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|Product:||Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro|
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC Review - John Riley reviews the Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro lens.
A full frame compatible lens with a wide range of 28-300mm and built in VC (Vibration Compensation) has to be an attractive proposition in terms of convenience. With cropped sensors this turns into a range of about 42-450mm, not as wide but giving even greater telephoto range. How does this stand up to scrutiny in terms of quality? Let's examine the lens closely and discover if it lives up to the initial promise.
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Features
We have here a compact if somewhat chunky lens weighing 550g and taking 67mm filters. Maximum magnification of 1:3 at 300mm is usefully close, although not a true macro lens. The lens is constructed of 18 elements in 13 groups, including low dispersion glass and aspherical elements. The focusing motor on this Nikon version is built into the lens, making it D compatible.
The VC module offers vibration compensation of up to 4 stops and operates by moving a group of lens elements to compensate for camera movement.
The lens is well constructed of sturdy feeling plastics. A bayonet lens hood is provided and is probably essential for such a complex lens and such a large front element.
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Handling
Full marks here for handling – the lens is well balanced and controls are smooth and precise in operation. The lens hood is slightly fiddly to fit, but clicks firmly enough into place once positioned correctly.
Focusing is accurate and fast and it was rare for the mechanism to start hunting. The VC system acts fairly quickly and the image in the viewfinder visibly stabilises. This system has its own advantages over in-body stabilisation in that we can actually observe the process at work. The disadvantage is that it will only work with lenses that have the facility built in as opposed to it acting with all lenses and accessories.
There is a lock provided on the barrel that will prevent the lens from extending when being carried, but in fact there is very little tendency for this to happen. Maybe if and when the lens loosens up with hard use the lock may be of benefit.
The focal length range is undeniably convenient, especially for full frame users. Wide angle to a respectable telephoto in one unit could make this an ideal travel lens. This is less so for APS-C users, where the lens is transformed into a standard at the wide end, albeit it a wide standard, and a very long 450mm- equivalent telephoto at the long end. The downside to this is the restricted aperture at the long end, as is often the case with wide ranging zoom lenses.
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Performance
Using Imatest, I shot a wide range of test images at 28mm, 50mm, 100mm, 200mm and 300mm. The 100mm setting on the lens barrel actually delivered as 85mm.
This yields a bewildering array of data, and before I summarise the results I would point out that technically there are many low figures generated by this process. Clearly the lens makes many compromises and it is a testament to modern lens technology that it is possible at all. We will examine how this relates into real-world results in due course.
The first compromise is in terms of distortion and the figures in the small graphs reveal quite high levels of barrel distortion changing to pincushion as we zoom towards the long end. This is inevitable and is the price paid to ensure maximum possible sharpness and contrast across the full range. This ranges from about -2.3% barrel distortion at 28mm to about +0.76% pincushion at 300mm.
This level of distortion is noticeable in critical architectural pictures, but for general purposes, scenes and portraits will probably not be a problem. This is where it becomes important to identify the real use of the lens and how the figures may not actually impact too much on that intended use.
Chromatic aberrations are also present to a significant degree, especially towards the corners of the frame and the longer end. However, considering the wide range of the lens CA has been controlled rather well. In practical terms the end result is clean on all but the most demanding subjects.
Flare is extremely well controlled and shows excellent coating technology has been used. Obviously use of the provided lens hood is strongly recommended with such a complex lens. There is a lot of glass that could potentially be suceptible to flare and every little that we do to avoid it helps.
In terms of resolution we have a complex story. The MTF20 graphs show the resolution at 20 cycles and reveal a punchy lens. Good contrast is evident over most of the range and results in a good level of visual sharpness. The MTF50 graphs at 50 cycles are much more demanding and show us the amount of detail resolution. Here the lens is less successful and it is clear that the wider it is used the better it is. Optimum aperture tends to be f/11 throughout, but this is well maintained from f/5.6 to f/16 apart from smaller apertures at long focal lengths.
This is arguably the right way to go as at longer lengths shutter speed may well be more important, capturing perhaps sports and wildlife and needing wider apertures. By the time we get to the longer lengths I would only use f/22 and f/32 as a last resort as this is where resolution is really quite low.
The VC system is all but essential for a lens as long as this. The image clicks firmly into place as the stabilisation becomes effective and this is quite an unusual effect at first. It does work though and makes a significant difference to the ability to hand hold, whilst still obtaining sharp images.
Certainly in all operational ways the Tamron lens works smoothly and reliably at all times. AF in particular is whisper-quiet and positive as it locks onto almost any subject virtually instantly.
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Verdict
If we relate this lens to its main use then we have a highly effective tool. It is quiet, efficient, highly convenient and performs well in the field. For maximum quality, using the lens around f/8 or f/11 and at shorter focal lengths will deliver the goods for larger prints, should they be required. For general purpose use, smaller prints and web then the lens will be absolutely fine and is extremely versatile. It makes possible a very wide range of types and styles of photography in a compact and light package that balances well on the camera body.
Clearly we need to relate a product like this to its intended use and those who want large exhibition prints perhaps should look for an alternative that is technically less ambitious. General purpose photographers who want convenience along with versatility may well have a lens here that could be at the top of their list.
|This Tamron lens is a highly effective tool. It is quiet, efficient, highly convenient and performs well in the field.|
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Pros
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Cons
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Lens: Specification
|Construction||18 elements in 13 groups|
|Angle-of-view||75° - 8°|
|35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body):||42 - 450mm|
|Size (lxw)||73mm x 83.7mm|
|In the box||Flower design Bayonet lens hood (BH77A)|
The Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC costs £498.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC - Canon Fit
Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC - Nikon Fit