Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
Let’s take a look at how the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 compares to the legendary Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G in terms of sharpness. Although there is a 2mm difference of coverage in favor of the 14-24mm (which is big, accounting to 7° of angle of view difference), we will still take a look at both lenses at their widest focal lengths:
The Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 is very strong wide open at 14mm and the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 obviously cannot compete with it. However, things change drastically at f/4, with the Tokina taking over in both center and mid-frame performance, as seen above. At the same time, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 struggles with corner performance, while the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 already reaches good levels at f/5.6. Now let’s see what happens when we slightly zoom in towards 20mm:
I only had data for 18mm on the 14-24mm, so we are not looking at identical focal lengths here. Still, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 shows very impressive performance when stopped down to f/5.6 – it surpasses the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G in both mid-frame and corner performance. It is obviously not comparable wide open, but at smaller apertures, its sharpness is outstanding. Lastly, let’s take a look at 24mm on both:
Aside from the repeated poorer performance at f/2.8, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 does very well at apertures of f/4 and smaller. Here, once again, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 proved to be a bit better than the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G in terms of mid-frame and corner sharpness.
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G Summary
The Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 is a rather weak choice for shooting at f/2.8 when compared to the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G, which outperforms the Tokina at every focal length at that aperture. However, once stopped down to f/4 and smaller, performance differences diminish greatly. The Tokina is pretty weak at its widest focal length of 16mm, but at 20mm and longer, it actually outperforms the 14-24mm f/2.8 in the mid-frames and the corners, which is very impressive. However, keep in mind that there are a few important differences between the two lenses. The Nikkor is 2mm wider, which is roughly 7° wider in angle of view (a big difference) and it is fully weather sealed, while the Tokina is not. The Tokina’s weakest focal length is 16mm, where it struggles to reach good sharpness in the corners, whereas the Nikkor is very strong at 14mm. This makes the Tokina not as practical for ultra-wide angle photography. Also, the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G has a much better build, thanks to its metal construction and side switches, versus the clumsy push-pull focus ring on the Tokina.
So it all depends on what you are looking for in a lens. If you want a pro build, 14mm coverage and excellent wide open and stopped down performance, the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G is the way to go. If you rarely go that wide, do not care for wide open performance and prefer a lens that excels at 20mm and longer, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 is of amazing value.
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 vs Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC
How about our recently reviewed Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC? We really loved that lens and praised it highly for innovative features like image stabilization. The Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 obviously cannot compete with that, but the two lenses have somewhat similar focal length coverage, so we can still compare their sharpness. Here are the two at their widest focal lengths of 16mm and 15mm:
The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is a stellar performer wide open, crushing the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 in terms of sharpness. But once stopped down to f/4, the Tokina strikes back with its superb center and mid-frame performance, outperforming the Tamron. But as we have seen before, the Tokina cannot keep up with the corner performance, where the Tamron comes out on top at every aperture.
Zoomed in a little, both lenses show very good sharpness in the center when stopped down. However, the Tokina performs a bit better in the mid-frame and the corners here. It is no contender at f/2.8 though, as seen before.
The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 gets a bit weaker at longer focal lengths and we can start to see its fall at 24mm. The Tokina is still pretty strong, reaching superior sharpness across the frame at f/5.6 and smaller.
Lastly, it is clear that the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 is visibly better than the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC at its longest focal length. The Tamron struggles with sharpness, while the Tokina is still really good…
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 vs Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC Summary
Once again, just like with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G, Tokina showed solid performance when compared to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC stopped down. As you can see from the above charts, both lenses are optimized differently, with the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 being weak at 16mm and stronger at longer focal lengths, while the Tamron is the other way around. As a result, there is a pretty big difference in performance between these lenses at similar focal lengths – the Tamron outperforms the Tokina at 16mm (particularly in the corners), while the Tokina destroys the Tamron at 28mm. The Tokina is obviously not very usable at f/2.8 at longer focal lengths, while the Tamron amazes with its strong performance at the same aperture.
If I were looking at both lenses and thinking which way to go, my personal preference would be the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC. It is wider, has superb sharpness at short focal lengths (which I use a lot), has better build and above all, it has image stabilization. But if budget is an issue and you need an ultra-wide lens for landscape photography, I would not hesitate with the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 either, as it does many things very well and at half the price of the Tamron, represents amazing value.
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 vs Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR
The last lens we will be comparing the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 to is the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G VR lens, which I also really like. Let’s take a look at both at 16mm first, then we will compare them at 24mm and at the longest ends:
At equivalent apertures, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 scores significantly better than the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G throughout the frame and particularly in the center. Stopped down to f/5.6, the Tokina looks better overall, but at f/8, the 16-35mm f/4G does better in the corners. Here are both lenses at 24mm:
Zoomed in to 24mm, we can see that the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G struggles with its performance a bit more in comparison, especially outside the center frame. By f/8, both lenses do well, but the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 looks visibly better overall.
Lastly, the 16-35mm f/4G shows its biggest weakness at the longest end, showing pretty average center figures and below than average mid-frame and corner figures. Now keep in mind that we are comparing 28mm vs 35mm here, so the above comparison is not an ideal one. However, it is clear that the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 is a much better candidate at the longer end – you can see that the 16-35mm f/4G VR cannot reach similar levels of sharpness in comparison.
Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 vs Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR Summary
The Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 is without a doubt a strong lens when compared to an enthusiast-level lens like the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR. It showed better overall performance at almost every focal length, so there is no argument that it would be a better choice in terms of sharpness. However, there are several big considerations to keep in mind here, in favor of the 16-35mm f/4G. First, it is a much lighter lens to handle, at 680 grams. Second, it has image stabilization, which can really help when hand-holding gear. Last, but not least, is the ability to mount regular screw-on filters – something you cannot do on the Tokina, thanks to its huge front element. These are very important considerations to keep in mind, especially the last point – you could save quite a bit by going for the Tokina, but once you add up the cost of a filter holder and a set of high-quality filters, you might get pretty close. And that’s not even looking into space and time considerations for carrying a large filter holder system and setting one up. As I have previously said, for most landscape photographers, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR would probably still make more sense overall, primarily because it can work with normal screw-on filters and filter holders – just less hassles to deal with. If filters are not an issue, my personal favorite from the whole group is still the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC.
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