Tamron now offers a lightweight, compact, high-image-quality telephoto zoom lens with macro capability of 1:2 that can be used with digital cameras. This lens is a Di type lens using an optical system with improved multi-coating designed to function with digital SLR cameras as well as film cameras.
With this 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens, flipping a macro switch in the focal length range of 180mm to 300mm obtains a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2 at a minimum focus distance as short as 37.4″, enabling close-up shots of flowers, insects, and other objects that normally require the use of a specially designed macro lens. Moreover, this is a zoom lens that casually offers the distant capture and foreshortening effect pleasures of the 300mm ultra-telephoto world.
- “Best in Class” Tele-Macro Zoom Lens
- Perfect 2nd lens for your DSLR kit
- 22% lighter and 4% shorter than other makes
Regarding its extremely low price tag you can’t really expect a stellar performance from the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 LD Di macro but from a value perspective it is fairly amazing what it can give you. The resolution is very good till 200mm. At 300mm there’s a drop in quality especially at f/5.6. Typical for such lenses the contrast suffers at wide-open aperture so stopping down is advisable from about 200mm onwards. Distortions and vignetting are not field relevant whereas lateral CAs (color shadows at the image borders) can be fairly obvious at longer focal lengths. Apart from the rotating front element the build quality of the lens is actually pretty fine for a lens in this class (better than e.g. the Canon EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 or Nikkor AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED).
Technical hobble-do-gee aside, I just think this lens is just way too much fun. I really do like it. It is light, which is a bonus for hikers and bikers like myself who sometimes consider weight a priority. It is versatile, which means I don’t have to bring two lenses to do the job the Tamron will generally do. It has nice sized zoom and focus rings with decent action and its size is neither too big or too small. Since it is affordable, if I drop the camera and lens for any reason, I don’t need to worry about a replacement lens filling up a credit card. Less worry, means a more enjoyable experience, and I tend to worry quite a bit about my equipment.
Image quality at times is completely shocking and excellent. Surely the 9 aperture blades help the out of focus areas appear rounder and generally more pleasing. Yet also I think it is because of the coatings and the general nature of the focal length, the images it creates exhibit highly blurred out of focus areas which adds to ‘shocking’ factor. I guess you could say that I don’t expect a lens at this price to impress me. No matter how many times I see images I like from this lens, I have to say that feeling never goes away.
All of this adds up to an experience that makes one think they got away with murder at the purchase counter. Every time I give my Tamron a bit of a break and use other lenses that I consider optically superior, I miss the traits that I feel this lens trumps all others in its category.
If you are in the market for a lens in this focal length and don’t have a deep wallet, this is my top choice overall for lenses in the 70-300mm category. Others are either too expensive, not as versatile, not as well built internally (Sigma), or just not as much fun.
Therefore I would highly recommend this lens to anyone who is realistic about image quality for the price. Free hand image samples and technical specifications are on the next page.