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Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new ultra-wide Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens for full-frame.

|  Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Tamron SP 15 30mm F 2 8 DI VC USD Lens (9)

This ultra-wide angle lens from Tamron sports a fast constant aperture of f/2.8 and as it is one of Tamron's 'SP' lenses, it sports rugged build quality and a dust and weather sealed construction. Unusually for a lens in this range, this optic has Vibration Compensation, which should help to tame camera shake at low shutter speeds. An ultrasonic focusing motor should provide quick focusing speeds, silently with full-time manual focus override.

This lens is available in Canon and Nikon mounts. Later on it will also be available for Sony too. The Sony compatible model will lack Vibration compensation, as this functionality is already built into Sony DSLR and SLT bodies. As this lens is a 'Di' optic, it is compatible with both full frame and crop sensor camera bodies.

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Handling and Features

Tamron SP 15 30mm F 2 8 DI VC USD Lens (5)
As it typical for fast aperture wide-angle lenses with a large, bulbous front element, this is quite a substantial piece of glass. With a weight of 1.1kg it certainly isn't the lightest lens available, but this does add to the feeling of quality when the robust build, with weather sealing is taken into account. High-quality plastics have been used for much of the lens barrel's construction and the wide rubberised zoom ring well damped providing a really smooth zoom action. The lens balances well with the Canon EOS 5D Mk III body used for testing, but may be a little too large and heavy for some of the most compact digital SLR bodies available.

Tamron SP 15 30mm F 2 8 DI VC USD Lens (2)

As this lens incorporates Tamron's USD silent focusing motor, focusing is very quick and virtually silent. Manual focusing is a pleasure as the narrow focus ring is well damped, which makes it easy to apply fine adjustments and the distance scale on the top can be useful if used with a hyperfocal calculator. Manual adjustments can be made at any time, whether in Auto or Manual focus mode. A minimum focus distance of 28cm is fairly typical for a lens of this type.

With care, sharp images are possible hand-held at shutter speeds as low as 1/8sec at 30mm, around half the time. This is roughly two stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp handheld images would permit. The VC system also provides a very steady viewfinder image, which can help with accurate composition.

Tamron SP 15 30mm F 2 8 DI VC USD Lens (8)

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Performance

At maximum aperture and 15mm, sharpness in the centre is already outstanding, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame only reaches fair levels. Stopping down improves performance across the frame and towards the edges of the frame, performance reaches very good levels when stopped down to f/5.6 and peak clarity is achieved between at f/8 where sharpness across the frame is outstanding.

Zooming to 20mm results in similar performance at maximum aperture, with centre sharpness being excellent and fairly good clarity towards the edges. Sharpness improves just as it does at 15mm, with excellent sharpness across the frame being achieved at f/8.

Finally, at 30mm, the lens performs as well, if not a little better than it does at 20mm. Sharpness in the centre at maximum aperture is excellent again, with performance towards the edges of the frame falling just short of good levels. Peak performance across the frame is achieved at between f/5.6 and f/8, where resolution is outstanding across the frame.


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 5D Mark III using Imatest.

For a wide angle lens like this, control of chromatic aberrations is outstanding, thanks to Tamron's use of LD glass in the optical design. Fringing is most prevalent at 15mm and maximum aperture, although it remains well below half a pixel width. This level of fringing should barely be visible, even in areas of high contrast towards the edges of the frame.


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 minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is also well controlled for a lens this wide with an f/2.8 aperture. At 15mm, the corners are 1.7 stops darker than the image centre and at 30mm the corners are 1.5stops darker. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform illumination across the frame throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is typical for a lens of this type. At 15mm, 6.14% barrel distortion is present, which is replaced with 1.5% pincushion distortion at 30mm. Unfortunately, there is a slight wave to the distortion, which may make a correction more difficult to apply in software afterwards.

During testing, there were few issues with flare and ghosting, even when shooting into the light. A petal shaped is permanently attached to the lens, which does as good a job as it can of protecting the front element from extraneous light, considering the extreme angle of view on offer.

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Sample Photos

Value For Money

At release, this lens will retail for around £950, which is pretty reasonable, given the excellent sharpness the lens can deliver.

Canon's closest equivalent is their 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens, which costs around £1080, lacks image stabilisation and is a little less wide angle than the Tamron.

Nikon's well regarded 14-24mm f/2.8G lens costs around £1300, and is a little wider angle, but also lack vibration reduction.

Tokina's 16-28mm is the closest equivalent from third party manufacturers. Although this lens is less expensive at £700, it lacks silent focusing and vibration compensation.

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Verdict

This 15-30mm lens from Tamron offers excellent optical performance for a reasonable price. Vibration Compensation is an added bonus, especially if your photography tends to require shooting at slow shutter speeds handheld.

The lens sports robust build quality and weather sealing, allowing it to be used in a wide range of conditions. On a body of a similar size to the EOS 5D MkIII used for testing, the lens handles very well, although those wishing to use it on a more compact SLR body may wish to get their hands on the lens before stumping up the cash for one.

As far as ultra-wide lenses go, this lens is up there with the better examples, thanks to the high levels of sharpness it delivers, low CA and excellent build and handling.

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Pros

Excellent sharpness throughout the range in the centre and towards the edges when stopped down
Effective Vibration Compensation system
Good value
Robust build quality
Moisture resistant construction

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Cons

Not as sharp towards the edges at maximum aperture
Slight wave to distortion pattern may make corrections more difficult to apply in software afterwards


The Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD offers excellent optical performance with the added bonus of vibration compensation.


Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
Focal Length15mm - 30mm
Angle of View71.35 - 110.32
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus28cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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RJPhoto 8 16 1 United Kingdom
20 Mar 2015 12:59PM
Have been using Tamron's previous wide angle, the 17-35 f2.8-4 for a few years now, and it's a cracking lens. Not surprised to see the new one totally kill the aberrations as the old one did too - much better than the Canon L glass I compared it to at the time. I've been looking forward to Tamron bringing out a new one for some time, and will add it to my lens line up as soon as I have the cash in hand.
Niknut Plus
10 2.7k 82 United Kingdom
20 Mar 2015 3:40PM
Cracking lens !!.....great image quality !

But 1100grms ??.....add it to a Canon 5D series & you're carrying over 2kgs of stuff
round your neck ........Oooooooer !!......& I thought my 17-40 was heavy ??.Smile

My pockets aren't deep enough either at 950 !!.....would love to give one a run, but
only in my dreams !.Grin
pink Plus
17 6.5k 8 United Kingdom
23 Mar 2015 1:30PM
shame there isnt an option for adding filters, I would have thought that this zoom range would fall into the hands of Landscapers, but to have no option for adding grads etc it will not be a lens I'd consider
NDODS 10 5.2k 127 United Kingdom
25 Mar 2015 11:23AM
An expensive alternative to my Tamron SP 10-24mm...

Regards Nathan
Gaby95 4
18 Apr 2016 10:12PM

Quote:NDODSPlus 54.9k125 United Kingdom 25 Mar 2015 11:23AM Like 0
An expensive alternative to my Tamron SP 10-24mm...

Regards Nathan

Except your lens is for APS-C sensors not Full Frame so of course is going to be more people that comment with zero knowledge.

Quote:Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Cons
Not as sharp towards the edges at maximum aperture

Yeah because this is VERY uncommon with lenses...just like 99% of lenses have this CON...come on now.

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