Quick budget lens review – Tamron 70-300mm

Specifically, the Tamron AF70-300mm F/4-5.6 LD Macro 1:2, Model A17S for Sony. 

Newtown lion
300mm f/4.5 1/160 sec iso 160

I am waiting for Sony or someone else to come up with a properly splendid telephoto lens for my A7ii camera, something full frame and E-Mount of course, that zooms from, say 20-600mm, is as fast as heck, sharp as a pointy sharp tack, and costs less than my car.  While I wait, and I admit, it could be a while, I’ll make do with a more basic alternative.  In this case, a very cheap Tamron lens, NZ$215 new, made for the Sony A-mount, so used with the LAEA4 adapter.  That adapter is a cunning device, basically adding back in the mirror that isn’t in mirrorless cameras, so that lenses designed for more traditional DSLR focusing will work on a mirrorless camera (how many times can I say mirrorless in one sentence – well, up to four times now).  It works with all the lenses I had for my ol’ Sony A580, and any random secondhand Minolta lenses that take my fancy on Ebay and the local equivalent.

The Tamron lens, bought for its low low price point, arrived yesterday and I took it for a short walk around m’local zoo.  It seems fine.  Perfectly okay.  Adequate in all the areas that I need basic adequacy.  And it cost less than a fancy pair of shoes or a handbag.  Not that I’d waste money on fancy shoes of course, and only on a handbag if it has a whole lot of padded storage for camera, spare batteries and other essential accessories.

Buying this super cheap lens is me being slightly strategic, I won’t feel that I have to stick with it once the fancy-pants new lens hits the shelves.  There are downsides of course, the autofocus is loud and slow, it’s clunky, but hey, photographs of things I can’t physically get close to can get made.  There’s a weird switch setup for the macro function, and it’s not entirely intuitive as to how you switch back to normal. I had to look at instructions.  But while not dazzlingly sharp, that macro was quite nice enough to catch the details on a resting honey bee; it means another bit of kit I can chose to leave home on a ‘just rambling’ sort of day.  The lens weighs less than 500gm, and even came with a hood.

So, photos.  These were all handheld, and the caracal cat who’d just caught it’s own lunch, and the chimp (in a dark room at high iso) were both shot through glass.

My review can be distilled down to “at that price, you really can’t complain”, and “it’ll do for now”.   If you want the kind of review that looks at test patterns, Mr Google is your friend.  I didn’t buy from Amazon this time, but they have mixed user reviews in abundance.   And Sony, if you’re listening, I’d be happy to test that experimental lens you’re getting ready to release later in the year.  Just so I can make a fair comparison eh.

chimp chomping
300mm f/5.6 1/320 sec iso 6400
Bee, low on buzz
300mm f/5.6 1/320 sec iso 400
Caracal cat and an ex-pidgeon
250mm f/5 1/320 sec iso 1250
Derpy Emu
300mm f/5.6 1/320 sec iso 1250

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