Tokina 11-16mm Lens Review

For more information on the Tokina 11-16mm lens, check out Adorama.

This post provides an overview and review of the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 wide angle lens.

Over the past few years as HDR photography has evolved its become pretty clear that one of the most beneficial assets to HDR photography is the wide angle lens.

One of the most enjoyable things about HDR for me is the fact that you can capture scenes with a sense of realism that is just unparalleled when solely using traditional camera technology.

That said, it only took about 4 months of shooting until I realized that I was going to need to expand my lens repertoire if I were going to get serious about my photography.

So I set out to find the perfect wide angle lens.

Panorama photo shot with Tokina 11-16mm lens

4 Panorama Shots from the Tokina 11-16mm lens

Initial Impressions

When I first began my search there were a couple things that I learned, 1) there was quite a bit of competition on this space.  Every major lens manufacturer seemed to have a high quality wide angle that they wanted to sell me.  2) None of them were cheap.

When doing my initial research I checked out the Nikkor 12-24mm f/4, Sigma 10-20mm f/4, Tamrom 11-18 f/4 and quite a few others.

To be honest I thought this one blew all of them away, including the Nikkor both in terms of performance and price.

Tokina 11-16mm Wide Angle Lens

Tokina 11-16mm Wide Angle Lens


So when I began searching for the perfect wide angle what was I looking for?

  • Ultra-wide. I wanted something at least 12mm if not 10 or 11. When shooting HDR the more expansive you can make your shots look and feel, the more potential you have to create something truly dramatic within the image.  At 11-16mm, we got that one covered.
  • Fast. For the majority of my wide angle shots I stick to the 11-12mm range at f/4 to f/5.6  But I also like to experiment with some darker subjects, and the ability to stop all the way down to f/2.8 is a big advantage this lens has over some of its competitors.
  • Price. I really didn't want to spend an arm and a lake to purchase such a specialized lens.  Sure there are much more specialized lenses out there like the fantastic Nikon Fisheye, but even still, I didn't want to spend more if I didn't have to.  Luckily this one came in about $300 cheaper than the Nikon and only cost me $600.  This is what really sold me.  To have a lens that as far as I could tel performed better than Nikon, for that much less money, it was a bit of a no brainer.

Things to Note

This lens is available for both Canon and Nikon cameras, however the only experience I've had with it has been for Nikon Cameras.  You should also note that there is no auto-focus motor built in to the camera, so it won't work with some of Nikon's base models like the D3100 and D5000.  That said, I've used it on multiple occasions with the D5000 and it's performed beautifully.  In particular for landscape shots where you can stick it on infinity and call it good.


Overall I've been extremely happy with the Tokina 11-16mm lens and would highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a fantastic lens to shoot wide angle HDR shots.

For more information on the Tokina 11-16mm lens, check out Adorama.


There are 6 comments

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  1. Michelle Huber

    Where was your panaramic beach scene in this article taken? Great article & beautiful shots by the way!

    • sean

      Michelle, this one was shot overlooking Hanauma Bay on Oahu, Hawaii last October. It was actually one of the first panoramas I’ve done, and the lens did a fantastic job with it.

      Thanks for the nice words 🙂

  2. Rob Hanson

    I’d have to agree with the assessment on this lens, as I’ve been more than delighted with using it for my HDR work.

    It’s always good to know you made a good choice when laying out that kind of money. When I bought, Tokina was having a hard time filling the orders.

  3. Robert Walker

    I just bought this lens and agree with your review. What a sharp specialized lens and not too bad a price. I was suprised at how fast it focused and how sharp the images are. I bought this after reading the review by Ken Rcokwell. I am looking at HDR software to do post processing for the real estate pictures I am taking.

  4. Connor

    If I was to use this nlens on a D3100 in manual mode, would it still work? I understand it may be different in the priority modes, but I’m satisfied with my own focusing abilities and am searching for the right lens.

    • Sean Ogle

      Yep, you should have no problem using it with a D3100, but you’ll have to focus it manually. I believe Tokina also has a new 12-28 that has autofocus built into the lens – so that could be worth checking out as well.

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