Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SP Di VC USD (FX) - Review / Test Report - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (full format)

Sample Shots

The following sample shots were taken with a D3x and RAW-converted via CaptureOne.

Click on a thumbnail to view the original file (opens in a separate window).

Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 175.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/500s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 260.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/640s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/250s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 120.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/500s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/400s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 100
Focal Length 210.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/250s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 100
Focal Length 70.0mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure 1/640s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 100
Focal Length 135.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/640s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 100
Focal Length 140.0mm
Aperture: f/6.3
Exposure 1/400s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/500s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/800s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/800s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 155.0mm
Aperture: f/4.8
Exposure 1/160s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/800s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 260.0mm
Aperture: f/6.3
Exposure 1/1250s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/800s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 250.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/400s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 220.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/500s
Make NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D3X
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 300.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/400s

Verdict

The Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SP Di VC USD is a very welcome new option in the tele zoom lens class. The lens is capable of delivering a very good to excellent center quality combined with good to very good borders/corners. Lateral CAs are low and not objectionable from a field perspective. A nice aspect is the image contrast which is very high throughout the range including the critical 300mm setting. Based on what we've seen in the field the lens is also comparatively resistant against flare. The light falloff at max. aperture is visible but not higher than on competing lenses. The image distortions are slight (70mm) to moderate (200-300mm). We did not formally test it, but noticed in our field tests that the quality of the bokeh can be rough in critical situations specifically regarding the highlight rendering. This may be somewhat unfortunate but the truth is that this aspect is generally a problem in this lens class.

The build quality is very high for a lens in this price class although it stays somewhat short of truly professional grade lenses. A real progress is Tamron's new USD ("Ultrasonic Silent Drive") - compared to the previous AF micro-motor generations it is both fast and near-silent and it supports FTM (Full-time manual override). Tamron's image stabilizer - it's called VC ("Vibration Control") - works fine although we won't really sign the claimed 4 f-stop efficiency. Either we had too much coffee during the field trip or it's actually closer to 3 f-stops.

The question of the day is, of course, whether it can beat or at least match the quality of its direct competitor - the Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR. Well, it gives and takes a little. Optically they're close regarding sharpness, but the Tamron has a little less distortion, a lot less CAs and a bit higher contrast at the long end wide open. In addition, it has a slight edge with respect to build quality. AF speed is basically on the same level. So, in summary the Tamron represents a slightly better value offer, however anyone interested in the lens should check for himself whether the very solid viewfinder image as described in the introduction is a welcome feature or an issue in the field.

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