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Thread started 03 May 2008 (Saturday) 17:55
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Tamron SP AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro

 
AngryCorgi
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May 03, 2008 17:55 |  #1

I went down to the Dallas World Aquarium today to give the Tammy a first run through. I spent some time last night playing with it to become familiar with it, prior to actually use. My first obvious reactions are:

Pros:
*Cheap! (US$700)
*Solid feel. Despite the extensive plastics used, it feels very well built.
*It comes standard with a tripod collar, hood, and decent case.
*The AF motor is faster and more precise acting than I expected.

Cons:
*AF motor still makes more noise than any USM/HSM drive.
*No IS/VC, and no current rumour of one making it as a future option.
*Typical Tammy hood (some people don't like felt, but for those who do...)

Okay, so there is my thinking prior to sleeping last night. Today I spent two hours at the Aquarium with my new Tammy on my 5D. I spent almost the entire time with it on (though I did get some lensbaby shots and contax too). In one-shot AF use, the AF motor jumps to the focus area, then seems to shift into a 1/3 speed mode to fine-tune the focus. This is great, but there is a problem...

Con:
*No focus-limiter switch! (Why?)

...and that problem shows up anytime you shoot something medium range then shoot somethingmore distant, as the goofy lens draws back to the macro range before giving up and looking elsewhere. Why Tamron built a lens with class-leading macro functionality and no focus-limiter is beyond my understanding. I would have paid the extra $25 for the switch/circuit to keep it from digging in the macro range.

Next its time to test the servo mode and answer those who say "I can't rely on anything but USM/HSM for tracking/servo use". I would have agreed with you before (and still to a point), but this lens keeps up fine with moving subjects (assuming your AF system in your camera will cope) in servo & AI-servo mode. It stays in the previously mentioned fine-tune AF motor speed and tracks along without much issue. It seems like people got by before without USM/HSM, so I guess I might survive without the luxury.

I shot some photos of monkeys (or tamarins, not sure) nestled in trees and switched to MF to keep a lock on them and not little surrounding twigs (the twigs fool the AF occasionally, but my eyes don't bite...too much ;)). The AF/MF clutch mechanism is functionally similar to Tokina's implementation and actually was easy to shift in and out of. The ring spins in AF with no interaction, just free-wheeling. The focus path is shortin MF mode, but not too short, IMO. It is a less dampened, though, than you would expect. It is looser than any 70-200 in the Canon line-up. That being said, I had no problem focusing with the lens. I would prefer it be slightly more dampened, though.

Okay, so when I got home, I got a chance to see the optical quality. I shot primarily wide-open, as the lighting in the Aquarium is decent to poor, and only good outside in the penguin area (though today even it was darker than normal). Much of this is due to the tree coverage shading much of the light out and letting rays poke through here and there. Anyways, the images look pretty good. I've only sampled one 70-200/2.8L IS (my friend's) and it appears to be on par or better than that lens. I have to go by samples for now as I have not yet organized a proper sampling method (maybe tomorrow, time permitting) to test its characteristics at various apertures. I must say that the color seems very good from the camera, and the images are sharp. The one issue on the 5D that you may notice is the vignetting, particularly in the "closer to macro" shots at f/2.8. It's worth noting that I can't see any visible CA in the shots I took today. Penguins are black and white, so they serve as good CA tests. ;) I definitely feel that the lens is worth at least the $700 that it cost.

So, here are the first samples.

The first four are RAWs with no sharpening applied at any point, and I will supply full shots (resized), then 100% crops of in-focus areas. All were shot at f/2.8 and most are at 200mm.

#1...

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

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#2...
IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

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AngryCorgi
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May 03, 2008 17:56 |  #2

#3...

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]


#4...
IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]

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AngryCorgi
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May 03, 2008 17:58 |  #3

And here are just some random other samples that are resized, all at f/2.8...

IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]


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IMG NOTICE: [NOT AN IMAGE URL, NOT RENDERED INLINE]


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Zansho
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May 03, 2008 22:00 |  #4

Hmm. I'm not so sure I'm convinced enough to purchase this lens, I'll probably end up going after a sigma 70-200 2.8. Thanks for the review though!


