One of the most popular blog posts on this site is my review/thoughts on the Tamron 24-70mm lens. Well, a few weeks ago I got a hold of the new Tamron 15-30mm (Amazon Link / B&H Photo Link). I used it the entire weekend while teaching/shooting with one of my Tampa workshops, and
I’m writing this post more from my experience with the lens. It’s not a full review, and it’s not necessarily a comparison between the Tamron and any other lens. I’m just writing about my thoughts on using it.
First Off, Yes I’m Still Using the Tamron 24-70mm
I figure one of the first questions is whether or not I’m still using the Tamron 24-70mm I wrote about back then (over 2.5 years ago). Or did I just write about it, and switch back to the Nikon version. The answer is a definite yes, I’m still using it. In fact, I went through Lightroom the other day and filtered my photos based on lens, and the Tamron 24-70 is responsible for about 70% of my landscape photos.
Why Try the 15-30mm?
So why would I even try the 15-30mm? Well, I’ve had a super-wide angle lens gap in my kit for a while now. I ended up getting rid of my Nikon 14-24mm years ago because I found I just wasn’t shooting that wide. For me personally, I liked my landscape photos a bit more zoomed in. I found what I was shooting with the 14-24mm was compressing all these great backgrounds and making them appear really small. So after not using the 14-24 for a long time, I decided to get rid of it. It’s big, bulky, my filters didn’t fit it so I just gave up on it.
But recently, I’ve found myself borrowing the 14-24mm from friends a little too much. And right about that point, an opportunity to try out the Tamron 15-30mm came along so I jumped on it.
(Click to see the photos larger)
What I Liked?
Before we go any further, I linked to a video review below. It’s extremely well done. I don’t look at many online reviews. Mainly because most of them just look at crappy photos taken with the lens, and compare vignetting and chromatic aberration at various apertures. They talk about diffraction and other techie stuff I really don’t care much about. But this review looks at a lot more. Lens flare, the sun-star of the lens if you’re shooting in to the sun. He even sprays water on the front of the lenses to see how the coating repels water.
Okay, on to what I liked. I did like getting some of the wide range back in my bag. I’ve found myself shooting wider lately and I’m happy to have that choice now. Here’s a few photos I shot with it.
It’s got Vibration Compensation on it (it’s like IS or VR on other lenses). I’m not sure I’d use it personally, but who knows. It’s nice to have.
The lens is sharp. Is it sharper than anything else? I have no idea. I’m usually shooting on a tripod and most of your current lenses out there are well made, and produce sharp photos. I shoot landscapes with it, so I’m either shooting at f/11, f/16, or f/22 and the lens was really sharp throughout the image for everything I’d shoot with it.
I also liked the way it handled lens flare and the sun-star it produced. Here’s a photo where I was shooting directly in to the sun and it looks good to me.
It was nice having the extra 6mm on the zoom. While the Nikon tops out at 24mm, the Tamron goes up to 30mm. That little extra kept me from having to switch lenses at times when I would have reached for the 24-70mm.
Also, if you’re shooting stars, you’ll like that the lens goes to f/2.8. I see the lens being compared to the Nikon or Canon 16-35. While the Canon lens shoots at f/2.8, the Nikon doesn’t (it’s widest aperture is f/4). So that extra stop makes a big difference in your night photos.
And the price is definitely right. At $1100, it’s almost half as much as anything else you’d compare it to.
What I Didn’t Like
Just like my thoughts on the Tamron 24-70mm, there were times I felt the auto focus was a little slower as it got dark. I tried the Nikon 14-24 in the same situation and it focussed a bit faster. What’s “a bit”? Like one second or less. It was minimal and nothing that would keep me from buying the lens. I’m shooting mostly landscapes with this lens, and that 1/2 second isn’t going to change much for me. But if it does for you, then it’s something to consider. And if you watch the video review below, you’ll see the Tamron actually won out in some of his focus tests.
The size is also something I’m not crazy about. It’s not that this lens is any larger than other lenses in it’s group. It’s about the same. But it still is a big lens, just like the Nikon 14-24 is.
I also don’t like that it won’t take the usual filters on the front because of the way it’s shaped (just like the Nikon and Canon ultra wide lenses). It’s got a rounded front, so you’d need a special filter adapter for it. They do make them, but they’re not cheap.
A Video That Does the Review Way Better Than I Could
Here’s the video I was referring to earlier. It does a really good review of the lens and compares it to the Nikon 14-24. I’m warning you though. Don’t get caught up on youtube looking at all the other reviews. You’ll regret it and end up way more confused 😉
What About the new Canon 11-24mm?
I figured some one would ask if I compared it to the Canon 11-24mm. I didn’t mainly because I haven’t used that lens. It wouldn’t necessarily be an apples-to-apples review either, because the Canon is so much wider than the Tamron. 4mm when you’re that wide is actually a really big difference. The Canon lens is also nearly 3 times the price (it’s $3000) so you’d better make sure really want the extra range on the wide end. But I can say I’ve heard nothing but great things about that lens, so if it’s something you need I’m sure you can’t go wrong.
So what lens should you buy?
I would say to do your research, but nothing will confuse you more than online reviews and forum posts. You’ll find some one that feels a certain strong away about something, no matter what the topic is or what gear you’re looking at. Trust me, I’ve seen it. One forum post will say that a certain lens is the best thing to come along since sliced bread. The next forum post will of course state the useless saying “buy the best lens that you can afford” comment (come on… you know you all hate forums that have people like that on it) ;). And then the next comment will come along and discredit the previous post, call his mother a few choice words (because that’s what they do on forums), and tell you that the lens they love is the ONLY lens to buy. It’s an endless circle of searching that’ll leave you more confused then when you started.
So here’s my recommendation. Try it out. Hopefully you can go the easy route and you have a friend with a certain lens that you’re looking for that you can try out. If not, how about renting it. LensProToGo rocks and I use them whenever I need something. Also, just about every camera store out there has a great return policy. I just check B&H Photo’s return policy and it’s 30 days if you’re unhappy with the product (and you have the original box, manual, etc…). There’s no substitute for trying it out though and I recommend that in just about everything out there (gear, lenses, plug-ins, software, you name it).
Disclaimer: Full disclosure. Tamron provided me the lens to try out. Hopefully by now, you know my writing style and teaching well enough to know that this in no way affects my review and thoughts here. I shouldn’t have to say it… but… well, I’m just sayin’ 😉
Thanks for stopping by today. Have a good one!