TAMRON SP 15-30MM F/2.8 Di VC REVIEW
I’m a people photographer and one of my favourite focal length is 16-35. You may be surprised that how this focal length could be a favourite for a people photographer. Well, firstly I don’t shoot from a long distance. I prefer to go very close to my subjects, I talk with them make them comfortable with the camera and shoot. Secondly and most importantly you have a lot of other advantages with this focal length like you can create a human frame between the frame and you can include much more subjects in your frame. You can get very good environmental portraits also with this one.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/3.5 1/125sec ISO: 160 Hand Held
When I have been offered to use TAMRON’s SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, the world’s first f/2.8 image stabilization, during my last Workshop at Kathmandu, my primary goal was to find out how good the lens is, particularly when compared to that lens which I have been relying on heavily for years.
With its impressive optical performance and the Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor (USD), the lens focuses both silently and quickly, similar to other high-quality professional lenses like the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC. The built-in image stabilization, which Tamron markets as “Vibration Compensation” (VC), provides up to 4 stops of compensation for hand-held shooting. I hardly use tripods so it was a great additional advantage for me also especially during low light conditions. VC is definitely the highlight of the Tamron’s 15-30mm f/2.8 because it is the world’s first ultra-wide angle zooms to offer it. Tamron has been consistent in its use of vibration compensation in high-quality lenses – the lens follows the path of the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC, which also was world’s first 24-70mm lens to offer image stabilization. While both Canon and Nikon have been excluding image stabilization from their professional-grade wide-angle and standard lenses, Tamron has been making it clear that image stabilization should be included in every high-end lens, no matter what the focal length is. And that’s where I am in total agreed with Tamron – despite the claims by some photographers that image stabilization is not needed on wide angle lenses, based on my experience, image stabilization is very effective and useful for every type of lens.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/5.6 1/1250sec ISO: 3200 Hand Held
When it comes to optical design, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is just great with a total of 18 lens elements in 13 groups. 3 of which are of low-dispersion type, 1 moulded – aspherical glass and 2 expanded glass moulded aspherical elements. On top of this, Tamron threw everything it had in its arsenal at the 15-30mm, adding fluorine coating to the front element to repel water and dirt, weather sealing and special eBAND coating to reduce internal reflections and thus effectively minimise ghosting and flare.
As I have already mentioned, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a beast of a lens, being both larger and heavier than the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, which is already the heaviest Nikon ultra-wide angle zoom lens available. Though weight is 1,100 grams, still on higher-end full-frame camera bodies, the lens balances better and feels much steadier especially with body grip along with the well-positioned zoom ring on the lens allowed me to balance it quite well with proper support and comfort of both hands and feels very solid in hands.
As the front element is huge and round, Tamron designed a built-in petal-shaped hood for it, which also feels quite solid. When zooming in and out, the lens does not change in length, although the front element will move in and out together with a secondary plastic hood that matches the shape of the primary hood.
As for the zoom ring, it is very smooth and I didn’t find it getting any stiffer which is a sign of good quality. The same goes for the focus ring, which also feels quite nice when rotating it. Similar to Nikon and Canon lenses, when you get too close focus or infinity marks, the focus ring will continue to rotate, giving very slightly resistance. To protect the front element, Tamron supplied the lens with a push-on front cap also.
As expected from a high-quality lens, the mount is made from durable metal and similar to all recently top class lenses, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 also features a rubber gasket on the lens mount to minimize the risk of attracting dust and other debris into the camera chamber. The Vibration Compensation (VC) switch, along with the AF/MF switch are both located on the side of the lens. The lens comes with a button to turned VC on and off. These switches are easy to move and use.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/6.3 1/100sec ISO: 100 Hand Held
When it comes to sharpness and contrast, very few lenses can truly compete with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G, which in that sense is a truly remarkable lens. In fact, the 14-24mm f/2.8G is known to be sharper than most ultra-wide angle prime lenses – it is that good. However, with the introduction of high-resolution cameras like the D800, D800E and D810, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G started to show some of its weaknesses, particularly when it comes to focus shift. When I first looked at Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC’s Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) Chart, I knew that the lens would not disappoint optically. As I had expected, the lens performed admirably well and I did not see any issues with focus shift.
I saw that the lens is very strong at its widest focal length, with remarkable centre sharpness at f/2.8, which almost does not change as you stop down. Such impressive performance is quite rare to see in lenses. The mid-frame and the corners are a bit weak though, which is expected – one would have to stop down to get those sharper. The lens produces very impressive sharpness in the centre frame. The lens again performs the best overall at f/5.6, with a very good balance of centre to corner performance.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/100sec ISO: 250 Hand Held
As for contrast and colours, I found them to be quite similar to what my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G produces, which is superb. With such a complex design and so many aspherical and low dispersion elements, it had better be!
The day I converted myself into digital I never shot Jpeg. I always shoot in RAW. I process my images on my own. I was really very curious also that how good this lens is in terms of Vignetting, Chromatic Aberrations, Ghosting and Flare as I had to correct these things during my post productions.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/5.6 1/500sec ISO: 1250 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/2sec ISO: 500
However, I must say that this lens has done very good job controlling all these factors. Thanks to Tamron’s special eBAND and BBAR coating technologies, the 15-30mm f/2.8 VC performs admirably well when shooting against very bright sources of light. I have a number of images with the Sun in the frame during the shoot, and as I can see, there are little to no signs of ghosting and flare in images. In fact, based on what I have seen so far, I would rank the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 among one of the best lenses I have tested so far in terms of handling of ghosting and flare.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/125sec ISO: 5000 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/400sec ISO: 160 Hand Held
Tamron deserves a lot of admirations for its SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC lens – it’s truly a remarkable lens if you see its features and overall performance.
The added benefit of image stabilization is huge – as I have mentioned earlier in this review also, that image stabilization is immensely helpful for photography, even on ultra-wide angle lenses such as this one. And videographers will be even happier with the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, because it will make their videos look smoother when shooting hand-held.
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/5.6 1/640sec ISO: 3200 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/60sec ISO: 2500 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/10 1/5sec ISO: 100 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/125sec ISO: 5000 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/640sec ISO: 160 Hand Held
Focal length: 15mm Exposure: F/5 1/640sec ISO: 320 Hand Held
Based on all this, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a lens which falls into my “highly recommended” list of DSLR lenses for the photographers who are into the field of shooting landscapes, wedding, people photography, architecture or environmental portraits. If you are looking for a professional-grade ultra-wide angle zoom lens without spending a lot of money, look no further – the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is your lens.
All the images have been shot with TAMRON SP 15-30MM F/2.8 Di VC
Published by Tamron India also on their site. Click to view on Tamron site.