Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Review of the TAMRON 28-75 F2.8

Holiday season is over. And boy was that stressful or what? After buying gifts for your loved ones, I'm sure you want to buy yourself a gift too. And for people who are thinking of lens as gift for themselves, this review might help you (or confuse you if you're already planning to buy other brand of lens).

This is my informal review of the TAMRON SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical [IF] MACRO. Whew! Is that a long name or what?! I literally went back and forth the Tamron website and blogspot as I was copying that incredibly long name. There's no way I could memorize all of those letters... 

Anyway, this lens is a fast general purpose lens. This model can be used for full frame bodies and for APS-C sized sensors. Take note: on an APS-C sensor with a 1.5X crop factor such as my Nikon d5000, it will be 42-112.5mm. Honestly, it is a bit short on the wide end but it depends on your shooting style. I was used to having a 50mm on my d5000 for a very long period of time so it was a breath of fresh air. Tamron also makes a 17-50mm F2.8 lens which is perfect for APS-C cameras but once you upgrade to a full frame camera, you can say goodbye to your lens. As I've said, the 28-75 can be used by a full frame, an APS-C, or even a film camera. I like having options so that's a no brainer for me. 

The Tamron uses a 67mm filter diameter. The body is made mostly (I think) of plastic but the lens mount is made of metal. It comes with a petal shaped hood. There is a lock to prevent the lens from extending but I think it isn't necessary for the lens has no creep issues. But thanks to Tamron for putting it there. Added protection is always welcome. There is also a manual and an autofocus switch at the side. 

For Nikons, this lens comes in 2 models: with and without BIM. BIM stands out built in motor. My Nikon d5000 doesn't have an autofocus motor so I bought the one with the BIM. For d90's and above, you can just buy the lens non - BIM. They say it is much faster in auto focusing as compared to the BIM model. But the supply for the non - BIM models are dwindling so if you see one, grab it!

Thanks to the XR technology (extra refraction), this lens is light and small. It's only 510 grams and 3.6 inches long. From afar, you would mistake this for the kit lens. It can focus as close as 13 inches thus the name "macro". It isn't technically a macro. But hey, it's still pretty good. 

I know what I wrote above is just nonsense to you. And don't worry. Again, this is an informal review so I won't bore you with charts and graphs to show you the lens performance. I will show you it's performance with the help of my newborn daughter's pictures.  =)

f/4 at ISO 640

As you can see, stopped down to f/4 it's sharp. I think this could've been sharper unfortunately, I have very shaky hands...

f/2.8 at ISO 200

I focused it at her eyelashes. It's a bit blurry but then again, we're at wide open. All lenses are sharper when stopped down at around 1 stop. 

f/3.2 at ISO 640

Again, sharp (look at that hair) stopped down. But there is a bit of chromatic aberration present. But still excellent result. CA's are almost non-existent. 

* Note: All photos were taken using raw and then converted to jpegs for demo purposes. And I'm not trying to be defensive but the jpegs in my laptop are much more sharper than these. I'm just sayin'.

As you can see, this lens has a yellow cast. I like it personally. But if you don't, you can easily correct that in lightroom. A problem I have with this lens is that sometimes, it misfocuses... I know it's weird but I did a test where I placed my dslr on a tripod and let it focus on a cardboard box. The AF point I used was the center. I thought my lens backfocused. But upon repeated tests, I found out that sometimes, it back focuses and sometimes it front focuses. Again, it is still within acceptable limits. But it's not really spot on. But like in the examples above, it's sharp enough. Only photographers like to pixel peep anyway.

An image stabilization will greatly help in the sharpness of the lens. But even the Nikon and Canon equivalent of this lens don't have one so I think it's okay. If image stabilization is really important to you, I suggest you buy the 17-50mm VC. I have very shaky hands so it's a bit difficult for me especially in the 75mm. As you know a 75mm needs a shutter speed of at least a 1/75. ( 1/75th of a sec is still blurry to me. Yes. I know. And please don't tell me to practice holding a dslr. Remember, I'm a dentist so I always have tired hands.) So one trick I can give to people like me is to boost the ISO to make the shutter speed faster. But not too much okay? For example, in the last photo, I used an ISO of  640 even though normal people would've used 400. But again, don't overdo it. You might have a sharp photo but if there is too much noise, you'll have to remove it. If you remove the noise, you also remove sharpness. So it's a balancing act.

In my opinion, it is a great lens. So if you want a lens that offers very good performance for a very good price, the Tamron 28-75 is a good choice. I'd give it a 9 out of 10. It's not perfect, but it does so much more than what you would expect from its price.