Review: Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Launched in 2006, the well constructed AT-X 100 PRO D from Tokina is still a leading choice in the 1:1 macro category in 2016. In this review, I test out this affordable macro lens that also doubles as a well-rounded portrait or product photography lens - on loan to us from architectural and nature photographer Jeremy Mudd

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

 Packaging - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Packaging - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Part of Tokina's PRO FX series, the AT-X 100 is designed for full frame cameras and works with the latest FX, DX and film cameras. Auto-focus is not supported on older digital cameras without built-in focus motors. The lens is available for both Canon and Nikon. Included with the AT-X 100 is the BH-551 Lens Hood - a nice, deep bayonet-style hood protecting against unwanted lens flare.  

Lens Hood - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

One Touch Focus Clutch - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Tokina One Touch Focus Clutch

The AT-X 100 features Tokina's "One Touch Focus Clutch" mechanism, making switching between auto-focus and manual focus fast and easy. This feature has pro's and con's. Unaware of this "feature" when I received the lens, I was alarmed that AF was not working, and was unable to find the typical AF/M switch found on most lens. The focus ring (shown above) detentes at two locations: push the focus ring out for AF (left) and pull in for Manual Focus (right.) Double check when you pull this lens out of your camera bag, and make sure your lens is set to the focus mode you want. 

Accessories

If you use a graduated neutral-density filters, the AT-X 100 features a non-rotating 55mm filter ring. The 55mm filter ring also means an affordable selection of available filters, and good compatibility with after-market which mount to the lens like a Nikon SB-29 or Mieke MK-14EXT ring flash.  

Rangefinder - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

F-stops - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Extended F-Stop Range

Interestingly, the f-stop extends past f/32 depending on your focal distance. At ∞ the maximum aperture is f/2.8, while the smallest aperture is f/32. At 1:1 the maximum aperture is limited to f/5.6 and the minimum aperture is extended to f/64. Your camera's AF will automatically detect the correct aperture.

Focused at 0.3 meter/12-inches - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Focus-Limiter - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Focus Speed and Performance

Focus speed is one of the limiting factors of the AT-X 100. On the Nikon D750, I found this lens continually wanting to search for focus in AF mode. But this is not a general purpose lens. For macro photography, you will find yourself choosing Manual Focus mode, and slowly moving in and out on your subject, using the focus-ring to adjust the magnification factor. To help reduce focus searching, Tokina added a focus limiter that locks the lens between 1.28 meters to ∞. 

Serial Number - Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

SPECIFICATIONS *

Focal Length: 100mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Construction: E/G9 Elements in 8 Groups
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.0 ft (0.3 m)
Macro Ratio: 1:1
Focus Limiter: 1.28 - ∞
Zoom Range: 100
Aperture Blades: 9
Filter Size: 55mm
Lens Width: 2.9 in (73.66mm)
Lens Length: 3.7 in (95.00mm)
Weight: 1.2 lbs (540g)
Accessories: Dedicated Lens Hood
Mounts: Canon Full Frame, Nikon Full Frame, Canon APS-C, Nikon APS-C
Warranty: 2 Year Limited Warranty

* from TokinaLens.com

Sample Images

Queen Anne's Lace by Jeremy Mudd Nikon D750 ISO 100 f/5.0 100mm 1/250 sec.

Uncropped f/22 - Tokina  100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

The AT-X 100 PRO D is a capable of life-sized (1:1) reproduction at 11.8 in. (30 cm)

Cropped at 100% - Tokina  100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

f/32 (slight crop) - Tokina  100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D

Image stack of two images f/32


Conclusion

The Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D is a great, low cost competitor in the ever crowded 100mm 1:1 macro category. The competition includes the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED ($799 Amazon), Sigma 05mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM ($620 Amazon), Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM ($799 Amazon), the Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 ($499 Amazon), and the newly announced Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD (Pricing TBD). The Tokina comes in most affordable, currently priced at $352 on Amazon.com. What are you giving up? The mainstream competition have all added vibration control/image stabilization to their offerings leaving Tokina and the unique Venus 2:1 as the only competitors without VC. Is image stabilization a $300-$400 issue? Not for most photographers.

The AT-X 100 PRO D produces sharp, detailed macro images at 1:1. Compared to other low-cost methods (i.e lens reversal) the Tokina allows you to back away from your subject and get the whole insect or flower in the frame without swapping lens or messing with extension tubes.

Liking to work at extreme magnification, a 1:1 magnification ratio might not be close enough for this photographer. When adding a modifier like the Raynox DCR-250, the increased magnification is minimal.

For the price, the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO D is a strong recommended purchase for the new macro photographer. Am I planning on purchasing one? Not right away. I look forward to testing a new Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC this spring, and look to test the Venus Optics Laowa 60mm f/2.8 2X Ultra-Macro before committing.