To Tamron or not to Tamron

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by infiniteMPG, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    Been looking around for a good lens to do some quality macro
    photography with my Sony A-100 and the lens that keeps coming up is
    the Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro. The question is with this
    lens on sale running around +$450 is there another lens (Sigma, etc)
    that might be similar in quality and specifications but maybe a little
    less costly?

    infiniteMPG, Apr 20, 2009
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  2. infiniteMPG

    Bruce Guest

    The Tamron is a classic design, first seen in the 1970s but which has
    been developed into a thoroughly modern lens. The very latest Di
    version adds better anti-reflection coating. It is a very sharp lens,
    capable of producing highly professional results.

    Where it scores over most other macro lenses in the 85mm to 105mm range
    is that it also has superbly smooth background bokeh, which makes it
    highly suitable as a portrait lens. Other macro lenses give a harsh
    rendition that doesn't detract significantly from most macro subjects
    but makes them highly unsuitable for portraits.

    So think of it as two lenses in one, a capable all rounder that excels
    as a macro lens *and* as a portrait lens.

    If you want to save money, buy used on eBay. If you want to save even
    more money, buy a used example of one of the older versions, which may
    lack the Di coating but are still superb performers.

    Earlier AF versions were made in Minolta AF mount, which will fit your
    Sony DSLR. There were also "Adaptall" versions which need an adapter to
    fit your camera. You would need an adapter for Minolta AF mount, which
    might be quite difficult to obtain.

    The Minolta manual focus adapter will not mount on your Sony camera - it
    must be the AF version, as the mounts are quite different.

    The remaining conundrum is the focal length and the resulting working
    distance. In the 70s and 80s, people commonly used 50mm macro lenses or
    even a 50mm standard lens reversed on the camera with a special adapter.
    The working distance was very short indeed, but they still made great
    macro images.

    A 90mm lens on your Sony A100 would give the same angle of view as a
    135mm lens on a 35mm film camera. That's all of 2.7 times the focal
    length of the most commonly used macro lenses of that era. That should
    give you a perfectly acceptable working distance.

    Also, I suggest that anyone shooting 1:1 macro will be using a tripod
    and a macro focusing rail in any case, so working distance will be less
    of a problem.

    I would encourage you to choose the Tamron. I have had many years'
    experience with the lens and consider it one of the all time classic
    portrait lenses as well as a very good macro lens.

    Whatever you decide, good shooting! ;-)
    Bruce, Apr 20, 2009
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  3. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    Thanks for the GREAT advise. Looks like the Tamron 90 or the Minolta/
    Sony 100 might be a more economical choice then the Tamron 180. If
    the only real gain is being able to reach the 1:1 at a greater
    distance I think that is a sacrafice I can make as macro (i.e. tripod
    shooting) would need to have the time taken to setup and won't be a
    LOOK!-SNAP! shot. I would most definitely stick with the Di coating
    as I had issues with the non-Di coated lenses I brought into the
    digital world from my Maxxum days.

    I would imagine using a reversing lens mount would massively increase
    magnification but would probably give a pretty much flat depth of
    field. When I had my Maxxum I had a nice set of macro extension tubes
    that I used with my old 50mm lens and did some good shooting with
    that, but what I have heard is the results aren't so good with

    I have a Tamron AF 18-250/3.5-6.3 DI II Macro Lens that has suited me
    good for well rounded general shooting but I have been a bit
    disappointed with my macro results. Which is why I am once again
    shopping... won't dump the 18-250 as that and a macro lens will each
    have it's place. Sounds like the Tamron AF90 would be a good
    companion (unless someone has some good tips on how to get better
    macro results with the AF 18-250... :O)

    Thanks again!
    infiniteMPG, Apr 20, 2009
  4. infiniteMPG

    Mark Sieving Guest

    Just as an extra piece of information, Tamron has announced a 60mm F/
    2.0 macro lens. This gives the same angle of view and depth of field
    on APS-C sensors that the 90mm gave on 35mm film. Reportedly, the
    60mm has a greater working distance for 1:1 than the 90mm. No word
    that I've seen on a release date or price.
    Mark Sieving, Apr 20, 2009
  5. infiniteMPG

    Bruce Guest

    How can that be?
    Bruce, Apr 20, 2009
  6. infiniteMPG

    Wally Guest

    Some of those lenses focus internally... thus changing their focal
    lengths, and hence affecting working distance.

    Wally, Apr 21, 2009
  7. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    Reportedly, the 60mm has a greater working distance for 1:1 than the 90mm.  

    Sounds interesting and something most definitely to look at.

    Along the lines of "other lenses", how does the Tamron Super Wide
    Angle SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF] Autofocus Lens
    weigh in compared to these? With the zoom I would imagine it gives a
    little extra flexability.
    infiniteMPG, Apr 21, 2009
  8. infiniteMPG

    Mark Sieving Guest

    Well, I was basing that on the minimum working distance of 2.5" for
    the 90mm F/2.8 that someone else had posted in this thread. (Looking
    back at that post, I see an error. He said 9cm/2.5", but 9cm would be
    3.5".) Tamron doesn't seem to quote a MWD for the 90mm, but a review
    I found said 99 mm. Tamron says the 60mm F/2.0 has a MWD of 100 mm.
    Not significantly more, but more.

