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Tokina 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AT-X 840 AF-II

atx840af2
Review Date: Jan 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Size, range, build, sharpness within reason, price!
Cons:
Variable ap, AF tends to hunt in less than bright conditions.

Far from perfect, but Tokina gives you everything you pay for, and probably more: they seem to always give you good bang for the buck.

In my experience, I shot birds on an overcast afternoon, and was mildly disappointed; I shot an NFL game on a bright October afternoon, and was astonished by the clarity and color, even at a high ISO and after some pretty aggressive cropping...maybe even better than the 70-200 2.8L IS I was also using.

It's a battleship: I've shot waterfall details in a downpour, and only had to wipe off the casing afterwards. I've dropped it, sat on it (in its padded case), and jogged up and down sidelines with it on a monopod over my shoulder. (I also tried it with a Kenko 1.5x teleconverter, and would not recommend it...things get pretty murky unless there's a LOT of light)

For the price, this thing ain't big-aperture L-glass, but it's a solid tool that, within its limits, helps you get the job done.