Review Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC

Joined
Mar 20, 2017
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1,973
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Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
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.

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.

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Sabre In The Backyard
1/250, f/5, ISO 200 @ 160mm
Aperture Priority

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Barn Door
1/100, f/5.6, ISO 200 @ 70mm
Aperture Priority

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2017
Messages
1,973
Location
Central Ohio
Real Name
Andrew
Took a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo and decided to really stress out the VC on the new Tamron lens. All I can say is that the VC not only works, but really surprised me in just how well it worked!!

I've had other VR lenses in the past and they have all worked well.

Look under the sample images below and check out the EXIF data. Yes, these are not "fast" aperture lenses, but my goodness the VC on this thing is miraculous!!

Gear loadout was the Nikon D700 and the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 VC, attached to a BlackRapid sling strap. No tripod, no leaning on a wall or pole for support. Straight hand held.

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1/60 f/5.6 ISO 640 300mm

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1/20 f/4.5 ISO 1250 125mm
The ones above, numbers wise are good, but check these next few out. CRAZY!!

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1/8 f/4.8 ISO 1250 160mm
11-29-2013_D700_cinci_DSC_4687-Edit.jpg
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1/4 f/4.0 ISO 1600 80mm
Yeah, 1/4th and 1/8th of a second. Those are not typos and I'm not pulling your leg. I did not doctor the EXIF info in any way. I'm still a little shocked looking at the last 2 images and seeing the EXIF data numbers.
 
Joined
Jun 25, 2020
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21
Location
Columbia/Cowlitz confluence
These shots make me very comfortable with the used Tamron deal I found. I hope to manage with the VR-free 28-105D and this for most of what I do.
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2010
Messages
899
Location
Vermont
I will add my praise for the Tamron 70-300 VC. I bought one back around 2011 approximately a year or so after they were initially released. In addition to the lower price, the general consensus then was that the Tamron was a tad bit sharper when shooting wide open than it's Nikon counterpart. I tested both at the camera store and was able to determine myself that the difference was real (although very slight).

The lens overall has been a decent performer, and I have produced some wonderful images with it. However, I will say that the long term reliability in my experience is not to the same standards as Nikon. My lens went back to Tamron twice within the 6 year warranty period. The first time was after about 2.5 years due to the focus motor starting to squeak during focusing and the manual focus ring slipping (ring would rotate, but focus scale would not move) when trying to use the manual focus override. Tamron replaced the focus motor and promptly sent the lens back good as new. again about 6 months before the lens warranty was to expire, I started experiencing lots of very dark photos due to the aperture stopping down to it's smallest size rather than to the value set in the camera. I again sent the lens back to Tamron and they again corrected the lens and got it back to me pretty quickly. a few months after it returned the focus motor began squeaking again. At this point I have simply dealt with it as it doesn't do it all the time and it's only at one certain point in the middle of the focus range.

A couple years ago while looking to move up from my D7000 to either the D7100 or D7200 (depending on what I found price wise). My wife came across a locally owned D7100 paired with a Tamron 70-300mm VC lens on Facebook Marketplace for $425. I figured this was too good to be true, but arranged a meeting with the gentleman equipped with my laptop to take some test shots and check the shutter count. He said he bought the camera (body only) and the lens together new for photographing his kids school sports. I took a number of test shots and both the camera and lens appeared to work fine. Upon checking the photos on my laptop everything seemed to be good, and checking the shutter count revealed that the camera only had around 4400 shutter clicks on it.

So now I have both my D7000 and a D7100 and two Tamron 70-300 VC lenses.

A few shots I've taken in the past with this lens.

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rykUbQohOtVC6Kf99AXOLtGE=w1406-h937-no?authuser=0?.jpg
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