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Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3,5-4,5 / Tokina AT-X 12-24mm f/4

Avtor:Matjaž Intihar
10.06.2005 19:26

 

The digital revolution brought many good things, along with a few bad ones. The vast majority of DSLRs sold today have a sensor which is smaller than the full Leica format, which is 36 x 24 mm. This, the so-called crop factor, is all nice and well when using telephoto lenses, as the lens seems to gain in focal length. It doesn't, of course, it's just that its apparent angle of view is narrower, because only the centre of the image is used. While this might seem like a good thing, it has pretty disastrous consequences on the wide end. That old ultrawide 20 mm lens that did such a good job at interior photography on film suddenly becomes just wide-ish, with the apparent focal length of 30 (1.5 crop factor), 32 (1.6 crop factor) or even 40 (2.0 crop factor) mm. And that's not very wide by any standards. For this reason, most entry- and mid-level cameras are sold with kit lenses covering a focal length range of 18-55 mm, which is equivalent to 28-80 mm in full Leica format.

 

 

The front diameter for both lenses is 77 mm. Something you need to keep in mind when you're buying filters.

 

The manufacturers had to respond to a demand for wide-angle lenses. Canon made the EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5, Nikon made the Nikkor 12-24 mm f/4 G DX, Olympus made the Zuiko Digital 7-14 f/4, Sigma made the 12-24 mm f/4.5-5.6 EX ASP HSM, Tamron made the 11-18 mm f/4.5-5.6, and last, but not least, there's the Tokina AT-X PRO SD 12-24 mm f/4 IF DX. All of these lenses can capture a really wide angle even on the smaller sensors used in today's cameras. However, of all these lenses, with the exception of Sigma, project a smaller image circle, suitable only to the reduced sensor size. On full-frame cameras, they would project dark circles around images.

 

Extreme wide angle

I tested two lenses. The original, Canon, EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5, and the third party lens Tokina AT-X PRO SD 12-24 mm f/4 IF DX in Canon mount With the Canon lens, the EF-S designation is a designation that the lens is only suitable for reduced sensor sizes and that because of its redesigned mount, it can only be used on some EOS cameras (300D, 20D, 350D, 400D, 30D). Tokina's DX designation is saying pretty much the same, except that while it can be mounted on other EOS cameras, the projected image is too small to cover the whole sensor. Also, the Tokina lens is designed for the 1.5 crop factor (used by Nikon, Pentax and Sony), while the Canon lens is designed for the 1.6 crop factor. Of course, the Tokina can be used for the minutely smaller Canon sensor, however, it doesn't go as wide as the Canon lens. On Nikon's 1.5 crop factor, the viewing angle is somewhat wider. The lens is not available in Pentax and Sony mounts.

The biggest difference between the two lenses is not their size or specifications. Oh no. It's the price. The Canon lens comes in at a price that is sure to make your eyes water, especially if your significant other finds out about it, that is about EUR 1000, while the Tokina might not get you in such deep trouble at a comparably low price of about 550 EUR. What about other differences?

 

 

 

The lenses have different coating, as evident by the different colours.

 

For size, they are almost identical, Canon 83.5 x 89.8 mm, Tokina 84 x 89.5 mm. When it comes to weight, the difference is increased, Canon 385g, Tokina 570g. But even by holding the two, the difference is pronounced - Tokina's metal body does feel different than Canon's plastic body. They both have 13 lenses and internal focusing. In other words, when focusing, lenses inside the camera move, thus keeping the front element in the same position and at the same distance. This comes in very handy when using a polarising filter. For wideangle lenses, this is indeed a very useful filter. Zooming doesn't change the length of the lens, either. It's all done inside.

