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Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 Lens Review

John Riley takes a look at Tamron's SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 lens.

|  Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2.0 Di II LD (IF) in Interchangeable Lenses
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Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1

Macro lenses are highly sought after for a variety of uses, from close ups to portraits and landscapes. Their quality is expected to be exemplary and the only disadvantage tends to be a fairly modest maximum aperture. Here Tamron offer a spectacular f/2 optic, so if the performance is up to par they could have a very desirable lens indeed on their hands.

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Features
The 60mm focal length equates to a 90mm or so 35mm-equivalent, often the most useful focal length for a general purpose macro lens. There is enough room for lights and to avoid the need for approaching a subject too closely. 14 elements in 10 groups, a filter size of 55mm and a full life-size 1:1 magnification ratio make a lens of modest weight, turning the scales at just 400g. The lens is fairly compact and is provided with a substantial and effective bayonet-fit lens hood.

A “full time manual function” feature enables manual fine tuning of the focus point after initial AF has been achieved, without the need to change any switches to MF. This feature is incredibly useful in macro work and should not be under-estimated.

There is an AF/MF switch on this Nikon version, but no focus lock. However, the lens is an internal focusing design and showed no tendency whatsoever to creep.

The lens is designed for APS-C format DSLRs and for this test was used with a Nikon D3100.

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Handling
The lens is obviously well made and bayonets very smoothly onto the camera. The hood fits well and is deep and effective, protecting the front element as well as reducing flare and increasing image contrast. The mount is metal and also well made and finished.

The focusing is geared to a very long throw and should have a high degree of accuracy. AF was fast and precise and there were no occasions when the system resorted to hunting. Often macro lenses work better using MF at ultra-close distances, but the Tamron behaves reliably at macro distances as well as longer ones.

The image is bright and clear, as we would expect from an f/2 maximum aperture. This f2 opens up new possibilities and makes the lens a more generally useful one, especially in the area of portraits. It is a more or less ideal 35mm-equivalent focal length of 90mm, a classic length for pleasing images of people. The skin tones can be softened and the large aperture will also throw distracting background details out of focus.

Short telephoto lenses are also widely used for landscape photography. Wide angle landscapes can often be disappointing as details are so reduced in size, but this lens is perfect for picking out details and making more powerful images. Mountains, for example, will retain their size and grandeur rather than being reduced to dots on the horizon.

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Performance
This specification of lens would not have been possible prior to multi-coating, purely because of the large number of elements needed to achieve the f/2 maximum aperture, actually reported as more like f/2.2 by the Nikon D3100. Add to this the need to preserve performance from infinity right through to macro distances and this is indeed a brave design.

As it is, the lens starts off reasonably well but does not reach maximum performance until around f/8. The performance here is excellent and this rise and fall pattern is evidence of a well thought out lens. The slightly softer images wide open will be ideal for portraits, but close down the aperture and we have a crisp detailed image for macro subjects. Contrast is well maintained and this is evident in the high MTF20 figures. The detail reproduction is shown very clearly by the MTF50 figures and is good but not exceptional for a macro lens.

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 chromatic aberration Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 mtf20 Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 mtf50

The charts show the MTF results at the full range of apertures, for centre, half way across the field and the corners of the image. The black column indicates an averaged result for all three. The results were obtained using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled and should not present a problem. Distortion is probably slightly higher than ideal for a macro lens, but still a fairly modest -0.511% (barrel) that should not be visible in most general subjects. This is no doubt the price we pay for the wide maximum aperture.

In summary, an excellent performance, especially considering the maximum aperture.

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 landscape   Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 portrait
Landscapes and architecture are perfect subjects for the 60mm focal length, ISO200, 1/100, f/16, 60mm (35mm equiv: 93mm)   Wide open, the eyes are sharp but the skin and background softened, ideal for portraiture, ISO200, 1/400, f/2.2, 60mm (35mm equiv: 93mm)
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 life size   Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 flowers
1:1 magnification means very close details can be recorded, ISO200, 4sec, f/16, 60mm (35mm equiv: 93mm)   Flowers are ideal subjects and the Tamron lens shows plenty of rich colour and detail, ISO200, 1/125, f/16, 60mm (35mm equiv: 93mm)

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Verdict
Macro lenses have a real appeal and are extremely versatile optics, usable for a very wide range of subjects. The f/2 maximum aperture makes this Tamron lens even more desirable and the performance lives up to the expectation.

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1
At a street price of around £369 this is real value for money.
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Pros
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 f/2 aperture
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 Good build quality
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 Excellent value for money
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 Good performance
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 Full time manual function feature

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Cons
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 Some barrel distortion

FEATURES Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1
HANDLING Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1
PERFORMANCE Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1
VALUE FOR MONEY Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1
OVERALL Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1: Specification
Price £369.00
Filter size 55mm
Format APS-C size
Construction 14 elements in 10 groups
Angle-of-view 26°
35mm equivalent focal length (on APS-C body): 93mm
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation No
Minimum focus 23cm
Maximum aperture f/2
Minimum aperture f/22
Weight 390g
Size (lxw) 73mm x 80mm
In the box HG005 lens hood, lens cap, rear lens cap

The Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 lens costs £369.00 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 - Sony fit
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 - Canon fit
Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 DiII Macro 1:1 - Nikon fit

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2054Ted 12
9 May 2011 10:25AM
Would it be possible to add a comparison to similar lenses?
I have the Nikon 60mm f2.8 Micro but possibly the Tamron is better. I have very good results with Tamron lenses.
Another point I always complain about in reviews (to myself till now) is the value for money score. Here, ok, you give your opinion but in many other reviews this point also is taken into account with the final Points Score. That's daft, we all know the price and we can decide for ourselves if the quality is value for money. Often a really duff product gets great marks because it's very cheap.
10 May 2011 6:06PM
It's a fair comment up to a point, but if a product was really duff it wouldn't be very good value for money would it? The real problem is probably that different people will view "value for money" in different ways. What I meant here is that for the excllent quality, the price is remarkably low, making it excellent value for money. It is of course a matter of individual judgement.
12 May 2011 9:26PM
Value for money.... yes, well I got mine on clearance from a chain of shops that was presumably getting rid of its stock as it wasn't going to sell this lens any more. This was a few months back, and at 199 (I kid you not) I was able to afford a macro lens much sooner than I thought...... I was previously looking at saving up for the Tamron 90mm macro.
I find it an excellent lens and am very pleased with my purchase. The f/2.0 aperture is certainly a worthwhile improvement (IMHO) over the more normal f/2.8 for macro lenses
MandyD 12 16,777.2k 1 England
8 Jul 2011 10:23PM
The focusing ring is dreadful, feels very stiff and sticky. I even sent it back to WE as I thought it was faulty, they sent it back to me a month later NNF. I like the image quality I'm getting from this lens it but the poor focus ring movement is very disappointing!
8 Jul 2011 11:58PM
I can tell you that there was nothing wrong with the focusing ring on the sample I tested, so maybe you could approach your supplier again with this in mind?

Hope it works out OK for you as this is a good lens, or has the potential to be so.

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