Backyard bird photography with the Tokina 300/2.8


Spring is starting to show it self in North-Central Arkansas, and it is the perfect time to try out a new toy. I sold a few portrait lenses and used the proceeds to pick up a Tokina 300/2.8. I also have a 2x teleconverter, giving me  a 600/5.6 for about 1000 bucks. Now, you might be wondering why not to buy a canon 300/2.8. I have shot the Canon, and it was an awesome lens, but with a sticker price of 6800 bucks…. well…. I just can’t justify that cost for a lens that i am not making money with.

The Tokina AT-X 300 AF PRO (300mm f/2.8) is an auto-focus lens, it can fit canon, nikon and minolta cameras.


  •  Focal length    300 mm
  • Weight  4.4 lbs
  •  Angle of view              8.2°
  •  Max. aperture             f/2.8
  •  Aperture blades         8
  •  Lenses/Groups           9 elements in 7 groups
  • Min. focus distance    2.40 meters

There were not a ton of these lenes made, and they have since been discontinued, so they are getting pretty hard to find. This is actually the 2nd on that I have purchased. The first one was damaged in shipping and I had to make a claim with the insurance provided by the shipper.
So, we will start with the bad news. The Auto-focus performance. This lens was made before the days of Canon’s USM (ultra sonic motor) AF, so the auto-focus is much louder (it sounds like it is full of angry bees) and slower. It is still fast enough to track birds in flight, but noticeably slower than canon’s USM lenses.

Here is the good news.
It is a very solid lens, aluminum alloy body with a matte black finish. It is lighter than Canon’s 300, at 4.4 lbs, it is one of the lightest 300/2.8 lenses available. Honestly though, at 4.4 pounds plus the weight of the converter and hood it is still not what i would consider light. It is possible to hand hold this lens, and it would be a bit better if it were more balanced, it is a little front heavy. It is actually pretty sharp with good contrast and well controlled CA. Overall I am very impressed with this lens, especially when you consider what it costs.

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