    The difference is that the 90mm F/2.8 extends quite a bit at minimum
    focus distance, while the 60mm F/2.0 has internal focus and doesn't
    change length as it focuses. So while the minimum focus distance
    (from the film plane) for the 90mm is about 2" longer than the 60mm,
    the lens is also about 2" longer, so the MWD is essentially the same.
    Mark Sieving, Apr 21, 2009
  9. infiniteMPG

    Mark Sieving Guest

    Yes, focus distance is measured from the sensor plane. Minimum focus
    distance for the 90mm F/2.8 is 11.4", and for the 60mm F/2.0, it's
    9.1". But minimum working distance is measured from the front of the
    lens to the subject.
    Mark Sieving, Apr 21, 2009
  10. Your 18-250 may not give its sharpest macro results at full extension,
    and may also have some back or front focus offset with very narrow
    close DoF. If the results in its good range and as far as they go are
    often good enough, except you'd like to get a bit closer for more
    magnification, you might like to try adding a high quality compound
    close up lens to the end of the zoom. Sony for example made one of
    those for the R1, which will fit the slightly smaller filter ring of
    the 18-250 with a step up ring.
    Chris Malcolm, Apr 21, 2009
  11. infiniteMPG

    Bruce Guest

    As a 1:1 macro lens, you can be pretty sure that it sucks. Big time.
    Bruce, Apr 21, 2009
  12. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    you might like to try adding a high quality compound
    close up lens to the end of the zoom. Sony for example made one of
    those for the R1, which will fit the slightly smaller filter ring of
    the 18-250 with a step up ring.

    I have seen the magnifying rings for the lenses but wasn't sure what
    kind of quality you could get from them. They'd be a lot cheaper then
    the new 90mm Tamron but if the results weren't good then I'd probably
    avoid them. My whole emphasis is to try to improve my macro shot
    HAHAHAHA... thanks! Getting a response like that makes a decision
    pretty quick.

    I saw some of the Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro lenses on Ebay
    for around $350 but they were all coming from Asia. I wrote to some
    of the sellers about warranty since Tamron states their lenses bought
    from a dealer in the US are warranteed from them for six years. The
    only response I got back was "No warranty". YIKES! I would assume
    avoiding these gray market lenses would be a good thing to do.
    infiniteMPG, Apr 21, 2009
  13. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    In any case, the _right_ lens for this poster is not the Tamron (of any flavour), but the Sony 100 f/2.8 Macro (or the identical Minolta).

    Why would the Sony 100 f2.8 be regarded as a better lens then the
    Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro??? I'm quite happy with my Tamron
    AF 18-250/3.5-6.3 DI II Macro Lens but I'm willing to consider the
    Sony 100 if there's valid benifit over the Tamron 90.
    infiniteMPG, Apr 21, 2009
  14. infiniteMPG

    Bruce Guest

    Brand worship.

    Third party lenses are always talked down by camera brand fanbois.

    There isn't. In comparative tests over the last 30 years, the Tamron
    has always shone.

    Back in the 70s, there were some outstanding macro/portrait lenses in
    the 85-105mm range from several third party manufacturers including
    Tokina, Sigma, Vivitar, Kiron and Tamron. Only the last is still made.

    Its enduring popularity is solely the result of its exemplary image
    quality. Already good in the 80s, it had been given detail improvements
    several times over the years to keep it ahead.
    Bruce, Apr 21, 2009
  15. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    Seems the Minolta/Sony 100 f/2.8 macro is definitely worth the look.
    Is there different flavors of this lens, like newer models with
    specialized coatings for the digital world? I feel a good macro lens
    and my existing Tamron zoom would be a good bundle to carry along.
    Someday might look at a super zoom as I like taking sports photos but
    without a photographer pass I have to do it from the stands, but I
    think the macro and Tamron zoom would be good tag-a-longs.

    Any hints for carrying multiple lenses in the field and swapping
    lenses in the wild? I have had cases where I see "spots" or dust or
    something on the CCD. I can see it in some shots and then I take a
    flash shot at a bare wall and can see the dot. I use a gentle
    compressed air can flow and remove the lense, shoot a sht while
    blowing the compressed air into the face of the camera and it's gone.
    Just concerned if I occasionally get this with very little lense
    changing, what is the best way to change lenses in the wild and not
    introduce dust to the CCD????
    infiniteMPG, Apr 22, 2009
  16. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    The Minolta/Sony 100 f/2.8 macro seems to be running (even on Ebay) +
    $650 while the Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro runs around $350.
    Now if there's not a lot of difference between the two lenses, why
    basically double the selling price????

    And what about a Sigma-XG-PRO 100/2.8 Macro? Where does this fall in
    the scheme of things???
    infiniteMPG, Apr 22, 2009
  17. infiniteMPG

    Guest Guest

    so is the tamron 90.
    Guest, Apr 22, 2009
  18. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    Not done with the discussions yet, another player seems to need
    consideration in the macro debate. The Sigma - AF 105/2.8 EX DG MACRO
    seems to hold it's own against the Tamron 90mm in this comaprison :

    In some ways it's a little better as far as clarity and also 1:1
    working distance is 3.8" with the Tamron and 4.8" with the Sigma. The
    price is also around $100 cheaper.

    infiniteMPG, Apr 23, 2009
  19. infiniteMPG

    Bruce Guest

    The Sigma 105mm is a very sharp lens, but its harsh bokeh makes it
    completely unsuitable for portraiture.

    The Tamron offers an exceptional combination; as a dual purpose lens for
    macro and portrait use, it is probably unbeatable at any price. The
    Sigma 105mm is a very sharp macro lens. Just don't use it for portraits!

    There is only one current Sigma macro lens that has good bokeh; the
    150mm f/2.8 APO Macro. All the others have bokeh that varies between
    harsh and extremely harsh.

    It wasn't always so; the Sigma 90mm f/2.8 was a good portrait lens, but
    it is no longer made, having been replaced by the 105mm.
    Bruce, Apr 23, 2009
  20. infiniteMPG

    infiniteMPG Guest

    infiniteMPG, Apr 24, 2009
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