Image quality in close focusing can be impressive, with
high edge to edge sharpness at the small apertures generally
required for this type of photography. Use a tripod or high
shutter speeds to reduce the risk of blurring from camera
shake. (At 150mm; f/11; Manfrotto tripod; Provia 100F.)
Photos © Peter K. Burian, 2000
Although Tamron makes some
exceptional professional lenses, one of its moderately priced products--various
models of the 28-200mm zoom--has amassed sales of over one million lenses
and won "Best Buy" awards worldwide. This is understandable, considering
the impressive mechanical and optical construction of this multi-purpose
zoom. Building on the technology of the previous "Super" designated model,
Tamron has raised the bar even higher with the new AF 28-200mm Super II
Macro f/3.8-5.6LD AL (IF).
Destined to maintain its best
seller status, the new model offers two primary advantages: much closer
focusing ability and a new zoom lock mechanism. These will be appreciated
by the outdoor, nature, and travel photographer especially, although this
compact, all-purpose zoom has many other applications, too.
Photo 2. Although stopping down to mid-sized apertures is
useful for maximizing image quality, sharpness is high even
at f/5.6 at most focal lengths. Color rendition is also
neutral, without any apparent color caste. (At 75mm; f/5.6;
B+W polarizer; Velvia at EI 200.)
Like the previous model, the
Super II Macro is incredibly compact, although the barrel does extend
to 5.25" when zoomed to 200mm. It's beautifully finished, with a wide,
rubberized zoom and focus ring, ribbed for good grip. There's a distance
scale in feet and meters, but no depth of field scale, a common omission
with zoom lenses today. The mount is made of stainless steel, to withstand
thousands of lens changes. A gold stripe--denoting premium grade optics--adds
a touch of class to this affordable lens.
The Upgrades. More specifically,
the following information is worth noting. All comparisons are to the
AF Super model and not to earlier models or the manual focus version.
The AF Super offered a Minimum
Focusing Distance (MFD) of about 3' at most focal lengths, 31.5" at 200mm,
and 20.5" at the 135mm setting only. Even at the latter setting this produced
a maximum magnification of about 0.20x, with a reproduction ratio of 1:4.8.
The new Super II model however will focus down to 19.3" at all focal lengths,
a significant improvement. At the 200mm end, that means a maximum magnification
of 0.25x. In reproduction ratio, that translates to 1:4: a tiny subject
can be rendered 1/4 life-size on the film frame. That factor earns this
lens the "Macro Zoom" designation and also makes it the closest focusing
28-200mm zoom on the market as of this writing.
3. The 28-200mm range of focal length includes those used
by most photo enthusiasts for 75+ percent of typical subject
matter. Thanks to the use of a low dispersion element, image
sharpness is high at telephoto focal lengths, particularly
at mid-sized apertures. (At 200mm; f/11; Provia 100F.)
To achieve this impressive
minimum focusing distance--without moving to a much larger lens size--a
new internal mechanical construction was developed: Double Focus Cam optimizes
movement of internal elements. Coupled with the Integrated Focus Cam of
the Super model, this combination maintains small physical size; no other
28-200mm zoom is smaller, according to Tamron.
Although the filter size has
not increased, the front element is of wider diameter reducing light falloff
at the edges of the frame, especially at the shortest focal lengths. Finally,
the new Zoom Lock mechanism--borrowed from the AF 28-300mm lens--can be
set at 28mm so the barrel does not extend while you're carrying the camera
with the lens pointed downward.
Other Benefits. Like
the Super model, the Super II Macro version incorporates other technology
and features well worth noting.
A large element of LD (Low
Dispersion) glass is used to correct chromatic aberration at long focal
lengths while two hybrid aspherical elements compensate spherical aberration
at shorter focal lengths. This is important because the inherent optical
flaws of wide range zooms are quite different at each extreme, and both
have been addressed in this lens.
The Internal Focusing mechanism
ensures that the barrel does not extend when focusing and the front element
does not rotate. Because there is no extension even in extreme close focusing,
there is no apparent loss of light at the film plane. Image brightness
and sharpness at the corners of the frame are also maximized.
At an equestrian event, autofocus
operation was adequately quick to keep up with the motion of trotting
horses. I used the camera's Continuous/Predictive AF system, and all frames
in a series were sharply focused.
