Monday, November 18, 2013

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC - Gear Review

As most follows of the BLP blog know, we have switched back to an all Nikon shop.  All the Fuji gear we had sold and the proceeds gone to the Nikon Df.

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR
The Nikon Df will be our new take everywhere and travel gear.  To that end, we like to keep our travel and EDC(every day carry) kit to a minimum.  To that end we are going with 2 great zoom options.  The wide to medium telephoto will be the Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR(on order and coming this week - review to follow) and the newly acquired Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC.

Sabre In The Backyard
1/250, f/5, ISO 200 @ 160mm
Aperture Priority
Barn Door
1/100, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 70mm
Aperture Priority

Squash(left) = 1/20, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 70mm (VC active) Aperture Priority
Water Pump(right) = 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 800 @ 260mm (VC active)  
Aperture Priority

 This gear review, we will concentrate on the Tamron lens and compare it some to the tried and tested Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, which was in tight contention with the Tamron.

Cow #1
1/80, f/8, ISO 200 @ 240mm (VC active)
Aperture Priority
Lets look at the this lens compared to the Nikon and why I chose it.

I was lucky enough to get into Midwest Photo Exchange and worked with Sonnie on comparing these 2 lenses.

Broken Wagon Wheel
1/60, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 250mm (VC active)
Aperture Priority
What we had to work with:
Nikon - refurbished
Tamron - factory new

Test Platform:  Nikon D700

Size:  The Tamron was slightly smaller in length, but larger in diameter than the Nikon.  The Tamron has a larger lens hood as well.

Handling:  They both handled about the same.  Because of the plastic construction, the zoom was a little sticky at times on each.  Nothing like the pro 80-200mm f/2.8 or the 70-200mm VR lenses...but then again, we are not even in the same price range or size here.

AF speed:  Slight advantage to the Nikon, but not by much.  Sounds wise, they were both whisper quiet.  They both also have the full time manual override of the AF, just by turning the manual focus ring.

Optical quality:  Pretty close to even, I don't think I could give a nod one way or the other.  They both were very good.

Image Stabilization:  Both worked as advertised.  I was getting relatively good hand held shots in the shop at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/25 and 1/50 of a second.  I did notice a little different "activation" of the VC compared to the Nikon.  Not better or worse....just different.  Noise wise, the Nikon VR was more noticeable, but only from the shooter at the camera.  In real world application, no one would notice.

Mama Cow
1/30, f/4.2, ISO 800 @ 86mm (VC active)

Other Thoughts:
I own/have owned other Tamron lenses in the past and they have all performed very well optically(Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro).  I'm not opposed to using their lenses on professional shoots at all.

FYI - The sample images I took were either from my back yard or from Slate Run Living Historical Farm.

What swung me to the Tamron:
  • f/4 at 70 on the Tamron versus f/4.5 on the Nikon.  It doesn't seem like much, but when these lenses are that close you start to get really nitpicky.
  • Price.  Midwest Photo had a refurbished Nikon($386) or a new Tamron($449 - $100 mail in rebate = $349).  Slightly better price, nod to the Tamron(6 year warranty is great as well).
Some things I'll need to get used to:
  • Weight.  I'm so used to the weight and size of the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 that this thing seems very light.  Not a bad quality for a travel/take everywhere  telezoom.
  • Zoom/focus ring switched.  Every lens I'd had up to this point have been the more traditional zoom ring closer to the mount and the focus ring toward the front of the lens.  Both lenses were designed that way, so it would take some adjustment either way I went.

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