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Macro lenses are highly sought after for a variety of uses, from close ups to portraits and landscapes. Their quality is expected to be exemplary and the only disadvantage tends to be a fairly modest maximum aperture. Here Tamron offer a spectacular f/2 optic, so if the performance is up to par they could have a very desirable lens indeed on their hands.
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Features
The 60mm focal length equates to a 90mm or so 35mm-equivalent, often the most useful focal length for a general purpose macro lens. There is enough room for lights and to avoid the need for approaching a subject too closely. 14 elements in 10 groups, a filter size of 55mm and a full life-size 1:1 magnification ratio make a lens of modest weight, turning the scales at just 400g. The lens is fairly compact and is provided with a substantial and effective bayonet-fit lens hood.
A “full time manual function” feature enables manual fine tuning of the focus point after initial AF has been achieved, without the need to change any switches to MF. This feature is incredibly useful in macro work and should not be under-estimated.
There is an AF/MF switch on this Nikon version, but no focus lock. However, the lens is an internal focusing design and showed no tendency whatsoever to creep.
The lens is designed for APS-C format DSLRs and for this test was used with a Nikon D3100.
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Handling
The lens is obviously well made and bayonets very smoothly onto the camera. The hood fits well and is deep and effective, protecting the front element as well as reducing flare and increasing image contrast. The mount is metal and also well made and finished.
The focusing is geared to a very long throw and should have a high degree of accuracy. AF was fast and precise and there were no occasions when the system resorted to hunting. Often macro lenses work better using MF at ultra-close distances, but the Tamron behaves reliably at macro distances as well as longer ones.
The image is bright and clear, as we would expect from an f/2 maximum aperture. This f2 opens up new possibilities and makes the lens a more generally useful one, especially in the area of portraits. It is a more or less ideal 35mm-equivalent focal length of 90mm, a classic length for pleasing images of people. The skin tones can be softened and the large aperture will also throw distracting background details out of focus.
Short telephoto lenses are also widely used for landscape photography. Wide angle landscapes can often be disappointing as details are so reduced in size, but this lens is perfect for picking out details and making more powerful images. Mountains, for example, will retain their size and grandeur rather than being reduced to dots on the horizon.
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Performance
This specification of lens would not have been possible prior to multi-coating, purely because of the large number of elements needed to achieve the f/2 maximum aperture, actually reported as more like f/2.2 by the Nikon D3100. Add to this the need to preserve performance from infinity right through to macro distances and this is indeed a brave design.
As it is, the lens starts off reasonably well but does not reach maximum performance until around f/8. The performance here is excellent and this rise and fall pattern is evidence of a well thought out lens. The slightly softer images wide open will be ideal for portraits, but close down the aperture and we have a crisp detailed image for macro subjects. Contrast is well maintained and this is evident in the high MTF20 figures. The detail reproduction is shown very clearly by the MTF50 figures and is good but not exceptional for a macro lens.
The charts show the MTF results at the full range of apertures, for centre, half way across the field and the corners of the image. The black column indicates an averaged result for all three. The results were obtained using Imatest.
Chromatic aberrations are well controlled and should not present a problem. Distortion is probably slightly higher than ideal for a macro lens, but still a fairly modest -0.511% (barrel) that should not be visible in most general subjects. This is no doubt the price we pay for the wide maximum aperture.
In summary, an excellent performance, especially considering the maximum aperture.
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Verdict
Macro lenses have a real appeal and are extremely versatile optics, usable for a very wide range of subjects. The f/2 maximum aperture makes this Tamron lens even more desirable and the performance lives up to the expectation.
|At a street price of around £369 this is real value for money.|
Good build quality
Excellent value for money
Full time manual function feature
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Cons
Some barrel distortion
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Specification
|Construction||14 elements in 10 groups|
|35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body):||93mm|
|Size (lxw)||73mm x 80mm|
|In the box||HG005 lens hood, lens cap, rear lens cap|
The Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 lens costs £369.00 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 - Sony fit
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 - Canon fit
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 - Nikon fit