Tamron SP AF 300mm F2.8 LD IF A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 7   
reviewer#27595 date: Jun-3-2016
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70 - 300
Sony 70 - 400
Tokina 300 f4
Tamron 60 - 300 adaptall
price paid:499 USD
positive:Image quality
300mm F2.8
negative:weight?
Size?
Price?
None really. If you are looking for 300mm f2.8 these are to be expected.
comment:Tamron 300 F2.8 IF LD
I have been lusting after a 300 F2.8 for a long time. My most used lens in the last year is my beloved 300 f4 Tokina a 25 year old wonder that is very light, fairly fast and very sharp. When I saw the Ebay listing for an Excellent ++ Tamron 300 f2.8 IF LD in Minolta/Sony A mount for $499 American or $650 Canadian I had to jump with excitement. After a brief announcement to my wife which consisted of me speaking very fast in order to convey the AMAZING deal this was and that I had to act now or forever be regretful and mournful (to the point of not being able to even cut the lawn or do any of my husbandly chores again), she conceded with a mumbled “do whatever you want.” And I clicked buy now.
After 4 sleepless nights and restless days the beautiful lens showed up at my door. Along with a nice note from Canada post saying I owed them a further $120 dollars including a $10 handling fee (for them inspecting my package and then charging me the other $110 dollars I guess). I accepted the package, flipped off my mail carrier as I slammed the door in her face, eager to delve into the cardboard and bubble wrapped treasure that was now mine.

Specs
Model 360 EM
Lens Construction (Groups/Elements) 7/10
Angle of View – 8 degrees
Diaphragm Blades - 9
Min Aperture F32
Maximum Aperture F2.8
Minimum Focus 98.4 inches (2.5m)
Macro Mag Ratio 1:7.1
Filter Diameter 112mm front and 43mm insert rear.
Weight 79.3 oz. 2250g
Length 8.4 inches

Sharpness
Immediately upon connecting this large beautiful lens and flicking the power button on my Sony A77ii, I was delighted to find that this lens was as sharp as I had hoped it would be. The most important thing to me about this lens was that it would be useable right from F2.8. Already owning the Tokina F4, I didn’t need a lens that would sharpen up after a stop or two. And this Tamron 300 does not disappoint. I could tell it was very sharp as I took my usual shots of the diplomas hanging on the wall with their small text from across the room, followed by my neighbour’s brick chimney that sits 100 yards across the road. Very scientific testing I know. As per most of my lenses this one needed a slight adjustment of +2 on the A77ii to get it razor. I own over 20 Minolta/Sony/3rd party lenses for the A mount system (even if my wife thinks it’s only four) and this lens is just a touch under my 16-50 F2.8 in terms of sharpness at f2.8. For being a telephoto lens that is saying something.

CA
Wide open at F2.8 this lens will exhibit mild CA on high contrast subjects in bright conditions. This CA is easily removed post. This lens exhibits about the same amount as the Tokina 300 F4 and less than my Minolta 135 f2.8. By f4 CA is better and is greatly reduced by f5.6 and gone by f8. So to be clear CA is not an issue at all at least to my standard. All old lenses and some of my new ones produce CA. Any post editing program can remove this CA. Many can do it with one click.

AF/MF
Auto focus seemed very fast to me during my early trials as I photographed my girls getting off the bus and running down the driveway as they do every evening. Oh to be 10 and 7 again. I mainly use center point AF or expanded fexible spot which uses the focus point you have selected and any secondary points closest to your choice if focus cannot lock. If focus is missed though it takes a while for the screw drive system to chug all the way through the focal range if you completely lose focus or sometime while hunting in dim light. This lens has no focus limiter. This is not a big deal as both my A77ii and A99 have focus limiters in body. I would say this lens is as fast and accurate as any screw drive lens I own, maybe even the best. Perhaps it is just a hair off of SSM or HSM Speed or maybe not, it’s that close. I did have some hunting issues in really low evening light with ducks under grassy cover...but what lens wouldn’t. To access manual focus with this lens you must first twist the clutch cover open. The focus ring turns with AF so the ring has a cover plate so you don’t put your hand on it when in AF. I can attest that this is an improvement over the Tokina 300 F4 which also spins when in auto focus. The Tamron manual focus ring is very smooth and very sensitive. Focus peaking and focus zoom are needed to nail those thin depth of field shots. Thanks Sony for providing both on my A99 and A77ii.
Update: After 10 hours of dedicated bird chasing hunting warblers and song sparrows I give this lens full props for a very fast AF. It just snaps onto these small hard targets and my keeper rate was higher than even my 300 f4 Tokina. Then, if you want to get really smart, (and are lucky enough to be shooting a camera that has it) put your in body limiter on to the last 2/3rds distance and welcome to world class speed. SSM is not as fast as this lens. I know because my 70- 400 will not keep up with these small song birds.

