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Thread: Tamron SP 70-300/4-5.6 Di VC USD or Canon 70-300L?

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    Default Tamron SP 70-300/4-5.6 Di VC USD or Canon 70-300L?

    Has anyone shot with both the new Tamron SP 70-300/4-5.6 Di VC USD and the new Canon 70-300L, and can give a comparison of these two lenses? From what few reviews I can find the Tamron seems shockingly good for the price. The question is whether it's good even not considering the price; and whether the Canon is better. So far I haven't found any reviews that compare the two. Individually they both seem like excellent lenses, probably the best two available that cover that range, but which one is better and by how much?

    I normally shoot with a 400mm prime, but I could use a second lens for times when that's too long, especially if it's not too heavy or expensive. The Tamron looks like a nice fit, but I had unsatisfactory results with my last Tamron lens (the 28-300 zoom) and I'd rather spend $1500 on a Canon lens I'll actually use than $500 on a lens that sits on my shelf. Of course, if I'm going to spend $1500 on a lens, then I start thinking maybe I should just pony up another $700 for the 70-200L f/2.8 IS II. Thoughts?

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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    Elliotte,

    Also consider the 70-200 f/4.

    Roger

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    Forum Participant Desmond Chan's Avatar
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    I've read that the performance of the new Canon 70-300 is similar that of the Nikon's but three time higher in price than the latter. The Tamron is sharp all the way from 70-300 and thus is better than the Nikon in that regard plus with good vibration reduction. If so, then choosing the Tamron, which costs more or less as the Nikon's over the Canon seems to be the right thing to do.

    As far as 70-200f4 is concerned, 200mm is not 300mm is all I know

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    BPN Member Chris Brennan's Avatar
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    The new Canon 70-300 L is a superb lens! I've had mine since mid-November and it's very sharp, balances well on either my 7D or 40D, has the newest 4-stop IS, very smooth zoom and exceptionally fast AF... what's not to like? I tried out a Tamron in my local store and while it seemed to perform okay, their VC system is on or off (no modes). Lightweight plastic lenses have never given me a "warm, fuzzy" feeling and while many like the Tamron, I really prefer the Canon. Remember that Tamron has only been building their VC system for a couple of years.... Canon has had many years to perfect their system and design.

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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desmond Chan View Post
    As far as 70-200f4 is concerned, 200mm is not 300mm is all I know
    I figured that since Elliotte already had a 400, why need 300? And he mentioned the 70-200 f/2.8 as a possibility. The 70-200 f/4 saves money if desired.

    Roger

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    FYI, DPreview has a long thread on this subject, but mostly based on specs and charts, not actual experience.

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    BPN Member Chris Brennan's Avatar
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    Practical experience in the field, IMHO, blows away all the specs and charts you can get your hands on! And like everything else, there are going to be proponents and nay-sayers... We all make our decisions based on our individual needs. Personally I really like this lens!

    I started a thread on this a while back:
    http://www.birdphotographers.net/for...st-impressions

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    Co-Founder James Shadle's Avatar
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    I can't speak on the Canon lens, however I own and use Tamron's 70-300.

    I own both the Nikon 70-300VR and the Tamron 70-300 VC.
    I choose the Tamron over the Nikon (is there a Tamron - Nikon connection:w?).

    The Tamron has a larger AF ring than the Nikon, focuses at least as well (maybe better) and the VC is at least full stop better.

    Tamron now has full time manual focus override using ultrasonic motors.

    It is an amazing value(so is the Nikon model) and a real winner.

    James

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    I finally found a head-to-head comparison on Fred Miranda. Short version is that the Canon L-series does indeed seem to be a little sharper than the Tamron.

    I doubt I'll buy the Canon though. I forgot the tripod ring is not included. Add that and the price jumps to about $1800, and at that point I might as well just go ahead and kick in a few hundred more for the 70-200 F/2.8L. Possibly I may still buy the Tamron if folks think it's good enough for birds.

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    Forum Participant Desmond Chan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elliotte Rusty Harold View Post
    Possibly I may still buy the Tamron if folks think it's good enough for birds.
    If money is no issue to you, then buy the best you can (whether it really makes a difference to your photos is another thing). But since you asked the question, I suppose that's not the case for you. If I were you, I would consider how the final images would be used and viewed to determine if Tamron's 70-300 is good enough for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Desmond Chan View Post
    If I were you, I would consider how the final images would be used and viewed to determine if Tamron's 70-300 is good enough for me.
    What's good enough is an interesting question. Most lenses are "good enough" for some percentage of shots, especially in great light with a large enough, close enough subject. However in my experience I've yet to find a lens that has maxed out on "good enough" all the time. As the lens gets better, the percentage of keepers goes up. I can shoot smaller birds, further away, and in less light, or in some combination thereof.

