The Tokina 11-16 f2.8 – Getting Wide and fast on a Canon Eos 1DmkIV

Fully loaded 1DmkIV with Tokina 11-16 f2.8, Genus Wideangle Mattebox and bars, Zacuto Z-finder

Fully loaded 1DmkIV with Tokina 11-16 f2.8, Genus Wideangle Mattebox and bars, Zacuto Z-Finder

Eos1DmkIV with Tokina 11-16mm and Genus Mattebox from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Since getting my shiny new 1DmkIV I’ve been rebuilding my standard go everywhere kit to accomodate the new camera. The 1.3x crop factor has been seen as limiting by many who have got used to a ‘full frame’ body like the 5DmkII. Some users have sited the lack of good, fast aperture wide angle lenses and it is true there are few options. I’m specifically going to focus on video here but much of this applies to stills too.

The widest Canon f2.8 zoom is the 16-35 f2.8L II, a fine lens but when put on the 1DmkIV it becomes the 35mm equivalent of approximately a 21-45mm, certainly not too shabby and probably as wide as you need to go in many circumstances. It also takes 82mm screw in filters and also takes a Mattebox easily. However if you do want to stray wider the options are more limited. I have a Canon 17-40 f4L which is also nice but not quite as wide or as fast aperture as I’d like.

Canon make the 10-22 f3.5-4.5 EF-S lens which sadly does not fit the 1DmkIV as its only designed to fit the 7D and other EF-S mount bodies. It can be modified through surgery to fit a 1D body but it hardly seems worth it as it is still slow aperture and it will of course vignette.

Canon do offer the very nice 14mm f2.8L II lens I recently used for my horses shoot in Singapore, its very sharp and quite compact, however it is also has a very bulbous protruding front element that you can’t easilty get a filter onto. For video this is problematic as Neutral density filters are pretty much essential for daylight shooting at wide aperture whilst maintaining a shutter speed between 1/50th and 1/125th for natural looking motion. Front filters simply can’t be fitted to the Canon 14mm and the only option is to put filter gels behind the lens where there is a slot – not convenient.

Canon 1DmkIV at the races – test shoot from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Sigma and Tamron both make cheaper fixed 14mm lenses but neither is as sharp as the Canon and they have the same issues with filters. There is apparantly a remarkably inexpensive Korean manual focus 14mm f2.8 from Samyang coming out as well but I’ve never tried it.

Many stills shooters have adapted the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 for use in Canon, I have this lens and the appropriate adapter from but its a bit of a faff for video and not a cheap option either. On the plus side filter makers Lee have developed a filter holder to fit the front of the lens so ND and ND grad filters will be no problem. There are also some interesting home brew filter solutions for that lens.

Then there is the Sigma 12-24 f4.5-f5.6, lovely and wide but very slow aperture. I also have this lens and for a corrected (non-fisheye) lens it is about as wide as you can go and is very sharp. On a bright day its fine but no good for low light.

There are also a multitude of non-corrected fisheye lenses like the Canon 15mm f2.8 or Sigma 8mm f3.5 which some people ‘de-fish’ in software when shooting stills, however I’m really not sure how well that would work in video.

Which leads me to my current best solution, the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 which I originally purchased for my Eos7D. Now this is a very sharp EF-S crop factor lens designed for the smaller 1.5 crop so it doesn’t cover the whole 35mm frame. It is f2.8 all the way through and has a nice wide manual focus ring.

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 mounted on the 1DmkIV

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 mounted on the 1DmkIV

When fitted to a 1DmkIV it vignettes heavily at the 11mm end but when you start zooming in the vignette goes. By about 13mm its virtually gone and you can use the lens normally even when stopped down to f16. It really is quite sharp even in the corners and shows only minimal Chromatic abberation. The AF in stills mode is pretty average but in video I’d manual focus anyway so this is not a problem. Essentially what you have is a usable range of 13mm to 16mm which in 35mm terms would be approximately a 17-21mm f2.8.

Why would I choose this lens over say the Canon 14mm for video? simple – the Tokina has a 77mm front thread which can be used with screw in filters or in my case a Genus Wide Angle Mattebox (from about 13.5mm with no problems using an adapter ring, you can probably get 13mm with flexible cloth nun’s knickers instead of a fixed ring). You can also fit the popular Genus 77mm Fader ND filter to this lens but it will vignette from about 14mm, still pretty good.

Genus 77mm Fader ND filter fitted to the Tokina 11-16mm

Genus 77mm Fader ND filter fitted to the Tokina 11-16mm

Until Canon bring out something better this is currently the most practical fast aperture ultra-wide angle for video use on the 1DmkIV. I hope this New Year will see other innovative lens options and a Canon 14-24 f2.8 has been long rumoured, I just hope whatever comes out can take filters.


Posted on January 3rd, 2010 by Dan Chung | Category: Canon EOS-1D Mk IV, DSLR video news, Matteboxes and filters |

26 responses to "The Tokina 11-16 f2.8 – Getting Wide and fast on a Canon Eos 1DmkIV"

  1. Gerard Willing Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Most impressive! I’m eager to give it a try. I just discovered your great blog. Now you’re bookmarked and I’ll be an avid reader!

  2. The Wallbanger Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I’ve wanted this lens for a long time. This article may have just tilted my lens line-up priority. Thanks for the kick in the butt that I needed!

  3. Alain Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Thx. I was also thinking about this lens for my 1DMrkIV. While it is useless on the 5D, you dont loose that much on the 1.3x crop.

