Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye Lens Review

A valuable tool for shooting wide-angle

 By Scott Gietler

 

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The tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is a very popular lens, especially for underwater photography due to the flexibility it gives the underwater photographer. It is the #1 lens of choice for Canon and Nikon cropped-sensor underwater dSLR shooters. 

 

 

The proper name for the lens is the Tokina AT-X DX 10-17mm  F3.5-4.5 Fisheye. This is a variable aperture lens, and the largest aperture is F3.5 at 10mm focal length, and F4.5 at 17mm focal length.

 

Lens Specifications:

  • I weighed the lens at 377 grams, with the cap.
  • Dimensions: 71mm x 70mm
  • Does not take filters
  • I measured the working distance at about 1 inch from the lens glass, very close!
  • Minimum aperture is F22 at 10mm and F29 at 17mm.
  • Diagonal angle of view is 180 at 10mm, 100 degrees at 17mm.
  • Comes in a Canon or Nikon mount.

fisheye lenses

The tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is on the right, with the S&S zoom ring on. The nikon 10.5mm fisheye is on the left.

 

Tokina 10-17mm example photos

 

All photos taken on a tripod at F8. Interestingly, the Tokina gave a 1/3 stop brighter exposure than the sigma 10-20mm at the same settings. Note that at the same focal length, the tokina and sigma lens have the same magnification in the center of the photo, but not as you move towards the edges.

 

 

Tokina 10-17mm lens at 17mm

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens at 17mm

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens at 10mm

Tokina 10-17mm lens at 10mm

 
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens showing curved lines
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens showing curved lines (Barrel distortion)
 

 

 

Comparison with a non-fisheye lens, the Sigma 10-20mm

 

These photos were taken with a tripod in the same position as the above photos, at F8

 

sigma 10-20mm lens

Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm

 

sigma 10-20mm lens at 20mm

Sigma 10-20mm lens at 20mm

 

sigma 10-20mm photo

Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm

 

 

Underwater Performance of the Tokina 10-17mm

 

This lens performs well behind small and large dome ports. Stopping down the lens to F8 or F11 will usually give best results in the corners, especially in a smaller dome port. Most dome ports will benefit from a small 20mm extension ring to get the nodal point lined up with the housing correctly, although the ring is optional with larger dome ports.

 

Because the Tokina 10-17mm is so wide, best results are with at least 2 strobes. Be sure to bring the strobes back far behind the housing to avoid hot spots and glare in the corners of the photos, especially when shooting at 10mm focal length. You can see my strobe position diagrams.

 

The tokina 10-17mm photographs will really shine in clear water, when the subject is about 12 inches from the dome port and properly exposed.

 

When zoomed into 17mm, this lens excels at taking close-focus macro photographs. In this technique, the subject is almost touching the dome port, allowing a macro subject to be portrayed with a wide-angle view in the background.

 

If you want to use filters with natural light shots, this lens has no filter holder like the Nikon 10.5mm has, but there are instructions showing how best to attach a filter here.

 

Tests with different Dome Ports

 

I did some extensive pool tests with this lens, with 3 different Sea & Sea dome ports at different apertures, you can read about a summary of my sea & sea dome port tests.

 

Zoom Rings

 

I use the Sea & Sea zoom ring for the Canon 16-35mm F2.8L lens. It's slightly too big, but putting one strip of the included black tape around the lens allows the zoom ring to fit well. Without the strip, the zoom ring can fall off easily and can scratch the inside of your dome port during a dive, so be careful.

 

Comparison to other fisheye lenses

 

For many dSLR photographers, this lens replaced their Nikon 10.5mm and Sigma 15mm or Nikon 16mm lenses. Although the 10-17mm lens is a sharp lens, the prime lenses can produce even better image quality and some professionals still use prime lenses.

Tokina 10-17mm on a full-frame dSLR

Full-frame shooters usually use a prime fisheye lens like a Sigma 15mm, or a fisheye with a teleconverter, but some full-frame shooters do use the Tokina 10-17mm with a 1.4x teleconverter to gain the flexibility they had when using a cropped-sensor camera. However, using the Tokina on a full-frame camera can give surprisely good results - read our Tokina 10-17mm and Sigma on a full-frame camera article.

 

Tokina 10-17mm underwater photos

 

manta ray

Manta ray in Bali at 10mm, F7

 

reef scene at catalina island

Reef scene at Catalina Island at 12mm, F9

 

Barracuda underwater photo

Barracuda in Bali, 14mm, F11

 

 

close-up underwater fisheye macro photo with tokina 10-17mm lens
Seahorse Photo from Anilao taken with Tokina 10-17mm lens at 17mm. F14

 

 

close-focus wide angle underwater

Tokina 10-17mm lens at 17mm, F13. this is a macro wide-angle photograph, the dome is almost touching the small featherduster worm.

