Tamron 90mm f2.8 DI VC USD Goodness

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by manuel_garcia|5, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. My Tamron arrived today, here are some test shots. So far I'm loving this lens.
  2. Over the years in its many versions and mounts, this has been one of the largely unheralded bargains in macro lenses.
    I don't do as much macro as I thought I would when I bought it, but when I do use it I am always happy that I bought it.
  3. I can't remember a bad word about Tamron's 90mm macro offerings over the years. I owned a Nikon 105mm f/2.8D for quite awhile (got it for $450 after rebate). Never really used it much and eventually sold it for the same amount, but it came in handy when I copied a bunch of old family slides on a light box. Much quicker than using my old Coolscan IV.
    Now I'm tempted to pick up a non-VC Tamron to quickly digitize all my own old slides from years ago.
  4. I don't know about "largely unheralded" JDM - Tamron's SP 90mm macro lenses have been well-known to be among the sharpest since the 1970s, and have always had rave reviews. The first MF and AF versions only focused to 1:2 though, and weren't overly great for distance work. The AF (non-VC) version that I have is brilliant at all distances, and easily equal to the 105mm AF-D micro-Nikkor.
    Eric, you might want to consider a dedicated slide copier attachment. These things make slide copying super quick, and you don't have to worry about squaring up the camera and slide or about vibration. You can hand-hold the camera and simply point it at your light table or flash (or even daylight). The corner definition of slide copiers isn't fantastic, but unless your slides are glass-mounted the corners are going to be slightly off-focus anyway. Central resolution to about 2/3rds out is more than enough to capture the film "grain" on a D800.
    I have 3 of the things, all basically the same design but under different marketing names. The lenses do vary a bit in quality and aperture, but they can be picked up used for around £5 UK ($8 US). In fact the T mount is likely to cost you more than the copier unless you're lucky enough to find one in Nikon fitting. Best of the bunch that I have is one branded "Ohnar".
    I haven't looked that hard, but I think you can also get front-of-lens tube/slide-holder/diffuser devices to stick on a proper macro lens. Quality then would obviously be as good as the macro lens and flatness of the slide will allow.
  5. A quick question about the new version - does it have any way of manually setting the aperture? I would think that would be somewhat limiting for a macro lens that one might want to use on various extension tubes, bellows, etc.
  6. my question is about the VC -- how well does that work? is there a slight pause before it kicks in, as with the Tamron 70-300?
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have never used the Tamron 90mm macro, but it indeed has a good reputation on these forums. Concerning vibration reduction, Nikon's VR takes a bit of time to settle down, and that is why at high shutter speeds, I would rather switch VR off for slightly faster reaction.
    I tested the Tamron 70-300 for photo.net. Optically that lens is great for that type of 70-300mm zoom; it is not as good as a 300mm/f2.8 AF-S Nikkor, but it is close. However, mechanically, that Tamron 70-300 is barely acceptable, but for a $400 or so lens, I have no complaints overall. VR (or VC in Tamron terminology) on the Tamron 70-300 does seem to slow things down a bit, maybe more so than Nikon VR.
  8. a slight delay in stabilization would matter less on a macro lens than on a telezoom, where it comes into play on action shots. there's a micro-second lag on the tamron 70-300 VC (agree with Shun it's surprisingly good, even at long range) and also on the nikon 70-200 VRII (which otherwise is a speed demon), but, interestingly, i havent experienced any lag on the sigma 17-50/2.8 OS or the Fuji 18-55/2.8-4. if you use the AF-On button to focus, sometimes you can gain that micro-second back, but if you need to refocus quickly, you sometimes encounter difficulties. it's a pain to have to remember to switch VR off with the 70-200, especially if you are adjusting shutter speed on the fly in-between, say, 1/60 and 1/250 or higher.
    anyway, back to the topic: i sometimes shoot handheld macros, or portraits with macro lenses. the Tokina 100 is great optically but sometimes stabilization would be nice at magnitude. so that's why i was wondering about the Tamron.
  9. hey manuel, glad you enjoy your new lens!
    keep shooting
  10. I just picked up the lens and have only had a chance to start using it - so the below are not comments on the optical quality or the VC (which from initial impressions seems to work well at distance), because I simply haven't had a chance to use much yet. Here are my impressions, FWIW:
    -overall well-built and does not have a cheap feel. That said, the construction quality is not 'brick [euphemism]house' but solid. No complaints from me on this.
    -It is a fairly long lens, although not particularly 'fat'. Feels more like the length/size of an old-style telezoom. Noticeably longer than, say, a Nikon 85mm.
    -Which brings me to the most noticeable aspect: it is internal focussing and so doesn't have the (somewhat grotesque) extending focus of some macros, where the lens grows much, much longer as you focus more closely. Personally I think that's a big advantage in terms of handling/feel, but perhaps a subjective issue.
    -The lens hood is quite large. I think it could be a problem at close focus ranges. I understand the previous tamrons had somewhat recessed front lens elements, this version has its front element 'right up front.' May make a difference in some extreme lighting situations. (My only complaint is too many damn lens hoods around my place)
    -I was somewhat surprised that on a modern nikon (I used on two recent digitals), the camera shows the effective aperture, i.e. the aperture changes from 2.8 to 5.6 as you focus in to the maximum magnification. (Perhaps this has been around for a while but I did not know about this).
    All around, excellent first impressions. I got this for about US$500 (not in US, I believe due to currency change issues where I bought it). At that price differential to the Nikon (which I haven't used), I believe a great deal. I'm going to assume that I'll continue being happy with image quality (again, first impressions are positive, but early for me to say). I see it sells for considerably more in the US, so no comment on whether it's 'worth' those other prices compared to alternatives.
    A note on the VC: I have _not_ tried yet to test VC at closer focus ranges, but the documentation is fairly clear that you should not expect VC to be fully effective at close ranges. I believe the issue is that VC is not designed to correct for in/out movement of the camera (i.e. changing the focus range), which is the critical issue handheld and up-close.
    Compared to my (somewhat limited) experience with other comparable macros, the biggest changes are the internal focus and the VC. The VC will make it very usable for normal (non-macro) handheld work (for me), and I just like the internal focus.
  11. How does manual focus feel? Any "dead zone" or "stick-slip"?
  12. That lens and its predecessor are both excellent. I think that for me the only thing that would get in the way of choosing it is that there is also the Tokina 100mm for a lot less money. (Why doesn't anybody seem to be using that lens? It's fantastic and it's under $400 new.)

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