Tamron 60mm f2 Macro - Double Life

Here’s another ‘what is it?’ for you. Fish gills? Cooling fins on a car radiator? No—as you probably guessed—it’s a mushroom. Not the kind you can eat—it’s the kind that plagues your lawn when the sun shines after a rain.

I shot it with Tamron’s new 60mm f2 macro lens.

That’s not a typo. This lens is an f2.0, not an f2.8 like most macro lenses.

The key to good macro photography is a small aperture and the extended depth-of-field that accompanies it. So what’s the big deal about having a large aperture like f2?

First, an f2 lens delivers more light to the viewfinder. That makes it easier to focus (especially useful when you focus manually) and gives you an overall brighter viewfinder for comfortable composition.

It also allows you to invoke less depth-of-field, something you may (or may not) want to do while pursuing macro work, but a vital tool when using this lens in its double life as a 90mm equivalent portrait lens.

You see, besides close-up work, macro lenses in the 50mm or 60mm configuration are ideal for portraits when used on a digital SLR. The 1.5X (or Canon’s 1.6X) multiplier turns a 60mm macro into a 90mm portrait lens. Add in the fact that most macros are f2.8 and you have a fast, near-perfect portrait lens that will resolve every pore on your subject’s face.

But the Tamron 60mm is an f2.0, so you can do some even more amazing things like totally separating a portrait subject’s visage from the background. And you can do it in moody, subdued ambient light—the conditions often favored for environmental portraits.

Macro lenses are highly corrected for optical aberrations that occur when focused close, and aberrations are kept well under control even when the lens is focused all the way out to infinity. So they’re very well suited for general use.

The Tamron 60mm f2 macro (here’s the whole official name: SP AF 60mm F/2.0 Di II LD 1:1 Macro, model G005) just might be the fastest macro ever made for digital SLR cameras. Its f2 aperture is fully one stop faster than the f2.8 maximum aperture found on conventional macro lenses in the same class.

Furthermore, this lens delivers 1:1 (life size) reproduction without an adapter. That means that a subject that physically measures 5mm by 5mm in reality will be recorded on your camera’s CCD or CMOS sensor 5mm by 5mm in size. And shooting 1:1 is a very thrilling experience.

The image above was captured with a Tamron 60mm f2 macro exposed for 1 full second at f22, ISO 125, on a Canon EOS 40D in daylight.