Is it true that this lens won’t autofocus with my camera?

April 15, 2013 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in Q&A by

I read some very favourable reviews about the Tokina 12-24 mm lens, but one mentioned that it will not autofocus with some cameras, including my Nikon D5200. Is that true and, if so, what is the solution?
—Andrei R.

Yes, it’s true, Andrei, and this aspect should be a concern with older Tokina lenses. The specs for the original PRO DX 12-24 mm zoom included this comment: “Will not AF when used on Nikon D40 SLR camera body.” In fact, that meant it would not autofocus with any of the following Nikon cameras: the D40, D40x, D60, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100 and your D5200. That’s because those models are not equipped with AF drive motors.

That also applies when using Nikon lenses; these cameras provide autofocus only when using Nikon AF-S lenses, equipped with a Silent Wave motor, and not with the older AF Nikkor series. (This is not relevant to more expensive cameras such as the D7000, which will autofocus with any AF lens.)

Like the other affordable Nikon DSLRs, the D5200 was designed to provide autofocus with Nikon AF-S lenses, which are equipped with an AF motor. It will autofocus with other brands of lenses too, but only if they're equipped with a suitable AF motor. Photo Courtesy of Nikon Canada.

The good news is that the current the Tokina 12-24 mm zoom, introduced in March 2012 and labelled PRO DX II, will autofocus when used with any Nikon DSLR. As the Tokina web site indicates, the version II lens includes a DC motor with an AF control gear assembly for smooth and quiet autofocus, so it “can be used in AF mode with the Nikon D60 and D40 and other silent wave bodies.” (This newer lens also benefits from superior multi-layer coatings for control of flare.)

The version II of Tokina DX-series lenses in Nikon mount are equipped with a DC focus motor so they will autofocus when used with all Nikon DSLR models. Photo Courtesy of Daymen Canada.

This lens compatibility issue also applies to other Tokina products, including the PRO DX 11-16 mm f/2.8. The new PRO DX version II of this very highly rated zoom would also be well worth considering. All owners of a Nikon DSLR without an AF motor should definitely check the specs of any Tokina lens for a note that confirms it will autofocus with all Nikon cameras. Tokina also makes lenses in Canon mount, but autofocus is not a concern for owners of EOS cameras. Tokina AF lenses in EOS mount have always been equipped with an AF motor, so they will autofocus with any Canon DSLR.