Tamron aims for high end with ultrawide zoom lens

Ahead of Photokina, the Japanese lensmaker announces a coming 15-30mm model that combines a fast f2.8 aperture with image stabilization.

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The Tamron SP 15-30mm F2.8 Di VC USD (model A012) is geared for full-frame shooters who appreciate a fast aperture and image stabilization.
The Tamron SP 15-30mm F2.8 Di VC USD (model A012) is geared for full-frame shooters who appreciate a fast aperture and image stabilization. Tamron

Tamron announced a new 15-30mm lens with a wide f2.8 aperture and image stabilization, a new move in the third-party lensmaker's attempt to appeal to a premium customer segment.

Tamron's SP 15-30mm F/2.8 DI VC USD works on full-frame SLRs such as Nikon's new D750 or rival cameras from Canon and Sony. The company hasn't announced when it will ship or how much it'll cost.

Full-frame cameras use image sensors the size of a frame of 35mm film for better low-light performance, colors, and dynamic range. They're expensive -- the cheap ones still are about $2,000 -- but with prices dropping somewhat in recent years, lensmakers are eager to tap into the market.

Tamron will debut the lens next week at the Photokina show in Cologne, Germany, which caters to a higher-end segment of the photography trade. (Increasingly, that's all that's left as smartphones gobble up the lower-end parts of it.)

The new lens' f2.8 is a relatively wide aperture, making it better for shooting in dim conditions, trying to capture moving subjects, and taking pictures whose backgrounds are blurred to emphasize depth or minimize distractions. Wide apertures typically mean heftier lenses; Tamron's new model weighs 1,100g (38.8oz) and is 145mm (5.7in) long.

It's got a close-focus distance of 28cm (11in), a nine-blade aperture, employs advanced coatings to cut down on glare and internal reflections, and is made of 18 lens elements in 13 groups. It's the first Tamron lens to use a protective fluorine coating on the outside of the front element, a move the company said it made because of the prominence of the convex design.

Optical image stabilization, which Tamron brands as vibration compensation (VC), counteracts blurriness induced by camera shake, and the technology got its start on telephotos where a little wobble is magnified. It's useful on wide-angle lenses too though, and Tamron beat Nikon and Canon by bringing VC to its earlier 24-70mm f2.8 model. Bringing it to the 15-30mm f2.8 puts more competitive pressure on the bigger rivals.