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Tamron SP AF90mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 lens
Keen urban photographer Will Cheung takes to the streets of Manchester with one of his favourite lenses, the Tamron SP AF90mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1.
One of my personal favourites is the AF90mm Di f/2.8 Macro 1:1. As you will know from its name, it is designed to focus really close to provide up to lifesize (1:1) magnification so it is perfect for nature, still-life and detail photographers. But don’t assume that it is only good for shooting great close-ups, because its repetoire is much broader than that. It is a short telephoto lens that excels in all forms of photography and I often use it on portrait shoots. It is also more than a little handy as a general purpose lens as I show here on this photo safari of the city of Manchester.
The Tamron SP AF90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 grows in size as you focus in closer. On the right is the lens at minimum focus.
I like the short telephoto 90mm focal length for a number of reasons. It provides a comfortable shooting distance for portraits and candids and gives a flattering perspective; it can isolate detail; and when used at wide apertures it gives good differential focus throwing the background pleasantly out of focus. Add this Tamron macro lens’s ability to focus as close as 29cm and you have a wonderfully versatile and useful lens. Furthermore, it is an optically very capable performer and at 405 grams it is pretty lightweight too, so convenient to leave in the camera bag.
A deep lens hood comes as standard with this lens and I kept it on for this shoot on a sunny June Mancunian day, but to be honest the front element is so deeply recessed that flare is not going to be an issue anyway.
I left the lens in its autofocus mode and it coped fine in most cases. AF is very responsive and the lens swiftly zips in sharp focus. If the lens’s focusing barrel has to move a great distance, say from infinity to two metres you can hear the low whine of the focusing motor, but if adjustments are very minor, the lens motor is almost silent.
An AF focusing limiter switch is available which stops the lens searching throughout the whole focusing range when attempting to focus. You can limit it to work between infinity down to 44cm or from 42cm to its minimum focusing distance of 29cm. In that gap between 42cm and 44mm, it is not possible to engage the focusing limiter – probably a mechanical reason to allow the limiter to work in the first place. Focus limiters are common on macro lenses and it works fine on this Tamron optic.
On the odd occasion that the camera/lens could not quite get sharp focus, it is a simple matter to engage manual focusing just by pulling back on the focusing barrel – there is no need to set the camera’s focusing control to M to enable this. As I said, the occasions when I needed to do this were few and far in-between anyway, but it was handy to have just in case. Where the lens can search is when shooting very close-up subjects of low contrast – but this is like almost every macro lens I have used so I expected this.
The lens does not have an internal focus design so when it's set to its minimum focus, the barrel increases in size by about two inches, and this is something to watch for when shooting extreme close-ups because you, the camera or the lens might cast a shadow over the subject.
This Tamron 90mm lens does not feature the company’s Vibration Compensation system found in lenses such as the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 15x zoom. It might be useful to have it, especially when taking very close subjects with the camera handheld, but speaking personally I would only want the feature if there was no size, weight or cost penalty, but that’s me.
Optimistic England fans heading towards the fan area in Manchester's Castlefield before the first game in the football World Cup.
Fine detail is handled beautifully by the Tamron 90mm lens. The exposure was 1/1250sec at f/9 with the D700 at ISO 200.
A shot for my George cross project – this is an on-going project. This one was painted on the bonnet of an Hyundai car and the 90mm focal length was perfect for a tight crop.
Walking around Manchester, I concentrated on the buildings and architectural details around the city. I have been to Manchester a few times but I could not claim to know the city well, so I was joined on this photo tour by Robin Whalley, a regular ePHOTOzine contributor.
The morning was largely cloudy but there were intermittent and intense moments of bright sunshine, so it was one of those days when I spent time either waiting for the sun to go in or for clouds to move on, depending on the result I was after. As you can appreciate, contrast was the issue – I either wanted some, or less of it.
After lunch, the sun was a more regular visitor so contrast was more of an issue. I always shoot Raw format so I know I can control contrast on the computer afterwards. In terms of lens performance, the good news was that ghosting and flare were never an issue, thanks to Tamron's lens coating technology, even when shooting directly into the sun's reflection off some of the office buildings.
We spent most of the day exploring the main areas of the city centre including Chinatown, the Northern Quarter, around the Arndale Centre, Spinningfields and more. The only area we left untouched was Castlefields because it was cordoned off for a football fan area – our shoot took place on the day of the first England World Cup game against the USA.
In such a short time, we only scratched the surface of the city’s photographic potential. I will most definitely be back because there are so many pictures to be had there, especially at different times of day and a twilight shoot or two is definitely on my list. There is massive potential with the numerous modern office buildings in the city centre.
|Shot at maximum aperture, it was the strong repeating lines that attracted me to this scene. The image was converted to black & white using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.|
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Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Di Specifications
|Angle of View||0° - 27°|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|