This is an in-depth review of the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, world’s first f/2.8 image stabilized ultra-wide angle zoom lens for full frame cameras, the development of which was announced in September of 2014, with the lens officially released in January of 2015. It is a very unique lens not just because of its very useful focal length range with a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, but because it features image stabilization – something you practically never find on ultra-wide angle lenses. For many years now, I have been shooting with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lens, which is a monster of a lens when it comes to size, weight and performance – it truly is a legendary lens optically. But with its $2K price it is far from being an affordable choice, so Tamron decided to challenge the 14-24mm with the 15-30mm f/2.8 VC in a number of ways: longer focal length coverage extending to 30mm, built-in image stabilization and a more affordable price point of $1,200.
I had a chance to shoot with the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC for the last three months for both my personal and professional photography projects and my primary goal was to find out how good the lens is, particularly when compared to Nikon’s 14-24mm f/2.8G, which I have been relying on heavily for years, whether shooting landscapes, architecture or environmental portraits. Hence, in this review, I will be primarily comparing these two lenses, in addition to providing the usual detailed information and image samples.
1) Lens Overview
The Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a versatile, professional-grade lens designed for capturing extreme wide angles, which often come across when photographing architecture and landscapes with foreground elements. With its impressive optical performance and a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, this lens is also a great candidate for low-light photography, such as astrophotography. Thanks to the Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor (USD), the lens focuses both silently and quickly, similar to other high-quality professional lenses like the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC. The built-in image stabilization, which Tamron markets as “Vibration Compensation” (VC), provides up to 4 stops of compensation for hand-held shooting. VC is definitely the highlight of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, because it is the world’s first ultra-wide angle zoom to offer it. Tamron has been consistent in its use of vibration compensation in high-quality lenses – the lens follows the path of the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC, which also was world’s first 24-70mm lens to offer image stabilization. While both Canon and Nikon have been excluding image stabilization from their professional-grade wide-angle and standard lenses, Tamron has been making it clear that image stabilization should be included in every high-end lens, no matter what the focal length is. And that’s where I am in total agreement with Tamron – despite the claims by some photographers that image stabilization is not needed on wide angle lenses, based on my experience, image stabilization is very effective and useful on every type of lens. This is why systems that offer in-body image stabilization (IBIS) have been gaining so much popularity, as manufacturers do not need to worry about including stabilization in lenses and hence can make lenses both smaller and cheaper.
When it comes to optical design, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is no slouch – with a total of 18 lens elements in 13 groups (3 of which are of low-dispersion type, 1 molded-glass aspherical and 2 expanded glass molded aspherical elements), the lens is more complicated than the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G. On top of this, Tamron threw everything it had in its arsenal at the 15-30mm, adding fluorine coating to the front element to repel water and dirt, weather sealing and special eBAND coating to reduce internal reflections and thus effectively minimize ghosting and flare. All this obviously translates to a pretty hefty and heavy lens – at 98.4 x 142.5mm (width x height) and 1,100 grams total weight, the lens is both bigger and heavier than its Nikon counterpart.
With such a wide focal length range of 15-30mm, the lens is specifically targeted to be used on full-frame (FX) cameras. While it also provides a pretty good coverage on cropped sensors cameras (DX), with an equivalent field of view of approximately 22.5-45mm, using such a lens on smaller cameras might not be practical, making the setup too front-heavy. Unfortunately, designing such wide angle lenses with high-end optics comes at a major cost – the front element is so large and bulky, that it is impossible to mount regular screw-on filters. So if you want to use polarizing and GND filters, your only option at this time is to look at third party filter systems like the FotodioX WonderPana, which does have the right adapters for the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC.
In terms of optical performance, as you will see in the Optical Features section of this review, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 delivers excellent results, challenging the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G (more on this in the Lens Comparisons section).
