A few weeks ago, we reviewed the Tamron SP 70-300 mm on a camera with a full frame sensor (Nikon D800E). Although the lens performs well on a camera with a full frame sensor, it will probably be more often used on a camera with an APS-C sensor, such as the Nikon D3200 or the Nikon D5200. Not only because of the high price/quality ratio, but also because you reduce the view angle by using a camera with a smaller sensor, allowing you to bring your subjects 1.5x closer to you. This makes this an ideal lens for nature photography.
The Tamron SP 70-300 mm VC is equipped with Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation), a 3-axial image stabilization system. It is reasonably compact and – compared to brighter telezooms – reasonably light. It’s an ideal candidate for a test with the Nikon D7100.
Review Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD SP AF + Nikon D7100
Tamron 70-300mm: FOV @ 70mm
Tamron 70-300mm: FOV @ 300mmIn terms of zoom range, the Tamron SP 70-300 mm is a perfect combination with a 24-70 mm or a 24-105 mm zoom lens. Thanks to the 1.5x crop factor of the Nikon D7100, with the Tamron 70-300 mm you get a view angle corresponding to the angle of view of a 105-450 mm lens on a camera with a full frame sensor. It’s good that the lens has a built-in image stabilization, because under low light conditions you’ll love having it at the longest focal lengths to prevent motion blur. In our earlier review of the Tamron 70-300 mm on a Nikon D800E ,we tested the image stabilization, which turned out to be extremely effective.The largest magnification of the Tamron SP 70-300 mm at 0.25 is modest.
Construction and autofocus
This lens is very well built and has a metal mount. On the lens there are two on/off switches: for autofocus and for image stabilization. The focus ring is two cm wide and covered with rubber. That feels good. The zoom ring is wider and covered with the same kind of rubber. What you encounter less and less today is a window on a lens in which you can see the distance that is in focus. With telephoto lenses, it can be really convenient. This is an lens that uses internal focusing (IF). The front lens therefore doesn’t turn during focusing. This is useful when using a gradient filter or a polarizing filter.
Because the Tamron SP 70-300 mm is designed for use on cameras with a full frame sensor, when using it on a camera with an APS-C sensor, you won’t be troubled by vignetting. If you ever do encounter it, it must be a picture of a bird against a smooth blue sky made at maximum aperture and the longest focal length. Vignetting is simple to correct later with software if needed.
The distortion of the Tamron 70-300 mm on a camera with an APS-C sensor remains below 1% over the entire zoom range. That is very good: in practice, you will practically never be bothered by distortion. Distortion can otherwise be corrected after the fact quite well with software. Using the lens correction profiles in Lightroom or Photoshop, you can get rid of any distortion in all your shots with “1 click of a button”.
The background blur of the Tamron SP 70-300 mm VC is what restless. If there is a sharp contrast transition or a bright light source in the background, you can see a clear ring in the bokeh. Try as much as possible to avoid hard contrasts in the background, then the bokeh of this lens is at its best. Even then, despite the long focal length and the limited focal depth, the background not smooth and creamy. See the following image cut-out from one of the pictures taken in practice with the Tamron SP 70-300 mm.Tamron 70-300mm (crop) @ 300mm f/5.6, 1/250s 400 ISO
The Tamron is very insensitive to ghosts or flare from backlighting. The image can be softly flared if you are shooting straight into the sun, or if you’re taking night shots with a lamp post in frame. Then there are also some small (aperture-shaped) ghosts. This is a very good performance. There are very few lenses that under such circumstances would be completely free from flare and ghosts.
If you compare the sharpness of the Tamron SP 70-300 mm with the sharpness of more expensive 70-300 mm zooms from other brands, this Tamron is the man. The center sharpness, expressed in lines/sensor height, is generally high. Only at the longest focal lengths is the center sharpness visibly lower. If you have a shot made at 300 mm blown up to 100% on your screen, then it looks less sharp, woollier than pictures made at shorter focal lengths. That is not an unusual occurrence with telephoto zoom lenses; only the most expensive zoom lenses also perform excellently at the longest focal length. The edge sharpness is lower than the center sharpness. This difference is visible at 300 mm, but at all the other focal lengths the corners are still so sharp that in practice, most photographers won’t notice that the center is even sharper.
Tamron 70-300mm @ 300mm f/5.6, 1/640s 400 ISO
The chromatic aberration at all focal length/aperture combinations is reasonably low. Telephoto lenses are in theory sensitive to chromatic aberration. Therefore, the design often utilizes more expensive types of glass to combat chromatic aberration. In the design of this lens, which is made up of 17 elements in 12 groups exist, there are two lens elements with a higher refractive index (low dispersion & ultra low dispersion) included. That’s relatively few, and it keeps the cost down. And it seems to be reasonably effective. In the extreme corners you will, only at large magnifications of uncorrected RAW files, sometimes find visible purple and green edges at sharp contrast transitions. Those are easy to correct with software afterwards.
You won’t find any lateral chromatic aberration in jpg files with the Nikon D7100. The camera corrects chromatic aberration in all jpg files, even for non-Nikon lenses.
Conclusion Tamron 70-300mm VC AF review
- Convincing image quality on almost all fronts
- Built-in image stabilization
- Well built
- Very attractively priced
- Separation efficiency at 300 mm lags a bit
- Less nice bokeh
The Tamron SP 70-300 mm is an absolute must, which performs convincingly on all fronts. Both the build quality and the optical performance on a camera with an APS-C sensor (Nikon D7100) are perfectly good. The price is very attractive. And if you ever decide to switch to a camera with a full frame sensor, then the Tamron SP 70-300 mm is still usable, because in our previous review on a Nikon D800E, this telephoto zoom also performed quite well.