Tamron 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 XR Di VC

This should come as a less of a shock after my G10 acquisition last year but I’m now a proud owner of a consumer grade superzoom lens, the Tamron 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 XR Di VC (I promise that’s the last time I type the full name of the lens). Now why would I want such a lens after using L grade Canon glass for so long? For many reasons, actually.

  • I need another zoom lens because I’m tired of swapping the 24-105mm between the 40D and EOS 3.
  • The ”other zoom” should go long – 105mm is usually enough on my crop factor 40D, but I’ve found it short on many occasions on full frame.
  • Image stabilisation – or Vibration Compensation as Tamron calls it – enables me to travel light (=no tripod). There’s a non-VC version of this lens and it’s much cheaper, but I figured I’ll be happier with VC.
  • There aren’t that many superzooms that are suited for full frame. Canon has one in the L-series no less, but the price is in the luxury range as well. There are some 28-200mm zooms but the problem with all these superzooms is that they get soft towards the long end. I’d rather have a 28-300mm zoom that goes soft at 200mm than a 28-200mm zoom that goes soft at 150mm.
  • This lens is better suited for macro work than the 24-105mm.
  • The lens is small and light and is suitable for most photographic opportunities, thus ideal as a hiking companion.

So that’s the background for getting the lens. The downside is of course that a superzoom is a compromise at best, but I knew that already so my only expectation about the lens was that it would perform as I expected a consumer grade superzoom should perform. In other words, as long as my lens was not a bad copy, it would be fine for my purposes.

But I still hear you say, why would I want to have a soft superzoom with pedestrian autofocus, chromatic aberration and variable aperture (with a whopping 6.3 at the long end)? I mean, the pictures just won’t be any good, not when they’re held up against the Canon L glass or Sigma 150mm f2.8?

What if I told you that it doesn’t matter? Because it almost doesn’t, honestly. Of course I like to have sharp pictures. But I also like taking pictures. Just the whole process of it… the reason why I got the film camera earlier this year. It is the road that really matters. Image sharpness is not a critical issue for my purposes, I promise! So using a superzoom with the film camera will be just fine. And if needed, using a superzoom with the digital camera will be just fine as well.

Rainbow and pine
Rainbow and pine, Tamron 28-300mm + Canon 40D

With that in mind, I won’t bother to be testing this lens; lens charts and brick walls have never been part of my subject matter anyway. I just simply took the lens and photographed subjects that I normally photograph, and then checked that the results matched my expectations and they did. It’s not a bad copy, which is good. The G10 is softer for sure, so maybe it was a good thing that I had my eyes ”conditioned” to see less than pin-sharp pictures and the Tamron sharpness, or softness, was acceptable. The only thing I haven’t been able to see is the corner sharpness, only the slides will show it later when I get them back, but I’m sure it won’t be worse than expected either.

So what else can I say about this lens, except that it is what it is and is actually rather good at that? It even exceeded my expectations in one aspect, chromatic aberration. The Canon 17-85mm lens I used to have had much more CA than this Tamron 28-300 superzoom, and the CA tools in Lightroom removed most of it so it’s not an issue at all.

In fact, I’m rather pleased with myself that I got this little superzoom lens. It will find a permanent home on the EOS 3 and maybe make occasional visits on the 40D, but regardless which camera it’s sitting on it will still be fun to play with!

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