2) Lens Specifications
- Superb corner-to-corner image quality from an ultra-wide-angle zoom
- XGM lens element for exquisite images
- eBAND and BBAR Coating
- Vibration Compensation enhances photo opportunities
- Soft-focus backgrounds at wide-angle settings
- Fluorine coated front element
- Resistant to the elements
- Ultrasonic Silent Drive for precise, and quiet autofocus
- Mount Type: Nikon F (also available for Canon and Sony mounts)
- Focal Length Range: 15-30mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Angle of View (DX-format): 85°52′ – 49°54′
- Angle of View (FX-format): 110°32′ – 71°35′
- Lens (Elements): 18
- Lens (Groups): 13
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX
- Diaphragm Blades: 9 (rounded)
- Distance Information: Yes
- LD Glass Elements: 3
- Molded-Glass Aspherical Elements: 2
- eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical (XGM) Elements: 1
- Autofocus: Yes
- USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive): Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.28m
- Focus Mode: AF/MF
- Filter Size: N/A
- Length: 142.5mm
- Diameter: 98.4mm
- Weight (Approx.): 1,100 g
3) Focal Length Coverage and Usefulness
At the widest focal length of 15mm, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is about 1 mm longer than the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, which is certainly a disadvantage for situations where you have to go really wide. In terms of angle of view this 1mm difference translates to 110° vs 114° – a pretty visible change. But the loss of 1 mm comes with a gain of 6 mm on the longer end, which translates to 71° vs 84° in angle of view – also quite a noticeable difference. Notice how just 1 mm significantly impacts the angle of view by 4° at the widest setting, while 6 mm on the long end only changes the field of view by 13°. That’s how focal lengths work – the shorter the focal length, the more impact it has on the angle of view.
But what is more practical, the wider focal lengths or the longer? To answer this question, I fired up my Lightroom catalog and looked at the statistics by focal length. Here is how the data looked like:
- 15mm: 518 images
- 16-19mm: 179 images
- 20-24mm: 228 images
- 25-30mm: 396 images
From a total of 1321 images that I have shot in the last few months, the largest number of images in the above list was taken at a single focal length of 15mm. To me, this indicates that at the time I was most likely craving for even more wider focal length, as I was photographing landscapes, buildings and architecture, wanting to fit more into the frame. At the same time, if we look at the 25-30mm range, we can see that I shot quite a bit at the long end as well and if I leave out everything but 30mm, that focal length alone represents close to 300 images! So based on my personal shooting style and the subject(s) I have been photographing, it looks like I have been mostly switching between the widest end of the zoom range and the longest, and not so much in between. To me, that 25-30mm line is pretty significant – that’s something I could never get from my 14-24mm f/2.8G!
So if you are wondering about the practicality of different focal lengths for your needs, I would recommend to run a similar exercise to see what focal lengths you use the most for your photography. Based on that, you can decide if the extra 1mm is worth the price difference or not. For me, it is not that big of a deal, considering that I gained image stabilization and 6mm on the longer end. And if I really needed to get even wider than 15mm, there is always an option to do a 4+ shot panorama to capture the wider angle, then stitch the panorama together in post. Sadly, aside from cropping, which results in loss of image resolution, there is no similar option for “zooming in”.
4) Vibration Compensation / Image Stabilization
When Nikon first launched its 16-35mm f/4G VR lens, I wrote about how important and useful image stabilization is, even for wide-angle lenses, in my in-depth Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR review. I talked about my experience with taking pictures at very slow shutter speeds hand-held, often much below the reciprocal rule guidelines. The same thing applies to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC – the built-in image stabilization on this lens is incredibly useful when shooting hand-held, particularly when tripod use is not allowed, or there are space or time constraints for setting a tripod up.
The big question is, how effective is image stabilization, or in the Tamron lingo “Vibration Compensation”? Tamron claims up to 4 stops of compensation, so I tried out a few images four stops below the reciprocal rule while shooting hand-held. Take a look at the below image, which I shot at 1 second:
That’s right – that’s a full second of hand-held shooting at 17mm! Hard to imagine that such shots are even possible. At 1 second, it is roughly 4 stops below the recommended 1/15th range. Now if you really pixel-peep at 100% view, you will notice very slight blur, so the image is not razor sharp. So the claim of 4 stops is a bit over-optimistic in my opinion, unless you have stability of a sniper. But 2-3 stops is a definite possibility with this lens, which already gives you a lot of options for shooting when working in the field. While using the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, I rarely ever put it on a tripod, as I mostly relied on the image stabilization capabilities of the lens. In short, image stabilization on the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 totally rocks.
5) Lens Handling
As I have already pointed out, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a beast of a lens, being both larger and heavier than the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, which is already the heaviest Nikon ultra-wide angle zoom lens available. At a whopping 1,100 grams, this lens can make any smaller DSLR feel a bit front-heavy, particularly when you have it hanging off your neck. However, on higher-end full-frame camera bodies, the lens balances better and feels much more “at home”. I primarily used the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 on my lightweight Nikon D750 (especially while traveling), because I wanted to reduce the overall weight of my setup. The D750 was a perfect companion to the lens and although it did feel a bit front-heavy, the very comfortable grip of the D750, along with the well-positioned zoom ring on the lens allowed me to balance it quite well with proper support and comfort of both hands.
Similar to its rival, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC feels very solid in hands. Although the whole barrel of the lens is made out of plastic (the 14-24mm also has a mostly plastic barrel), it does not feel cheap like some of the kit or entry-level lenses. I cannot imagine what the lens would have weighed, had Tamron used a metal barrel. Keep in mind that plastic does not expand and contract like metal does when temperatures change quickly, which can actually prolong the life and performance of a lens. In addition, the modern plastic used in electronics today is very different than it used to be – it is extremely durable and can easily withstand a lot of abuse.
Since the front element is huge and round, Tamron designed the lens to have a built-in petal-shaped hood, which also feels quite solid. When zooming in and out, the lens does not change in length, although the front element will move in and out together with a secondary plastic hood that matches the shape of the primary hood. The front element comes out fully at 15mm and recesses deeper into the lens when you zoom in towards 30mm. As for the zoom ring, it is very smooth and I did not notice it getting any stiffer or easier to rotate overtime, which is a sign of good quality. The same goes for the focus ring, which also feels quite nice when rotating it. Similar to Nikon lenses, when you get to close focus or infinity marks, the focus ring will continue to rotate, giving very slightly more resistance. To protect the front element, Tamron supplied the lens with a push-on front cap, which works very similarly as the cap on the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G.
As expected from a high-quality lens, the mount is made from durable metal and similar to all recently Nikon AF-S lenses, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 also features a rubber gasket on the lens mount to minimize the risk of attracting dust and other debris into the camera chamber. The Vibration Compensation (VC) switch, along with the AF/MF switch are both located on the side of the lens, similar to how it is designed on the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC and most Nikkor lenses (the lens comes with VC turned off). These switches are easy to move and use.
The only real shortcoming in the lens build that I have found is the rear element of the lens, which, when zooming in to 30mm will result in the rear element going pretty deep inside the lens and exposing its guts. Sadly, there is nothing protecting the rear of the lens, so if you have to change it in very dusty conditions, you might first want to zoom out to 15mm and only then change the lens. From what I can see, dust and other debris can easily make its way into the lens through this opening, if you are not careful. In comparison, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G has a protective “wall”, which never exposes the lens interior when zooming in or out.
6) Focus Speed and Accuracy
Tamron armed the 15-30mm f/2.8 with its Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) autofocus motor technology, which results in both fast and silent autofocus operation. On the Nikon D750 and D810 camera bodies, I found autofocus to be quite accurate and reliable. When comparing AF acquisition speed between the Tamron 15-30mm and the Nikon 14-24mm, the latter seems to be a bit faster in comparison. I will be honest though – AF speed is not critical for such lenses, as you most likely won’t be shooting fast action at such wide focal lengths. As for reliability, from what I have heard, unlike Sigma, which reverse engineers Nikon’s AF system for its lenses, Tamron licenses Nikon’s mount and hence has less AF reliability issues (this may explain why Nikon and Tamron occasionally file joint patents on lenses). If this is true, there should be less risk of having potential AF issues if Nikon decides to make modifications to its AF algorithms in future cameras. When using the camera on my Nikon DSLRs, I relied on its AF capabilities 99% of the time (with 1% being tripod use in extremely low-light situations) and the lens did not disappoint.
7) Lens Sharpness and Contrast
When it comes to sharpness and contrast, very few lenses can truly compete with the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G, which in that sense is a truly remarkable lens. In fact, the 14-24mm f/2.8G is known to be sharper than most ultra-wide angle prime lenses – it is that good. However, with the introduction of high-resolution cameras like the D800, D800E and D810, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G started to show some of its weaknesses, particularly when it comes to focus shift. When I first looked at Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC’s MTF charts, I knew that the lens would not disappoint optically. However, I had no idea if the lens would suffer from other optical issues. So I set myself on a mission to discover the true potential of the lens in my Imatest lab. As I had expected, the lens performed admirably well when compared to the 14-24mm f/2.8G and unlike the latter, I did not see any issues with focus shift. There was a little bit of noticeable field curvature, but it was expected to see at such wide focal lengths and relatively close camera to test chart distances.
