Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro Review

Good morning, you.

I was going to try and avoid doing too many reviews on this blog. But it is probably a good idea that I do them on some bits of kit, especially third party lenses. These are often discarded as inferior in quality compared to the big guns from Canon and Nikon. So the odd review, good or bad, should be a welcome addition to the interwebs.

Now I’m not a die hard fan of any lens manufacturer. I own Nikon lenses and a Tamron lens. I have used mostly big brand lenses, but my future lens purchases will more than likely steer away from these for a number of reasons.

This lens has a quality feel to it, much like a big brand lens. It doesn’t feel cheap, although is made of plastic. It is also fairly compact and lightweight. It is available for under £350, which is quite frankly ridiculous, especially because the Canon and Nikon equivalents are around twice that.

This lens is a dedicated macro lens, capable of producing 1:1 macro images. This is very important for taking true macro photos, allowing reproduction of subjects at life size. It has a fixed focal length of 90mm, which is a great length for macro. The 105mm from Nikon is possibly a little better, as that extra little reach really helps. But 90mm meant this lens was also brilliant for portraits, which I used it for a lot.

This lens has a constant 2.8 aperture; meaning when stopped down it was very sharp. The 2.8 was excellent for portrait shots, but not ideal for macros. Anyone who has used a macro lens and gotten really close to the action knows that such a wide aperture will create an unusable depth of field.

Much like most Tamron lenses, the focusing is switched using the large focus ring on the front. Using the manual focus is very necessary with macro images, and this was a delight to use. It is easy to focus precisely and without much creep.

One point to mention here about this lens is that the barrel extends. Most macro lenses do not have extending barrels, but simply internal focusing. This is not necessarily a problem when it comes to portraits, but for very close macro shots it can be irritating. I did have a number of occasions when I was focusing the lens, and managed to knock a leaf with the end of the lens. Just being aware of this before hand should stop this though, I’m just clearly not intelligent enough for such sophistication.

Optically, this lens is brilliant. It produces excellent photos, in all shooting situations. As with any lens, stopping it down to around f3.5 brings out its sharpest images, but 2.8 was still excellent for portraits.

Many others will agree to this testament of mine, and the 90mm Tamron is definitely a popular macro lens to choose.

Yay, a happy ending!

Anyway, here are a couple of macro shots I took with this lens. Check out my recent posts, Winspit and friends and Macro, macro man. All of the photos in these posts were taken using the 90mm.



Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 Review

Hello, you.

Well the weekend just gone I had the chance to test out a lens I have had my eye on for a while, the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8. Lets get this in early, it is a quality lens, with a constant aperture, and can be had for around £500.

Now I have developed quite an interest for portraits recently, and think I could see myself doing more of them in the future. Natural, location based photos, rather than forced studio nonsense.

Right, so I had this lens mounted on the 5D mark II. See the previous post for my opinion of this. I set out to take whatever photos I could, but knowing I’d want it for portraits.

The first thing you notice is the size of this lens. I have used a lot of lenses, from beginner to pro (see my camera gear page), and this is bar far the largest. It has a diameter of 8.9cm and a length of 19.4cm, with a weight of 1.3kg. Mounted on the camera it looked very large, and dwarfed even the 5D.

I’m not ashamed to say that I am attracted to the larger lens. I think it is my childishness, or the sheer impressive look of them, but a big lens always has my attention. And, it seems, the attention of the general public. Many a person decided to comment, and I had hundreds of old men perving on it (you know they do it).

The impressive size of this lens is replicated in its build quality. It definitely feels like a pro lens, and the weight is easily forgiven when you feel the sturdy construction. I’d have no problems using this lens in a number of weather conditions, and without having to worry I’d knock or damage it.

Now on to the insides of this lens. It is designed to go up against the big boys of Canon and Nikon with their own 70-200 f2.8 lenses, as well as compete with Sigma’s entry, which is more reasonably priced. I have not tested any of these lenses, however, I am sure the Nikon and Canon are superior. But that is not the point here. These two lenses are over twice the price of the Tamron, and I’m pretty certain they are not twice as good.

