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Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD (F017) Review - Performance

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Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD Performance

Sharpness is superb, the measurements being excellent both centre and edge from open aperture through to f/16. The result is outstanding at the centre of the frame at f/4 and f/5.6. Diffraction hits at f/22, but sharpness here is still very good centre and edge. At f/32, the results are good but are noticeably softer compared to the general excellence. It is still useful to have these smaller apertures for circumstances where depth of field is the main priority, but for the very best results, we would stop at f/16.


MTF Chart
MTF Chart

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. 

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. 

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 6D using Imatest.


Chromatic Aberration (CA), the splitting of light due to the lens not focusing all colours at the same point, is very well controlled. The CA figures are commendably low and consistently so across the aperture range. CA will not be a problem.


CA Chart
CA Chart

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 6D using Imatest.


Distortion measures the amount of bending of straight lines and this too is very low indeed. It measures at -0.00607% barrelling, but this is so close to zero that for all normal purposes the lens is distortion free.

Flare is well under control and will not normally be a problem. As can be seen from the images though, in the most demanding situations it is possible to induce, but we have to work hard to do so.

The VC system is effective, although this will vary with individual photographers. I found 3 stops advantage to the shutter speeds usable, making even 1/20sec worth an attempt if needed. The best sharpness will always be obtained using a sturdy tripod, especially for macro shooting. However, both the AF and VC continue to work well at those close distances.

In the case of the AF system, this is silent and very fast, normally first time but occasionally hunting over the full range. Focus still locks on but takes a little longer to do so when this happens. The focus limiter is useful for macro distances. Many macro lenses do not focus so well at close range, but with this new Tamron, I never felt the need to move to manual focus. In any event, there is full manual override when using AF, so tweaks can be made to point of focus if required.

The bokeh of the lens is very pleasant and smooth, maybe not quite so much so as the new Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USM recently tested, but only because the wider apertures are not available.

Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 MACRO 1:1 Di VC USD F017 Sample Photos

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themak 8 1.0k Scotland
28 Apr 2016 12:03AM
You've described this as the F004 model - I think it's the F017.
joshwa Plus
11 927 1 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2016 8:30AM
This has been corrected, thanks

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