209 of 219 people found the following review helpful
Stunning! Image Quality on par with Canon 70-200mm F4 IS,
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This review is from: Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di VC USD XLD for Canon Digital SLR Cameras (Camera)Pros:
* Great Price for all the professional features
* Image Quality on par with Canon L series
* Location of zoom and focus ring
I was lucky to get myself a copy of this one-shot wonder on Amazon. After I received it, I did some quick test. Since we are still under house arrest because of taking care of our newborn, I have yet to test this lens in the field to the fullest extent. The Tamron is a full frame lens and on a 1.6 cropped sensor, the focal length is converted 112-480mm. This lens is my second Tamron in my bag. My first Tamron lens was the SP 17-50mm F2.8. The 17-50mm lands a special spot in my heart not only because its stunning image quality along with a great pricing, but it's also my first professional lens and I have done tons of portfolio work with it. As of today, this lens is still my main workhorse and all the images you see here were taken with it.
What's in the box? It comes with the usual stuff that one would expect, front, rear cap, user's manual, etc. FYI, just like many third party brand, all Tamron lenses come with a lens hood. This one is no exception, it comes with large flower petal lens hood. No lens pouch included and no warranty card either. Tamron has moved from traditional mail-in warranty registration to online registration.
My initial response when I took it out of box - this is a sturdy, solid, well constructed lens inside a plastic barrel. Some may be disappointed because its plastic look and feel. But for me, I find this lens is made with quality material and the plastic finish does not bother me at all. No weather seal protection which I don't expect to see one at this price range. If you expected this lens to be light because of the plastic finish. Wrong! This lens weights 765g. How heavy is 765g? It is equivalent to 2 cans of 12oz soda. It is about the same as the Canon 70-200mm f4L IS and 130g more than its main competitor, the Canon 70-300mm IS. It is a great balance with my Canon 40D but a bit front heavy on my Rebel XT. Based on the weight, I believe Tamron's target audience for this lens is for photographers using professional or semi-professional bodies.
The barrel of the lens protruding out when changing the focal length. The front element does not rotate so this is a plus for the polarizer filter users. The rubber zoom ring is wide and handling is great. There is no zoom creep - the lens barrel does not sliding back and forth when the camera is tilted. The focusing ring is smaller than that of the zoom ring and it is less dampened than the zoom ring. A distance scale window is located near the lens mount. There are two switches on the lens, AF/MF and VC (vibration compensation). The location of the switch is on the left side near the lens mount and they can be easily accessed with your fingers without moving your hand away from the camera. Ergonomically, it meets my expectation except for the location of the zoom and focusing ring which will be discussed later.
USD and HD Video shooting
This lens is the first lens featuring Tamron's version of ultra sonic motor, USD (ultrasonic silent drive). Something worth mentioning is that Sony owns 11% of Tamron. Because of this, I was suspecting the USD is based on the same platform as Sony's SSM (Super Sonic Motor) technology. Per Tamron EU, they claimed the USD is "Tamron's very own ultrasonic auto-focus drive mechanism." Regardless who owns the technology, the focusing speed is amazing - silent and quick just like Canon's USM. How does it compare to Canon's USM? Honestly, I can't tell the differences after I did some side by side comparison.
If you are familiar with Tamron's past lens design pattern, you will notice that the focus path is reduced on the lenses with conventional focusing motor. The purpose is to increasing the focusing speed where the focusing ring only rotates 30 - 50 degrees. The increase of speed does come with a disadvantage which is that manual focusing becomes more difficult. On my Tamron 17-50mm, I don't even bother with using the manual focusing. When the focusing speed is increased by the implementation of the new USD, Tamron increases the focus path and now you can turn the focusing ring ~ 180 degree. This allows photographers to fine tune the focusing. I believe this is also a plus for shooting HD video with DSLR where photographer can smoothly switching the focus from one point of interest to another.
Now the image quality from this lens. The main competitor here is the Canon 70-300mm IS. However, by the time writing his review, I no longer have the Canon with me. So I will compare it against one of sharpest consumer zoom lenses ever made, the Canon 70-200mm F4 IS. Both images were obtained with the same setting - 70mm, F4, 0.8 sec and ISO100 on tripod with IS off. Both images were taken with a Canon 40D.