 

The difference in focal lengths is only 2 mm. However, at such wide angles, two millimetres is quite a lot, making the Canon lens substantially wider than the Tokina. However, the Canon lens is shorter on the other extreme, with only 22 mm compared to the 24 of Tokina. There's also a difference in aperture. With Canon, the maximum aperture varies from f/3.5 at 10 mm to f/4.5 at 22 mm, while the Tokina has a fixed maximum aperture of f/4. The front diameter for both lenses is 77 mm. Do make a note of this when you're buying filters. For switching between manual and autofocus, the Canon employs the familiar button on the upper left side of the lens. Tokina, however, requires that the focusing ring is pushed towards the camera for manual focusing and away from the camera for auto focusing. In spite of this difference, it's never difficult to know which mode the lens is in.

The Canon lens employs a USM focusing motor, making focusing faster and very nearly silent. The Tokina, on the other hand, uses a classic micromotor, which is slower and louder. However, with such wide angles, a bit of extra focusing speed will rarely prove very useful. However, silent focusing can be a distinct advantage.

Both zoom and focus rings are a bit stiff on the Tokina, but not too much so. There's another difference ��" the Canon lens has focusing in the back and zooming in front, while Tokina has exactly the opposite approach. Is any of these better? Not really, it's a question of what you're used to.

 

 

 

There's little difference in size between the two lenses. The Canon lens (right) is a bit narrower in the middle and in the back. This is partly due to the USM (ultrasonic motor) which takes up less space than the classic mm (micromotor).

 

 

 

Bayonet mounts differ a bit, too. The Tokina (left) has Canon EF mount, compatible with every Canon EOS camera, while the Canon lens uses a modified EF-S mount, which can only be used on certain cameras (300D, 10D, 20D, 350D, 30D, 400D). The Canon lens also has a more protruding back end, which reaches deeper into the camera, permitting a closer distance between the sensor and the rear element.

 

 

 

This picture clearly shows the difference between the normal EF mount (left) and the EF-S mount (right). EF-S has an additional flange above the metal part.

 

Image quality

In my opinion, the image quality of the two lenses is very similar. In one of the magazines, I read an ode to Tokina, which apparently swept away the competition. You should be aware that there are many chances to really mess up a lens test. Sure, you can test - with quantitative results - image sharpness, contrast, vignetting, barrel distorsion, chromatic aberration, flare, etc. However, these results depend on focus distance, aperture, filters etc. The most important thing, however, is the method used for testing. Are we talking about field tests or lab tests, is software image analysis involved, are lighting conditions the same? Then again, there are completely subjective tests, such as how nice is the bokeh (once very fittingly translated as "poetic blur").

 

Sometimes, there are major differences between lenses. For instance, lenses with a large zoom range (7x zoom, for example) are usually worse than those with a smaller zoom range (3x zoom), while these in turn generally perform worse than prime (fixed focal length) lenses. 

There are a few differences. The Canon lens has very constant image quality at all focal lengths and apertures. The Tokina has a somewhat worse image quality with distant objects at f/4. So do be careful with this lens ��" it only starts achieving its top quality at f/5.6.

For more on image quality, see the next few pages of samples.

 

 

 

For switching between manual and autofocus, the Canon employs the familiar button on the upper left side of the lens. Tokina, however, requires that the focusing ring is pushed towards the camera for manual focusing and away from the camera for auto focusing. In spite of this difference, it's never difficult to know which mode the lens is in.

 

Conclusion

Which one to choose? The Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 or the Tokina AT-X PRO SD 12-24 mm f/4 IF DX? On one hand, the answer is simple. The Tokina is very well built and produces excellent images, except at f/4, plus you can buy almost two of them for the price of one Canon lens. On the other hand, some photographers just want to have original lenses, not third-party products. Furthermore, the 2 mm difference on the wide end could be very significant to you. To make matters a bit more clear, the Canon is equivalent to 16 mm, while the Tokina is equivalent to 19.2 mm in 35 mm terms. As seen in the samples, the difference is notable, making the two lenses not all that comparable after all. So, if you want extreme wide angles on Canon cameras, you'll just have to take the missus out to a nice dinner and get her to sign off on the purchase of the Canon lens. On the other hand, Tokina costs a lot less, while still providing a very decently wide angle of view, far beyond what the kit lenses can achieve at 18 mm (29 mm equivalent).

