Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Tokina 35mm f/2.8 Macro AT-X PRO DX - £375/$300

Incompatible with full-frame bodies, the DX-format Tokina has an effective focal length of 52.5mm on APS-C format Nikons. Because it's designed exclusively for these cameras, it's a shame that Tokina hasn't fitted an autofocus motor, which rules out autofocus completely on models such as the D3100 and D5100. For Nikon photographers, compatible cameras are limited to the likes of the D7000 and D300s.

Like the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens, the Tokina has a relatively slow maximum aperture of f/2.8, plus a full 1.0x magnification facility, but the minimum focus distance for this is 14cm, which means the front of the lens comes to within just 15mm of the object when you shoot in full macro mode.

Sharpness and contrast are impressive, even at the largest available aperture. Autofocus is a little noisy with the screw drive of compatible cameras, but is reasonably quick nonetheless. The nine-blade diaphragm also helps to deliver a fairly pleasing bokeh. Like its macro Sigma cousin, however, the lens feels like a poor compromise between fast prime and macro.


Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Contrast and sharpness are great even at the largest available aperture, albeit a relatively pedestrian f/2.8.

Lab test
Sharpness at f/2.8: 1795
Sharpness at f/8: 1779
Sharpness at f/16: 1645


Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

Colour fringing is noticeable towards the corners of the frame, especially at large aperture settings.

Lab test
Fringing at f/2.8: 0.37
Fringing at f/8: 0.28
Fringing at f/16: 0.21


Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

There's a bit of barrel distortion but it's reasonably well contained and not normally a problem.

Distortion: -0.6

Image test verdict

Best prime lenses for Nikons: 8 tested

There's not much wrong with the Tokina's image quality but we'd still prefer a larger aperture than the less-than-useful 1.0x magnification.