As you can see the Canon produce images with higher center sharpness and overall contrast. But the Tamron holds its ground pretty well. The IQ of from center of the image produced by the Canon is slightly better than that of the Tamron. When it comes to the corners, to my surprise, the Tamron starts to catch up with its competitor. Although the differences between the two are insignificant. The Canon is a $1200 lens, 3 times more than that of the Tamron. I will let you be the judge. see [...] for the sample images
Vibration compensation (VC)
This is the 4th Tamron lens that features the VC. Although the company just joins the market of optical image stabilization, it provides a stunning 4-stop stabilization. To activate the VC, just simply switch the VC from off to on. Unlike Canon IS, it does not have a mode 1 or mode 2 for panning. The VC has its own way to detects vertical or horizontal movement and makes proper adjustment for stabilizing images when shooting panning. Like Canon's IS, user's must turn off VC when using the lens on a tripod. Below are a few images taken with the Tamron. The slowest shutter speed I can get to with the VC is 1/30 second @ 300mm for a sharp image.
After a using this lens from a short trip to the local park. my biggest disappointment is the location of the zoom ring and focus ring. By comparing the Tamron and the Canon, you will notice that the Canon zoom ring is closer to the lens mount. Why is this important? It is important when you reverse-store your lens hood, you can still zoom the lens and leave the focus in AF, which leaves you a fully functional lens. The Tamron has a gigantic flower hood. Once I reversed it, it will cover the entire zoom ring and you can't zoom the lens at all. This means to zoom the lens, I have to either leave the hood in the forward position all the time or have it removed all the time.
Tamron 70-300mm SPii USD VC Di on Canon 40D
Lens hood blocking the zoom ring
The location of the focusing ring is at a bad location. If you look closely at the Canon L series lenses, you will notice that the focusing ring is always in front of the zoom ring. It is close to the lens mount and it makes balancing the camera difficult when manual focusing since both hands are too close to the camera and leaves the heavy front part of the lens without any support.
Friends asked me, what do I plan to do with this lens? Besides using it for travel, this will be my primary lens to replace the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS for my studio work. Because of its narrow view angle, I am able to place my light extremely close to my subject to create the dramatic lighting that I like. This lens comes with all the features that I will need for my work. The VC will reduce blur and provide more sharp photos. The USD provides a fast and silent focus to ensure a moment is well captured. The full time manual not only makes this lens the best in its class but also a powerful tools when it comes to fine-tuning focus without changing metering.
I used to use the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS for my studio work and its 1500g of weight shows little mercy on my shoulder and neck after hours of shooting. In addition, the 2.8 is way overkill for a control environment shoot where I usually work between f5.6 to f11 @ 1/250s. The Tamron has everything I need and nothing I don't. Not to mentioned the price is only $399 (with Tamron $50 rebate, ends 12/31). I can now leave the 70-200mm for shooting weddings and events.
The draw back of this lens is the location of the focusing and zoom rings. The focusing ring location is no ideal for shooting with manual focus. The zoom ring will be blocked by the lens hood when it is stored in reverse position. For this price, I am not complaining, at least not for my studio work where I rarely use lens hood. I can see this becoming a problem when using in the field where I have to remove my lens hood first in order to zoom. A few seconds wasted may lose a chance to capture something amazing.
How does this lens affect Tamron as a company? This lens is not only a milestone in the history of the company, but also a gateway to the next level of lens manufacturing. For the longest time, the company mainly focus in the consumer market due to the lack of optical image stabilization and ultrasonic focus motor. With the recent development of USD and VC, I can see these being implemented into their fast lenses like the 70-200mm and 28-75mm - the two key lenses for professional photography. A 28-75mm f2.8 with VC USD would be a nice addition to the full-frame collection, where Canon has yet stabilized their 24-70mm 2.8L. Bottom line is, great products along with competitive price and a 6-year warranty will attract many semi-professional and pros to switch or use it as their backup.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2010 9:47:16 PM PST
Posted on Nov 27, 2010 8:17:06 AM PST
Alan M. Collopy says:
Very good review of the Tamron, thank you. I've been looking closely at this lens, looking for a longer zoom for my Canon EOS Rebel T2i. I think, after all the favorable reviews thus far, this is the one. I like the fact that it includes the lens hood, unlike Canon lenses, and for the cost of $399.00 after rebate, it's hard to "not" want to try it out.
