As I have said in my last couple of blog posts I recently ordered and received a new lens the Tamron 70-300 Di LD Macro. I was looking for a lens for my Pentax K10d that could get in closer for wildlife pictures and after a lot of research this seemed like the most affordable solution. I purchased it online and it was on sale for only $130. Considering what I paid for it I think I got a great deal as this lens so far has done just what I wanted. Before purchasing the lens I read several reviews like this very detailed one on photozone.
I took the lens out for its first real test on Saturday and shot a bunch of photos with it. Overall it performed solidly and produced sharp images with plenty of punch to them. There was several photos that had pretty bad chromatic aberration though (here is an example of one at close to 100% crop) . As you can see this is one of the weaknesses of this lens. However it mostly only shows up in high contrast situations where you have a dark object like a branch against a bright background and you usually can not see it unless you zoom in on the image. I found that using the chromatic aberration reduction in Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 gets rid of 90% of the problem at the press of a few buttons so for me this weakness is not that severe. Here is the same photo after running the chromatic aberration reduction in Paint Shop Pro. I am sure I could get rid of it even more if I put more time into it then the 10 seconds I spent fixing that example. I would say out of the 300+ images I shot over the weekend only 10 or so had chromatic aberration issues (and most of those could have been corrected in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro as they where not that bad) the rest really had no chromatic aberration issues at all.
The lens is built pretty well, has a metal mount, and has a solid feeling to it which is nice. The zoom ring is much harder to turn then my Pentax DA 50-200 lens so that will take some getting used to.
This lens also has a 1:2 Macro mode. When you are at 180-300mm you can hit the switch on the top of the lens and switch the lens into macro mode. The macro mode works pretty well actually which is an added bonus of the lens. You can see a couple of macro examples in the sample gallery I posted below.
Overall I have to say I am pretty pleased with the lens after my first weekend of use. Really for $130 it is producing much better results than what I paid for it. I will keep you updated on whether my opinion on the lens changes as I use it more.
Below are some sample photos that I shot this weekend with the Tamron 70-300:
Update (9-30-2010): I have been using my Tamron 70-300 again recently and am still surprised by the great image clarity, color and the quality of the photos after all this time! Its been over 3 years since I wrote this review and the lens is still going strong so the build quality has indeed been good and its stood up well. The Tamron 70-300 really was a great value as far as I am concerned and I will continue to use it well into the future! Very happy with it! To see newer photos I have taken with this lens that are not posted on this page’s gallery go to my Tamron 70-300 Archive Page.