70-200: Tropical Butterfly House

For my first outing with the Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 SP Di VC USD, I headed straight to my nearest wildlife park. One of the first things I noticed was how quiet the lens was, both in terms of focusing and the Vibration Control system. It’s not unusual for a lens to be described as “silent”, and this one was no exception, but this is the first lens I’ve used where the built in stabilizer genuinely warrants the term. I actually had to check it was working by taking my finger off the shutter for a few seconds to wait for it to shut off. It really is quite remarkable. This may be of note to users of DSLR video. Placing an ear to the camera body does reveal some sound transmission, but it is considerably better than most image stabilizers.

Tamron 70-200 SP Di VC USD

The lens resolved fine details well, and the focus appears to be very fast and precise, even going from one extreme to the other. It’s worth pointing out that several of the photos on this page have been taken through glass, and even this didn’t pose a problem. Constrasty lighting wasn’t a problem for it either, yielding results with a good dynamic range even under strong sunlight.

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One of the reasons for choosing this particular location was the presence of a butterfly farm on location. This obviously comes with a very humid environment, and one with the occasional simulated shower. I’m happy to say that the lens acclimatised very quickly, with no internal fogging.

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Bokeh is pleasing. It’s not quite the smoothest I’ve seen in the areas immediately outside optimum focus, but I think that’s nit-picking. Backgrounds are beautiful. I do feel that the Tamron may be slightly less sharp than my Nikon in the centre, but the edge sharpness is generally better. This gives a consistency across the frame which I have to admit is more appealing to me than a razor-sharp central area. That only applies to  shots at the widest aperture ranges anyway, and at 200mm. Practically, stopping down slightly or using other focal lengths makes image quality differences negligible.

I did make a few mistakes when trying to adjust focus manually, turning the zoom ring instead. Mostly I feel that this just comes down to a lack of familiarity with the lens, and its difference to my other lens. However, for a first outing, I’m really pleased with the results, which at the end of the day is the most important thing to me.

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One major advantage of the Tamron didn’t occur to me until much later: the more compact dimensions of this lens meant that the centre of gravity is much closer to the camera. I was out for several hours, and found that my arm didn’t tire nearly as quickly with the Tamron as it has in the past with my comparable Nikon lens. In the long run, this will mean more comfort and longer shoots. It seems that one inch can make a significant difference!

Images taken at the limit of the lens’s close focusing abilities lose none of their crispness.  This is a quality that is quite important to me, given my preference for images of this type.

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