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May 03, 2008 23:36 |  #5

Zansho wrote in post #5455868external link
Hmm. I'm not so sure I'm convinced enough to purchase this lens, I'll probably end up going after a sigma 70-200 2.8. Thanks for the review though!

I have heard good things about the Sigma, I am sure you will be happy going that way. ;)


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condyk
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May 04, 2008 02:12 |  #6

It definately looks like there is some potential there with nice rich, natural lookin' colours. Difficult lighting in some shots and probably needs stopping down a tad to sharpen up. Could be a very good monopd lens.

I'm thinking the Penguin CA shot should become a defacto standard for all lens tests. So the 'Rules needs to go and buy a few of them thar critters :-)


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May 04, 2008 08:50 |  #7

condyk wrote in post #5456773external link
I'm thinking the Penguin CA shot should become a defacto standard for all lens tests. So the 'Rules needs to go and buy a few of them thar critters :-)

LOL

I probably could have taken one of these guys home and nobody would notice. They only had 4 of them (they used to have more than a dozen) and they were cleaning the penguin habitat at the time on the other side of the exhibit. I think the aquarium is wishing these messy beasties would go away. How do you ship a penguin after you acquire one? ;)

The lighting was irritating. I had to use spot metering and lock the metering before almost all the shots to get the exposure even close to good. The way the sun pokes through the trees, it's like a dark room with a bunch of spot lights everywhere. :-P


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Dorman
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May 04, 2008 09:02 |  #8

Corgi - this looks like a really great value lens. I've had the Tamron 17-50 and 28-75 and was pleased by both, and this looks like it would fall right in line. I've often thought about "downgrading" and going back to the Tamrons for their small size/weight, great optics, and lower cost. I was discussing it with two photog buddies of mine yesterday and they thought I was crazy to even consider it. :)



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AngryCorgi
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May 04, 2008 14:48 |  #9

Dorman wrote in post #5457752external link
Corgi - this looks like a really great value lens. I've had the Tamron 17-50 and 28-75 and was pleased by both, and this looks like it would fall right in line. I've often thought about "downgrading" and going back to the Tamrons for their small size/weight, great optics, and lower cost. I was discussing it with two photog buddies of mine yesterday and they thought I was crazy to even consider it. :)

Well, if I were you, I'd hang on to the 70-200/2.8L IS you already have! This particular tammy might be an interesting choice for penny-pinchers who don't already have a fast lens with IS. I think IS is a luxury that you can develop a dependency on, and you may end up with a regret after buying the tammy or the sigma tele-zoom. I would say the construction of this lens is suprisingly good. If you liked the short zooms, you would probably love this one! ;)


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Dorman
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May 04, 2008 15:39 |  #10

I won't be changing my 70-200 IS, but I do regret letting my Tamron 17-50 go.



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carianoff
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May 04, 2008 18:04 as a reply to Dorman's post |  #11

Someone write In2photos and get one of these or start a group thread in the sample archive. I want to see a collection all in one place please.


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AngryCorgi
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May 04, 2008 19:14 |  #12

Here is a short-range shot at f/2.8 & 200mm...

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May 05, 2008 22:33 |  #13

Here's another CA testing shot...none that I can see!

@200mm & f/2.8

IMAGE: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2123/2470024166_b8edc96549_b.jpg

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Tee ­ Why
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May 05, 2008 22:47 |  #14

Any chance of a comparison with a Canon 70-200 f2.8?


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AngryCorgi
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May 05, 2008 22:51 |  #15

Tee Why wrote in post #5468356external link
Any chance of a comparison with a Canon 70-200 f2.8?

I am going to call a local friend and see if I can borrow his 70-200/2.8L IS for a few days. I can't garauntee he will say yes, but he probably will. I sold him a 1.4x-II TC a while back, so I might be able to test it too...but I am not sure if the recession in the rear of the tammy will accept the protruding Canon TCs. IT is only about 3/4" - 1" deep. I'll post back after I get a confirmation on both issues.


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Tamron SP AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro
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