 

wide-angle macro with the tokina 10-17mm fisheye underwater

Nudibranch and diver, Catalina Island. Tokina 10-17mm at 17mm, very close to the nudibranch. F10, 1/125th, ISO 200, 6-inch dome port. A larger dome port and a smaller aperture would have made the diver more in focus, but I like the feel of the photo the way it is.

 

Further Reading

Review: Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye Lens

Dome port optics

Testing the tokina 10-17mm lens in the Sea & Sea Dome Ports

Comparing fisheye lens and rectilinear lenses

Strobe position diagrams

Wide-angle underwater photography technique

Close-focus wide angle technique

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

What are your thoughts on

What are your thoughts on Tokina 35mm 2.8 macro lens, I have Nikon D7000 and wondering if this is the lens I should try to dive with also any recommendations on strobes and housings?

Thanks
-Hem

Photos are really fantastic.

Photos are really fantastic. I liked the way you have created this site. This is a good thing that we can use filters with natural light shots in Tokina 10-17mm.

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I also think Tokina 10-17mm

I also think Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye Lens Review.A valuable tool for shooting wide-angle.

wanting info on best and most

wanting info on best and most reasonably priced set up for nikon d90,,,,i.e: housing ,strobe, cords,dome port to suit the tokina 10/17 lens .. Paul

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And the Tokina 10-17 is an

And the Tokina 10-17 is an option for full-frame:
http://www.360pano.de/en/tokina-sigma-nikon.html

STUNNING seahorse photo

STUNNING seahorse photo around the soft coral!

Do you have any experience with Nikon zoom macro lenses? I have the Tokina 10-17mm and echo loudly the nice things about rapid focus. I also had the "problem" using the Canon 10-17mm zoom ring and scratched the inside of my dome port. $300 of polishing later that worked out OK, but I wondered whether there's an argument to be made for a Nikon 10-24 macro zoom for UW?

After reading the above

After reading the above questions/comments, just wondering if the tokina 10-17mm fisheye will autofocus with a canonD60 or is it always manual? I have an ikelite housing.

Hi Grunt, I´ve got a Nikon

Hi Grunt,
I´ve got a Nikon D300s in BS Kinetics housing (carbon fibre )with a 10 inch domeport.What telekonverter could you recommend
except nikon (to expensive)to work with the Tokina 10 -17mm
( Kenko,Sigma etc)
Herbie from Germany

Hello, Ive got a Nikon D300s

Hello,
Ive got a Nikon D300s in a BS Kinetic Housing ( Carbon Fibre )´with a 10 inch Domeport. What Brand ( Kenko Sigma Tamron) Telekonverter can you recommend with the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye
( Not Nikon it is to expensive over here ).
I`m greatful for any Tips
Herbie
from Germany

Hi, Came to this site because

Hi,
Came to this site because I was looking for info on the Tokina. Your photos are fantastic.

I'm deeply interested by

I'm deeply interested by Tokina 10/17 but my usual seller says that it could not work with my camera (Nikon D60) or in my housing (Sea and Sea RDX D60).

Can I choose this lense and what could be the problems encountered?

hi Grunt - the tokina 10-17mm

hi Grunt - the tokina 10-17mm fisheye, and many other lenses, won't auto-focus with your D60 because it lacks an auto-focus motor. So you can use it on manual focus inside your housing, which is possible but not ideal. You'd have to figure out the exact distance to pre-focus it on land to get it to the correct distance behind your home (see the dome port options page)

Scott Gietler Owner/Editor, Underwater Photography Guide & Bluewater Photo http://www.uwphotographyguide.com http://www.bluewaterphotostore.com

Ok thanks, then I will buy a

Ok thanks, then I will buy a 10,5mm Nikon I think.

hey Grunt, the nikon 10.5mm

hey Grunt, the nikon 10.5mm fisheye has the same issue, that lens does not have an auto-focus motor built in either. - Scott 

Scott Gietler Owner/Editor, Underwater Photography Guide & Bluewater Photo http://www.uwphotographyguide.com http://www.bluewaterphotostore.com

Wow. Nice shot with the

Wow. Nice shot with the seahorse on the soft coral! I've heard of the Tokina being used on full frame cameras with a tele-converter. I think I need to try this.

David Fleetham
www.davidfleetham.com