Monday, April 21, 2014

Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di macro

I had the chance to try this for a while. It's a favorite lens for many amateur macro photographers, that can double as a decent portrait lens. Is the hype justified? Chances are, you have already read reviews about it, but AmateurNikon is not about diagrams and charts, it's about real-life usage. Read on to find out what I think of this lens - in real usage

+ optically pretty much flawless.
+ good macro range (especially for DX), better than 60mm - but read on more below.
+ superb value, you get a lot of performance for not much money

- construction quality not a problem, but inferior to Nikon's
- on full-frame, I find the 90mm a weird focal length for macro (more on 'Final Verdict')
- extends significantly during focusing (but front element does not rotate)

Contrast, sharpness, vivid colors. Not much more to ask

Intended Users
Great for:
  • DX users looking for a macro which can double as a short tele
  • As a portrait lens, it's highly capable - although not my first option
  • FX? Sure, but there are other options, too.

Not for:
  • If you plan to use it exclusively for macro, there are better/cheaper options
  • A personal opinion, of course, but 90mm is not a great macro range for full frame. 105mm is a minimum for me. The difference might not sound much, but it can be.
  • resale value of third party lenses will always drop faster, if you care about such things.
Good bokeh, especially wide-open.

Final Verdict
In absolute terms, this is a superb lens. Optically flawless, at a very competitive price. The only problem (and what you should consider before committing to buying one) is its usefulness/deployment. If you're looking for a lens to be used exclusively for macro, there's nothing wrong with the old AI-S Nikkors that can be had for less. In fact, they are probably even bit better optically, and significantly better in terms of construction quality. Of course, if your camera can't meter AI-S lenses, the dynamics change. They also change if you plan to use this lens as a short tele or as a portrait lens - autofocus is extremely helpful and great to have then. But all in all, however, I highly recommend this lens. It's optically excellent, inexpensive, capable of producing superb images.

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