Tamron 28-300 XR F3.5-6.3 LD A (IF) MACRO
The Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro is a general purpose lens for both digital and film cameras. On a film camera the 28-300mm range covers everything from landscapes through portraits to wildlife. On a typical APS-C digital camera, such as the Canon EOS 20D, it has the same field of view as a 45-480mm lens would on a full frame 35mm camera.
The Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro is a Tamron "Di" lens. Di lenses designed with digital SLRs in mind and Tamron say that they have higher resolution, better control of flare and ghosting, less light fall-off and lower chromatic aberration than earlier designs.
Note that the Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens, although designated as digital ("Di") has full frame 35mm coverage. It can be used both on APS-C sensor DSLRs and on full frame digital or film cameras.
The Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro is remarkably small and light for a 28-300mm lens. In fact Tamron state that it's currently the world's smallest and lightest 28-300mm zoom, and as far as I know they're right!
The lens solidly constructed with a low reflectivity black finish and a rubberized zoom control. The barrel extends in two sections as can be seen from the illustration below. Though the extension is about 80mm (3"), there is very little sideways play, which is commendable.
The zoom can be locked in the 28mm position so that the lens doesn't extend when being carried in a downwards position.
Focus can be switched between AF and MF with a small switch on the left, near the lens mount. Manual focus is smooth with about a 50 degree rotation of the rubberized focus ring from 0.49m to infinity. This means focus can be adjusted rapidly, but fine focus adjustments need a light touch. There is no depth of field scale and no IR focus identification mark. It's marked with focal lengths of 28, 35, 50, 70, 100, 135, 200 and 300mm
Indicated maximum aperture at 300mm was f6.3, at 200mm f5.6, at 100mm f5, at 70mm f4.5, at 50mm f4, at 35mm f3.5 and at 28mm f3.5
The lens extends when zoomed (from around 84mm long at 28mm to around 164mm long at 300mm), but does not change length on focusing (it's internal focus - IF) and the front of the barrel does not rotate when the lens is zoomed or focused. However the focus ring does spin during autofocus, so keep your fingers away from it.
The Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro uses four types of special optical elements as shown above. Three hybrid aspherical elements and two high-grade LD (Low Dispersion) glass elements are used to to lower spherical and chromatic aberrations. Additionally one of the elements is an AD-Hybrid aspherical element using AD (Anomalous Dispersion) glass with an aspherical coating. XR glass (extra refraction) is glass of high refractive index and is used to keep the lens short.
The lens has a close focus distance of 0.49m (subject to sensor plane) which gives a maximum magnification of 1:2.9 at 300mm. Actually at the 300mm setting, the minimum distance between the front of the lens and the subject is only about 0.25m (10"). It should be noted that the focal length of most zooms of this type shorten significantly when close focused. Of course this doesn't really matter, it's the final magnification ratio that counts. Although the official name of the lens includes the term "macro" (at least that's what it says on the box), it's really more accurately described as "close focusing". True macro lenses usually give 1:2 or 1:1 magnification and are specially optically corrected to ensure low distortion, flat field and high sharpness at very close focus distances.
A bayonet fitting "petal" style lens hood is supplied with the lens. Obviously it suffers from the same problem as lens hoods do on any wide range zoom. If it's wide enough not to vignette at the wide end of the zoom range, it won't be very efficient at the telephoto end. However any hood is better than no hood, and at least Tamron don't make you pay extra for it!
Note that when mounted on an APS-C sensor DSLR like the Canon EOS 20D, the Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro gives the same angle of view as a 45-480mm lens would on a full frame 35mm camera.
Comparing the Tamron 28-300mm/3.5-5.6 Lens with the Canon 28-105/3.5-4.5 and the Canon 50/1.8
In the center of the frame at 50mm, the 50mm prime shows highest image quality at f4, followed by the 28-300 and the 28-105. When stopped down to f8 all three lenses are pretty similar.
At 50mm the edge quality of these three lenses is pretty similar when stopped down. At f4 the Canon 28-105 is a little soft but the Tamron 28-300 is close to the 50mm prime.
Comparing the Tamron 28-3003.5-6.3 with the Canon 28-105/3/5-4.5
In the center of the frame at 28mm there's not a lot of difference between these two lenses.
At the edge of the frame at 28mm, the Tamron 28-300 is softer than the Canon 28-105/3/5-4.5. It sharpens up as it's stopped down and by f8 both lenses how similar sharpness. The rightmost frame in the images above shows the chromatic aberration in the corner of the frame. As you can see, both lenses show visible color fringing. The Tamron shows a little more CA than the Canon.
The crops below are full width crops from the top edge of the frame (image downsized to 500 pixels wide).
As you can see, there is some barrel distortion (lines bow outwards) at 28mm with the Tamron 28-300, though no more than with the Canon 28-105/3/5-4.5. At 50, 100 and 300mm distortion is low, with just a slight touch of pincushion distortion (lines bow very slightly inwards). Overall this is pretty good performance for a wide range zoom.
At the 300mm setting the 28-300/3.5-6.3 can focus on an object about 10" in front of the lens (about 19" from the sensor or film plane), for a magnification of 2.9:1 (Tamron specs). Here's an example:
As you can see, distortion is very low. Like all close focusing lenses (as opposed to true macro corrected lenses), sharpness does drop off at close focusing distances. Some chromatic aberration is also visible at the frame edges. When operating under these conditions, sharpness is usually maximized by stopping down to f11 or smaller. The above shot was taken at f16 using the built in flash on the EOS 20D. Despite the length of the lens, the flash on the 20D was high enough above the optical axis that the lens barrel did not shade the image
In answer to the original question "Does the Tamron 28-300 deserve respect", I'd have to answer that it does. While I think you could probably do better with two zooms, one covering something like 28-100mm and one covering 100-300mm, not everyone wants to do that. For those who don't, the Tamron 28-300 may be a good choice.
There's no doubt at all, for example, that the Tamron 28-75/2.8 which I recently reviewed is a much sharper lens than the Tamron 28-300/3.5-6.3 (and it's obviously faster too). Both lenses cost about the same and are pretty close in size and weight. Whether the additional 75-300 range is worth the compromises in lens speed and image quality is an individual decision to make. For some people it is, for others it isn't.
The bottom line is that if you hate swapping lenses, need one small, light, lens to do everything, and you're prepared to make some compromises, the Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro isn't a bad choice.
Price: Rm 699 each (1unit available) [Was Retailing at Rm1590]
Location: Meet at Jalan Klang Lama - OUG Plaza (Yaohan) McDonalds or Pearl Point Hotel Starbucks 58200 Kuala Lumpur MY
Reason for sale: Trader
Delivery: 1. Always best to meet up and test until satisfy.
2. Can also post it to you, kindly call to discuss the alternatives.