October 8, 2013

Tamron 28-300mm VC lens

For the last four or five years my go-to camera has been a full-frame Canon. I was shooting for a few years with the original 5D and just recently, I upgraded that camera to the Canon 5D Mark II.   Now both of these are awesome cameras but what I really needed was a good walk-around lens. I wanted a lens that I could just leave on my camera all day that would cover just about any situation so that I wouldn’t be constantly switching lenses to get “the shot”.  Sometimes it’s either dark or dusty or just too wet to change lenses or even if you do switch lenses, half the time you miss the shot anyhow.  Does this sound familiar?

The original photo with the red arrow was shot at ƒ7.1 - 28mm at 200 ISO and the second shot was zoomed all the way out to 300mm. This will work for me, how about you?

If you’re like me, whenever I’m planning on getting some new gear, I go online and start doing my homework. I read all the reviews and write-ups to get the pros and cons before I buy anything. What helped me finally make a decision was a review by a photographer that I really admire, David Ziser.  David is a world class wedding photographer and has been speaking and teaching at seminars for years. Plus he’s a Canon shooter himself, so when he said he was using one of these lenses to shoot an entire wedding I took notice. I had read probably a dozen write-ups on this lens, but when I read his blog post on this lens I was sold.  I’ve shot quite a few weddings myself so I know what it requires to shoot a wedding and I was already a big fan of his photography. On a full frame body the Tamron 28-300mm but on a crop body (like my 40D) it’s a 43-465mm!  Pretty nice huh?

The original shot of the warehouse was taken at ƒ6.3-55mm at ISO 160, the zoomed version was just cropped in Photoshop at 68%.  Nice huh?

This figurine was shot handheld at ƒ6.3-300mm - 1/100 at ISO 640. You’ll notice the shadows from a little fill flash, but keep in mind this is almost straight out of the camera hand-held.  Now I'm used to shooting with Canon’s “L” glass and I knew I was going to have to make some compromises. Canon also makes a 28-300mm lens, but their lens weighs over 3½ lbs compared to the Tamron which weighs in at a little over a pound. Plus, all of my camera bodies have a battery grip so weight was another factor. As far as the focal range, the Canon lens was ƒ 3.5 – ƒ 5.6 and the Tamron was ƒ 3.5 – ƒ 6.3, which meant I only lost a third of a stop with this lens.


Another big factor was that the Tamron was advertised as a Macro lens and said it could focus from only 1½ feet away. I don’t know about you but that’s a big feature for me. I just had to test that out for myself. Check out the photo of the watch. I grabbed a tape measure, and get this, the end of the lens was 9 inches away ( I focused on the gem at 12 o’clock). The background I used was an insert from the Sunday paper from a local grocery store and that was only 10 inches behind the watch!  So this lens focused from only 9 inches away and totally blew out the background only 10 inches away from it at ƒ6.3.

Lastly, I was very impressed with Tamrons VC (vibration control). I was used to shooting with Canons IS (image stabilization) and I absolutely needed this feature especially with these focal lengths. In his blog post, David shows images shot at 1/10 of a second at 160mm. Most cameras these days can shoot quality photos at very high ISO’s and with my Mk II I knew I could shoot all day at 2500 or better but sometimes you need to drag the shutter so after seeing his images, I knew the VC on this lens would work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my trusty “L” glass, but I’m not locked into that option these days. These days, my Tamron 28-300mm VC is on my camera 75% of the time when I out shooting for myself. Check out some of the photos taken with this lens online and I think you’ll be impressed.

Like all this wasn’t enough, the price was the final clincher. The Canon lens sold for $2500 bucks and the Tamron 28-300mm Di VC  lens was only $630 when I originally wrote this post, but the price did go up to $849 with a bunch of improvements! So, when David Ziser said this was his new go-to lens, it was a no brainer for me.  Sure the Tamron could be a little softer at certain focal lengths, but I knew I’d have no problem doing a little extra sharpening in post to save $1900 bucks and almost 3 lbs of weight. A lot of the reviews mentioned the Tamron had some chromatic aberration when zoomed all the way out to 300mm, but I use Adobe Camera RAW and fixing that was as easy two mouse clicks away. In the Lens Corrections panel in CS6, just click the middle tab marked color and then click Remove Chromatic Distortion, how easy is that?

If you’ve been searching for a good all-purpose lens for your Nikon or Canon camera that won’t break the bank, maybe you should put the Tamron 28-300mm Di VC macro lens on your Christmas list this year!

Remember, as always, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography