The Tokina AT-X SD 300mm f2.8 is a fast, professional grade super-telephoto lens, featuring 2 super low dispersion elements and internal rear focusing.
|List Price when new|
|Angle of view||24°~8°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||7 / 9|
|Maximum Macro Magnification ratio|
|Filter Size||112mm front, 35.5mm rear|
Background and availability
The Tokina AT-X SD 300mm f2.8 is the sort of lens I never thought I would own: an expensive, fast prime telephoto. When I used a Canon 30D I purchased – eventually – one fast telephoto prime lens, the Canon EF 200mm f2.8L and it became one of my favourite lenses in terms of performance (obviously). I used it quite successfully as a lens for wildlife photography, but such a short focal length (even with the 1.6x crop factor of the Canon 30D) meant it was quite limiting for a lot of wildlife shooting situations.
When I moved to the NEX system and started playing with manual focus lenses I started looking into big, fast telephoto primes and this Tokina AT-X SD 300mm f2.8 soon became top of the list for a couple of important reasons. Firstly, it seemed – according to the Internet – to be a good performer wide open and built like a tank and secondly they appear quite frequently and go for a lot less than other 300mm f2.8 lenses (such as the Canon FD 300mm f2.8L and Tamron SP 300mm f2.8 LD [in all 3 manual focus variants). I picked up a copy in mint condition for £335 including postage, which was fantastic value as new ‘old stock’ lenses have been selling online for £599. The lens I found is as good as new.
I don’t know exactly when this lens was manufactured. but presumably late 80s early 90s where it sits alongside the other AT-X SD lenses.
Available new in limited quantities online for £599, expect to pay between £280-380 on Ebay for one in reasonable condition. Has a massive heavy metal hood which clamps on to the front of the lens body, it should really come with this as I’ve never seen one for sale independently. Should also have a rear filter and front filter – both of which form part of the optical path. Front filter is 112mm so is expensive and should be on the front to protect that huge front element. They crop up on Ebay fairly frequently, so be patient and wait for one at the right price.
Performance and handling
The Tokina AT-X SD 300mm f2.8 is actually pretty easy to use handheld, even with the tiny body of the Sony NEX 5N. What makes it a pleasure to use is the feather-light and butter-smooth focusing ring. At first it’ll feel too light because you’ll be holding the lens in your hand and playing with it. It is when you actually come to shoot with the lens that it makes sense. When you hold the lens in your left hand you’ll have the big front of the lens held between a finger or two and thumb (the front has a rubberised strip to make this comfortable) which leaves you with a finger or two to move the focus ring. The focus is light to make this not just possible, but a pleasure.
Focusing this lens is a joy and images snap cleanly into focus, even at f2.8 when the depth of field is very shallow. When shooting wide open good shots in poor lighting is possible when combined with the high ISO abilities of the NEX 5N – shots that are just not possible with any of the native NEX lenses. I’d highly recommend this lens – especially when combined with a sturdy monopod and ballhead.