I wonder what's the use of providing zoom in the Tokina 11-16mm.

Why not make it an 11mm prime lens instead? It would contain less elements, so will produce sharper images. Also at such wide angle, what difference would this 5mm provide anyway. Most DSLRs are at least 18 or 24 megapixels. If someone wants this little zoom, they can always crop and it would create negligible effect to the picture quality. Also, it's probably more complex to implement the zoom capability.

Is it some technical feasibility issue, or I've got all these concepts wrong?


4 Answers 4


Why is zoom provided in Tokina 11-16mm?

Tokina has specialized in zooms. The reputation of their AT-X lenses is basically built upon their acquisition of highly-regarded zoom technology from Angénieux. Their current lens lineup includes:

  • Six primes: 20mm x2, 50mm, 100mm x2, 300mm.
  • Fifteen zooms.

Like their primes, many of their zooms duplicate the same ranges. For instance, they have 10-17mm x3, 11-16mm x2, 11-20mm, 12-28mm x2. They have full-frame duplicates of crop-sensor lenses. One line (AT-X V) consists are near-exact duplicates with minor body modifications.

What's the point of all that? Consumers want and buy zooms. Lenses have different mounts and formats to match different cameras. The same lens can be sold at different prices. If someone is willing to pay more for a lens, why not sell it for more? But if the choice is between selling a lens for a bit less, but still substantial amount, vs not selling the lens at all, why not sell it for a bit less? By selling the same and similar lenses at different prices, they can do both.

Why not make it an 11mm prime lens instead? It would contain less elements, so will produce sharper images... its probably more complex to implement the zoom capability.

"Prime" does not necessarily mean fewer elements. Extra elements are required to correct distortions and aberration. Since the flange focal distance of most cameras is greater than 11mm, a reverse telephoto design is required, which also needs more elements. You may be interested in reading – Lens Rentals: Lens Geneology (part 1, part 2).

Lenses need to be only as sharp as the sensor is able to resolve. Modern zooms are much better than many primes from the era when zooms "earned" their poor reputation. By limiting the zoom range, the trade-offs to create the zoom are also limited.

Since Tokina has essentially specialized in zooms, they've already done most of the design work, especially when considering the duplicate models. Manufacturing is already complex. Increasing complexity a bit doesn't matter because people get good at tasks repeated often enough and much of it is done by machine.

Also at such wide angle, what difference this 5mm would provide anyway.

The difference is about that of full-frame and APS-C (16/11 = 1.45). In terms of pixels, it's about double – (16/11)2 = 2.12. Also, many Tokina zooms, including this one, are constant aperture, so there's no light-loss penalty for zooming.

If someone wants this little zoom...

They can buy the lens in question. There is generally high demand for zooms. They are versatile, and people can avoid post processing by "cropping" in camera. See .

Is it some technical feasibility issue or I've got all these concepts wrong?

I am able to find one 11mm prime lens for sale, so it's technically possible to produce, but it's manual focus, has an F4 aperture, and listed for more than the Tokina 11-16/2.8 variants. There's probably not much demand for such a lens.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for such detailed informative answer. The main part I was getting wrong was my misconception that 11 to 16 mm isn't a big difference \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 9:53

The point is versatility, so one can change from 11mm to 16mm or anywhere in between as needed, and not be restricted to just 11mm.

I compose my shots so no cropping is required, unless something prevents me from doing so.

I may prefer to have a zoom or two instead of a camera bag full of 20 different prime lenses.

I do not see "fixing it in post production" as the proper way to produce quality images.

Try to make the best possible negative/file in the first place.


"Anthropocentric" answer: because it wouldn't be the 11-16mm zoom then, but an 11mm prime. You could just as well ask why they don't make it a 16-300.

Also, 11-16 isn't this little zoom. it's nearly 1.5x.


There might be practicality:

A 24mm equivalent lens can be used to create a reasonably normally looking photo if that is quickly needed, eg in a reportage situation. 24mm is considered the lower end of the "tame" wide angles, and a possible general purpose lens. Not exactly optimal for eg portraiture... but people in 2019 have gotten used to the peculiarities of a 24mm equivalent since that is what many smartphones use.

A 16mm equivalent is an extreme wideangle that needs to be handled with wideangle discipline (you tilt it with abandon or you DON'T tilt it! Either way, pull it out my nose!) that could prove useless for some general purpose photography tasks unless you would be willing to crop heavily.

So, an 11-16mm DX zoom will leave the user with a special purpose lens and an "emergency" general purpose lens in hand, without a need to change lenses.


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