Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD review: Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

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The Good Near-silent autofocus. Very good image stabilisation. Sharp images at shorter focal lengths (70-150mm).

The Bad Zoom movement is very firm. Unattractive bokeh.

The Bottom Line The 70-300mm lens from Tamron offers a lot of zoom in a reasonably priced lens, delivering sharp images.

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8.0 Overall

Review Sections

Design and features

For those looking for a cheap alternative to a brand-name telephoto lens, Tamron's 70-300mm could fit the bill. It's definitely no L-series (see the Canon 70-200mm or the Nikon 70-200mm), but at a reasonable price of AU$699 it's definitely not meant to be competing with those high-end hitters.

The Tamron comes in three mounts, either Nikon, Canon or Sony, and weighs a hefty 765g. It's designed for full-frame cameras, though it sits comfortably on the front of our test camera, the APS-C sensor-sized Canon 600D. We can imagine that it would swamp smaller SLRs than this, though. The exterior of the lens barrel is made from plastic, with a rubberised focus ring closest to the lens base and a zoom ring towards the front. Internally, the 70-300mm is made up of 17 elements in 12 groups. The lens movement is firm, with a good deal of resistance when zooming in and out. To the side of the lens is an AF/MF and a vibration compensation switch.

In the Nikon and Canon mount, the 70-300mm comes with tri-axial image stabilisation (called vibration compensation). The Sony mount does not, as Sony digital SLRs come with in-body stabilisation. With a minimum focus distance of 1.5m, this lens is not best-suited to macro or close-up work, as it produces images with a magnification of 1:4. Its maximum aperture of f/4-5.6 throughout the focal length range also limits its usefulness for shallow depth-of-field effects. Filters with a diameter of 62mm can be attached to the front of the lens thread.

Performance and image quality

As expected from previous Tamron lenses we've tested, the 70-300mm is an impressive performer for not too much money, particularly for those who are looking for a cheaper alternative to the brand-name lens equivalent.