Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Macro

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated May 13, 2017

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The Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 macro is a modern telephoto zoom lens in the range of 70-200, with a nice fast maximum aperture (f/2.8), a great price and when used with extension tubes, is an excellent value for money macro lens option for butterflies and the like on the Pentax system.

This isn't a small compact lens - with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 it's a big old beast of a lens that weighs in at 2.5 lbs and is a similar size to the 150-500 Bigma I use, and whilst the shake reduction on my Pentax K-3II is impressive, nevertheless I do get more out of using this lens when I use it in conjunction with a 'one handle adjust' Manfrotto neotec monopod and a RRS BH-55 ballhead. Thankfully the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 does come with a tripod collar so it's easy to mount it on the head and change it for either vertical or horizontal images.

Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 for Macro

Tamron 70-200 f/2.8

Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Macro, the best value for money Pentax 70-200. At £500 it sells for approx 1/4 the cost of upcoming Pentax 70-200 lens.

Without any extension tubes, the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 macro has a magnification ratio of 1:3 and a minimum focus distance of 95cm. This is better for other 70-200s but still doesn't really make it a macro-focused lens. That said, I nearly always use extension tubes myself to make the minimum distance closer and give me a bit more magnification. Wide open and even stopped up a bit, this lens gives a drop dead smooth bokeh - it has 9 diaphragm blades. Like any optic it benefits from stopping down a bit - but I've had incredibly sharp performances with it from f/4 and up although it is a little woolier at the 200mm end. The lens doesn't have a macro limiter switch but you can set it to manual or automatic.

Focusing a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Macro

a decent lens that's solid, easy to attach and sharp, all at a killer price

I don't tend to use the focusing ring that much when I shoot butterfly macro as I prefer to move forward and backward to get focus. On modern lenses the focus throw isn't generally as sensitive as I'd like either. That said, with my new Pentax K-3II camera I'm almost finding autofocus with an extension tube useful, which is a first. On my Pentax K-7 and Pentax K-5 bodies the autofocus wasn't anything to shout about, but with my new Pentax K-3II both autofocus and shake reduction seem to be greatly improved, and much to my surprise, my handheld images are now acceptably sharp at slower shutter speeds such as 1/60s. With the K-5 I was always at 1/500s or so. The Tamron 70-200 f/2.8's autofocus isn't as quiet as Sigma lenses, so that might matter if you need to be quiet (ie weddings) but I've never found it to make any difference in macro photography.

Not for Extreme Macro!

best autofocus 70-200 f2.8 full frame lens you can buy for its price point

With extreme macro being macro in the range of 1:1 to 10:1 or so, this lens isn't an optic that you'd normally use for such a purpose. This is more a lens that you'd use for closeup photography and almost macro of the 1:4 to 1:2 range, ie butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. There are smaller and lighter options available if you're looking for a lens that'll take you through from the 1:2 range to 2:1 (in one optic), for example the Componon-S 80mm f/4 enlarger lens, reversed, which is lighter, smaller, and even with a bellows, nicer for field stacking.

Summary

All in all this Tamron is a decent lens that's solid, easy to attach and sharp, all at a killer price. It seems to me to be the best autofocus 70-200 f2.8 full frame lens you can buy for its price point. The price of this lens is 1/4 the price of the new upcoming Pentax 70-200, so for an optic that gives 90% of the performance of the Pentax 70-200 lens, for value for money it isn't too shabby. The ability to open this up to f/2.8 gives you great options with bokeh and for dragonfly, moth and butterfly photography out in the field it is a very nice option to have in the bag. One thing to note is that the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 is a full frame lens, so when the Pentax full frame camera comes out this lens will still be usable.

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