One of the best reviews I have done.

I’ve needed a wider angle lens than what my Tamron 24-70mm and I had a real estate Project I had coming up a couple weeks ago so ask B&H if I could compare the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II which is a very popular and expensive lens and the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 which came out a few years ago but doesn’t get much love and attention. Both are wide angle lenses designed for full frame camera like for landscapes, real estate, glidecam work, astro time lapse.

If this set looks familiar then you are probably a Kevin Good fan like myself. If you don’t know who Kevin is stick around to the end and I will tell you more. This meter will show you which lens I’m leaning towards buying as I go through 17 items.

Tokina 16-28mm
Tokina 16-28mm Find Price
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II Find Price

Canon 16-35mm II vs Tokina 16-28mm All Results

  1. Image quality sharpness: We’ll start with everyone’s favorite including mine, sharpness and believe it or not the Tokina wins here, call it a tie in the center but in the corners at f/2.8 up to f/10 Tokina wins as you can see here at f2.8. In this shot of the stars you can see the Tokina has more detail in the building on the mountain which appears in the corner of the frame. So I’ll lean it towards Tokina.
  2. Price: Tokina wins big here, in fact it pegs the meter. Specialty item like this lens will not live on 5D3 so $1,699 for the Canon vs $749 for the Tokina is a big deal for me.
  3. Construction: Canon wins. Talking to Jared Kohlmann who owns Pro Photo Rental in Boulder Colorado he said that the Canon 16-35mm is one of his top five rentals and hardly ever has to be repaired compared to others, most of the repairs he sees are caused by vibrations in shipping across the country and that normal people owning this lens would never see. As for the Tokina I have read in two places on the internet that the (AF/MF clutch), can become disengaged with much use. So I am giving the win to Canon.
  4. Weight and size: Canon wins, Canon 1.4 lb (635 g) and Tokina 2.09 lb (950 g). Tokina doesn’t pack up as small as the Canon.  Lighter is always better especially for long takes with a glidecam which these lenses do well on. I find if a lens is too heavy it will get left at home and will not make out as much as other lenses.
  5. Zoom range: Canon wins because it goes to 35mm compared to 28mm. The limited range on the Tokina is OK, I mostly shot between 16mm to 24mm on real estate and own 24-70mm so there is some overlap.
  6. Image Stabilization: is really important for video and we don’t have that with these two, it is less important when you shoot this wide, but it is something I always like to have, but no one wins here.
  7. Focus speed: Canon wins. Both are fast but the Canon is just a little faster but like by 1/16 of a second, if you are doing landscapes, glidecam work, real estate, this is not that big of a deal. Also the Tokina sounds just a tad louder when focusing. Both react the same when manually focusing punched in to live view, this is not always the case with cheaper lenses which can be hard to focus manually. The Canon had more range of focus at infinity. Big issue for me is you don’t have full time manual focus with the Tokina, you have to disengage the auto focus clutch to manually focus, you can spin it in auto but it will do nothing, while the Canon will let you focus manually while in the AF setting.
  8. Chromatic aberration: Tokina wins hands down, of course we don’t see any here at f13 but shooting at f2.8 shooting wide-open lens in high contrast scenes, with overexposing highlights the Tokina has none and the Canon has some. But easy to fix Canon in software for stills. I did not have any lens correction enabled withing the Canon 5D Mark III which would have give the Canon lens unfair advantage since Tokina can’t use that feature.
  9. Filters: Canon wins big for filters because you can’t put a screw on filter on the Tokina, and I really like to use polarizers on a wide lens, however I’m as not worried about ND so much because most of the times I would shoot at 2.8 on a wide lens is shooting the stars and not in bright daylight. There are solutions out there but they are expensive.
  10. Vignetting: Tokina wins, slightly better than Canon at f2.8 where you see it the most, however Lightroom can fix this easily for stills. However when shooting stars at f/2.8 the more you correct for it in post the noiser the corners will get, so starting out with the least amount is the best way to go.
  11. Weather resistance: Canon wins. Tokina makes no claims in their manual and people like Roger at lensrentals says that it is not weather resistant. However Canon says ‘Weather resistant construction’.
  12. Sun flare & sun stars: Canon wins. Canon has 14 spikes in the starburst and Tokina has 17 and colored flare that didn’t see in Canon. It does mater so much how many starburst you have I just like the look of flares from the Canon better.
  13. Focus breathing: Tie. Didn’t want to waste too much time on this test because wide angle lenses don’t usually have this issue like a 200mm would, they were the same.
  14. Horizontal and vertical line distortion: Tie, but not that important to me because this can be fixed in post for stills.
  15. Barrel distortion: Tie, about the same, the Canon has more in the middle and Tokina is a bit farther out, but they can both get corrected.
  16. Bokeh: Canon wins because the Tokina has onion bokeh which is similar to my Tamron 24-70mm, the Canon bokeh is clean of any onion circles as I would expect from a L series lens.
  17. Warranty: Tokina wins. Tokina 3 years to Canon 1 year.