Check out DP Review’s basic comparison here.

The optical quality of the images definitely have the wow factor. I have used some great optical lenses (namely the 85mm f1.4 G), and this impressed me just as much. Viewing the photos on screen and on camera showed great contrast, and sharpness pretty much throughout the range. I found stopping the camera down a couple of stops brought out the best results, but f2.8 was still excellent.

Here is one of the shots i took of the day. Not the best, but i blame the camera for this.

This lens has the one main flaw, which is the auto-focus. Yes it is slow, and yes, it can be noisy. But in normal, every day conditions, I didn’t notice it at all. It is obviously not the fastest focusing lens I’ve used, but considering what this lens can do optically, and its price, I’m just happy it focuses at all!

I did have problems with the 5D I was using, so switched to the manual focus for most of the portraits I took. Changing to manual is very easy, and I found the manual focus to be very easy and precise.

May as well chuck this shot up of me. If nothing else, this kind of shows the lens is not too big or heavy for smaller hands.

So after a weekend with the lens, it is now on my to buy list. I was originally looking to get a replacement for the kit lens, but I think this lens will be much more useful, especially for portrait shots. I will be putting it through further tests soon enough, but for now I’d highly recommend this lens to absolutely anyone and everyone, even if you don’t have a camera.


Winspit and friends.

Hello, you.

Well on Sunday I went out with a camera as usual. Big surprise right? Except this time I had company, which is unusual for me. My twin brother was visiting along with his girlfriend, and they suggested we went for a nice wonder in the Sunday sunshine. Of course I wasn’t going to let myself be the awkward third wheel, so I decided to bring along my own girl, the ever-cute Danielle (sorry, I know I am sad).

Right, the next dilemma was where to go. We had decided on the purbeck region, where I had visited alone a couple of weeks back. We made the journey in a brand spanking Fiat 500. Excellent little car, even if the engine cutting off when in traffic scared the hell out of me. Anyway we reached our destination without much hassle, and yet again we ended up at Worth Matravers, with a final destination of Winspit in our minds.

I didn’t mind coming back, because it is truly an amazing place.

For this little day out I hadn’t intended on taking too many photos, but for me that means keeping it down to about 200. I was able to take the D300s with the 90mm macro lens, perfect for some portraits.

However, the very first photo I managed to get was of this little guy. He was hitchhiking a ride on my tshirt, and was nice enough to pose for a photo. If I ever see him again I’ll get him a copy.

Actually, that was a lie I just told. Sorry. This was actually the first photo I took. It is my brother and his girlfriend making the long walk down towards the coast.

Once we got to our destination we began to explore the pitch black darkness of the caves. They go very deep, and I had to keep firing the flash of the camera to see where we were going. Some very interesting photos came out of this, plenty of blackness and out of focus faces.

Just so you get an idea of the place, even though I have shown it before, this is the main section of Winspit. Behind me are the caves, and some old ruins, but this is the view out to sea.

After much exploration, especially around the ruins, Paris decided to jump in to a hole and frankly allow me to produce the best photo I ever have. Honestly.

We continued to act like children and generally have some fun, until I found a lovely little beetle. This little guy saw me coming, and immediately buried his head in the ground. He decided to do this for a long time, and after lying in front of him for 5 minutes I decided to try and get his attention. I did this by simply tickling his back with a blade of grass. I don’t know if he was happy with this, but he looked at me and allowed me to get the shot I wanted of him, so thanks!

Me and Danielle then proceeded to the edge of the cliff where we could sit and watch the swimmers below. I didn’t get any photos of them, because they were a bit uninteresting, instead I got this amazing shot. Second place to Paris’ portrait in the best photos I have ever taken.

