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Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Interchangeable Lens Review

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Interchangeable Lens Review - A telephoto macro lens let you shoot frame-filling shots of small things without having to get too close. Here, we test a classic optic.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Di
Price : £348
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Features and handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro main image
ePHOTOzine's expert Gary Wolstenholme takes a long, lingering look at a macro lens that has an enviable reputation.

This Tamron costs around £345 and produces life-size magnification at its closest focus. At this price it is great value when compared to the prices the camera manufacturers ask for their macro offerings. Some are over twice the price! Independent lens makers Sigma and Tokina also offer lenses of similar specification, with the Sigma 105mm costing £375 and the Tokina 100mm being priced at £340, so the Tamron is still one of the cheapest.

There are macro lenses of 50mm, 60mm or 65mm aimed at DSLR with APS-C or Four Third format sensors. This Tamron 90mm is compatible with 35mm full-frame as well as APS-C format cameras. On the cameras with cropped sensors, this 90mm is effectively 135mm on Nikon/Pentax/Sony DSLRs and 144mm on Canon. This could be too long for some photographers shooting portraits but will definitely suit people keen on shooting insects because it allows tight compositions without having to get too close.

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro: Features and handling
The lens barrel is largely constructed of injection moulded plastics, which have a good finish to them and appear to be high quality. The lens extends by almost double when focused to its closest distance, which can lead to some issues lighting your subject, especially when using the supplied lens hood. The front element is deeply recessed inside the lens barrel, which should give sufficient protection against light sources outside of the image area without the hood.

AF is powered by a built-in motor, which makes no claims to be a silent one, but the noise produced isn't overly disturbing and focus is achieved quickly at normal distances. A focus limiter switch, located on the side of the lens barrel, limits the range the lens can hunt through, which should speed autofocus. For close distances, I'd still recommend focusing manually though.
The focusing ring can be moved forward to disengage it, so that it doesn't rotate during focusing. This also serves as the AF/MF switch, so there is no need to fiddle about switching the camera from autofocus to manual as well. The manual focusing action is sooth and precise, which is very important for a lens such as this. As the lens is focused closer, the maximum aperture is adjusted in the camera to reflect the loss of light, which will ensure flash exposures are accurate at these close distances.

Overall, I really like the way this lens handles. Being a lightweight lens, it is easy to support hand-held, and poses few issues when used with a tripod.

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro: Performance

For this review, the lens was tested on a 12Mp Nikon D700 using Imatest.

For its price, this lens is an outstanding performer. Centre resolution is already very good at f/2.8, with the edges not being far behind in terms of resolution. Stopping down to between f/8 and f/11 yields images with excellent resolution in the centre and very good sharpness towards the edges. Diffraction starts to reduce the resolution from f/11 onwards, but f/22 still produces good results, and f/32 is still more than acceptable. Contrast is very good in images taken down to f/22, with a slight drop at f/32.

Resolution at 90mm
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro resolution at 90mm

There is nothing much to worry about with Chromatic Aberrations either. At f/2.8 Imatest recorded chromatic aberration of 0.6pixel-widths, which will not normally cause issues in images.

Chromatic Aberrations at 90mm
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro CA at 90mm

Light falloff in the corners is very well controlled for a wide-aperture lens. At f/2.8 the corners are 0.9 stops darker than the image centre. Stopping down to f/5.6 produces even illumination across the frame.

Distortion is also very well controlled. Imatest recorded 0.436% pincushion distortion, which is very low, as you would expect for a fixed focal lens.

A small amount of ghosting and flare is present when taking images of a strong point sources of light which takes the form of a faint green ghost on the opposite side of the image centre. Light sources outside of the image frame pose no problems with flare or ghosting, thanks in part to the deeply recessed front element. I noticed little difference when testing with or without the supplied hood.

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro eye
Depth-of-field is less the closer you get.
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro garlic
The 90mm is perfect for still-life work.
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro jeans
F/8 and f/11 are the best apertures.
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro rope
Resolution of fine detail is excellent.

A small amount of ghosting and flare is present when taking images of a strong point sources of light which takes the form of a faint green ghost on the opposite side of the image centre. Light sources outside of the image frame pose no problems with falre of ghosting, thanks in part to the deeply recessed front element. I noticed little difference when testing with or without the supplied hood.

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro: Verdict
The Tamron 90mm Macro is a superb performer, producing high resolution images with bags of contrast and detail. For its price it represents excellent value for money.

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE
OVERALL

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro: Pros
Excellent resolution
Good build
Excellent value for money

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro: Cons
Reduction in contrast at f/32

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro: Specification
Price £335
Contact Intro2020
Filter size 55mm
Format Full frame/35mm/FX
Construction 9 elements in 10 groups
Angle-of-view 27°
35mm equivalent focal length 90mm, 135mm (Nikon/Pentax/Sony), 144mm (Canon) on APS-C body
Internal focusing No
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 29cm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/32
Weight 405g
Size 95x71.5mm
In the box Circular lens hood, soft lens pouch







 

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Comments


Pete e2
13 18.4k 96 England
13 Jan 2010 12:43PM
I've got an older version. It's the best macro lens I've ever used.

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cameracat 10 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
15 Jan 2010 12:22PM

Quote: It's the best macro lens I've ever used

Good enough for me....Smile

I was looking at one of Nikons options having sold my Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro, But can't really justify the expense for something I use only now and then ( as the mood takes me LOL Smile ).

That said, I do find macro photography very interesting, Strangely relaxing & rewarding too...!!!
JackAllTog e2
5 3.5k 58 United Kingdom
15 Jan 2010 2:41PM

Quote: Quote:It's the best macro lens I've ever used Good enough for me....
having sold my Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro

Interesting CamerCat, Ive the same sigma as you sold, would you say its a worthwhile trade-up- i'd sometimes like the extra reach.
Thanks
Chris1970 4 1 South Africa
21 Jan 2010 3:33PM
I did a lot of research on which macro lens would the best value in terms of price and quality and over and over again the Tamron 90mm popped up as king, so I bought it and it is a really great lens. The switch between AF and MF focus is effortless and can be done without havingto fiddle with small buttons/switches etc. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in macro photography.
cameracat 10 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
30 Jan 2010 7:01PM

Quote: Interesting CamerCat, Ive the same sigma as you sold, would you say its a worthwhile trade-up- i'd sometimes like the extra reach.

There was nothing wrong with the Sigam 70mm macro, It always produced fabulous sharp images, But as you say its the reach thing, Not sure if the extra 20mm is worth the trade, Kinda depends on what you use it for, For flowers & stuff not an issue, But bugs & things maybe.....Smile

Someone made me an offer for my 70mm Sigma that was close to what I paid for it, So as they say, I could not refuse.....!!!
zanzibarwinds 10 183 South Africa
3 Feb 2010 5:31PM
IS this lens able to produce the same quality as the Nikkon Nikkor f2.8 60mm Micro lens?

Different focal and price but I'd be interested to know after having seen the quality of images from the Nikon lens.
Chaitanya 4 14 1 India
6 Mar 2010 6:05PM
I got my hands on Pentax version recently, this performs better than the Pentax 100mm macro. The only desirable thing with this lens is though is the physical length of lens shouldn't change on focusing. Also for performance the lens has great value for money better than the Nikon and Pentax offering.

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