    Also, doesnt using the matte box restrict you to an even tighter field of view?

    But still, buying a lens and not being able to benefit from all of its zoom range is a bit annoying. I really hope Canon comes up with something to compare to the Nikon 12-24f2.8.

  4. Dan Chung Says:
    January 3rd, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Alain, The lens on its own can do just under 13mm on its own without a Mattebox. With the Mattebox it vignettes slightly at 13mm but is gone by 13.5mm. With a Fader ND filter it vignettes around 14mm. I prefer a Mattebox to screw in fixed ND filters so that’s why I use it, also with a wide lens like the Tokina flare control is more important. I’m prepared to sacrifice the 0.5 of a mm for the advantages it has.


  5. Alexander Gardner Says:
    January 4th, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Nice Dan. I’ve thought about purchasing the Tokina as it’s often regarded as “god like” IQ for a ultra wide zoom.

    One question, I’m not into video yet but have heard the Tokina’s rear element can interfere with the mirror on the 1D series. Is this true?

  6. Sam Morgan Moore Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 3:14 am

    I dont know about coverage of the 1ds4 but im also using the little known or thought about 16-50 2.8 tokina on my 7d

    to me the range is great walkabout and the build and focus ring are very suited to shooting ‘motion’

    im not sure it is too sharp at 2.8 though


  7. 晦冷面 Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 6:36 am

    说中文Dan Chung大大看的懂吗。。。英文不太好
    我想买一台7D,拍小电影之类的,Dan Chung大看是否可行?长时间用视频模式会不会影响CMOS寿命?

  8. Gary Taylor Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 7:22 am

    just a quick question about the Matte Box..from your recent posts, you don’t seem to use one or a monitor! Any reason for that?

    • Dan Chung Says:
      January 5th, 2010 at 7:37 am

      Gary, I use a Mattebox a lot, especially for interviews and daylight stuff. I didn’t have one with me for the recent night shoots and in low light there is less advantage because there is no need for ND filters. When I’m doing live news I tend to use Fader ND filters instead to keep the profile down.

      I have very nice LCD monitors, namely a Marshall V-LCD70P and an Ikan V5600 but again I only really use them for interviews at set piece stuff. I would use one whenever I could given the time constraints.

      Hope that helps.

  9. Dan Chung Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Alexander, I’ve not had any problems with mirror clearance and the Tokina 11-16mm. I’ll let you know if I ever encounter any but I’ve tested at all lengths and it seems fine.

  10. Johnnie Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Dan Thank you for the review!

    I am back from Japan after shooting my first “run N gun” documentary with the Canon 7d.

    The Tokina 11-16 is a life saver and the way to go when you are on the move.
    One big advantage over the Canon lenses are the hard minimum/maximum focus stops. It was very easy to mark 50cm, 1m, infinity on the lens and estimate the focus distance from the filmed people or objects. Footage and more thoughts on “run N gun shooting with the 7d” soon.


  11. Alexander Gardner Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 2:15 am

    That’s some fantastic news Dan. I’ll have to get my hands on one to experiment.

    Thanks again.

  12. Alex C Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Hi Dan and everyone. I’m rather new to the DSLR videographer scene and I apologize if I’m asking newbie questions here. I’ve been using the 500D/Rebel T1i to shoot a few video projects and its worked great looking past the obvious restrictions and using an external audio recorder and synching.

    Anyway I’m starting a larger film project and am looking to upgrade so I’m wondering which camera is best. I want to work in 24p/25p so I’m guessing my options are the 7D and 1DMKIV but what I’d like to know is whether the MKIV is that much superior to the 7D in terms of filming to warrant the investment.

    And maybe someone can answer this but what would be a great overall lens for indie film making? (documentary or otherwise) I have a bunch of lenses but I was wondering if there were one (or a few) in particular DSLR shooters are favoring.

    Thanks a bunch everyone!

  13. Alain Says:
    January 9th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Alex, your question covers a VERY wide subject!

    Are you aware that the 5DMrkII is going to get 24p in the next firmware update? (which should be soon). To me, this would be the best solution in your specific case. While the 7D is great, its small sensor causes issue in low light.

    With the money you save on the 1DMrkII by getting a 5D, you can get a few key lenses, namely the 24L1.4 and 24-70L.

    Then again, I dont know the situation you will be shooting in so who knows, maybe the 7D is good enough for you! Just make sure you have a real good tripod because that is what is going to hurt you the most in the end!

    I have reviewed a lot of lenses / kit on my website, you may want to check that out.

  14. chambers Says:
    January 11th, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Sir and everyone-

    I am brand spanking new to this, and about to invest in a couple of lenses for a 7D. I keep hearing that you NEED some sort of image stabilization on a lens if it moves at all during shooting.
    I plan on having a lot of movement in shots and am wondering how this lens fares in this respect, and if it has some hidden version of stabilization.


  15. Dan Chung Says:
    January 11th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Chris, Ultra wide lenses for Canon don’t have Image stabilizers yet and are less prone to seeing the effects of wobble than mid or tele lenses. I often handhold the 11-16, it’s a great lens. In the midrange the best image stabilised option for the 7D is the Canon 17-55mm f2.8.

  16. chambers Says:
    January 11th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks Dan!

  17. kayleigh Says:
    June 2nd, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Interesting article with loads of great points. However I’m personally not a fan of the Genus Matte Box. I use a Lanparte Matt Box that I bought from for around £319.00 and it’s fantastic! I’d definitely recommend it.

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