What We Love: The constant F/2.8 aperture on this lens was our favorite feature. It performs well in less-than-ideal lighting scenarios and the image stabilization only sweetens that performance. It is also very sturdy and has an impressive six-year warranty.
What We'd Change: It's a little on the heavy side. For short shoots, it wasn't an issue, but we definitely noticed the weight after a full afternoon of shooting.
Pick This Up If... you are shooting events, landscapes or interiors, or if you need a fast lens for vlogging. The 15mm view offers a unique perspective to your shots, without giving you a full-on fish-eye effect. At the 30mm range, you can even use it to shoot some portraits. And this rugged lens is perfect for photographers who are a little rough on their camera gear.
Tamron has a knack for making budget-friendly versions of some of the most desirable lenses and the SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
is no exception. Although at $1299 it may not seem like a "deal" when compared to the Canon ($1999) or Nikon ($1896) equivalents in this same focal length range, it's actually quite a steal.
During our time with this lens, we used it to photograph a few small concerts, a street parade, a few group portraits, and some street shooting around New York City.
Is it right for you? Read on to see our thoughts and sample images.
- Model: A041
- Focal Length: 15-30mm
- Maximum Aperture: F/2.8
- Angel of View: 110°32'-71°35' (full-frame DSLR), 85°52'-49°54' (APS-C format)
- Moisture Resistant
- Optical Construction: 18 elements in 13 groups
- Minimum Object Distance: 11 inches in Full zoom range
- Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1:5
- Maximum Diameter: Φ98.4mm
- Length: 145mm or 5.7 inches
- Weight: 39.2 oz or 2.45 lbs
- Aperture Blades: 9 with a circular diaphragm
- Minimum Aperture: F/22
- Integrated lens hood
This lens is built like a tank, but it is to be expected with a lens that is fast, wide and has so many elements inside. At 15mm, the front element protrudes, thankfully Tamron has added a new Fluorine Coating to the front element that helps it resist fingerprint smudges and watermarks. It also makes it easier to wipe clean and prevent damage from dirt, dust, and moisture. In a live music setting--where beers and bodily fluids are often flying--having that extra level of protection was reassuring.
Tamron says new aspherical lens elements help minimize distortion and chromatic aberration -- common issues with wide-angle lenses like this. The lens is triple-coated with compounds called Anti-reflection eXpand, Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency and Broad-Band Anti Reflection which help the images stay sharp even on the edges of the frame. On the lens barrel, you'll find large switches for AF and VC that are easy enough to maneuver that you can switch features with the camera up to your eye.
The lens is nearly 6 inches long and about 2.5 lbs, so it's on the bigger side. But, when mounted to a full frame camera, it doesn't feel unbalanced. The zoom ring and focus ring are both smooth to turn and have a substantial grip. In earlier models of Tamron lenses, I've had trouble with the focus gripping becoming stretched out and so loose that it actually falls of the barrel. The design of this new lens seems like it will prevent that from happening, though, which is a big plus.
SPEED & FOCUS
Super wide and fast lenses are a mainstay for event photographers, but if they can't nail focus they aren't worth much. Luckily this Tamron is a champ when it comes to focusing fast, on rapidly moving subjects and then holding onto focus so you don't miss your shot. The lens performed well in this regard in bright daylight situations and dark music venues.
The nine-blade circular aperture on this lens makes for a pleasant bokeh when shooting wide open at 2.8, although it's more noticeable when shooting in the 20-30mm range.
We were pleased with the overall image quality on this lens. Our images were sharp across the edges and the constant aperture made it a good option for shooting inside dark music venues. The image stabilization helped us pull off sharp images at slower shutter speeds.
While shooting on super sunny days we did notice a bit of lens flare, but in most cases, the effects were quite pleasing. Overall, the large, integrated lens hood does a good job of preventing flare. In terms of chromatic aberration, as you can see in the image directly below (make sure to click on the image for a full-size version), we did encounter some purple fringing around backlit street signs and the fire escape steps. It's not the worst we've seen, and is fixable in apps like Lightroom, Photoshop, and Capture One.
Although the lens is quite wide when using it to shoot medium group portraits we didn't notice distracting levels of distortion on the edges of our frames. The edge distortion was a little more pronounced while shooting during a concert with the Canon Speedlite, although this effect might not be for everyone, we actually thought it added to the images. Plus, it allows you to capture an entire band in a single frame.
PROS & CONS
- AF is reliable and fast
- Solid, durable construction
- Minimal signs of chromatic aberration on images
- Constant F/2.8 aperture
- A bit heavy, if you are shooting video with it you will want a tripod. Handheld shooting or shoulder mount shooting for long periods of time isn't ideal.
- Pricey compared to other Tamron lenses.
Overall the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 is a versatile lens for shooters looking for something wide, fast, and durable. We'd also recommend it to vloggers and YouTubers who need an affordable wide-angle lens. The construction of the lens feels solid and it even comes with a six-year warranty. The constant F/2.8 aperture makes it great for tricky lighting situations and the image stabilization allows you to shoot and slower speeds and still get sharp shots. It is heavy though, and we definitely felt a bit of shoulder and wrist strain after an entire day of shooting with this one. It's a great lens to add to your kit, but probably not one that you will want to keep mounted to your camera all of the time.