Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tokina 11-16mm Lens Review

Your always looking for that next beautiful landscape shot, or the perfect astrophotography time lapse, but what the lens do you have by your side to capture these amazing scenes. While there are so many options and each lens have it's perks, there is not one perfect lens for any given scenario. It is up to you as the operator to compose the picture how you see fit. however, I recently picked up the Tokina 11-16mm for landscape and time lapse photography due to the amazing wide angle it provided, because I think in this type of photography this is going to help you gather the most interesting shots available.

(Due to uploading to blogger, the quality is quite poor.)
                 (Captured with the Sony a7s with the Tokina 11-16mm and Glidecam HD 4000)

This past Sunday I took to the football field to gather some B-roll of the stadium, I put together this teaser as a test video of the footage gathered. All material is shot in 60FPS conformed in post.

In the first shot you can see one huge problem right off the bat. The lens flare. While I love a good lens flare, it can be a bit much sometimes. I had no lens hood on while I shot because I was observing the flares and how they compared to my other lenses. But it would be interesting to see how it worked against preventing them. One interesting effect that occurs due to the full frame sensor, is that when completely wide at 11mm a picture will result like this.

The huge vignette is quite unflattering thus making the lens primarily fixed at 16mm. The great
APC-S feature of the camera turns this 11-16mm into a 17-24mm which is a handy trick to get a bit more punch as well as helps with the vignetting.

The football teaser above also demonstrates the issue with the ND filter. Due to the sunny weather we had this past Sunday, the ND was necessary to be able to shoot at an appropriate F-stop. The filter is variable up to 8 stops, but getting close to 6 is when the black streak in the top right corner of the image occurs, in some images it is more noticeable, but is very noticeable in the time lapse below.

While those two issues occurred in the video, the lens overall is very useful. First off the field of view is amazing. Paired with the full frame, even when punched in to the 17-24 APS-C mode, the lens is so wide and if you want that extra wideness, the 16mm is more than useable, however filters do come in to frame so indoors might be the best option for that. But this wide lens is great to make your shot extra smooth with the Glidecam, as well as capturing a a large canvas with time lapse. 

(The vertical capability is also a feature which needs exploring.)

A feature I neglected to touch upon until this point is the speed of this lens. With f2.8, this is amazing for night time photography. I've been meaning to test out the low light monster that is the a7s, combined with this lens, because I think it would have amazing results. Now just to get to somewhere that lacks light pollution. 

The final picture is one testing long exposure with the ND filter. While in the corners, the vignette is present, the ability to do a 30 sec exposure really made the water quite milky. 
Overall, testing new gear is stressful but enjoyable and you learn that ever piece of equipment has its pros and cons. In the end you just have to decide what you want to put up with more and if its worth the resulting image.

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