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.
Here’s a few links if you want to find out more about the lens (Amazon Link / B&H Photo Link).
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!
Hello, regarding filter adapters for this Tamron 15-30 lens I recently bought an adapter custom made for this lens. It`s a “Haida” filter holder. I also bought some Haida filters to try out. This holder also fits LEE SW-filters just fine, I recently bought Lee 0.9 soft grad from Lee SW-series, and I am so happy to find a third part holder kit not too costy. It`s easy to mount. I was a bit of a nerve wreck when ordering this, in case it was a bad product or it didn`t fit or anything, but after trying it I am very relaxed and happy, lol.
Best regards from Norway.
Hi do you use the LEE 100mm system or 150mmsystem?
You don’t with that lens. I think you need special adapters for it.
I have in my group of lens the Tokina 16-28mm, Tamron 28-70mm, Tamron 70-200mm and the Tamron 150-600mm. Probably overkill, but gives me enormous flexibility with my Canon 5D Mark III camera. For the 16-28mm lens, I have a kit that accepts a 144mm filter (UV and Polarizer). Looks unusual but very helpful.
Hope to travel with you on a future trip.
I too have the 15-30 Tameron, and am concerned about the lack of filters.
Do you know if any of the filter Cos have anything in the works for these type of lenses.
The Wonderpana Free Arc looks good but quite pricey.
You can use rear gel filters with the 15-30 Tamron lens
For the Tamron 15-30mm Canon rear mount, you can actually make your own ND and CP filters. Buy a sheet of filters and cut them to fit the holder in the back. 29mm x 34mm. OR, Haida makes rear filters for this lens. About $135. OR, FotoDioX makes a system that fits on the FRONT of the lens. The basic kit is $99 that does not include 145mm screw in filters. And then it gets even more expensive. I would say if you are a pro and are going to have use of a ND and/or Circular Polarizer, then expect to pay more… upwards of $500+ but as you can see, you have choices.
Oh by the way, I use the Tamron 15-30mm for real estate/architecture, astrophotography, and waterfalls. It’s f/2.8 from 15 to 30mm and is great! It’s heavy, but so many lenses are heavy.
“the Nikon doesn’t (it’s widest aperture is f/4)”
Which lens are you talking about? The Nikon 14-24mm is a f/2.8 lens.
…but he was talking about 16-35mm…
This is a great lens. I’ve had it on hand for a few weeks now. I just did obtain the wonderpana free arc filter system for it and it works splendidly.
Which special filter adapters will work on this lens???
Great review! Love your photos … always inspiring to me! I just purchased a Sigma 10-20 mm (16-32 mm I use Canon 7D). I’ve taken a few photos with it and so far I like it a lot. Do you ever have a chance to use Sigma Lenses? I’d love to see what you think. Always Great to see your photos!!
Hey Dennis. I don’t know anyone from Sigma, so I don’t get any lenses to try from them. But if I do, I’ll make sure to post about it.
I do own the Tamaron 15 -30 mm using the lens for landscapes and yes, even a few Milky Way shots. The lens focuses quickly for Milky Way test shots in manual mode.
I like using the lens, but the one drawback, Matt emphasized, no way to mount filters on the front. I knew about no filters before buying the lens. I’m researching various filters brands and yes, they cost MONEY. I’m waiting for Lee to begin shipping a filter holder sometime in the future. I expect in the very near future filter vendors will quickly produce filter holders and big filters to use on the lens.
I’ve handheld the lens and turned on stabilization to handhold the lens and camera for a few difficult to position tripods on rocky coasts; .i.e camera’s just above the deck. The results, outstanding! I think the lens extra heft helps handholding and the stabilization’s great.
My recommendation versus reading all of the forums and most glowing reviews, rent the lens and try it.
I’d definitely buy the lens again and no you can’t have mine!
Great review. One concern I have is that Tamron provided you the lens. This is because the easiest way to cut down on price is to have less exacting standards (reject less). So, the question I have is whether sample variation will be bigger on the Tamron than the Nikon. After all, the question is not just HOW GOOD one token of each lens can be, but how good the average tokens of these lenses (what I will buy) can be. Any insight on that one?
Spot on article. I’ve been using the Canon version of this lens for over a month and I’m very happy with it. It’s a great price and it’s very sharp across the entire focal length. I bought it primarily for night photography and I’ve been very impressed with it’s performance. I don’t mind how bulky it is as I always shoot from a tripod. If you use filters, there are some third party filter options available. There are also some good DIY solutions available.