Featured User Review: Tamron AF28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di Zoom Lens

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Featured Review: Tamron AF28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di Zoom Lens

by sfpeter ( Intermediate)

Price Paid: $300.00 from Online
Review Date: June 14, 2009
Used product for: 3 Months to 1 year

Overall Rating: 5 of 5
Value Rating: 5 of 5

I’d heard for years to avoid ultra-zooms, in particular the dreaded 28-300mm as they were all hopelessly bad. Therefore it was with some trepidation that I put down the money for a lens I wasn’t too sure about.

I’ve been surprised how happy I am with it, although there are a few caveats. (see below). This makes a good all-around “walking” lens. In other words, if you’re taking your camera and don’t know what you’ll be taking pictures of (or only want to take one lens), this is it.

It’s intended for full frame cameras, and this is where the best results come from. In particular I’m using a Nikon D700, and the almost unbelievable high ISO performance lets me simply overpower most of the lens’s limitations.

First is the long zoom range, literally going from wide angle to super telephoto on a full frame camera.

The images are nice and contrasty, with good end to end rendition.

Some projects I’ve done, such as photographing at dinners and social events where a photographer getting in people’s faces with a flash is not wanted, have been possible with this lens. I can stand at the other end of the room and quietly take pictures zooming in on my subject.

The sharpness and autofocus speed are acceptable.

This is effectively a “one size fits all” lens which is better than marching in with a 50mm prime or only an 80-200mm telephoto. However, don’t get me wrong, if you have the opportunity and planning to take more lenses then you should. But just for carrying around the camera and catching shots this works great.

As with all super zooms there’s distortion at the wide end and it’s dim (f6.3) at the tele end. In particular this lens seems to have significant light falloff in the corners when wide open. Another trait I’ve seen in super zooms is bright backgrounds tend to overwhelm the image.

It’s a screw drive autofocus so it’s a little noisy and slow compared to the internal motor lenses.

I’m certain if I did what the magazines do and strapped this onto a tripod and took pictures of test patterns and compared them at 100% crop I’d see all kinds of issues with sharpness. However, for the work I do (where the pictures typically aren’t blown up) the sharpness is just fine.

I think a lot of people forget 300mm is a long telephoto, and handheld takes a fast shutter speed to work. Even a little movement can make a picture appear “soft.” Then again maybe I just got a good example.

You should check carefully the exact make when buying this lens. Tamron has made these super zooms for a long time, and the early ones aren’t as good. The dewcriptive system is a little arcane, just remember the newer ones have XR and Di on them.

Similar Products Used:
Upwards of 40 Nikon, Tokina, Tamon, and Russian lenses, both manual and autofocus.

Customer Service:
Haven’t used.

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