I’ve never had a telephoto lens before. I hadn’t even used one. But we did okay with the new webcomics last month and I had a few dollars. The Tamron 70-300mm was on sale for $50 cheaper and I nervously splurged. (Sale seems to be over. Sorry.)
So far, I really like it. Using a telephoto lens is a completely different experience. It feels almost voyeuristic. On a cropped sensor camera the zoom ends up being ~465mm and I was able to get this little squirrel all the way in our neighbor’s tree. Probably 300 feet away.
- Great zoom range.
- Sturdy build quality. It’s plastic, but the fancy kind.
- Image stabilization. Very, very good. Better than my Canon lens by far. I was able to handhold at crazy slow shutter speeds.
- Fairly sharp around f/8.
- Clarity holds up well even at 300mm. A bit of softening, but nothing intolerable. Photo nerds in reviews might fight me on this one, but unless you zoom to 100% in software, it is only slightly apparent.
- Good color and contrast throughout the zoom range.
- The bokeh is very smooth. Blurred out backgrounds look stunning. Best bokeh of all my lenses.
- Minimal distortion and color fringing. I was expecting much worse in this price range.
- A good upgrade from your basic telephoto kit lenses without breaking the bank.
- Lens hood is included! They don’t try to rip you off like Canon!
- Available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
- Variable aperture. Not very fast. f/4 @ 70mm to f/5.6 @ 300mm.
- Heavy, but for this focal range not too bad.
- The zoom ring is a little stiff. Hard to do fast zooms. Probably the only genuinely annoying thing about the lens.
- The autofocus is a bit finicky. Zoomed in to 300mm it can get confused. It has full time manual, so you can help it along if it is having major issues. The camera will beep when you nail focus.
- Zoom is a bit noisy. Might disturb folks in quiet venues.
- I have to manually choose the lens profile in Lightroom which takes a while to find. I will have to make a custom preset. Not a huge deal.
- Minimum focus distance is 5 feet. It can do close up photography, but you would need extension tubes for macros.
- A bit soft when at widest apertures or zoomed to 300mm. Again, not intolerable and I would say the overall image quality is pretty amazing considering the price. The top of the line lenses in this focal range can be over $3000.
- Otis barked at it for a while.
- Tamron’s sample images gave me nightmares.
I can’t recommend it for sure until I’ve used it a while, but I really think the quality for the price is pretty stellar. A comparable Canon or Nikon would probably be $600 to $1000 and I doubt they would have image stabilization this good. It is crazy good. I can’t stress that enough. For folks who shoot DSLR video and need a telephoto, I think this lens would get you some very smooth shots even when zoomed in. Possibly uses some kind of cursed voodoo anti-shake magic.
This is a good outdoor lens as long as you have enough light or you can stick it on a tripod. Wildlife. Birds. Zoo pictures. Private investigation. Veronica Mars would approve.
I think this would work well for sports as long as it is a sunny day. Indoor sports, not so much. Probably not a great studio lens, though I have yet to try it. I imagine it would not hold up to the sharpness of my prime lenses. Sharpness for studio photography is kind of a big deal, but I’ll give it a shot and report back.
TL;DR: If you want to do telephoto photography for fun, this is a great lens as long as you have plenty of light. Nice upgrade from a kit lens. If you plan to do telephoto video, the image stabilization is incredible. If you are planning to do more serious/professional wildlife shooting or you need to shoot in low light… I would get something a bit sharper with a constant wide aperture. Corgis bark at it. Avoid sample images from manufacturer.