A Tokina 28mm lens on a Nikon SLR body

One of the cameras my colleague gave me that had belonged to her father was a Nikon EM. I’ve owned one before and liked it well enough, but not so well that it survived Operation Thin the Herd. I didn’t even bother to put a roll through it to test it — I knew I liked other cameras in its class better, and would use them more.

One of my mottoes is, “if you give me a camera, I will shoot it.” Assuming I can still get film for it, and it basically works, that is. The EM takes 35mm film and seemed to function fine, so I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and got busy.

The camera came with a 28mm f/2.8 Tokina EL lens attached, so I used it. I’m not a giant fan of 28mm as it’s just a little too wide for me — 35mm to 40mm is plenty wide for most things I shoot. But I was curious about the lens, so what the heck. It performed well, with excellent sharpness out to the corners and wonderful color rendition.


It suffers from barrel distortion. That seems to be common among 28mm lenses, however.


This image shows that distortion a little better — and also shows that the camera leaks a little light.

American Hardware & Supply Co.

Here’s an image that shows it better. It’s probably failing seals. This only happened when I let several minutes pass between frames.


Some affected images could be saved by cropping the leaky area out. The 4×5 aspect ratio usually did it.

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A lot of subjects said “portrait orientation” to me as I shot this roll.


All in all, this 28mm Tokina is a decent lens. On top of all of its positive attributes, it feels solidly built and it handles well. I didn’t bother to correct distortion in Photoshop on these images, but it’s very easy to do.

Blue door, yellow wall

I’m considering sending the EM body to Garry’s Camera to have the light leak remedied, and the camera CLA’d. Garry’s gets mixed reviews online, but his prices sure are right. This would be a terrific camera to try him out on. But when I get it back, I’ll probably pass it on to its next owner. I still don’t need to own a Nikon EM.

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7 responses to “A Tokina 28mm lens on a Nikon SLR body”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Ditto with you, not much of a 28mm person. 35mm is my normal, and then I jump to 24mm and wider! 28mm is neither not wide enough for me, or too wide for other stuff, altho I know a bunch of street shooters that tell me 28mm is their go-to lens.

    Somewhere along the line, I ended up with a 28mm Tokina with all my Pentax stuff. I never shoot it, but remember testing it out. It was very sharp, had good contrast and rendered a snappy image. My version didn’t seem to have much barrel distortion, at least not very noticeable, but it did have pronounced vignetting from wide open down to about f/5.6.

    Sometimes I think that in the old film days, the quality after-market lens producers, in order to keep the lenses affordable, compared to the actual brand specific lenses, played around with the sharpness/vignetting/contrast/distortion figures, and generally opted to make sure the lens was always sharp. Sigma has a great rep now, but I remember when they were “not so hot”, and most people bought Tamron and Tokina, and in both these brands, I never tried a copy of anything they made that wasn’t at least sharp.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have seldom shot any lenses wider than 28mm. I own a 21mm for my Olympus OM bodies and have shot a few frames with it, but that’s it. I just don’t need anything that wide normally. 35mm is usually plenty wide.

  2. arhphotographic Avatar

    Thank you for the review. Nice images from a good lens. I don’t have the prime but I do have a Tokina 28-85 f 3.5-4.5 in Olympus mount. I wonder if the results would be as good??

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      One roll of film will tell you! :-)

  3. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    I don’t remember the brand, but I have a K mount 28. It got some use when I was shooting film, but on my digital K-x it becomes a near normal lens that is 1 or 1.5 stops faster than my Pentax 18-55 so it is definitely handy for low light situations.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Do you detect much barrel distortion? I used to have good luck with my film lenses on the old Pentax K10D DSLR I used to own, at least in that regard.

      1. Dan Cluley Avatar
        Dan Cluley

        No, not bad at all. The K-x is an APS size sensor, so a 28 ends up looking like a 42mm.

        I did look and it is a Rokinon.

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