F2.8
Now to the sad truth of f2.8. Yes this lens is sharp at full aperture. However the Depth of field is so thin that I had many missed shots of birds and other critters including the kids. AF does lock but your keeper rate will be lower simply because of photographic physics. I suspect that as I use this lens more and practice my usual mix of auto and manual focus my keeper rate will improve. Another downfall of wide aperture as mentioned above was CA. As well as CA issues wide open shots will suffer from a loss of contrast. Again easily fixed post, but you will have to fix things after the fact. And that’s a fact. The benefits of f2.8 were very apparent with my A77ii where I don’t like to shoot above ISO 1000 and never ever, ever go above 1600. F2.8 let me keep my ISO down and or shutter speed up. The big trade off here is that you are going to carry all that extra glass to get those couple of extra stops.

Weight and Handling
I am a young 40 and fairly active. In my main carry bag I often have the 70 – 400 Sony G as well as a 28 – 75 Sony, a Kenko pro 300 1.4 TC and my Sigma 105 Macro. Those are my most used heading to the bush lenses. When I swapped out the 70 – 400 G for the Tamron 300 F2.8 at first I said to myself that there was not much difference in how my shoulder felt as I hiked along. I usually keep my tripod mounted with the big lens and carry it over my shoulder. Things began to change after a couple of hours and by the time I got home after 5 hours on the trail I have to say that the weight difference was substantial. Will I get used to it. Yes I will. I just wonder how I will feel about that weight in 10 years? Handholding this lens is possible but not for more than about 10 minutes or so at a time in which fatigue sets in and holding steady shots becomes tricky. The handle with a tripod mount screwed into it is not comfortable on the hand and adds to limited handholding as well. Another problem I ran into was using this heavy lens on a gimbal head with an Arca Swiss release plate. No matter how hard I screwed the plate into the lens it would twist when locked into the tripod head during use because this setup was so heavy. I had to manufacture a homemade anti twist plate to keep the lens secured to the gimbal.

Bokeh
How to describe such a delicious thing as 300 f2.8 bokeh. The Tamron 300 F2.8, sports 9 aperture blades and has very smooth creamy backgrounds that melt into a pastel cotton candy dream. I have long been a proponent of the Sony 70 – 300 G, as the king of out of focus backgrounds. Is it just coincidence that both of these lenses sport 9 aperture blades. I think not. With the 300 F2.8 you can achieve a separation of your subject from background that you cannot accomplish without a good telephoto lens and wide aperture. Bokeh is a strong point of this lens and is what helps set it apart from the 300 f4’s and puts it squarely into pro territory. It’s like owning the Sony 85 F2.8. It’s a great lens in its own right, but it’s no Minolta 85 f1.4. Larger apertures render smoother background and offer more separation of subject. The same rule applies here.

Use with Kenko Pro 300 1.4x and 2x TC
This lens works beautifully with both the kenko 1.4 and 2x tc’s. Autofocus with my 2x is something new to me as my old f4 lens would not do this. AF speeds do suffer a little with either TC on, but are still really useable. The quality of the 1.4 is Excellent right from wide open throughout all apertures. I could not see a loss of any quality at normal viewing sizes. Even when zoomed in to 100% pixel peeping territory I am not sure there was any quality loss to see. The 2x suffers from increased CA wide open (f5.6) but sharpens up nicely around f11 to produce very good to excellent results up to f16. If we stop to think about it, shooting with the 2x on my a77ii is equal to 900mm. To get this quality even at f5.6 with some CA and loss of sharpness (both fixable in post) is absolutely AMAZING. A few years back you would not have seen this quality. So though I am critical of the results we have to remember the focal range we are now covering. I would not hesitate to use either of these TC’s with the Tamron 300 f2.8 and as a matter of fact the 1.4x is on this lens 95% of the time I am using it.

