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Author Topic: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro  (Read 2527 times)

Offline PixelHunter

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First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:38:09 AM »
Before I begin, I should make this clear that, this is not a detailed, in-depth review of the lens with lots of stats. You will find many such reviews online. I am just sharing my first impression as an amateur.



I got myself this lens only a couple of days back. I must thank Prabir da for accompanying me and giving me the final 'push' for buying this piece of glass. Though I am not skilled enough yet to take proper macro shots, I still got this lens for using it as a standard portrait/close up lens for taking photos of flower, food etc. (Plus at 20k, I didn't have much to lose anyway  :P ).


First things first, you get the following items inside the box- The lens and hood inside a nice cloth pack, warranty and instructions manual.



First impression of the lens appearance- When I first hold the lens, I was happy due to its weight. Around 400 grams, its very easy to handheld and shoot. Although I must say, I was somewhat disappointed with the build quality. Although sturdy, the plastic used in the lens construction seems inferior to that used in the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AF-D. The supplied hood seemed somewhat better. The focusing ring is large and smooth with just the right amount of resistance. The only metal bit in the lens is the lens mount (thankfully)

The filter thread is 55mm and is plastic, just like the rest of the lens. The front element of the lens is deep inside the lens barrel (about 3.5-4 cms), which I believe is a good thing. You won't be able to scratch it easily while doing closeups. Plus if you add the hood, chances of the front element coming in contact with anything is remote (Unless you try to shoot macro of a snake and it decides to take a closer look at the front element ;))



Switching between AF and MF is done by shifting the focus ring. Pull the ring down for MF and push up for AF. At first it felt a bit cumbersome, but soon I got used to it . In fact now it seems a better option than to shift a tiny switch for AF/MF. However, it does seem that this may be more prone to dust. Also the focusing ring seems a bit wobbly. There is a focusing scale and DOF scale on the lens.



There is a focus limiter switch which I found invaluable. It allows to set focusing between 0.45 meter to infinity and between 0.29 meter and 0.45 meter It really increases the focus speed and accuracy of the lens, depending on the intended usage. The button is placed well and could be operated upon without removing the eye from the VF.



The front element doesn't rotate while focusing but it extends quite a lot (a good 4-5 centimeters). Thats one thing that should be kept in mind while shooting macros. The picture below may give a rough idea.



Handling and Performance

In the very limited time that I got to use the lens and from the few shots that I clicked, one thing I can say for sure, the lens is sharp. I don't know about FF cameras but in the APSC cameras, even the corner sharpness seems to be excellent.

One point I would like to mention here. Though it is a f2.8 lens, but the actual f value changes with magnification. At infinity focus its really f2.8. But as you begin to move closer to the subject, the f value also starts to increase and at its maximum magnification of 1:1, the actual f value comes to f5.6. Being a first time macro lens user, this confused me a lot and I was beginning to think that my copy is a defective one, until Google Baba came to my rescue. (I know mentioning this bit may look silly to seasoned macro shooters, but for first time users like me, it was very confusing.)

The minimum focusing distance of this lens is 11.4 inches. That may sound impressive, but the extension of the front element negates that advantage to a great extend. From my own little usage, the minimum working distance seems somewhere around 6-7 centimeters at full magnification. Where that is enough for capturing critters is not known to me but I guess, a little longer than that is required (purely a guesswork there. I have seen people getting excellent results with lens reversals and Extension Tubes, so that can't really be an excuse for not getting good macro shots )

The output of the lens are really contrasty and the colors are punchy. I liked the output of the lens very much. Although not buttery smooth, the bokeh was pleasing and not too harsh on the eyes.

The downside of the lens is its AF. Its terribly slow and unpredictable. It failed to lock focus in some well lit conditions also. The focus limiter switch improves the AF ability to some extend, specially at the infinity end. The lack of VR definitely hurts at low light situations. If one has the budget, then he/she should definitely go for the VC version of the same lens. That lens offers some added advantages over this one at a little extra money. Also I missed the aperture ring that used to be there in the earlier versions of the same glass.

Sample Images
Like what everyone else does when they buy a new lens, I also took the usual headshots of unwilling friends and macro of a cigarette box. Sharing couple of them for you to see and decide the actual performance of the lens. They are not edited much apart from slight curves adjustment.





Conclusion

So after all this sh#$.. err.. facts and pictures, what is my final verdict? Lets look at the pros and cons once at one glance-

Pros- Its a definite Value for Money. You are getting a nice sharp macro lens for about the same price of a consumer grade zoom lens like the Nikkor 55-300. The performance (IQ wise) is great and the images look lovely without much effort in PP. Offers good magnification with reasonable working distance. Manual focusing is easy and comfortable with large focus throw. Hood included in the package.

Cons- Not so great build quality. Front element extends quite a lot while focusing. AF is painfully slow and unpredictable.

So, in the end, considering everything, I personally believe its a good choice. At least for a beginner on a budget, you can't go wrong with this lens.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 11:45:39 AM by PixelHunter »
"The best camera is the one that's with you" Chase Jarvis

Offline Prabir

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 02:45:47 PM »
Very clear and honest write-up.
Well done, Binoy.
Prabir K. Bhattacharyya

[Canon 5DM2 & 7DM2, a few glass pieces, sun glasses and a lot of friends...

