Working on hitting the trifecta, Tamron has released a new lens which includes a very respectable 70-210mm focal range, a quality packaged compact footprint, and a price targeted at starting shooters. The folks at Midwest Photo and Tamron were kind enough to provide me with a pre-release copy, so I happily took it for a spin.
Before we get too deep into my first impressions, let me tell you that I wouldn’t normally consider a lens in this focal range, with anything less than a f/2.8 aperture available to me. I decided it would be worth considering what this lens had to offer, so here we are. I won’t jump to the conclusion just yet, but let me quickly summarize here and let you know that I enjoyed shooting with this lens and it has some surprising features in store for its price point.
I am beginning to believe that the camera industry is taking its cues from car manufacturers and honestly this is a good thing. Before you feel like I have lost you here, what I mean to say is, I see many design attributes and features that are showing up in lenses across a wide range of manufacturers. The lens has a sleek, minimal design, with a solid feel and ergonomically placed controls that are smooth and fluid to the touch. Packaged in a compact matte black finish, the Tamron offering looks and feels like a quality product.
I was particularly impressed with the lens mount as it looks well machined and in application it firmly mounts the lens to the camera, with a smooth twist of the wrist. The moisture resistant construction looks like it will hold up to the elements and help provide a long life for the lens. All-in-all, the build looks impressive and well executed.
In The Field:
Ask just about any seasoned photographer which two lenses they must have in their bag and more often than not you will hear something in the 80-200mm range being offered up as a choice. The Tamron lens, at its 70-210mm spec, covers this range well and gives you just a touch more to work with on each end of the spectrum. Considered by most to offer both portrait photographers and action photographers an ideal working range, the Tamron delivers nicely into this niche.
The following image shows both the pull power of this lens at longer focal lengths, as well as the tack sharp images the lens can resolve.
As I began to work with this lens, many thoughts began to occur to me.
First, even though I stated my aversion to this earlier, the smaller, constant f/4.0 aperture, lends itself well to the compact design of this lens. You can easily see that this trade-off may in fact be a benefit to the user. The lens benefits from being significantly lighter and much smaller than a comparable f/2.8 copy. Overall, I experienced much less fatigue shooting with this lens than it’s light gathering brethren. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the composition control that I can get with a f/2.8 version of this lens, but for the aspiring sports photographer and/or parent documenting the exploits of their growing prodigy, this lens sits right at the ideal price point, $799.00.
Secondly, and I just alluded to this, the price point for this lens seems, well, perfect. It offers just the right blend of quality, features, and utility for the going price.
Lastly, the lens feels and operates exactly as I hoped it would. Focusing quickly, offering fluid operation of the zoom and focus rings, as well as fitting even my big hand just right. It is effortless to come up to speed quickly and be off and shooting.
As a test, I took the lens to a local track meet. I found the autofocus to be quick and accurate, allowing me to take advantage of my camera’s burst mode and get some decent action sequences. In this first set of images, the focusing is certainly quick enough to follow the movements of this aspiring athlete.
The lens offers a constant f/4.0 of the entire focal range of the lens, offering consistency of selective focus regardless of focal length, and constant illumination levels throughout the available focal lengths. With a minimum focusing distance, of 3.1’, Tamron’s 70-210mm lens makes working in close to your subjects easy. An impressive nine (9) blade aperture provides well round bokeh on those out of focus specular highlights. The autofocus system is powered by an Ultra Silent Drive (USD) for low noise focusing, great for weddings and other shooting environments where lens noise is a consideration. Lastly, a four (4) stop effective Vibration Compensation system aids the shooter in getting movement free images in even lower light situations and significantly aids in using this lens as a handheld optic. Additionally, the moisture-resistant lens is complemented with a fluorine coating on the front element to enable its use in those less than ideal weather conditions.
Again, from our local track meet we see some additional images underscoring the effectiveness of the lens in lower light conditions as well as the application of the Vibration Compensation system.
I enjoyed shooting with the new Tamron 70-210mm Di VC USD lens. Quite frankly, it surpassed my expectations in a number of categories, and at the very least met my expectations in all the rest. The lens handles well in low light, shadowy conditions, focusing with ease, as well as resolving light in the scene uniformly and with clean sharp edges.
I even intentionally de-focused foreground layers were rendered cleanly and even though I didn’t get the chance to work any low light, bokeh-rich scenes, I can easily envision this lens generating those compositional elements with ease.
Long story short, this lens is ideally priced for the features that it offers. For the aspiring photographer, who is budget conscious, this lens could be the ideal addition to their arsenal of optics.
About the Author
Tim Neumann is the owner of Soft Lite Studios. He regularly teaches classes for MPEX U and has a wide range of photographic skills. His portfolio is internationally recognized, published, and rewarded, with numerous contest wins. This article was also published here and shared with permission.