 

Summa summarum: There are certain differences between the lenses, as seen and described on the following pages. It's upon you to decide how big they are. We all know we're all very critical when it comes to evaluating such equipment. But then, there's that other factor that completely shifts the focus. Your bank account.

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Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 10 mm. Despite only 2 mm difference in focal length, the Canon has a noticeably wider field of view.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm @ 12 mm. The difference between the lenses is apparent in the width of the scene they capture. This is difference enough to put them into separate classes.. Looking at the upper corners of both pictures, some vignetting is noticeable. It is very similar in both lenses, and the difference between the left and the right side is mostly due to different incident light angles. Considering their extreme wide angle, vignetting is very well controlled.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 10 mm, f/4, 1/1250 s

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 12 mm, f/4, 1/1600 s In the centre, the image appears better, due partly to the narrower viewing angle and high magnification. In this case, Tokina has the advantage. However, at f/4, the Canon has a significant advantage at the edges. One measure of lens quality is also how consistent their image quality is from the centre to the edge.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 10 mm, f/8, 1/320 s

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 12 mm, f/8, 1/400 s At f/8, the Tokina really shines. Both in centre and on the edges, the image quality is a bit better than Canon's. However, the Tokina has slightly more chromatic aberration at the edge (left).

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 10 mm, f/16, 1/80 s

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 12 mm, f/16, 1/60 s Both images are very comparable. At f/8 and higher, the Tokina starts to lose contrast, and the image starts losing sharpness.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 10 mm. Image samples at different apertures (from left) 3.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16. The lens has very consistent image quality at all apertures. The only two that deviate slightly are the maximum, 3.5, and the minimum, 22.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm @ 12 mm. Image samples at different apertures (from left) 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16. This is where the differences between the lenses and their prices become noticeable. At f/4, the Tokina is very soft. At f/8, image quality peaks, and then starts decreasing as we approach f/16.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 22 mm. At this focal length, vignetting is pronounced.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm @ 24 mm. Even at normal wide angle, 22 and 24 mm respectively, the difference is still noticeable.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 22 mm, f/1000, 1/4 s

Because the lighting was different and because there was more sky in the picture, the image is 0.6 EV underexposed compared to Tokina. Therefore, some details are recorded differently.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 24 mm, f/4, 1/1600 s

To me, the Canon captured the clock better, while the Tokina has the edge in the windows to the left. However, this is more due to the different exposure (1/1000 compared to 1/1600) than to different optics. In this shot, the Tokina shows that it's much more balanced at 24 mm than it is at 12 mm.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 22 mm, 1/400 s, f/8

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 24 mm, f/8, 1/320 s

Again, the difference is due to different exposure. Digital capture differs markedly from analogue capture. A relatively minute difference in exposure results in major difference in tonality, contrast and sharpness.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 22 mm, 1/100 s, f/16

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 24 mm, f/16, 1/80 s

At this focal length, the Tokina is every bit as good as the Canon. At half the price.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 22 mm. Image quality at different apertures, from the left: 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16. The Canon lens has a wider field of view, making the camera meter more of the sky. Therefore, these images have an approximately 0.5 EV exposure difference compared to the Tokina images. This series also shows that there were metering differences between various apertures.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm @ 24 mm. Image samples at different apertures (from left) 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16. No major differences in image quality. At longer focal lengths, the Tokina corrects many shortcomings that were evident at short focal lengths. The image is quite consistent at different apertures.  Because less sky was used for the metering, there's an exposure difference of about 0.5 EV, making Tokina's details brighter.