Offline theqca

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 03:06:19 PM »
nice write up!

what i usually do with this lens for macros is mount it on a monopod and turn auto focus off - move back and forth to get the subject in focus - check if this trick works for you.

Nikon FM(black), Nikon FG, Nikon D700, Nikon FM(silver), Nikon FM10, Pentax Spotmatic, Zenith TTL, Minox Wetzlar, Agfa Optima III, Yashica & Rollei rangefinders etc

28mm 2.8, 70-300vr, 200mm f4, 50mm 1.4, 55mm 2.8 macro, 50mm 1.8, 16mm 2.8, 70-210 f4 macro, Lensbaby, Helios 44 f2, 90mm macro, etc

Offline kaushik_s

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2014, 03:10:54 PM »
Nice write up. I had the similar lens and got fed up with the focusing speed and the noise that the motor makes. But other than those, this is one of the sharpest lens that you can buy for this money and probably another couple of tens of thousands. Most macro lenses are pretty good when it comes to sharpness and this one is no difference. Had the AF was better I probably would've kept this lens. But for a dedicated macro shooter it shouldn't matter much as they would be using manual focusing for most of the time.

BTW, there is a newer version of this lens, has anyone tried that version?
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Offline PixelHunter

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 04:58:26 PM »
Thans Prabir da and Ayaz for your encouraging words.

Kaushik da, I believe you had the earlier lens which had the aperture ring and did not have in lens motor. In this version, the AF is not so horribly noisy.

By the new version are you trying to imply the VC version?
"The best camera is the one that's with you" Chase Jarvis

Offline kaushik_s

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 09:35:59 PM »
Thans Prabir da and Ayaz for your encouraging words.

Kaushik da, I believe you had the earlier lens which had the aperture ring and did not have in lens motor. In this version, the AF is not so horribly noisy.

By the new version are you trying to imply the VC version?

I think I had this one only :) And for Canon there is always a motor in the lens if it has to AF and no aperture rings.. But lemme rephrase, it was noisy and slow compared to my other lenses. It was a nice lens still and I liked the AF-MF switch ;)

Yup, for the other part I was talking about the new VC version, anyone tried that one? How is it compared to the older lens? One more good thing (in my opinion, YMMV) about the new version is that it's IF and so the lens's length doesn't change like it happened with the older lens.
 Regards,
Painting with Light and Shadow..
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Offline Brendon

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2014, 11:28:06 AM »
Nice write up ! :)

I have the same lens but in Sony mount so a few changes (no AF motor in the lens being probably the only noteworthy change).

This lens is stabilized on my Sony body but stabilization unfortunately is pretty ineffective at macro range and I get less than even one stop handholding with IBIS.

On non macro range I get around 2 - 3 stop stabilization which is a good thing.

@Kaushik - The newer version is supposedly faster in focusing and has VC built in. However it is much more expensive in India (around 35k). Better to stick to OEM lenses for that price. Also focusing is largely dependent on the body. I found focusing to be pretty fast on my friends 60D.

Offline dashillol

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2014, 12:19:33 PM »
Nice article. First impression penned down by you is impressive.
A Nikon lover with few glasses, Nikon and Yongnuo speedlights, Benro tripod with ball-head and a few Hoya/Nikon/Marumi/Griffin filters

Offline mannusingh

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2014, 12:55:47 PM »
Nice review. But as I had mentioned in the JJmehta forum as well that pulling and pushing the focus ring to alternate between AF and MF, especially when you want to do micro focus adjustments, makes me lose critical focus when mounted on the tripod due to a shake/shock in the whole shooting setup due to which I prefer the small AF/MF switch over the push pull mechanism of this lens.

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Offline Hot Shoe

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2014, 01:11:35 PM »
Nice review Binoy. All aspects have been covered well.

Tamron markets this lens as a 'macro - portrait' lens !
Nikon D7000   /// Nikkor 35mm 1.8G  50mm 1.8D   55-300mm  // Tamron 17-50 f2.8  90mm f2.8 Macro  // Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6  /// Yongnuo 460 II  560 III  /// Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT // Rollei Pro BH611

Offline Ramstrong

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2014, 04:27:00 PM »
Nice review Binoy. All aspects have been covered well.


+1, Binoy. :)
NikonD810+D700+D7000+MB-D10&11+Some Nikon Glasses+Helios81N 50mmF2 Lens+Vanguard AP263AT+GH100+SB600+SB400+YN560II+YN560+YN622Nx2.

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Offline PixelHunter

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2014, 07:51:17 PM »
Thanks for your views guys.. I am beginning to use the lens more and more. I must say, its bloody good vfm. Shall upload some pics later..
"The best camera is the one that's with you" Chase Jarvis

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2014, 10:34:15 AM »
A nice write up and images Vinay. A great bang for bucks lens. I still rue for selling mine , a mint copy for throwaway price. You will also like to make portraits with it. A slightly warm glass , at least mine was and sharp , very sharp.

regards

Somnath

Offline PixelHunter

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2014, 09:36:17 PM »
Somnath da, you should have told me before selling  :'( Anyways, no doubt about the sharpness. But that also brings out the imperfections in skin when its being used as a portrait lens. The PP gets tougher..
"The best camera is the one that's with you" Chase Jarvis

Offline Nikon

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Re: First Impression- Tamron 90mm f2.8 AF Di Sp Macro
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2014, 04:19:08 PM »
Very clear and honest write-up.
Well done, Binoy.

+1...