Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 vs Tamron 17-35 f/2.8-4 Wide Angle Review

In a continual pursuit to find not only the best, but most affordable wide angle lens for Canon, I have finally come to the Tokina 16-28 f/2.8.  I am fairly certain that at least for the time being, this is going to be my wide angle zoom of choice. I had previously purchased and raved about the Tamron 17-35 Di LD Aspherical IF.  It is a VERY nice lens for a GREAT price. The Tokina costs almost twice as much. Let’s see if it is worth it! Both are a FRACTION of the cost of a Canon 16-35 2.8 II L which I review in the following link

Tamron 17-35 vs Canon 16-35 2.8 II L Comparison Review

 

This Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 comes in in both Nikon and Canon EOS mounts. Each lens was mounted on a Canon 5D I.  The tests are not scientific, meaning they aren’t super controlled, with tripods, controlled lighting, etc.. .  I took many shots and kept the best from each. 9.9 out of 10 shots looked just like these, but you may notice slight differences in composition. This is in part due to the difference in focal lengths (Tamron 17mm and Tokinia 16mm).  I wanted to shoot both wide open at their widest since this is what interests a lot of photographers most.

Although each were shot at the exact same shutter speed, you may also notice some differences in exposure. The Tamron seems to underexpose by a stop while the Tokinia seems to slightly overexpose by 1/4 -1/2 stop or so.

 

Tamron 17-35 1:2.8-4 Test Review vs Tokinia 16-28 2.8

Tamron 17-35 1:2.8-4 Test Review vs Tokina 16-28 2.8

 

The first think I notice and jumps out at me is the difference in the distortion between the two lenses. The Tokina has slight distortion and while noticeable in this demanding test, is much better controlled than the Tamron. The Tamron is much more pronounced and in addition has “mustache” distortion which is very challenging to fix in post.

Here are some close ups starting with a comparison of the center resolution.

Center Crop

Center Crop

It is hard to distinguish with web files but the Tokina is slightly sharper. It was more noticeable when I was viewing in Lightroom. If I brought the exposure down on the Tokina and brought up the contrast a little it would show it is sharper.

Here is the bottom left corner comparison.

Tokinia 16-28 2.8 Corner Sharpness Test

Corner Sharpness Test – Bottom Left Corner

Here the Tokina looks a bit better as far as sharpness. Nothing extraordinary, but noticeable. What is far more noticeable is the “mustache” distortion as well as the heavy vignetting coming from the Tamron. The Tokina does surprisingly well!

Let look at upper left corner.

Upper Left Corner Crop

Upper Left Corner Crop

 

The Tokina is clearly sharper while the Tamron is very blurry. Vignetting is very noticeable as is the distortion.

Here is upper right.

Upper Right Corner Crop

Upper Right Corner Crop

 

Again the Tokina look quite remarkable in terms of sharpness, vignetting and distortion. The Tamron in comparison looks poor to my eyes.

Lets look at bottom right.

Tokinia vs Tamron Corner Sharpness Test

Tokina vs Tamron Corner Sharpness Test

 

Again the Tamron is not far behind in terms of sharpness, but the Tokina is clearly sharper with far less vignetting and distortion.

Lets look at another example comparing these two wide angle zoom lenses.

Wide Angle Comparison of the Tokinia 16-28 vs the Tamron 17-35

Wide Angle Comparison of the Tokina 16-28 vs the Tamron 17-35

 

In a real world example the Tamron doesn’t look so bad, but the Tokina when placed next to it, looks much better. Especially in terms of distortion and vignetting.
Here is a closer look cropped 1:1

Tokinia 16-28 2.8 vs Tamron 17-35 Center Crop Wide Open

Tokina 16-28 2.8 vs Tamron 17-35 Center Crop Wide Open

 

Again the resolution is not as noticeable as it was when I was viewing in Lightroom. They look pretty similar. Differences in sharpness are almost indistinguishable.

Lets look at both zoomed to 28mm @ f3.5 (the Tokina has a constant aperture of 2.8 throughout zoom range, but I wanted to level the playing field here).

 

Tokina vs Tamron Sharpness Wide Angle Test Comparison

Tokina vs Tamron Sharpness Wide Angle Test Comparison

 

Center Crop 1:1

Tokina 16-28 vs Tamron 17-35 Sharpness Test

Tokina 16-28 vs Tamron 17-35 Sharpness Test

 

Here the difference is a bit more noticeable, but not dramatic in terms of sharpness.

Next lets look at bokeh. Though wide angel lenses are not known or often judged for their bokeh, I thought I would do a test to compare.

Tokina vs Tamron Bokeh Wide Angle Test Comparison

Tokina vs Tamron Bokeh Wide Angle Test Comparison

 

Here is a 1:1 crop

Tokina vs Tamron Sharpness Wide Angle Bokeh Comparison

Tokina vs Tamron Sharpness Wide Angle Bokeh Comparison

 

In terms of bokeh I think the Tokina has an advantage. It is more creamy.

Here is another example which shows less of a difference other than the slight halo’s coming from the Tamron.

Tamron 17-35 1:2.8-4 vs Tokinia 16-28 2.8 Bokeh Test

Tamron 17-35 1:2.8-4 vs Tokina 16-28 2.8 Bokeh Test

 

So which is better? I think it is fairly easy – the Tokina 16-28 2.8 performed better in every category I tested.. from sharpness to distortion, to vignetting and bokeh.  The most dramatic differences were in distortion and vignetting as well as corner sharpness (at least for half the frame). Bokeh isn’t really an issue, but the Tokina performed better there as well.

Is it worth almost twice the price? Only you can answer that question. If you shoot commercially or are looking for the best IQ, then clearly yes. Both are as good or better than the MUCH more expensive Canon 16-35 2.8 II L.

I hope you have found this review helpful. For more reviews of Canon, Tamron and Tokina lenses, click on the following link

LENS REVIEWS

Thanks and happy shooting!!