Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tamron SP Lenses - Time for Some Results

**I have replaced the title image of this post with an updated, better quality shot. Also, if you have read this post previous to this update, you'll notice 4 lenses in the image and only 3 in the review. That might be because I got a package in the mail today...stay tuned.


Not too long ago, I was knee-deep in macro lenses hunched over tiny critters and flowers making my way through a hit list of manual focus classics, in an attempt to see first-hand just how well these famed lenses performed. At one point, I owned over 10 macro lenses, 9 of which covered the same focal length. Talk about redundancy. Strangely enough, one of the most talked about manual focus macro lenses, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 (52BB) was not in my possession. I had seen and heard much about Tamron adaptall lenses but for some reason just had not made my way into the Adaptall system.

Only a few months later, I have gone 180°. I own 3 of Tamron's famed SP lenses and must be a few feet from my subject before I can focus (these are some of the big boys). Tamron's Adaptall-2 SP line provides some of the most economical alternatives to premium glass. I will say right out, I am very impressed with the performance of Tamron SP glass.

The Test

Having posted some initial reviews of these lenses some time back, it is about time to show some results. I put together a simple comparison which essentially demonstrates how these lenses handle under similar conditions. The shots are not framed exactly the same (to compensate for different focal lengths). Nor are the corner crops in the same location. I would just like to show "what these lenses can do".

Basically, I set up a tripod in the yard that did not move throughout the test. I mounted each lens in series and centered the composition on a specific flower. ISO changed with varying shutter speeds to compensate for subject movement so blur would not be an issue (it was a slightly breezy day). At smaller apertures, blur did occur and as a result I have no included those results.

Below are the Key images for each lens:

Tamron SP 180mm f/2.5 LD-IF

Tamron SP 300mm f/2.8 LD

Tamron SP 400mm f/4 LD-IF

The Results

Wide Open (f/2.5, f/2.8, f/4)

(f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6)

(f/4, f/5.6, f/8)

(f/5.6, f/8, f/11)

As I said, at the later apertures I began seeing blur due to the longer focal lengths and breeze of the day. Consequently I left those results out.


As I said, I am quite impressed with the overall performance of these SP lenses. I was a little curious about the CA present in the 400mm wide open. After reading some forums I discovered CA is one of the more prominent issues with Tamron SP lenses and most likely a trade-off in buying non-Nikon or Canon premium lenses. Although I have little experience with longer, professional Nikon lenses, I did get an opportunity to shoot Nikon's older 600mm f/5.6. The results shocked me. While the Nikon did handle CA a little better, the Tamron was right on par in overall sharpness! The contrast in these SP lenses is excellent at all apertures. All the lens hoods are perfectly adequate in handling lens flare. I have also had no issues whatsoever with the Adaptall mounts.

I will add a little more to this in the next couple days. Feel free to share an experience with any of these Tamron SP lenses (or some of the other longer telephoto models not here). It would be great to here more stories!


  1. i just bought a tamron sp 300mm 60b for 350.00. while i don't know how old it is, the coating on the lens inside is spiderwebing, but the pictures are great (so far). i sure would like to have it fixed but suspect it would cost more than it is worth. and sence i am on disabilty (fixed income). i would/could not afford it.


  2. you make me proud to be in the Tamron Club. I just acquired the 30A, new in a case. (80-200ƒ2.8 LD BBAR). When I found out I landed again on "Making Not Taking" I am glad to see you posted some info here on this incredible line of optics.

    @Anonymous-sorry to hear about your 60B. fixing it would be a labor of love, but worth it, if the fungus hasn't eaten away at the glass coatings. Its too bad, little is known about these, but after some digging around they are remembered fondly for those with the privilege to use them, they definitely have a cult like status on some of the boards.

    I have always loved the site and I like the updates. Thanks for doing what you do.