I really appreciated the
Internal Focusing (IF) mechanism when using a polarizer to enrich blue
skies or to remove glare from the finish of classic cars. Because the
front element does not rotate, the effect of the filter was not altered
during focus (or zooming) operation.
Zooming action (rotary) is
smooth. Because the mechanism is not "loose," there was no zoom slippage
when the lens was pointed upward or downward. I did not find a need to
use the Zoom Lock when carrying the lens 28mm, although this feature may
be necessary after years of use.
The corner-cut (notched)
lens hood works well, but is most effective at shorter focal lengths,
like any hood on a broad-range zoom lens. In extreme sidelighting, at
a War of 1812 event, I occasionally needed to change my shooting position
slightly when flare was noticeable on the viewing screen.
The much closer focusing
ability proved very useful to fill the frame with large blossoms and the
badges on old Corvettes and Fords.
Photo 5. However, this new Tamron zoom focuses extremely
close and produces excellent image quality especially at
the small apertures typically required in such work. (At
200mm; 0.25x magnification; fill flash; Manfrotto tripod.)
The 28-200mm range was particularly
appealing as it incorporates the focal lengths I use some 75 percent of
the time in travel and people photography. While working from a fixed
position, I rarely needed to switch to another--shorter or longer--lens.
I could vary framing instantly, for a variety of compositions. Although
focus does shift slightly when changing focal lengths, autofocus takes
care of this detail. (When practical, zoom first, and set focus afterward.)
Optical Evaluation. While
viewing my slides under a 10x loupe, I made the following notes as to
this lens' optical potential:
Peak performance (superb)
is provided in the 28-100mm range at f/8 to f/16: adequate for a sharp
11x14 print or a double page spread in a magazine with crisp definition
of details as well as fine clarity, contrast, and color rendition. Most
notable is the consistency of image quality at all f/stops from f/5.6
to f/16, a sign of well-designed optics.
Performance in the 100-150mm
range is almost as impressive--with fine clarity/contrast and "clean"
colors--especially around f/8 to f/11. Even at maximum aperture, central
sharpness is very high, adequate for a fine 8x12 print. Hence, I did not
hesitate to shoot at f/5.6 when necessary.
At longer focal lengths,
it's worth stopping down to f/11 for optimum image quality across the
frame; edge sharpness improves noticeably. Even at f/5.6, an 8x12" print
would be highly acceptable unless the primary subject was located near
an edge of the frame (not typical composition). In handheld photography,
consider using an ISO 200 or 400 film at longer focal lengths: to produce
adequately fast shutter speeds at moderate apertures to prevent blur from
In extreme close focusing,
image quality remained high.
By f/5.6, light falloff (darkening
at the edges of the frame) was not noticeable even at the shortest focal
lengths with bright subjects such as the sky. Filters--even my thick polarizer--produced
no apparent vignetting at any focal length. Note: It is essential
to mount the lens hood correctly, however, so it does not intrude into
the image area; make sure the Tamron logo is at the top and not to the
There is virtually no barrel
or pincushion distortion: lines near the edges of the frame are rendered
tucked into a hip pack or slung over a shoulder, the weight/size of this
lens (on a compact SLR) never became a burden. If you're interested in
maximum versatility, this Tamron zoom should be high on your list of lenses
to consider. While stopping down at longer focal lengths is advisable,
this model certainly holds the potential for excellent image quality.
Many of my slides would satisfy photo buyers or commercial clients. Attractively
priced, the Tamron AF 28-200mm Super II Macro f/3.8-5.6LD AL (IF) will
meet many needs, with satisfying image quality providing top value for
For more information, contact
Tamron Industries Inc., 125 Schmitt Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735; (631)
694-8700; fax: (631) 694-1414; www.tamron.com.
Model No.: 471D in chrome finish and 371D in black matte finish
Angle Of View: 75 to 12
Maximum Aperture: f/3.8 to f/5.6
Construction: 16 elements in 14 groups
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.61' (0.49 meters) at all focal lengths
Maximum Magnification: 0.25x at 200mm
Filter Size: 72mm
Dimensions: 3.33x3.07" (84.5x78mm)
Weight: 17.3 oz (490 g)
AF Mounts: Canon, Minolta, Nikon D, Pentax