I would like to thank Kevin Good for letting me use his set from his 5D3 vs D800 video. If you don’t know who Kevin is well he makes my favorite YT videos. Truly talented.  I want to see more Kevin Good videos, well Kevin has stopped making them, maybe if enough people tweet Kevin he might start making more of them.

I recently did a real estate shoot for a ski condo for a client and used only the Canon 16-35mm. I delivered photos as well as a video, I think the photos came out great for my first attempt at doing real estate photography. Before I did the shoot I studied lots of pro real estate photographers work and really liked the work of Brandon Beechler as you can see here he does awesome work! I contacted him and he was nice enough to help me out with a few issues I was having in post processing them.

Now I will show you my real estate video shot on the Canon 16-35mm.

It would be nice is the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Series was available for a full frame camera.

I like to shoot the night stars  so I need something fast like a f/2.8 for, I can’t use a f4.0 lenses like the popular Canon 17-40mm f4 because that would force longer shutter times and increase star trails, if you are just a landscape person that never goes below F4 you are probably better off with this lens.

Canon Wins – Bokeh

Canon 16-35mm II vs Tokina 16-28mm Bokeh

Tokina Wins – Vignetting

Canon 16-35mm II vs Tokina 16-28mm Vignetting: Tokina Wins

Canon Wins for Filters

Tokina 16-28mm Filter Issue

Tie for Sharpness in the center of the frame

Canon 16-35mm II vs Tokina 16-28mm Center at 100% Tie

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Tokina 16-28mm
Tokina 16-28mm Find Price
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II Find Price


  • Excellent review, Dave! I really enjoyed reading it.

    I too found the Tokina to be the best bang for the buck and I definitely love mine.

    One thing I would like to stress is some more information on the Tokina build quality. Tokina has had quite a few issues with the 16-28 and decentered elements, especially on earlier production runs of the lens. My first copy had this problem and it absolutely ruined some shoots I did. Luckily the store I purchased it from here in Calgary just gave me another copy of the lens, which works perfectly. However, I have heard it is still an issue you should watch out for. Of course, the three year warranty is a bonus when not buying a first party lens.

    Also, I am not sure if you mentioned in your test if the lenses were AFMA tuned, but I have found with most wide angle zooms that it is very necessary. If you haven’t already you should consider giving Reikan FoCal a try. It’s a brilliant piece of software and I have used it on all my lenses.

    Keep up the good work Dave!

  • Great review Dave,
    I am really surprised by your results as I always had the view that the Canon was a high end lens. I have two Tokina lenses, the 11-16mm f2.8 and the 16-50mm f2.8. The 11-16mm is an incredible lens, but the 16-50mm f2.8 is a little soft for my liking and I decided I am going to sell this lens and replace it. I guess that despite all the advantages the 16-28mm shows, for me the deal breaker is not being able to get a vari ND filter on the lens. This makes it really difficult to use in video mode. I have a similar MFT lens (Panasonic 7-14mm f4) which cannot take filters and I’ve even had stills I took in a landscape timelapse blown out in the highlights when stopped to f16. I needed a filter and I couldn’t put one on the lens. So I learnt my lesson with that lens and I’m hesitant to invest again in a lens which cannot take filters.

    But great job on the review!

  • Thenk You Dave, great job on review.
    Also great job on real estate project, the photo side. As a tip, please do not edit on music. Try and make the cuts without audio first. Also, do not use music with repetitive tempo.

  • Hey Dave,

    Great review for both lenses, also great work too on
    Ur estate project. Remarkably awesome job + the quality of ur video is very HD seems to me.

    Always something new to learn from u, keep up the good work -> I don’t like ur work I LOVE IT

    TAKE CATE THX -> please post more video in future

  • Wow Dave, awesome review. A GREAT format for info like this.

    On the real estate vid… seriously amazing job. One of the better ones I’ve seen. Do you feel like you made good money on it vs. the time you spent?

  • Thanks for the extremely comprehensive comparison! My only question is, you liked the Tokina lens the best, but wrap with a video using the Canon lens. I also visited Brandon’s website and saw his extraordinary architectural photos. I sent him an email and posed the Canon/Tokina question.
    Keep up the good work!