 

 

Canon @ 22 mm (left), Tokina @ 24 mm (right). At wide angle, the 2 mm focal length difference is very noticeable.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 22 mm, 1/125 s, f/11. Sharpness and contrast are a bit better.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 24 mm, f/11, 1/160 s

At the focus point, the image quality is very good. The more distant parts of the scene (still within the depth of field), however, show decreased image quality when compared to Canon.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 @ 22 mm, 1/125 s, f/11

Canon's image still has sufficient contrast with minimal chromatic aberration.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 @ 24 mm, f/11, 1/160 s

The image is not as sharp, and chromatic aberration is more pronounced.

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This image was taken in identical conditions. EOS 20D, both at 12 mm, ISO 200, 1/200 s, f/4.5.

 

 

Canon left, Tokina right. At 100%, the Tokina images look better due to higher contrast. On the whole, however, Canon's tonality is better. More distinct tonal values can be observed. Unfortunately, they both lack sharpness. However, this is not unusual for wideangle lenses.

 

 

Canon left, Tokina right. 100% crop. In this part, the Canon is more contrasty and cooler. Chromatic aberration is more pronounced as well, with blueish fringing in Canon and red fringing in Tokina. However, in both images, image quality differs from one detail to another. Sometimes Tokina is better and sometimes Canon is better.

 

 

The whole image, with 100% crops below. Canon left, Tokina right.

 

 

EOS 20D, both at 12 mm, 1/320 s, f/8.

Unlike the images on page 2, these images were taken in cloudy weather, in very diffuse lighting. In such lighting, there are no differences between the two.

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 12 mm, f/3.5.

This is as good as bokeh tests get in ultra wide angle. The foreground is in focus, while the background is unsharp.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm, 12 mm, f/4.

No differences in sharpness and tonality. However, there is a difference in background blur. Apparently, in Japan, bokeh is as important as sharpness. Looking at the above picture, Canon's bokeh at f/3.5 seems nicer. Tokina's bokeh, on the other hand, is too contrasty.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 12 mm, f/8.

Only the foreground is sharp, and that's only 10-30 cm from the lens. Background is not within the depth of field. Again, Canon's background is smoother.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm, 12 mm, f/8.

Even though the Tokina seems to capture the background better, producing more depth of field, the difference is mainly due to contrast. There's no softness to the background blur. If you want proof that that's not sharpness, look at the letters in background. They're not sharp, they're just contrasty. So this is bokeh, the poetic blur, another factor in lens quality. However, in wideangle lenses, it's far less important than in telephoto lenses, especially portrait lenses.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 12 mm, f/16.

The only noticeable difference between the two shots at f/16 is that the clouds drifted a bit, changing the lighting and the window reflections.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm, 12 mm, f/16.

At f/16, the depth of field is so large that even in the background building, no major differences are noticeable. Since the lighting changed a bit, the two images are exposed slightly differently. In both cases, shutter time was 1/50 s.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 12 mm, f/3.5.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm, 12 mm, f/4.

At nearby subjects, the Tokina has excellent sharpness when wide open. The sign in the middle and the stars to the left are sharper than those captured by Canon. Tokina rendered the shadow under the black border differently. Canon rendered is as gray, while Tokina makes it slightly yellowish. Barrel distortion is also apparent on the license plate.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 12 mm, f/8.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm, 12 mm, f/8.

Image quality at this aperture is very similar to image quality wide open. This is not the kind of scene that could be used to judge depth of field or bokeh. This all means that a stopped down aperture increases image quality. However, in nearby subjects, this is not noticeable.

 

 

Canon EF-S 10-22 mm @ 12 mm, f/16.

The results regarding the shadow and the barrel distortion are still very similar. However, at f/16, the Canon lens is a bit sharper at the edges and in the centre.

 

 

Tokina DX 12-24 mm, 12 mm, f/16.

In all Tokina samples, it is obvious that it functions best at medium apertures. But here's the catch. You're viewing 100% crops from 8 MP sensors. That's not how you normally view a photograph. There are differences, certainly. It's upon you to decide how much they mean to you. We all know we're all very critical when it comes to evaluating such equipment. But then, there's that other factor that completely shifts the focus. Your bank account.

 

 
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