I retreated a few feet to try and get some more photos of Danielle, looking very beautiful as she always does. This is my favourite shot of her to date, even though it is nothing technically special (just look at those eyes!). There is something about unplanned, unposed, candid portraits that make them a little more special.

After a wonder around the surroundings and visiting the home of the largest bat in the country (of which we couldn’t actually see!) we set off for the car. It was in the final field of the walk that we came across a herd of cows blocking our way. This wouldn’t be so bad, but there were some very young calves, and very big bulls. So in the interest of staying out of trouble we walked a long way round them. I did get this portrait of the youngest calf though, who proceeded to follow us for a little!

Well this ended the days journey, exciting I know. I shall be back with more nonsense and generally bad photos soon enough, you just wait and see.


Macro, macro man!

Good morning, you.

It’s Monday morning again. Oh joy. I have had an excellent weekend, making this a very crushing blow.

Amongst other things, I was out with a nice big camera and a couple of lenses. Mainly, a macro lens. I have been using the Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens, and it is just as good as everyone says.

Now that’s out of the way, lets get down to the photos. I took more than I care to mention, because macro subjects generally don’t stay still. Even a slight bit of wind will blow a flower slightly out of focus, ruining the entire photo.

Although I was using a wide angle lens most of the day, the only keepers I got from my day on the south coast were these macros. I have always loved macro, but there is rarely much to photograph without much effort. Also I have never really had a macro lens for an extended period of time.

I did manage to stumble upon a wild reptile while out and about. A very small lizard of some kind, posing very neatly on a rock. Now animals of this kind are very rare here, so this was quite a treat. I had just about edged close enough and frame my photo when some passers by scared him off. Excellent.

So here is photo number one that I took. It is the first little butterfly I saw on my day that wasn’t miles away. This was as close as I dare get, as I was terrified of scaring it away. Especially considering it’s excellent colours.

I was fairly happy with this photo, so decided to move on and find some more. This second one was flying around all over the place, so I decided to stand still and wait for him to come to me. Which he did. Which was nice of him. I rewarded him with this excellent photo. His eye is looking directly in to the lens, a real poser. I will do my best to get it framed and sent out to him.

This final shot was taken on my way back to the car park. I wanted a bit more colour in my collection, and saw this lovely little thing fluttering about. My tactic of lazily standing still and waiting for it to come to me didn’t work this time. So off I go carefully treading through the bushes. I get as close as I dare and click away. This is probably my favourite of the bunch, because of the colour range and clarity. Would have been nice to get closer and have more detail though.


I posted about my weekend, all be it briefly, but neglected to tell you about the location. So here it is. I decided to take the ferry from Sandbanks over to Studland. A favourite place of mine for its quiet countryside and lovely roads.

I know the area well, so knew exactly where I wanted to go. I travelled past the picturesque beaches, even past Corfe Castle, waiting for the sign that read ‘Worth Matravers’. An oddly named village, but a well kept secret if you ask me.

Once in this village I parked up, and began the several mile walk through the fields to the location. This place is called Winspit. It is a collection of very deep caves which are situated half way up the cliff face. They go hundreds of metres deep, right in to the pitch black. It is always rather deserted, and only littered with the odd rock climber. A great place to just sit and watch the world go round.

Those of you who don’t like heights would have loved it here. Only a couple hundred feet to the nearest jagged rock.

Anyway, here is a small panorama from one side of this lovely place. It sort of shows what the area is like. You may also be able to make out the very small ruin of a house. I have no idea how old it is, but I imagine it would have been a great place to live.

I took a lot of photos while I was here, as I was trying to get some good HDR tones of the rocks. It didn’t work. I will continue to process some of the photos I got and will add any here that I think are nice. But for now you’ll have to make do without.

Well that is it for the butterflies and the lovely hidden Winspit. I spent a lot of my Saturday chasing these little guys and lugging around my gear, so I hope it was worth the effort. And if not, who cares? Me. That’s who.