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Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 AF XR Di IF Macro

15oz 62mm Filters

  "Worlds smallest and lightest 28-300mm lens." That's about where any claim to fame ends for this super-zoom from Tamron. The length of its name is impressive but has been surpassed by modern Tamrons, where someone must get paid by the acronym. Happy with the Tamron 24-135mm I thought perhaps they could do it again with this lens. It's worth noting this lens is both smaller and lighter than the 24-135mm. Build quality reflects thit too, as it's a notch below Nikkor kit lens quality build. That's to say, it's very bad. The lens is all plastic and not built to strict tolerances, it has wobble zoomed in and feels fragile. Regardless of build quality, optical performance is still the most important feature of a lens. So let's look at that aspect.

Tomass Marnics on the South Branch Feather.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-300 @ 42mm 1/1000 f/9 ISO 200

A 100% crop with no sharpening applied.

   Much like the Tamron 24-135mm things are not jaw dropping, but not terrible either. Totally sufficient for a magazine print. Lets get a little deeper into the zoom range though.

Mr Marnics again.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-300 @ 92mm 1/1000 f/9 ISO 200

100% crop with no sharpening.

Whoah we are not wide open here. Even wide open with most lenses I'd expect better performance than this. The next day I did the same run and shot the Nikkor 70-300VR, a nice lens in the high end consumer bracket.

Daniel Brasuell
Nikon D700, Nikon 70-300VR @ 110mm 1/1000 f/8 ISO 200

100% unsharpened crop.

Size vs the 70-300VR


  Build: 3/10                  -  Cheap, fragile.
  Handling: 4/10            -  Zoom is not smooth, one must flip an AF switch to manual focus, which has a very short throw. Wide end is cramped onto one end of the zoom range.
  Performance: 4/10      -  Below average performance for part of the range, proceeding to dismal.
  Value: 6/10                -   Only paid $100 used, so at least it's cheap
  Overall: 5/10               - Welcome to mediocrity, or worse.

Practicality for kayaking: 5/10   - If you don't care about your image quality, it's small, light and has a huge range.

   There is a reason super-zooms have a bad reputation, and this is one of them. One day shooting the Tamron  28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 AF XR Di IF Macro was enough to convince me never to do it again. The Tamron 24-135mm is wider but has less on the telephoto range, but surpasses in all aspects of optical performance. Super zooms are notorious for being compromises, and this one is no exception. It's light, it's small, and it's best suited for shooting images destined for online use. But why on earth would anyone use a FX camera if the images are destined for online use only? There are better super zoom options out there, for this style of shooting it really makes more sense to use a DX/APS-C camera and 18-200mm zoom that will be similar in weight and size, but trying to cover less sensor area. It's worth nothing the VC version is supposed to be considerably better (and heavier, and more expensive).