Moving in close and shooting up at 28mm concentrates attention
on the diesel engine while minimizing the distracting
surroundings. (Minolta Maxxum 9, Tamron 28-300mm at 28mm,
program automatic exposure on Fujichrome Sensia II 100
Photos © Robert E. Mayer, 2000
For extreme convenience a
zoom lens with an ultra-wide range can make taking top quality images
at a variety of focal lengths very practical. One example of this new
breed is the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 AF Aspherical LD lens which encompasses
practically every focal length needed by most photographers in its whopping
10.7x zoom range. In addition, it does this task very capably based
on the results of my extensive tests over several of Minolta Maxxum
9 Professional and Maxxum 800si AF SLR bodies.
What helps make this particular lens so practical and desirable, is
the fact that it also has a close focusing capability that was lacking
on some earlier versions of this type of wide zoom range lens offered
by other firms. I vividly remember a shorter range 28-200mm zoom I tested
about 10 years ago, which was a wide zoom range at that time when few
lenses of this range were offered. But, the closest focusing distance
at all focal lengths was about 10'. Now that's not bad at
a 200mm telephoto setting, but it sure was a limitation at wide (28-35mm)
or normal (50mm) focal lengths since you frequently want to shoot subjects
only 4-10' away, but you could not do so with this early long
zoom lens. The minimum focus distances at the various focal lengths
for the Tamron zoom as I measured them are: 28mm, 4'; 50mm, 3';
200mm, 23"; and 300mm, 32". These are very respectable minimum
distances considering the overall zoom range of this lens. At 23"
you can get a real nice close-up at the 200mm focal length.
Zooming out to about 125mm most of the surrounding buildings
are cropped out to concentrate on the white Pomeroy City
Hall. (Minolta Maxxum 9, Tamron 28-300mm at 125mm, program
automatic exposure on Fujichrome Provia 100 RDPII.)
The lens is a handsome flat
black with legible white markings showing the distance in feet and meters
at the front end plus the focal length at the rear near the bayonet mount.
When the lens is zoomed out magnification ratio marks are visible, again
in feet and meters. The zoom ring is extra wide with grip grooves in the
rubberized covering which assist for holding it tightly and actuating
the zoom. Toward the front of the lens is a narrow ring, which moves when
the autofocusing takes place, so it should not be held, as this would
hinder the focusing. When the autofocusing is switched off (on the camera
body with Nikon/ Minolta/Pentax AF SLRs or via an AF/MF switch on the
lens on Canon EOS AF models) this front ring is used for manual focusing.
As you would expect for such a long range zoom lens, this lens is rather
bulky and large in diameter. But it is exceptionally short when zoomed
back to the 28mm focal length when it is similar in length (33/4")
to a 35-80mm or 28-105mm moderate range zoom lens. But, when you give
about a one-quarter turn to the zoom ring the lens smoothly extends out
to the 300mm focal length when it now measures a mere 71/16" long.
The fact that the lens only loses less than two f/stops in speed at the
extreme telephoto position is another positive factor. The small size
is attributable to an internal focusing mechanism that permits four lens
barrels to expand and contract effortlessly. The construction includes
three hybrid aspheric elements and two LD (Low Dispersion) glass elements.
At about 35mm you can include this entire 1954 Chevy Hardtop
in the frame. (Minolta Maxxum 9, Tamron 28-300mm lens at
35mm, program automatic exposure on Kodak Gold Max.)
Unlike some other easy-operating
zoom lenses I have used, this lens seems to stay at the selected focal
length anywhere throughout the broad zoom range without tending to self
extend or collapse when you point the lens toward the ground or sky respectively.
Even so, there is a special sliding zoom lock switch mechanism built-in,
which will positively lock the lens at one focal length, but only at the
fully recessed 28mm focal length. You can still shoot with this lock engaged
but you cannot zoom out to another focal length until the lock is disengaged.
The Tamron coupled and work-ed perfectly with both Maxxum cameras. The
autofocusing was quiet, rapid, and extremely accurate under a wide variance
of lighting situations and subject contrasts. This lens is capable of
producing excellent images with beautiful color balance on any type of
film material under any situation. I found it especially handy to use
while walking about taking general pictures. For instance, I visited several
antique car rallies and exhibits during the summer and just wandered around
looking for interesting color and detail to record. With just this one
lens attached to the camera I could first shoot an overall group of vehicles
then, while still standing practically in the same spot, zoom out for
a detailed view of part of the grill, hood ornament, taillight assembly,
engine, etc. It sure made it far simpler to get the pictures I wanted
and drastically reduced the walking back and forth customarily required
to obtain a different perspective or viewpoint.
Busy backgrounds can be subsided by placing them in the
shade. The shallow depth of field when the lens is nearly
wide open at about 200mm places emphasis on the tulip blossoms.
(Minolta Maxxum 9, Tamron 28-300mm lens at about 200mm,
program automatic exposure Agfa CT Precisa 200.)
While the lens is of moderate
size and weight it is easy to use handheld, you do have to be extra steady
when holding and recording images at the longer (100-300mm) focal lengths
or you can inadvertently have camera movement, which can degrade the image
detail. In addition, even though the camera's programmed automation
will automatically select a faster shutter speed to minimize possible
camera movement, this also means that the lens will often be operated
nearly wide open (f/6.3), so there will be considerably less depth of
field at these telephoto focal lengths. Because of this, I tended to use
a slightly faster ISO film speed than I normally would outdoors to enable
me to use faster shutter speeds and still have the lens stopped down slightly.
Most of my images were made on Kodak Gold Max 800 color negative film
or faster color slide films including Fujichrome Provia 100 RDPII; Sensia
II 100 and 400; Kodak Ektachrome 200 and 400; and Agfachrome RSX II 50,
CT Precisa 200, and RSX 400. Accu-color Lab., Inc., Fort Wayne, Indiana,
processed all of my E6 slide films.
Cloudy bright afternoon light dulled the colors on these
boats, but the lens recorded critical sharpness in the
many antenna and railings compressed in this view made
at about 200mm. (Minolta Maxxum 9, Tamron 28-300mm lens
at about 200mm, program automatic exposure Agfa RSX 200.)
The custom-notched front lens
hood is rather broad as would be expected so it does not vignette into
the 28mm coverage corners. But, if you use the pop-up, built-in flash
found on most any brand of SLR camera, it is advisable to remove the lens
hood to minimize the possibility that it might block some of the light
and thus cast a shadow into the lower portion of the image.
Further information on this interesting long zoom lens, that has a suggested
list price of $798, is available from your local dealer, or by contacting
Tamron Industries Inc., 125 Schmitt Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735; (516)
694-8700; fax: (516) 694-1414; www.tamron.com.
Angle Of View: 75-8
Lens Construction: 14 groups, 15 elements
Minimum Focus: 2' at 200mm
Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1:3.7
Filter Size: 72mm
Weight: 20.6 oz