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Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the low cost Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD macro lens.

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Handling and features
Tamron Di II AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di ll LD MACRO

This compact telephoto lens is immensely popular amongst those looking for a compact, lightweight addition to their standard kit lens. It provides an angle of view equivalent to an 82.5-300mm lens used on a 35mm camera, costs peanuts to buy new and is available to fit Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs. Can such a low-cost lens deliver decent quality? We'll investigate in this review.

Tamron Di II AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di ll LD MACRO

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro Handling and features

With a weight of only 295g, this lens is ideal for those who may be put off by the idea of lugging heavy equipment around. Plastic has been used for all the lens barrel construction, including the lens mount, so this lens may not be suited to heavy professional use, but then it's not intended for that purpose. The compact size and light weight of this lens makes it the perfect companion for a smaller camera body, such as the Canon EOS 600D used for testing.

A standard micro-motor powers the focusing mechanism, which could be considered a little slow and noisy compared to more expensive lenses. In practice, focusing speeds are adequate for all but the most erratic subjects. Focusing is performed by extending and rotating the front element and 52mm filter ring, so using a polariser of graduated filter may be a little troublesome with this lens. Manual focus adjustments can only be applied with the lens switched to manual focus, rather than at any time like on many lenses with silent focusing motors. The focusing ring is narrow and isn't damped at all, which can make focusing manually a bit of a chore.

Tamron Di II AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di ll LD MACRO

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro Performance

Sharpness at 55mm, at least in the centre of the frame is surprisingly good, outstanding even, for any lens, never mind one that costs so little. The clarity towards the edges of the frame falls short of good at maximum aperture, but improves as the aperture is stopped down, reaching excellent levels between f/8 and f/11.

Zooming to 100mm results in a noticeable drop in performance, although at maximum aperture sharpness is still good in the centre of the frame. Clarity towards the edges of the frame is fairly poor at this focal length and maximum aperture, improving to very good levels when stopped down to between f/8 and f/11.

Sharpness is much the same at 200mm as it is at 100mm, with clarity in the centre of the frame approaching good and being fairly poor towards the edges of the frame at maximum aperture. Stopping down to between f/8 and f/11 results in very good sharpness in the centre of the frame and good clarity towards the edges.

Resolution @ 55mm
Resolution @ 55mm
Resolution @ 100mm
Resolution @ 100mm
Resolution @ 200mm
Resolution @ 200mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations can be an issue at the telephoto end of the zoom range. At 200mm and maximum aperture, fringing just exceeds 1.5 pixel widths, which may be visible along high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame.

Chromatic aberration @ 55mm
Chromatic aberration @ 55mm
Chromatic aberration @ 100mm
Chromatic aberration @ 100mm
Chromatic aberration @ 200mm
Chromatic aberration @ 200mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc. to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very well controlled, with the corners being 0.5 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. Stopping down one stop from maximum aperture results in visually uniform illumination.

Pincushion distortion is present throughout the zoom range, ranging from 0.52% at 55mm and 1.85% at 200mm. The level at 200mm is strong enough to become noticeable in some circumstances. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame throughout the zoom range, which should make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards relatively straightforward.

A deep circular hood is supplied with this lens, which does an excellent job of shielding the lens from extraneous light that may cause loss of contrast or flare. Shooting into the light can result in loss of contrast, so care may need to be taken to avoid this effecting images too much.

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di ll LD MACRO Sample Photos

Value for Money

As this lens currently retails for around £90, it would be churlish to compare it to some of lenses covering the same range that cost hundreds of pounds. For the price, this lens seems to offer pretty good value for money.

The closest lens currently available from Canon's line-up is their 55-250mm IS USM lens, which gives you image stabilisation, silent focusing and 50mm extra telephoto reach, but costs almost twice as much as the Tamron at around £180.

Nikon offer the 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX, which costs around £129. Sony's 55-200mm SAM lens sports a silent focusing motor and costs around £150.

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro Verdict

For a lens costing around £90, this Tamron 55-200mm performs pretty well and should be plenty adequate for those just looking for an additional lens to take on holiday, or occasional use, for capturing frame-filling shots of most distant scenes. In fact, for that kind of use I'd go as far as to say it's perfect.

The image quality delivered by the lens is rather good at 55mm and not bad at all for the price at other focal lengths, provided that some care is taken the stop down when possible. Demanding photographers may find this lens a little basic for their needs.

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro Pros

Great sharpness at 55mm
Low falloff
Very inexpensive

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di II LD Macro Cons

CA at 200m and maximum aperture
Needs stopping down for best results
Narrow, undamped manual focus ring.


Thanks to HarrisonCameras for providing the Canon EOS 600D used for testing.

Tamron AF 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Di ll LD MACRO Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
  • Minolta AF
  • Nikon AF D
Focal Length55mm - 200mm
Angle of View8 - 29
Max Aperturef/4 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/32
Filter Size52mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus95cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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25 Oct 2014 9:52AM
Well, reading this review can also be helpful here.

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