Final Word
This lens is a professional level piece of equipment on all fronts. It was built to last and was made and sold as a professional shooting piece of gear. The AF is top notch. I do not own a lens that performs better. Images are sharp, with good colour and contrast. Flare is not really an issue with or without a hood. The Tamron does not have the newest digital coatings but does have two low dispersion elements that make CA almost a non issue. This lens is big and garners attention. I have refused to carry my Sony 70 – 400 on many occasions simply because I was not always 100% happy with my results. I am very picky and always wondered if it was mediocre results or lens weight that caused me to leave my most expensive lens at home. Well I can now answer that question. The Tamron 300 f2.8 lens is much bigger and heavier and it has not left my camera since I bought it. I have carried that lens on my shoulder at least 12 miles in the last week. The images are top quality with background separation only a large f2.8 lens can give you. I have never shot a Minolta 300 f2.8 and yet I am pretty certain this lens can hang with the best. I am a happy shooter with this combination. I give a full recommendation to any Sony shooter who can find one of these.




reviewer#11381 date: Oct-11-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 50-500 OS 4.5 6.3
Tamron 200-500 5.0 6.3
Tamron 70-210 2.8
Tokina 80-200 2.8
Minolta 500 f8 Reflex
price paid:1000.00 USD like New
positive:Compact with Internal Focus
Non Rotating Front Element
Works Excellent with Minolta APO 2 1.4 T/C
Good with Tamron SP 2X with adequate light and allows AF .
Very Sharp at F4 , Slot on tripod foot for Strap.
High IQ and Sharpness and quick focus for non HSM.
Bokah as only a 2.8 can offer.
Excellent Wildlife lens with large Objective.
Good in Low Light .
Got mine with Case and 112 mm Tamron clear lens protector.
negative:Tough to find the factory drop in Adjustable Polarizer
A handful but all 300 2.8's are heavy
Not many go up for sale.
SLT A 77 with Battery grip 2 batts. lens/Filter and teleconverter w/o hood
weigh in at 8.2 lbs. Man-up.
comment:Tank like heavy very solid build , Huge Lens hood but very effective and well flocked very solid hood protects the 112 mm glass . Performs well with Sigma EX 1.4 quick focus does not show F stop data, Performs very well with Minolta APO 2 1.4 , Minolta 1.4 T/C will report f4.0 stopping down with T/C will increase sharpness . Solid Tripod foot & well balanced with A 77. Best deal to be had for a 300 2.8 Hands down. If you take this to the Soccer game use caution you will have Groupies wanting copies of your shots.
The Clear 42 mm drop in filter is engineered to be left in
it also keeps dust off the Aperture blades.
A Cokin Pure Hormine 42mm Polarizer filter can be used in drop in frame but must be tuned before inserted in lens.
If you can find one Grab it.
Now have the A 99 Full Frame Body and the Big 300 is still my Primary with the Minolta APO 2 1.4 always mounted the 420mm Full Frame is a great Combo and solid sharp at F 5 , F4 is wide open with the 1.4 Teleconverter.
reviewer#10544 date: Sep-26-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 200 HS G
Minolta 100 f2
Big beercan
price paid:1200 EUR
positive:SHARP from 2.8
Stunning at f8
fast focus
negative:weight
some ca wide open
comment:Really good 300 prime.
Focusing speed is as fast as Mino 200hs, but lacks limiter(don't bother so much, hunting is rare)
Accepts minolta teleconverters also, picture quality is very good(2x apo) and exellent(1.4x apo).
Best match with Kenko pro 300 or Minolta 1,4x apo I (but suffers micro hunting sometimes with minolta, while focusing speed is astonishingly good).
If you need extra reach the picture quality with Kenko 1.4x + 2x is still very good , but focusing is slow.
reviewer#10522 date: Sep-20-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:min 200/2.8
big beercan
price paid:1100USD
positive:Very good sharpness even at 2.8
stunning at f8
negative:heavy
comment:First impression is :great lens!
Sharpness is on Minolta level, fast focus and very solid overall performance.
reviewer#2302 date: May-11-2007
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:- Sigma 70-200 EX
price paid:1000 USD (new)
positive:- very sharp when stopped down a bit
- 2.8 is really appreciated when I put on the 2x
negative:- On the A100 focus speed and locking could be better
- a focus lock limiter would be nice
- it would be nice if it has a way to attach a strap
comment:I bought this lens from a dealer I found here on dyxum that was selling everything Minolta. The deal was amazing.