    Add IS to a lens and some shots that weren't sharp before become so. Add better image stabilization and still more shots become possible in even lower light. Make the lens longer and I can reach birds a few meters further than I could before. Give me more megapixels (and a lens that can resolve them) and I can crop more while still having a usable image enabling me to shoot smaller birds. Make the lens lighter and I can handhold it more easily and get better shots of small active birds that I can't put a tripod-mounted lens on quickly enough. Give me a shorter lens (or a wider zoom range) and I can get larger, closer birds I couldn't get before.

    With the Tamron 28-300 my percentage of "good enough" shots on birds was miniscule, maybe 1 in a 100, maybe less. With my 400mm f/5.6 L lens in good light, it seems like I'm more often limited by my technique than the lens, so for that it pays to invest more in technique than equipment. However I'm no longer in Southern California's year-long summer. I'm in New York in winter, and in this light it's clear I'm missing a lot of shots that I could make with better equipment--i.e. wider aperture, the latest image stabilizer, better high ISO performance--essentially anything that allows me to shoot at slower shutter speeds.

    f/4-5.6 isn't much faster than my current 400mm--at the long end it isn't any faster--so it doesn't really help with that. The primary thing it gives me is a wider zoom range for larger, closer birds. The secondary thing either of these lenses gives me is 2-4 stop image stabilization. Actually, maybe that's the primary thing. IS might really help in this winter light, even losing 100mm on the long end.

    The Canon, I think, is just too expensive relative to the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II. That's an excellent lens that opens up a lot more possibilities for me than the 70-300 does. It's a lot more bang for the buck. If it let me sell my 400mm f/5.6, it might be effectively cheaper. Meanwhile I should probably just rent the Tamron for a weekend and see if I like it enough to buy one.

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    Forum Participant Desmond Chan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elliotte Rusty Harold View Post
    What's good enough is an interesting question. Most lenses are "good enough" for some percentage of shots...
    Hmmm...you may have missed the part that I wrote: "...consider how the final images would be used and viewed" ??

    Say if you only print 4" x 6" photos, then even a shot taken with a not-so-good lens can look very good from a normal viewing distance with naked eyes even if the focus is off a tiny bit plus some tiny camera-shake. And if you enlarge a photo large enough, or only look at a photograph through a microscope, all photos will look blurred and funny no matter what lenses you use. And, a photograph taken for scientific research purpose may have different requirements in terms of quality than one taken for some...artistic purpose.

    Hope this clarifies my point a bit for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Desmond Chan View Post
    Hmmm...you may have missed the part that I wrote: "...consider how the final images would be used and viewed" ??

    Say if you only print 4" x 6" photos, then even a shot taken with a not-so-good lens can look very good from a normal viewing distance with naked eyes even if the focus is off a tiny bit plus some tiny camera-shake.
    Hope this clarifies my point a bit for you.
    Print? I sort of vaguely remember that term. Doesn't it have something to do with film, typewriters, slide rules, and butter churns? :-)

    Seriously, when shooting songbirds we have not yet reached the point where cameras have resolution to spare. Sure, no one needs a 45 megapixel image; but by the time you've cropped down to the warbler in that 45 megapixel image of a pine tree you can easily be at less than a megapixel. No matter what resolution you need for final output, the more sharp pixels a camera/lens gives you to work with the more success you'll have, if for no other reason than that you can shoot smaller things further away. More often than not, perfect framing in the lens isn't possible for wildlife photography in the field. Get the best shot you can get, and assume you'll crop in processing. The more you can crop without noticing artifacts, the more images you'll keep.

    As Roger Clark has pointed out recently, there are fundamental optical limits based on diffraction, and we are starting to approach those with the densest sensors on cameras like the 7D, so we can't expect resolution to increase indefinitely, but we're not quite there yet. In 2011 megapixels still matter.

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    Default I don't understand

    Are we comparing the $500 Tamron to the $1600 Canon? Should we not be comparing it to the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. For $500 which is better?

    Really, is there even a comparison after all the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens is not as good as the Canon 70-200L, or the 100-400L.

    If there is, I need to be looking at this Tamron as a lighter lens to carry when I don’t want the weight of the 100-400.

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    Default Tamron vs Canon review by Bob Atkins

    Can I link to his site? :)

    This makes sense to me. In conclusion, he finds the Tamron edges out the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. But it's not leaps and bounds better.

    Here is the review:
    http://bobatkins.com/photography/rev...vc_review.html

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