were some minor differences in the color and luminance between the lenses. The DX V Lens seemed to let in slightly more light than the original DX Lens. To test this point more clearly, I did a low light test with the lenses.

The shots below were captured at ISO 200 and with an 11.25 degree shutter angle so I could avoid using any ND filters on the lenses.

Tokina 11-16mm DX V / 11mm @ F2.8

TOKINA_V_3

Tokina 11-16mm DX / 11mm @ F2.8

TOKINA_V_4

Again, the lenses are a very close match in this test, but there is a slight increase in exposure on the newer DX V Lens. It’s almost unnoticeable at first glance, but it is there. To my eye I would say it’s about 1/4 of a stop difference, which is certainly not life changing – but nonetheless worth noting.

WHO IS THE DX V LENS FOR?

Some of you might be wondering where the new DX V Lens fits into the Tokina family. After all, they already make the original DX Lens which is an excellent option for filmmakers on a tight budget, and the higher end Cinema 11-16mm which is ideal for filmmakers who need a more professional option.

Personally, I think the DX V Lens does have a place, although it’s probably with a specific type of shooter. For someone that shoots both stills and video professionally, and more specifically someone that needs a follow focus – this is an excellent option. Obviously a larger scale professional production is going to want manual aperture and will not need to autofocus setting offered on this lens. But for one-man-band shooters that float between stills (needing autofocus capabilities) and video, this is a viable alternative to the original Tokina 11-16mm DX.

While there are some slight differences in the image quality between the original Tokina 11-16mm and the DX V version, really it just comes down to the geared focus. Since both the DX and DX V have a physical shifting mechanism on the focus barrel, they are not always ideal to use with 3rd party follow focus gears. The fact that you need to constantly pull the barrel of the lens to change the focus setting, means that you need a rock solid gear in place – and having one built right in is going to give you far more stability than most aftermarket gears that aren’t designed to be used on this type of a barrel.

That’s about it for now.

Be sure to check back soon for more gear reviews, filmmaking tips, and behind the scenes content!

 

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

12 Comments

  • m s khan
    September 29, 2016 at 5:54 am

    dear Noam, thanks for detailed review i am much impressed and planning to buy this 11-16 Dx-v lens but it is not available in B&H if you have any other source kindly send me.

    regards
    ms khan

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 5, 2016 at 12:39 am

      Hi Ms Khan! I would contact Tokina directly via their website as it seems like it isn’t in stock in most US retailers at the moment.

      Reply
  • Maurice Rivenbark
    August 21, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Thanks for the review! I like the minimalist looking focus setup. Can you share the make?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 23, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Hey Maurice! The focus ring is actually built into the lens. That’s the whole beauty of it…

      Reply
      • Maurice Rivenbark
        January 15, 2017 at 4:02 am

        Thanks, but I meant the follow focus rig attached to the lens. Is this one your fav and if so please pass along the brand and model. Thanks!

        Reply
        • Noam Kroll
          January 23, 2017 at 9:24 pm

          Oh! Sorry Maurice – that is actually not my photo. It’s a product shot, so I’m not 100% certain which FF system that is.

          Reply
  • Tom
    July 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I am not sure if the Sigma 8-16 (f/4.0) + SB XL (f/2.5) suit better my needs (micro four thirds)… But if Tokina, for the added reach, I would prefer the 11-20 version if that comes out 🙂

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 2, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      That 11-20 looks awesome! The Sigma 8-16 is a great lens to, but as you mentioned you really need to pair it with the speed booster to get the faster aperture, and then it becomes VERY wide.

      Reply
  • GBG
    July 23, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Is it I or this lens is everything except sharp?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      July 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      The 11-16 is actually very sharp! Both the original and the DX V, although as I mentioned at close focus the DX V is able to achieve a sharp image at a shorter focal distance. The pictures here are compressed jpegs, so they don’t perfectly represent the level of detail the lenses can produce.

      Reply
  • evan
    July 22, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    What’s the final verdict on the a6300?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      July 23, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      Haven’t used it yet – but I suspect that like most Sony cameras it’s achilles heel is it’s color science. I will try to get my hands on one soon to do a more detailed review…

      Reply

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