So I have to say, now that I’ve got used to the focus ring being in a different place on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di VC USD, I love it. The handling is absolutely marvellous, and the balance is perfect on my D300 (with a grip).
I’ve not been out as much as I’d like over the last week or so, but that happens sometimes when you work shifts. Some weeks are better than others. But it’s a good time of year for birds at my local hotspots, so I thought I’d give that a go. Then I hit a hurdle.
As you may be aware, most of my gear is Nikon branded. A few years ago I sold my Kenko 2x teleconverter for the far superior Nikon 1.7 TC. A focal length of 200mm is pretty modest for bird photography, so I usually take this piece of kit with me when I want to shoot anything like that. This week however, I found that there’s a bit of an issue with compatibility btween my 1.7 TC and the Tamron 70-200mm.
The Nikon TC has elements which protrude inside the bodies of their larger lenses, which tend to have quite a gap between the rear elements and the lens mount. To make sure that users aren’t tempted to use it with lenses that it could damage, they appear to have varied the mount slightly. Normally the Nikon mount is made up of three tabs. If you look at the mount of the 1.7 TC, you can see a small, fourth metal tab. It’s this little intrusion that has caused me to miss some shots I’d normally be able to get this week.
There is no reason I can see to limit the use of this teleconverter with the Tamron lens. The protruding elements of the Nikon TC would have enough clearance within the Tamron lens to sit safely in there. Now, it’s hard to say who is at fault here. Nikon have clearly got the patents on the mounts, and as such can restrict third party manufacturers in some respects, effectively boosting their own sales. But I’m inclined to think that Tamron have missed a trick here, as they are making their lenses to Nikon specifications.
The issue is, even at this early stage, I can see real benefits to swapping my Nikon lens for the Tamron model. The dimensions are a bit more favourable, and as I keep saying, the handling is noticeably better. However, I’m very aware that I’d also have to change my teleconverter. And it wasn’t exactly cheap. If I had more than one lens to use it with, I’d certainly not be prepared to do this.
In short, not allowing a cut-out for this little tab means that I’m not getting the reach I’m used too. Which is why I’m unhappy with the in-flight shots of herons that I took the other day. I’d strongly urge Tamron to consider making that change, as it will allow users to broaden their options. Now I realise I may not be getting the whole picture, as there’s also some eletrical communication between lenses and converters, and I’m not qualified to say whether or not those connections are the reason for this, but it’s certainly worth being aware of if you have a lens to replace and also own a Nikon converter. It was a bit of a disappointment. But at least it will make me work on my fieldcraft!
It’s not all bad though. I had about three seconds to react to this tern flying overhead, and the focus snapped into focus almost immediately. That was pretty impressive.