Review Tamron SP 70-300 VC USD - First Impressions (lots of images)

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Sep 7, 2010
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Well, I picked one up today. After going back and forth with the Nikkor 70-300 VR as the other option.

My first impressions so far is that this is a winner for Tamron. Its well built, feels very sturdy, outstanding VC, fast focusing, and excellent optics.

Its a lot larger than I had anticipated. It balances really well on my D700 and I think it should be just fine on a D90/D7000 body. It's mostly plastic, but it by no means feels cheap at all. The finish is nice and matches the Nikon texture quite well. It comes supplied with a nice large hood, very deep... no doubt should keep stray light away.

The zoom ring is nice and smooth, has some nice feedback and shows no sign of creep at all. The focus ring is also superb, very well dampened and glides as well as any other full time manual ring motor system I have used before. The zoom and focus rings are nice and broad with a nice rubber grip on them.

VC is outstading, it does make a little sound when it engages and does jump for just split second once its engaged... and then you get this incredible stabilized image. I always felt I had a good steady arm/s and good technique, but this makes me feel like I am a statue. Its REALLY good. (Please note I have never tried the Nikkor 70-300 VR, so I can't compare)

The USD is a first for Tamron. Its very fast and very accurate. My copy needed no adjusting and is just as fast as any other ring motor system I have used. Nice work Tamron!

Optics are excellent. Wide open at 70-200 are very sharp in the center, with the edges just barely behind (no charts just from my eye balls). At 300 is where I was really surprised, the center is still sharp wide open! This is where I think this really helps it stand out. Sure its not a fast lens, but the ability to at least shoot wide open at 70 through 300 is a nice touch and I am very happy that Tamron did not skimp on this. Stop the lens down to 8-11 and its excellent through the whole frame.

At 390-400USD (after 50 dollar rebate), I think this is an excellent piece of glass for the money.

Here are some shots of the lens itself. I really don't/haven't done products shots so don't kill me :p

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I will have a fuller review in the next few days after I can mess with it some more. I will be taking it to a Derby tomorrow and run it through the ringer there a bit, and get some more everyday type photos.

For now, here are a couple wide open shots at 300mm with 100% crops. I think its pretty sharp.

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Joined
Sep 7, 2010
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Nicely done Jonathan. The product shots look great.

I've had mine for about two weeks and really like it.
Thanks John! Glad to hear you're enjoying yours too!

It really would surprise people, especially compared to Tammy's previous 70-300 Di LD.
 
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Took the Tammy out for a night at the Roller Derby. I shot wide open all night, not only for necessity but also for testing. The lighting conditions always suck here, and typically I wont use anything but a fast 1.8 and go no higher than 4.

Granted the D700 can help make up for the slow speed of the lens with higher ISO, the lens focused perfectly all night and the VC rocked all the panning shots perfectly. The only thing that I miss from a larger aperture lens is the better subject separation, but I think it did alright.
 
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Joined
May 2, 2007
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Nice shots Jon.
Pretty good test of the lens' AF.
I've had very good results as well in less than ideal conditions.
 
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Apr 20, 2010
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Norway
Well, I'm not too concerned about Price/performance. Here in Norway they cost almost the same :biggrin:

So unless the Tamron is superior, I don't regret buying the Nikkor
 
Joined
Sep 7, 2010
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Well, I'm not too concerned about Price/performance. Here in Norway they cost almost the same :biggrin:

So unless the Tamron is superior, I don't regret buying the Nikkor
Same price as in Nikkor price or Tamron price? The main reasons I picked this one (Tammy) was because it was $100 cheaper and at 300mm wide open@5.6 it was still sharp. Most of the complaints of the Nikkor was at 300mm (mind you I have seen some wide open 300mm shots that appear to be just fine on the Nikkor)... hence why people call the "Sweet spot" 70-200 on the Nikkor. The VC on the Tammy is incredible too, I am sure the Nikkor is just as good though. I just feel like a statue at 300mm hand held.

The Nikkor is a wonderful lens, and I probably would have got it given the same price... but 100 dollars is 100 dollars. Plus sharp 300mm wide open is a bonus.

More samples?
I'll be posting some tomorrow night.
 
Joined
Sep 7, 2010
Messages
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Utah
More samples

Here are a few more samples:

Focal Length: 300.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Focus Dist.: 3.76m
ISO Equiv.: 6400

Sharp, and I think it has nice bokeh
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Focal Length: 300.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Focus Dist.: 6.68m
ISO Equiv.: 6400

Still has subject separation, but obviously its not 2.8 nice... still if it wasn't sharp like this wide open, you'd probably not notice who is in focus. Again, the bokeh is still nice... as 9 blades will do. Also, I have to say its is spot on AF accuracy with no adjustments.
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Focal Length: 190.0mm
Aperture: f/5.3
Focus Dist.: 1.68m
ISO Equiv.: 6400

Still wide open. Meant to show some bokeh and detail.
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Last one:

Focal Length: 125.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Focus Dist.: 7.94m
ISO Equiv.: 6400

The USD is keeping up with these ladies quite well and all night it never hunted... the lighting is poor here and changes from position to position.
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Sorry these are all from the same event, but I hadn't really tested it extensively till then. I bought it just a day before I got there and since this is the busy season for me, I had to take it almost completely untested into the event.

(If you want to see more, this entire event was covered with the tammy 70-300 @ Derby )

So far I am heavily impressed by this lens. It shows great sharpness wide open at all stops and focal lengths, its VC is just incredible, and the USD is fast and accurate. My lens required zero adjustment.

I am trying to get out and get some other everyday samples for you guys and gals... just not the right weekend to do it ;)
 
Joined
Apr 26, 2009
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Los Angeles
man wish it was cheaper than the 55-300VR.....what to do, im on a VERY VERY tight budget
did you search careful? I just started sarching today and immedaietly found a customer return through amazon's site that cost me $260.... that does not sound like that much
 
Joined
May 2, 2007
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los angeles
I hope you don't mind if I add a few to your post Jonathan.

A few from today.

300mm @ F5.6 ISO 800 oops!
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135mm @ F5.6
View attachment 798358

300mm @ F5.6
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