The Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro is a lens designed for use on both full-frame and APS-C cameras.
It’s available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony fit and, on APS-C bodies, the effective zoom range is 105-450mm or, for Canon cameras, a slightly longer 112-480mm.
The lens features an optical design of 13 elements in nine groups, with a nine-blade diaphragm that enables an aperture range of f/4-5.6 to f/32-45. The smaller than usual minimum aperture is useful for extending depth of field in macro mode.
This feature is available in the 180-300mm focal length range, via a switch on the lens barrel, and offers a maximum 0.5x magnification when shooting at 300mm and the shortest focus distance of 95cm. It’s a feature that’s quite uncommon on telephoto zoom lenses but is shared by the Sigma 70-300mm APO Macro lens.
The lens comes with an autofocus of the standard electric motor type, rather than Tamron’s newer Piezo Drive (PZD) or Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) systems featured on some of its latest lenses, the latter being fitted to the Tamron SP 70-300mm VC USD. The lens also lacks internal focusing, so the front element extends and rotates during focusing.
In terms of handling, the lens is surprisingly lightweight for a full-frame camera lens, weighing just 435g.
At 77-117mm, it’s also fairly compact, although the length stretches to 214mm with the lens hood fitted, at the closest normal focus setting and maximum telephoto zoom. The overall length extends further, to 237mm at the 0.5x macro setting.
The handling is hampered by a slightly stiff and jerky zoom ring, but at least there’s no zoom creep. By contrast, the focus ring is very smooth and effective. There’s also a handy focus distance scale printed around the rear edge of the focus ring, and a macro magnification scale at the front edge.
The lens is a capable performer throughout the 70-200mm zoom range, however, it loses the plot a bit as you get towards its maximum 300mm focal length.
Sharpness drops off, compounded by a lack of stabilization for handheld shooting. The net result is that getting consistently sharp long shots is always a challenge. Sharp macro shots are equally tricky, because resolution drops massively if you choose a very small aperture to try to increase depth of field.
The autofocus proved painfully slow in our tests, especially at long focal lengths, where it was particularly ponderous as well as being prone to hunting back and forth when trying to lock onto targets. Color fringing was also more noticeable than with many competing lenses, especially towards the edges and corners of the frame.
Overall, the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro is one of the cheapest telephoto zoom lenses on the market, but it comes with a basic feature set and low-budget build quality, along with unimpressive optics at the long end of the zoom range. It may be cheap, but it’s not a particularly good buy in comparison to newer competition.
|Focal length||70–300 mm|
|Number of diaphragm blades||9|
|Minimum focus||0.95 m (37.4″)|
|Weight||435 g (0.96 lb)|
|Diameter||77 mm (3.02″)|
|Length||117 mm (4.59″)|
|Filter thread||62 mm|