Thank you again,
Posted on Feb 28, 2011 2:17:18 PM PST
With the lens hood on you can use it like a push/pull zoom...
Posted on Jul 3, 2011 7:20:38 AM PDT
Corey J. Simmonds says:
While I'm already impressed that this lens keeps up as well as it does with the Canon 70-200 F4L at 70mm, I would like to note that most test sites (and my own experience) have shown that this lens really shines in sharpness on the telephoto end, and not at the wide end. It might seemingly be completely counter to logic considering that every other budget telephoto (including Canon's non-L 70-300) behaves in the opposite way and gets soft at the telephoto end, but Tamron has somehow designed around this flaw in other lenses. Depending on who you ask, this lens seems to either maintain 100% of its sharpness through its zoom range, or perhaps even pick up a bit of sharpness when used at longer than 70mm.
I think it would be interesting for your to try both this and your 70-200 at 200mm instead of 70mm.
Posted on Sep 3, 2011 4:38:12 PM PDT
I have a D5100 Nikon..I was wondering how this stacks up to the Nikon 70-300 lens?? have there been any comparisons done between these 2 lens??Thanks
Posted on Dec 31, 2011 10:34:24 AM PST
I will create my own review and just want to offer an opposing experience. The first copy I received for my Canon camera was never quite clear and the exposure was always wrong. I returned that for a replacement lens and that copy was also slightly out of focus and seemed to have some metering issues. On the other hand, the Tamron 17-50 I have is razor sharp and clear colors. So two copies into this VC 70-300, and I'm done screwing around with this lens. For me it is nowhere near the Canon L 70-200mm... and I really wanted it to be. I'm sure I'll get some "unhelpful" shots but I am posting on this review for those who are considering this lens... WARNING: be critical. Before I purchased, I figured the neg reviews were way too critical to believe and put a lot of faith in this particular review and some like it. I did call Tamron on both lenses by the way. And they offered to calibrate both of them at my shipping expense... if it "is not within their specs". Well shouldn't both have already been within specs in the first place from the factory?
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 2:11:50 PM PST
M. Hamilton says:
If you find this problem with other lenses, you might check to see if your camera body has micro calibration ability for the focus. Many newer models do. I have a stellar Nikon model that performs well but one lens required that I calibrate it and then there was no problem from that point on. I've had no issues with my Canon bodies/lenses but suppose they have this ability too. Hope this helps.
Posted on Jan 3, 2012 11:11:21 PM PST
While I enjoy your enthusiasm I too own both lenses and this Tamron is in no way comparable to a Canon L. I do think it is a great addition to my lenses as it is a great light weight lens that can be carried easily for a long lens And is reasonably sharp throughout it's range but to characterize it on par with a professional L series lens is not accurate or realistic. It is good to be sure but with flaws in ergonomics, and build quality. It is in no way as sharp or contrasty as the real thing. Would I buy it again? Absolutely. Is it used? All the time. For a pro shoot? Never.
Posted on Jun 20, 2012 7:54:01 AM PDT
J. Austin says:
Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed review. I use this lens on Nikon bodies and am very satisfied with it as well. I find it runs very close to the stellar Nikon 70-300 F4.5-5.6 lens. My only disagreement is with your posting title. I shot Canon for many years and their 70-200/F4L IS lens is one of the sharpest lenses made, from any manufacturer. While this Tamron 70-300 is quite good, it is no where near as sharp as the Canon 70-200/F4L IS. Nor is it built as well. Just wanted to add this so that pro Canon shooters won't buy this lens and be disappointed. Yes, it is a very good lens, but it doesn't compare to the Canon 70-200/4L IS lens. And of course at 1/3 the cost, I would not expect it to.
Posted on Jul 19, 2012 11:11:56 AM PDT
Floyd Goodrich says:
Anton Huo "photographer, father, husband, traveler, dreamer, guitar player, desert adventurer, kayaker but not a good swimmer & coffee lover"
Location: San Jose, CA
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