I'm back with another hands on lens test. This time Tamron have been kind enough to let me put their 15-30 2.8 Di VC USD through it's paces.
Now this is not exactly a new lens in Tech timelines as it was released in Jan 2015 and is the world's first wide angle 2.8 for full frame that has image stabilization or in Tamron terms, VC (vibration control). Something I certainly plan to put to the test.
My aim for the review is to give those that are thinking of adding this lens to their line up, an honest experience of how the lens handled over a variety of subjects.
My test images were all shot on my Nikon D750 as reference.
:Mount type - Nikon, Canon & Sony
:Max App - f/2.8
:Min App - f/22
:Lens elements - 18
:Lens groups - 13
:Diaphragm blades - 9(rounded)
:Min focus - 0.28m
:Filter size - N/A
:Length - 142.5mm
:Diameter - 98.4mm
:Weight - (Approx) 1,100g
Should you wish to know more visit the Tamron website here
Right... Now to get down to business of how this lens works in the real world.
It's big, like wow!! big, now I'm not one to use UV filters on my lenses, (I like to live dangerously) but damn that is one big ass chunk of glass at the business end of the lens. It made my D750 look like a D3400. Now the lens hood is permanently attached and when rotated to 15mm the glass is forward, so the hood offers very little protection when walking around the streets handheld, I found myself rotating the lens back to 30mm so there was some protection at least. Weight wise, yes it's heavy, there's a lot to pack in there after all and it did feel a little unbalanced with the D750, I'm sure a D810 or D5 would suit it quite well. That said once on my tripod it didn't matter and walking the streets I soon got use to it.
One thing I will say and have to applaud, is how Tamron have stepped up their game and are producing some high quality products, the new 70-200 I tested a few weeks back was awesome and I'm hoping to test the new 24-70 and 150-600 soon (hint hint Tamron).
The Filter Issue:
Ok, so looking pretty good so far. Now originally when this lens was released not being able to use ND Grads was it's downfall, yes you can bracket images and blend later, but if you're like me and shoot landscapes, ND Filters & Grads are part of my kit and not to mention Circular Polarisers.
Personally I use the 100mm Lee system which is not compatible with this lens, that said Lee Filters have come to the party with the 150mm system that fits the Tamron 15-30 which you can find here
If you're a fan of Nisi Filters? They too have the appropriate 150mm system that can be found here
Right... Still with me? I guess the next thing to do is see how it stacks up against the competitors, the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 and Canon's outrageous 11-24mm f/4, both of which are eligible for the 150mm system from both Lee and Nisi.
Having worked with both Canon and now Nikon. I will start with the Canon 11-24 f/4. A big ass piece of glass for a whole lot of money (just under $4,000 AUD) from last check, when I first looked through the view finder with this lens I could see my feet (that's F%*ing wide). Unless you're a Commercial Photographer that needs this angle of view, I would avoid it (sometimes it's just too wide) The 16-35 f/2.8 is the bomb when it comes to Canon.
The Nikon 14-24 is again a big ass lens just like the Tamron, but if I was to choose between Nikons two wide angle offers in the zoom range I would go for the 16-35 f/4 as it has been proven to be optically sharper and the 2.8 is only good for Astro stuff, which lets face it has been done to death, Yay you shot the Milky Way, just like every tog that got their first wide angle 2.8, lot's of stars and the core. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the outback staring up at the night sky and seeing the milky way. I just don't need to see another photo of it. At $2,699AUD it's a serious investment. (the 16-35 f/4 is RRP $1,599AUD) Personally I use the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8 RRP $1,066AUD, It's wide enough, cheaper, produces the best sun stars and is lighter, not to mention super sharp.
The Tamron comes in at around $1,899AUD and gives you an f/2.8 with VC. I can see where my money would be heading.
Enough of the chit chat:
Let's see some images,
Ok. Single image, Nikon D750 f/14, 0.05sec ISO 100 @15mm (f/14 was chosen to keep a slower shutter speed, I don't have the right filters remember)
This has been edited in PS 2017 to my style of Landscapes, a few curves layers and some dodge n burning, Keep It Simple Stupid.
With the water being quite choppy I did get some sea spray on the lens and thanks to Tamrons coatings on this piece of glass, I was able to remove them with just my rocket blower very easily, thank you Tamron.
The manual focus ring was smooth for micro adjustments of critical focus and a pleasure to use.
f/10 ISO 100 0.60sec @15mm
f/8 ISO 100 1/320sec @15mm
So how good is the VC:
Pretty bloody good if you ask me, now I don't have much use for it since a lot of my stuff is shot on a tripod but since I don't have the steadiest of hands the VC would come in very handy if I was out on a photowalk for example.
15-30mm @15mm f/22 ISO 50 Shutter speed 1/3 second
Not exactly an award winning image but just simply to test the VC. Shot in bright daylight hence the f/22 aperture. Now I did manage to get down to one second and was still relatively sharp, all though my highlights were blown out and I felt in real world use it was no good.
Now I know shooting at 15mm helps keep things sharp and I have a friend whom I'm sure would be able go past 2 seconds and still be sharp.
To sum up:
Tamron are winning me over I have to say, I own all Nikon glass but I can certainly see this lens finding my way into my bag and I will be reluctant to hand it back. The build quality and optical quality are hands down amazing and the price is much more pleasing to the wallet than either Canon or Nikons offerings.
Look if you have the budget and must have the extreme width of the Canon then by all means lay down close to $4,000AUD, personally I'd rather take the Tamron and spend the rest on another lens. Same can be said for the Nikon.
The sharpness, the VC are great, the price is very attractive, the weight and size are bit off putting but after a week of shooting I have got use to it. All in all a great package.
Hope you all enjoyed this review, if there is anything I can improve on or any equipment you would like to see reviewed then by all means leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.
I'd like to thank Melissa from Tamron for allowing me to review the lens and I look forward to testing more.