Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VCUSD £849
Format Full- frame, APS-C Mount Canon EOS, Nikon, Sony Alpha (tba) Construction XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) and Low Dispersion Coatings Fluorine-coated front element, BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) and eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Filter size No Aperture range F/2.8-22 Diaphragm 9 blades Internal focus No Manual focus Yes Minimum focus 28cm Focus limiter No Maximummagnification 1:5 Distance scale Yes Depth-of-field scale No Image stabiliser Yes Tripod collar No Lens hood Yes (built in) Weather-sealed Yes (moisture resistant) Dimensions (lxd) 145x98.4mm Weight 1.1kg Contact intro2020.co.uk 18 elements in 13 groups Special lens elements
The first thing that strikes you about the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is its size. In fact, you’d better hope it doesn’t strike you because it’s a real monster; it’s bigger and heavier even than Nikon’s chunky 14-24mm f/2.8, which its specification most closely matches. The lens is 100g heavier and almost 15mm longer than the Nikon, but that size is all about packing in quality and it’s fair to say the lens doesn’t disappoint. Fitting full-frame and APS-C Nikon and Canon DSLRs (there’s also a Sony variant on the way), the zoom features a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout its very useful 15-30mm range, making it a very attractive companion for landscapers and low-light photographers; and on the latter score it boasts built- in image stabilisation (Vibration Compensation) – a first for a lens this wide and fast. Topping off the build, the lens features moisture sealing, and while like the Nikon and Canon’s ultra-wides, its bulbous front element doesn’t accommodate screw-in filters it has a fluorine coating to repel water
and dirt, and make cleaning easier. Handling wise, the lens is a real pleasure. On larger bodies, like the Nikon D800 we tested it on, it’s pretty well balanced, though it is still a little front heavy. Obviously it would be less suited to smaller bodies, but the lens is aimed at full frame cameras, so that’s to be expected. And while its diameter makes using the zoom and focus rings a bit of a stretch for smaller hands, their ribbed, rubberised designs are very nicely weighted. The zoom ring in particular has a very positive feel, turning smoothly with a nice short throw that takes you from 15mm to 30mm in less than a quarter of a turn andnot showinganycreep.Alsoon the barrel are two switches for AF/MF andVC on/off, both of which fall easily under your thumb. The 15-30mm’s autofocus is brisk, accurate and near silent, thanks to a built-in Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD), but the focus ring remains active, allowing minor manual adjustments after focusing with the AF, and there was no hunting to speak
of even in low-light. The VC function is excellent; we noticed a benefit of around three stops, and because the effects of camera shake are already less noticeable at wide angle, those with a steadier grip can shoot handheld at surprisingly slow shutter speeds, like 1/15sec or 1/8sec. Equipped with a newly designed eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical (XGM) and Low Dispersion elements, as well as a Broad- Band Anti-Reflection (BBAR) and eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) coatings, the lens showed great sharpness and admirable control over barrel
distortion, though it does creep in a little at the wide end. There was great clarity at the centre, even at the widest aperture and focal length, and this got even better when stopping down to between f/4 and f/5.6. Corner sharpness reaching its peak at around f/8 in the middle of the zoom. Offering a great performance throughout, the lens actually seemed slightly sharper at its wide end, which is great, as that’s where I found myself using it the most. Vignetting, though subtle, was most pronounced wide open at 15mm, but quickly reduced through f/4 and was far less obvious at the longer focal lengths. KS
The images To illustrate the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8’s optical quality, we set it up on a Nikon D800 and shot square on to this church, so that sharpness could be assessed using details both the centre (right-hand boxes) and the edges (left-hand boxes). Taking shots at the wide and long ends of the zoom as well as in the middle, and exposing throughout the aperture range, the images are reproduced as 200% enlargements.
How it rates
Verdict Although it’s a hefty specimen, this lens packs a punch where it matters; in image quality, handling and focusing speed. Sitting very favourably in the ultra-wide angle bracket, it’s a near perfect landscape optic and one that should deservedly find its way into your camera bag.
Features Not much missing bar filter attachment and a distance scale
Performance Speedy focus and superb image quality even wide open
Handling Generally superb, but size and weight could put some off
Value for money Competes brilliantly with its camera brand rivals at a significantly lower cost
Overall A superb lens for landscapers at a brilliant price Pros Image quality, handling, AF, VC, price Cons Bulky and heavy, no filter attachment – or buy the Lee SW150 system
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