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Tokina ATX 100M AF Pro D Macro Lens

A macro lens is a close up lens. While some zoom lenses have a "macro" function, they are not truly a macro lens as they cannot provide a 1:1 close-up. Most macro lenses have 1:1 magnifications, but can go to as much as 5:1.

Tokina ATX 100M AF Pro D Overview

Tokina 100/2.8 Macro Lens

Lens Type: Prime Macro 1:1
Format: FX (Full Frame)
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Focal Length: 100mm
Autofocus Type: AF
Minimum Focus Distance: 11in
Aperture Blades: 9
Filter size: 55mm
Manufactured: Japan
Lens construction: Pro grade
Street Price: $450


Which Focal Length? Macro lenses can be found anywhere from 35mm all the way to 150mm. Perhaps the most popular macro sizes are 80mm and 100/105mm. What is the difference. Other than perspective distortion introduced by the wide angle versions, the 100/105mm macro is perhaps the most popular as you can stay back a bit more than with the shorter lenses. This can be important if you are shooting bugs as you can scare them away, or perhaps be bitten or stung if you venture too close. Short focal length macro lenses are pretty much limited to flowers or inanimate objects.

Depth of Field. DoF is very important to macro shooting, and typically open apertures, such as f/3.5 will result in wafer-thin depth-of-field. For that reason, many macro shooters use f/22 or more, and some macro lenses can go as high as f/64. While high apertures can contribute to diffraction (which results in softness), the diffraction issues are not significant when compared to an insufficient DoF. Since DoF is kinder to shorter focal lengths, short macro lenses do help in this regard. Shooting at such small apertures often means you need a macro flash - even in bright sunny days.

What is 1:1 Macro? For instance if you photograph a bug's head with an actual dimension of 1/2", it would occupy 1/2" on the sensor. If you had a "macro" function - such as a zoom lens that provided a 1:2 ratio, that bug would occupy 1/4".

Manual focus. Most cameras do not do well autofocusing short distances, so most macro shooters use manual focus. In that regard, the Tokina 100mm has one of the best manual focus setups in a lens. Some do not like it, but perhaps it's just one of those things you need to get used to.

External vs. Internal Focusing. Many macro lenses - including the Tokina 100mm are "external focus". Other macro lenses, such as the Nikon AF-S 105mm are internal focus. In some regard, the internal focus has a benefit, and that is when mounting a macro flash. An external focus lens is one where the lens moves in and out during focus. An internal focus lens does not.

The chief advantage to the internal focus lens is that the focus motor is not under as much strain when you attach a macro flash to the filter threads. In contrast, you can burn out the lens or camera focus motor attempting to auto-focus an external focusing lens. Fortunately the solution is to manually focus the external focus lens - which is not a problem with macro as you are going to do that anyway.

While macro is their chief function, some lenses - especially in the 85mm and 100mm range also make great portrait lenses. They are often fast f/2.8 lenses, and often have 9 leaf aperture diaphragms. However some lenses like the Tokina Macro are not AF-S, so they require a camera having an internal focus motor.



What appears as a cave entrance when shot in macro is actually a crack in a cement block.

Bugs and flowers are perhaps the most photographed macro objects. A flash was used here as the aperture was f/22.

Conclusion: Do you really need to take a macro lens on a cruise or travel. Well that all depends on what you like to photograph. Fact is, macro opens up a whole new world of photography. However, to be effective, you need 4 things to shoot macro:

  • A true macro (1:1) lens.
  • A macro flash.
  • A tripod with an articulating center post.
  • A remote shutter release.

These items means you will be carrying a bit of equipment with you. As the tripod and shutter release can be used for other purposes, the equipment you need to dedicate to macro use is the lens and flash. But like anything in photography, it takes a bit of effort to produce an outstanding photograph, and lugging this stuff on travel is that effort in the case of macro.