Photography News | Issue 34 | absolutephoto.com
Tamron Lens special
Leading independent lens maker Tamron has been at the vanguard of lens design for many years and its VC, PZD and USD technologies are headline features of its current range. We caught up with Leo Steinberg of Tamron Europe to see how things are going
SP 35mmf/1.8Di VCUSD £499 A very sharp and versatile
Words by Will Cheung
lens, fast with VC stabilisation, moisture-resistant construction and fluorine coating, The short minimum focusing distance of 20cm and magnification ratio of 1:2.5 makes it a versatile macro lens as well.
Tamron’s an independent manufacturer of high- quality lenses is second to none. Its lens making roots go back over six decades with its first zoom, the 95- 205mm f/6.3, becoming the world’s first mass produced, affordable zoom that really kick-started the boom in this lens type. Later, in 1992 it produced a very compact 28-200mm superzoom and more recentlywe saw the 16-300mm f/3.5-5.6 Di II VC PZDMacro, a 18.8x zoom for APS-C format DSLRs. “Tamron is not only another third-party manufacturer but really a long-term player in the field of optical engineering,” says Leo Steinberg of Tamron Europe. Today, Tamron is still making headlines in the lens business with its range offering 28 optics in the most popular camera fittings, many featuring the company’s leading technologies. “Tamron has developed many technologies to deliver outstanding product quality and to enhance lens performance for better shots, but also for versatility and ease of use,” says Leo. The use of aspherical lens elements and low dispersion glass, internal focusing and advanced lens coatings you would expect but there is more, in particular Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation) and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive). Also, he says: “The fluorine coating which was developed by our company for the car industry. This coating repels dirt and water from the reputation as
front lens surface, which makes it very easy to clean. Also with our moisture-resistant construction photographers don’t have to worry too much about their equipment and can concentrate on the image composition to get the perfect shot.” Minimising the impact of camera shake has been at the top of the agenda for most camera and lens makers and Tamron’s contribution ranks alongside the very best. Its VC system features Tamron’s propriety three coil system, actuator and algorithms, giving a smooth viewfinder image and sharp captures at slow shutter speeds impossible to achieve by handholding alone. The three coils adjust the VC lens element according to signals originating from three steel balls and gyro sensors detecting yaw and pitch. The system’s simple mechanical design also results in Tamron’s VC system being very compact so adds relatively little to the lens’s overall size. The VC technology is featured in many Tamron lenses but perhaps the most notable is the SP 150- 600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD. Using any long telephoto lens handheld is a challenge, but the inclusion of the VC system in this optic means handholding and getting pin-sharp pictures at remarkably slow shutter speeds is a practical proposition. As a guideline a 600mm lens handheld needs to be used at 1/600sec as a minimum for sharp shots. In our tests with this lens 1/40sec
SP85mmf/1.8Di VCUSD £749 The world’s first fast 85mm for DSLR with optical stabilisation, plus all the other features of Tamron’s new SP series: f/1.8 open aperture, razor sharp, moisture resistance and fluorine coating.
is possible with very acceptable results – that is up to an impressive 5EV benefit. See the image below left to see howwell the VC works. Tamron’s USD technology means lenses focus very quickly, with precision and with virtually no noise. In actual shooting conditions, you won’t hear the AF motor at all. If you want to know more about the science of USD, please go to the Tamron website. Earlier this year, Tamron introduced new-look high- specification prime lenses into its renowned and long established SP (Super Performance) series. “Our biggest selling lenses,” says Leo, “are the megazooms, where we can offer lenses in different price ranges and that includes Tamron’s megazoom flagship, the SP 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro, the only lens in its category starting at 16mm wide-angle and offering the world’s largest zoom range of 18.8 times. “But we have found in the past few years, starting with the launch of Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, that Tamron was getting more and more attention from semi-professional and professional photographers. We were delivering an outstanding price-to- performance ratio and some of our lenses have unique features. “At the endof last yearwe renewed our SP series completely and have
since brought out four primes: SP 35mm, SP 45mm and SP 85mm, all with f/1.8 maximum apertures, fast USD autofocus and optical stabilisation; and the recently added SP 90mm Macro, a new version of the legendary macro lens. “Tamron found the shift from analogue to digital cameras ignited a big increase in lens sales, but now we see a more saturated market for cameras and a change in customer buying habits. Market figures showed a decrease in sales quantity, but an increase in the sales value. That means people are looking for high-quality products with unique features, which fit their quality expectations from the latest high resolution cameras. Our new SP primes, and also the latest developments in megazooms, can deliver this requested quality. “Our SP range including the new primes as well as the 24-70mm f/2.8, SP 15-30mm f/2.8, SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 are showing growing sales figures,” adds Leo, “and Tamron will continue to follow the strategy to bring lenses with a perfect balance of performance, features, compactness and price. “Of course it is difficult to talk about upcoming lenses, but you can be sure that there are some nice lenses heading your way in the future.”
SP 150-600mmf/5-6.3Di VC USD£739 This lens hit the market two years ago in a big way and it has been a great-selling lens ever since. Versatile, it delivers a sharp performance from a compact form and appeals to all wildlife and sport photographers.
Handheld at 600mm, VC on
SP 16-300mmf/3.5-6.3Di II VC PZDMacro £399 Tamron’s flagship megazoom with an 18.8x zoom range, the world’s largest zoom range. Features moisture-resistant construction, fast PZD autofocus and delivers great detail shots.
Images Tamron’s Vibration Compensation is an impressive system that works really well. The above handheld shot was taken at the 600mm end of the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 zoom on a breezy day at the coast. The shutter speed was 1/40sec, which is way, way slower than the advised shutter speed for a long telephoto, yet sharpness is more than acceptable.
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