I photograph primarily birds. I can't get enough reach, or too close. Overall, I really like the lens. It's almost the only lens ever mounted on my a100. It's usually mounted with a tamron 2X, or a 1.4x. Plus I will frequently have an extension tube mounted to help focus under 8 feet.

When it has enough light I have no issue on focus. But if light is low there can be a lot of hunting. In the same light the Sigma 70-200 does better, but I'm not sure if it's the lens since I don't have anything else to really compare it to.

I do hand hold this lens, but a tripod is a real help. Not only does it help with the weight, but at 600mm things do shake.

It's a little soft wide open but in line with what I would expect at 2.8. Everything sharpens up nicely after a few stops.

Of course 300mm at F2.8 (or 600mm at F5.6) has almost no depth of field. No fault of the lens design, just the physics of optics.

To help with these three (shake, sharpness, DOF) issues I frequently will use a Sigma 500 DG Super flash. A valid question is why not use a slower lens -- the F2.8 helps with focus.

Some example pictures, most with the 2x.
http://w1.mrdecorte.org/pix/album57/DSC03809_Palm_Warbler
http://w1.mrdecorte.org/pix/album02/DSC03826_Savannah_Sparrow
http://w1.mrdecorte.org/pix/fox-sparrow/Fox_Sparrow_DSC05843
http://w1.mrdecorte.org/pix/album18/DSC04397_Northern_Gannet




reviewer#1985 date: Mar-18-2007
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 70-200 f2.8 SSM
Tokina SD 300mm f2.8 AF - not very sharp
price paid:2000 AUD (used)
positive:Reasonably priced
Sharp even at wide open
Come with the little wedge thingy to help with handheld shots
negative:Flare is a problem, but not too bad.
comment:Got this lens to test out from a friend... Actually quite like it myself so considering keeping it myself.

I don't have much experience with long lens, Tokina 300mm f2.8 was not very sharp so I sold it.

SSM is very sharp but I think this lens is close to the ssm, only slightly less.

Overall, it is a very nice lens and it is not too bad to handheld the lens.

The version I have is 60E and it has focus limiter and off-white in colour.

Hart

reviewer#1162 date: Sep-4-2006
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.4
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
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:Minolta 300 f4 High Speed
Minolta 400 f4.5 High Speed

price paid:2100.00 USD
positive:Reltively fast quiet focus
Price compared to KM,Sony
Very well built; solid lens hood
Drop in filters are common size
negative:No focus limiter
Not as sharp as the old Minolta High Speeds except at f7.1, etc
comment:I bought this lens several years ago, but haven't used it much since I picked up the two Minoltas on Ebay. I had actually sold it but took it back when the purchaser changed his mind (I think his wife changed it for him). The extra stop is nice and it's built like a tank. Seems to preform better with film.

May be a little unfair comparing it to the Minoltas. Overall I think it's a pretty good lens; the colors are
not as rich as the Minoltas but that's fixable. I had no problem with it's sharpness until I had the Minoltas to compare it with.

Quick update. This lens is prone to significant purple fringing in high contrast situations. Stopping down helps, but can be a big problem with BIF against a clear sky.
reviews found: 7   

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 7
  • sharpness: 4.64
  • color: 4.43
  • build: 5.00
  • distortion: 4.86
  • flare control: 4.57
  • overall: 4.70

to add your review
you need to login

Dyxum.com - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania