Tamron SP AF 70-300mm 4-5.6 Di USD A-mount lens review by MediaArchivist

reviewer#11206 date: Jun-24-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
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; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:beercan
price paid:350 USD (new)
comment:I bought this lens to get me by until I could afford a more "proper" long zoom. I have been quite impressed!

Steady Shot works exactly like it is supposed to, even at 300mm. I read a lot of reviews dinging the lens for not incorporating VC in the optics like the versions for other camera. I can't see why that is a problem since the camera takes care of it so well. It is pretty sharp throughout the range: on the a99 at 300mm wide open (f/5.6) the corners are slightly soft but you have to pixel peep to notice. Vignetting is also very low. There is a bit of CA, but nothing surprising for a lens like this and it cleans up very well in LR.

It certainly feels like a solid lens. Nothing jiggles or rattles, it has a metal mount, and the focus and zoom rings are easy to grip. The zoom ring is not very smooth, but it may soften a little with use. There is no zoom creep. The lens hood is huge, but of course it has to be. Without the hood flare can be a little bit of a problem, but nothing surprising.

It has the worst bokeh of any of my lenses-- but to be fair I am somewhat of a bokeh snob and all my lens purchases have reflected that. Comparing it to some of the best bokeh lenses available for the Alpha line might not lead to a relevant conclusion. The lens surprised me in so many other areas, so maybe my expectations were a little extreme? Looking at the sample photos of other zooms it seems to be in the middle of the pack.

AF is fast, quiet, and accurate. Neat trick-- the a99 and a99ii think the lens is a Sony 70-300 G, which supports AF-D mode and hybrid AF (respectively). Sure enough, all the little extra focus points light up in those modes! I suspect that since the lens is not *identical* to the Sony, it is not working in the same way. I have not noticed any issues in any focus mode-- DMF works and right out of the box it was accurate without any micro adjustment. On both the a99 and a99ii, AF-C tracking works very well. The focus ring rotates about a half turn, and is nicely damped.

What really impressed me was the color and contrast throughout the focal and aperture range. Due to the bokeh it will not be my first choice for a portrait, but I have used it for portraits and the results were quite good.

The big test for me was using it indoors, handheld and at 300mm, for a comedy show. Wide open at 300mm is only f/5.6, but the fact that a spotlight was on the stage helped. I got some great shots that would not have been possible with any other lens in my collection. I am not a big fan of zooms in general, but I have been forcing myself to use this outdoors from time to time. So far, I continue to be impressed!

I wish it had a wider aperture, but of course that would make it more heavy, larger, and much more expensive. It works extremely well outdoors in sunlight, and surprisingly well indoors if the lighting is adequate. It is well worth the money I paid for it. Recommended.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 55
  • sharpness: 4.50
  • color: 4.38
  • build: 4.35
  • distortion: 4.62
  • flare control: 4.53
  • overall: 4.47
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