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Thread: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD Di

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    Moderator nightwolf75's Avatar
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    Default Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD Di

    Disclaimers (be patient and read):
    a) I'm not a Canon user. The lens was kindly loan to CS via Edmund by Jel Corp (local Tamron distirbutor). The 1DsMk2 + EF35-350mm lens was loaned to me courtesy of paradigm (aka Desmond). ie. none of the equipment is mine.. which leads to..

    b) I left the 1DsMk2 at default settings... I know how to use Canon cameras (I'm an equipment junkie.. and formerly Canon user). Just that setting the 1DsMk2 requires me to be ambidextrous... which explains the slightly softer than my liking pics straight from the camera. You have to read here to find out why it matters later.

    c) This is a quick user review, due to the shortness of time before CS has to return the on-loan lens. If you want nuts-and-bolts, up to the 100th decimal place accuracy kind of reviews, please wait for Dpreview.


    I'm not usually a big fan of uber-zooms. For one thing, I've a fetish for constant-aperture lenses cos I tend to shoot wide open and at AP-mode. So, I do prefer lenses that stay at the same aperture setting regardless the focal length. And till today, there's yet a constant aperture uber-zoom lens on the market. Closest, AFAIK, is the old Tamron AF 28-105mm/f2.8, which I've seen only once on the re-sale market some years ago. And, this is not exactly an uber-zoom lens. For a constant aperture uber-zoom lens... while not technically impossible, the cost of manufacturing is going to be crazy for the general consumer. As a point of reference, the Nikon AFS 300mm/f2.8 prime lens uses a 52mm filter... drop-in rear filter. IIRC, the front element is 120mm....

    But, if you are going for a walkabout/travelings, without carrying your 200L dry cabinet worth of lenses, you can't beat the convenience of an uber-zoom lens. The new Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD Di joins the line-up of uber-zooms available on the market right now.

    #1 - how it looks like on the Canon 1DsMk2



    I find that this is a super-compact lens. According to the specs, it weighs in at about 558g. Paired up with, in this case, the 1DsMk2, it makes an ideal traveling companion.

    And in case you haven't figure out by now, this is a FF lens - ie. it can be used on a APS-C DSLR body. You just have to remember to multiply it by whatever the crop factor is (x1.5, x1.6 etc..). I decided to test it on a FF body just to give an accurate picture of what it is supposed to show.

    Canon has their own uber-zooms too. You have either the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM or the Canon EF 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM. Yes... I know that they are L-lenses. And, yes... I know they cost a heck lot more than this Tamron. Which is the point of this - if you want a walkabout/travel lens but not willing to blow a couple thousands, you might want to look at this Tamron.

    #2 - how the Tamron compares in size with the Canon EF 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM



    (when fully extended)

    The size alone makes the Tamron more palatable for me already... hehe...

    ...cont'
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Moderator nightwolf75's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD

    The lens is pretty simple in construction. All you have (apart from the zoom rings) are 2 buttons to control the AF and VC (vibration compensation - Tamron's version of IS/VR).



    The AF/MF button is pretty well located to allow on-the-fly switching from AF to MF should you choose.

    This lens has macro function. However, it is not true 1:1. What is does is to close-focus to 0.49m throughout the focal length, giving a 1:2.9 reproduction.



    ***The following images have been resized in PSE7 only. Other than that, no correction done.***

    This is close-focusing at 300mm. Due to the shortness of time, most of the shots from this point forward are taken from my home.



    The VC is very helpful for walkabouts/traveling. Bearing in mind that this is not exactly a fast lens (at 300mm, the lens only opens up to f6.3), the VC will be of some use in low-light conditions especially when you don't have a tripod or where tripods are not allowed.

    With reasonable hand-holding technique practiced (mind you... the 1DsMk2 is not exactly light), I managed to get a reasonable shot at 1/15th with VC on. The focus was on the "NR".



    Without VC... forget it.



    ...cont
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Moderator nightwolf75's Avatar
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    Default Re: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD

    1DsMk2 (and it's predecessor the 1Ds and successor 1DsMk3) is known to be very demanding on the lenses it uses becos of the resolving power of the FF, 16.7MP sensor.

    (Yes, I know paradigm has the newer 5D body. But, I prefer the 1DsMk2.)

    So, I wanted to see how this lens perform on a pro body... and this is where my earlier caveat kicked in. The photo res chart was downloaded online and printed on 8R photo paper at the photo lab. I stuck it on my cupboard. Mounted the cam+lens on my Manfrotto 190 tripod.

    Unfortunately, I can't fill the frame for 28mm because of the .49m focusing limit. Which is not a bad thing cos you can see the barrel distortion of the lens at its widest. The original full res files are here. (right click save as) For the thumbnails, I've brightened it somewhat for easier viewing. But no sharpening done.

    @ 28mm



    @300mm



    Caveat - those pixel-peeping will find the original images somewhat soft. Trust me. I was kinda shock why it was so. Since Google is my friend, I googled online and found out that, at the default settings, 1DsMk2 is known to give soft-looking images. Go back to post #1 and read the Dpreview page which I've included for the reason. Once I sharpened the image in PSE7 by 100% and Radius 2.0, the images are pretty sharp looking. At 100% viewing, I can make out font size 6 before the jaggies appear. You can try it out on your own to come to your own conclusion.

    To compare the Tamron 28-300mm vs the Canon 35-350mm, I mounted the cam on my tripod and took pics at the 200mm focal length. Please bear in mind I only tried to get the lenses to the closest approximation of the focal lengths according to the lens markings. The zip file is here. (right click save as) I had to shoot in JPG small cos JPG large busted my server space allocation... opps...

    Caveat - Yes, I know the Canon is not the same focal length as the Tamron, seeing that it gives up 7mm at the wide while gaining 50mm at the tele. However, this was the only lens I can borrow from paradigm that is the closest in comparison to the Tamron. I tried to get the focusing exactly at the focal length. However, it is not an easy thing to do on the push-pull Canon lens. My apologies.

    For those sniper-shooters among us, the long reach of this lens allows for discrete shooting. However, do bear in mind that you need pretty good lighting, even if you have VC on. I will try it soon, once the sunlight comes out. Meantime, I took pot shots of my 2 kids while they were watching Hi-5 on TV..





    This Tamron uses internal focusing motor, which means the front element doesn't turn when focusing. Good for those using polarizers. This lens also comes with a BIM (built-in motor). Good news for Nikon D40/40x/60 users do not have AF motor in their bodies.

    After shooting around at home for a while, I found that the AF motor is not exactly snappy like the USM on the Canon lens, which is expected. For this particular lens on the 1Dsmk2, I find it hunting quite a fair bit at the 300mm end when shooting at home under florescent lights. Stay tuned while I bring it out for further testings.
    Last edited by nightwolf75; 25th January 2009 at 09:50 AM.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD

    Lens flare test.

    This Tamron lens comes with its own lens hood. Normally, I don't like to use lens hood cos it tends to get tangled up in my bag. Since there's some sunlight this morning, I took some shots with this lens, minus hood, and see how it handles strong sunlight.





    Frankly, I expected this lens to flare easily because of the sheer amount of lens elements within the lens. Those who find themselves shooting in strong light often might want to make the supplied hood a permanent feature on this lens.

    Macro test.

    As this lens has close-focusing ability, I took some shots of nearby objects. Please bear in mind this lens does not have true macro function.





    Having close-focusing ability throughout the focal length is a great help for those holiday snaps of small features or objects. The bokeh is nicely rendered, not too harsh looking.
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD

    Because of the 300mm tele, inevitably some of you might ask if it is possible to shoot sports with it... especially the Sept F1 night race.

    Two things -

    a) You really need good lighting, or a camera with very good high-ISO ability, or both,
    b) You really need a good AF module on your camera.

    Earlier, I did mentioned that the lens hunts in low light and at the tele end. Since there were some guys playing basketball, I decided to try taking shots of them playing. Again, I am not a sports shooter. So pardon the shots.





    These are only 2 of the 20 odd pictures I took of their game. Even on a 1DsMk2 using AI-servo, the lens struggled at time to catch up with the action. Again, it could be probably due to my settings. Eventually, I found that I can get round the problem of AF hunting by pre-focusing and predicting their actions to get some decent shots. So yes, you can use this lens for sports provided if the earlier 2 points are followed. At the very least, you should practice your pre-focusing and predicting if you want to shoot F1 later this year, if you want to use this lens on other cameras (for Canon, that means the non 1D-series bodies).

    Overall impressions:

    Pros:
    • Very versatile and useful focal lengths, especially on FF cameras,
    • Compact, lightweight lens construction
    • Smooth barrel movements when zooming
    • Easily accessible AF/MF, and VC buttons
    • Locking button provided to prevent zoom creep
    • 67mm filter size makes it rather cheap to get add-on filters
    • VC is god-sent on this lens; in practice it gives about 2-stop advantage. One can go lower with better hand-holding techniques.
    • Images are reasonably sharp out of camera, depending on camera settings.
    • Colour reproductions tend towards more neutral. If I were to edit my pics, I will have to +10 for contrast and saturation in PSE7 to bring out the colours to my liking.
    • Relatively low cost compared to the L-lenses (for Canon).
    • Close-focusing ability


    Cons:
    • Generally too plasticky in lens construction for some to like (you do pay for what you get)
    • AF hunting, especially on the tele end
    • Slow aperture (inevitable) on the tele end restricts the usefulness of lens in low-light (please see earlier comments about sports shooting)
    • Lens not suitable for crop factor cameras, even though you can use it.
    • Lens flares rather easily in strong light.


    This lens is available for (according to the website) Canon and Nikon. For Canon users, you have a choice of this lens (or the older Sigma 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 DG Macro) versus the 2 Canon L-lenses and Canon's EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM. I did not consider the Canon EF 24-105mm/f4L lens because it is not an uber-zoom. For Nikon users, you have this (and the Sigma) versus the Nikon AFD 24-120mm/f3.5-5.6 (and the AFS VR version) or the Nikon AF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF. I did not consider the Nikon AFD 28-105mm/f3.5-4.5 because this is not an uber-zoom.

    Personal opinion: (strictly personal)

    a) If you are a Canon FF user (5D/5D2, 1Ds/mk2/mk3) and in need of a travel lens, this is good value for money lens. With the high-ISO performance of the current crop of FF DSLRs from Canon, using this lens at ISO1600 is not a big problem. The other 2 L-lenses are too heavy to carry around comfortably, especially if you are traveling with family. Not to mention that it is not exactly discrete shooting with either of those 2 humongous lenses.... But, please bear in mind the limitations of this lens.

    b) If you are a Nikon FF user (D3/D700/D3x), the same applies. It offers longer reach compared to the old 24-120mm (long in need of an update), and has VC compared to the 28-200 (and longer reach). Personally, I think this is one heck of a traveling companion to the Nikon FF cameras, compared to the older Nikon lenses. If I do get my D700 (fingers crossed), this lens might be going into my dry cabinet for walkabout purposes... unless some Nikon fairy godmother decide to grant my wish of an AFS 24-105mm/f4 IF ED VR lens... Even Thom Hogan uses this on his D700.

    c) For APS-C users, I think you are better off getting an APS-C uber-zoom lenses than this one. Once you factor in the magnification, the wide angle is not very wide.

    For those who need a more professional opinion, please refer to this.

    ***All the above comments and review are strictly my own. It does not reflect CS' opinion on the product tested.****
    If Life worked on auto mode then manual mode for photography would have never existed. ― Deeksha Mittal

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    Default Re: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD

    Hi Night Wolf-
    I bought this same Tamron lens last summer and it has not disappointed me. I have used Tamron lenses for years and find that for the money I always received good value in return.

    I really appreciated your honesty and time. Thank you for your subjective test.

    Have a nice day,
    Ray

  7. #7

    Default Re: Quick user-review of Tamron AF 28-300mm/f3.5-6.3 (IF) Macro Aspherical LD Di

    Hi!

    Does this lens has full-time manual focus?

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