Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD (IF)



My first Tamron lens was the 70-300 f/4-5.6 LD. (By the by, I'm looking to sell this lens. Its in great condition - Minolta AF fit). I bought it for the trip to Brasil and there it served me well. Ironically, it was the bulk of this lens that sent me down the path of looking for a small digital camera. Which eventually led me to where I am now.

The 18-55 EF-S lens that came with the 300D when I bought it 2 years ago is decent enough. I believe it retails at around £100 - and does the job. But I've been on the look out since for a good replacement/upgrade lens that would justify the expense.

The design team at Tamronwho worked on the 28-75 must get warm fuzzy feelings all over whenever they see someone using one. It is not often that a product like this comes along. Ok so the product name may sound likely a really fast car or something, but what you get is a lens that by most if not all accounts rivals Canon's 28-70 f/2.8L. An L lens is like a Ferrari badge - or like having the latest Apple computer. The Canon 28-70L is an awesome lens. Which is why anyone who buys the Tamron offering can hold his head high. Yes, the Canon lens slighty - subjectively speaking, I do mean slightly - out performs the Tamron. But for the added advantage of weather-sealing, USM focus, FTM focus and a lovely red ring and an L you pay three times as much.

So what do all those letters mean?

XR - Extra Refractive Index Glass. Sounds interesting right? This is what the Tamron website says: "The refractive index – its ability to bend light – plays a critical role in the creation of the power and thickness of an element. Extra Refractive Index (XR) glass bends light more effectively than normal or lower refractive index glass and can therefore compensate for specific aberrations within an optical design."
Here is an excellent explanation of XR and lens coatings.
According to Tamron, XR technology allows the lens to be much smaller and lighter!

Di - This lens was specifically designed for digital and film SLR cameras. What that really means, well who knows. Looks groovy though.

LD - Low Dispersion. Essentially means that the glass is high quality and mostly does what it is supposed to do. In a lens, you really don't want light being sent all over the show.

IF - Internal Focusing. I don't know why this is in brackets. But it is really cool! It means that the focusing mechanism will not rotate the front of the lens, allowing for effective use of polarising filters. And its quite flashy too.

In Use

I've used the lens for a few Spring shots, but over the last couple of weeks it has been getting a proper workout in tough conditions taking photos of wax figures at Madame Tussauds and of my little newborn neice.

What has really struck me is how much less work is required in Photoshop. So much of the photo seems "just right" straight from the camera, which certainly was not the case with the 18-55EF-S lens. I feel confident to use all the f-stops at every level of zoom (unsurprisingly, f4 is always going to produce sharper results that f2.8). The AF is pretty fast, and the manual focus ring is chunky enough to allow easy use (the 300D viewfinder leaves much to be desired for MF work). The bokeh is very satisfying, and edge sharpness allows for more confident composition.

I'm delighted with this lens. It really is as good as the hype and amazing value, when you consider the price of the competition.


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