Tamron AF 55-200mm F4-5.6 Di II A-mount lens review by A68noob

reviewer#45683 date: Mar-30-2021
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 70-210 F4
Tamron 70-200 F2.8
Sony 70-300 G
Sony 70-400 G
price paid:25€ mint
positive:+dirt cheap
+certainly more convenient zoom range than 70-200
+very light, compact size
+despite being cheap plastic it handels well. smooth focus + zoom
+surprisingly accurate AF-S focus
+very useful 1/3.6 macro!
+(stopped down) very good sharpness *
+9 aperture blades in a dirt cheap plastic lens.. hello? awesome! **
+in most scenarios pleasing bokeh
+only slight purple fringing.. i have expected much worse results. only at 100% crop it really becomes visible (not annoying - beercan CA is way stronger)

negative:-possibly cheapest build ever***
-old school problems: dated screw-drive AF, filter rotating (i would really like to use a CPL-filter)
-lack of sharpness near infinity (landscape photography)
-havent bought this lens earlier..
comment:Little rant first: I started photographing with cheap sigma 70-300, sony 18-70 lens.. even skipped 18-55 SAM when i bought A68 camera because I thought that all the average consumer lenses are garbage.. like an all plastic lens like this. I thought that old Minoltas rule (they kinda still do) or you need to purchase much more expensive G lenses.. this lens kinda changed my thoughts on that topic.

*Don't get me wrong, this is not a GM lens and not really suitable for overcast days.. but if you use some tricks, this ridiculously cheap lens can create stunning photos with ease!
At first I simply tried 200mm @ F8 and the pics were great. But to increase bokeh and to let more light in I added +1 Saturation, +1 Contrast +2 Sharpness to Standard .jpgs and the pictures are just popping now. Bokeh is really pleasing @ 200mm F5,6 and sharpness is now also enjoyable. A little soft at F5,6 but sharpens up reasonable already at F6,3. Edit: I had to lower sharpness rating, because it is certainly disappointing for landscapes. Beercan is much sharper in that regard.
Vivid, pleasing colours as all my previous Tamrons.
The pics this lens delivers are more attractive to look at than my experience with 70-300G. Easier to use aswell and hey, the Tamron is also not zoomcreeping. Hilarious.

**I was surprised when i saw at dyxum database that a cheap Tamron has 9 aperture blades but a Sony 70-350G only has 7. Hilarious again.

***Regarding build: Even the mount is plastic.. weight is not a problem, but probably one bad hit and it might crack. I have seen this issue on 18-55 SAM already.. Also no distance encoder, no magnification scale, the most ridiculous zoom ring ever (i use the hood to focus more precisely). Still gentle 3 star rating because it feels really solid otherwise and its easy to carry. Big and smooth zoom ring is nice to use.

Regarding AF: Best screw-drive focus i have seen yet - and i have used a LOT! One of the very few lenses that works flawless without AF-microadjust on SLT cameras. AF almost always on spot.. really surprised by that. I am using only AF-S and slow AF.. focus still snaps reasonably fast on targets, very little but slow hunting (like all other screw-drive lenses, but it can even be eliminated with camera in built focus limiter [A68, A77ii etc]).
Much better AF than Tamron 70-200 2.8 and maybe not as crisp pictures, but below F4 the 70-200 is crap anyway. At F8 they are almost even (but with a lead to 55-200, because the 2.8 misses so often..).. but i paid 10x less for the 55-200. 2.8 is also heavy and not really nice to use.. going to sell it as this 55-200 is overall much better.

In comparison to my 70-400 G: You obviously need to get closer to subjects to get the best magnification, but for me, who is mostly photographing lizards, this is actually a fun thing to do. Sneaking through bushes, climbing on rocks.. its certainly more work, but fun. 70-400 G is too heavy, too big, too difficult to focus at 400mm close up and too expensive to do those risky things. More of a camper lens.. I would rate sharpness/look and rendering of images on those close up subjects about even, after increasing sharpness via camera on 55-200. This might sound herectic and like black magic, but the results matter.

One more additional note: This lens is totally capable of being a pixelpeepers dream. Lizards at macro range look awesome, people in 100m look very good and detailed. 100% crops are easy. Another big surprise.

Overall a fantastic lens with some flaws i can live with. Very enjoyable to use due to very low weight, kit lens size, great macro and all the benefits of it (200mm resulting for close ups in more DOF, less shutter speed required than regular 70-300, but even better magnification than those). Less purple fringing than beercan, but better magnification and 55mm is more practical on APS-C.
I never expected to replace my lovely beercan by a cheap plastic Tamron..

I wish Tamron would release an USD version with better build and more modern optics for E-Mount. One of the very very view occasions i would buy a lens new.

Highly recommended to hobby photographers. Ratings based on price/performance. Haven't experienced flare with hood yet.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 50
  • sharpness: 4.54
  • color: 4.42
  • build: 3.70
  • distortion: 4.46
  • flare control: 4.50
  • overall: 4.32
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