Let’s take a look at how the lens performed in my lab at different focal lengths. First, we’ll start off at 15mm:
We can see that the lens is very strong at its widest focal length, with remarkable center sharpness at f/2.8, which almost does not change as you stop down. Such impressive performance is quite rare to see in lenses. The mid-frame and the corners are a bit weak though, which is expected – one would have to stop down to get those sharper. And as we can see, the best overall performance is reached at f/5.6. Let’s take a look at the lens at 18mm:
Performance is slightly reduced at f/2.8, but stopped down to f/4 the lens produces very impressive sharpness in the center frame. The lens again performs the best overall at f/5.6, with a very good balance of center to corner performance.
And here it is at 24mm:
Similar to the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lens, the lens is optimized for its shorter focal lengths and its performance deteriorates as you zoom in. At 24mm, we can clearly see an overall drop in performance. The lens resolves less detail at f/2.8 and although the center performance at f/4 is very strong, its mid-frame and the corners get a bit softer. At this focal length, the lens would need to be stopped down to f/8 to yield the best overall sharpness.
Lastly, here is the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC at its longest focal length of 30mm:
And we see even worse overall performance at 30mm, with the lens showing pretty strong field curvature, which results in even weaker mid-frame and corner performance. The lens is pretty average at its longest focal length, with its best overall performance between the f/4 and f/5.6.
Overall, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC performs very well optically. While it is no record breaker in sharpness figures, its performance is respectably good between 15mm and 24mm. The lens is at its weakest from 24mm to 30mm, which is something to expect from such a lens – if you look at most lenses in the 16-35mm range, they perform very similarly, having strong resolving power at short focal lengths and pretty average performance at the longest end of the zoom range.
As for contrast and colors, I found them to be quite similar to what my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G produces, which is superb. With such a complex design and so many aspherical and low dispersion elements, it had better be!
Although the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is designed with a rounded 9 blade diaphragm to yield good-looking bokeh, unless you get very close to your subject, forget about it – such wide angle lenses are not meant to be used for extreme subject isolation and pretty background highlights. While the constant f/2.8 aperture is quite bright, you would be much better off with a prime f/1.4 lens, like the Sigma Art series lenses. Still, if you zoom in to 30mm and get close to minimum focus distance, you can produce pleasant-looking bokeh, even slightly stopped down.
Vignetting on the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is most pronounced wide open at 15mm, at the closest focus distance – the darkest corners reach approximately 2.61 stops. It is about half a stop better at infinity though, which is where you will most likely be using the lens anyway. As you zoom in towards 30mm, vignetting is reduced quite a bit, with the lowest levels beyond 20mm, as seen below:
In the above chart, “CF” stands for “Close Focus”, which is when the lens was set at its minimum focus distance mark, while “IF” stands for “Infinity Focus”. Overall, vignetting is controlled quite well by the lens. If it bothers you, stopping down just to f/4 will already reduce vignetting to acceptable levels and you can always easily even the frame out further in post-processing.
Here is a a graph that shows the spread of light falloff across the image frame at 15mm, f/2.8 (worst vignetting levels):
To the right of the graph is the actual image from which the graph was derived. You can click on the image to see a larger version.
10) Ghosting and Flare
Thanks to Tamron’s special eBAND and BBAR coating technologies, the 15-30mm f/2.8 VC performs admirably well when shooting against very bright sources of light. I have a number of images with the Sun in the frame in this review, and as you can see, there are little to no signs of ghosting and flare in images. In fact, based on what I have seen so far, I would rank the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 among one of the best lenses I have tested so far in terms of handling of ghosting and flare. I was only able to see a little bit of ghosting in images when the sun was slightly out of the frame, reaching the front element at odd angles. When including the sun in the frame, ghosting was less of an issue, which is great. Take a look at the below photo that I captured at f/16:
As you can see, with the sun brightly shining in the frame, there are no signs of ghosting or flare anywhere, which is amazing.
As for distortion, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC starts out with a bit of heavy barrel distortion at 15mm (which is expected at such wide focal length), then flattens out at 20mm and switches to pincushion distortion from there, as illustrated below:
I personally rarely ever worry about distortion problems on lenses, because they are easy to fix in Photoshop and Lightroom. While the latest version of Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW do not yet support the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC, it will probably become available pretty soon. For now you can manually fix distortion and once support is available, you will be able to take care of it with a single click of a button using the Lens Correction module.
12) Chromatic Aberrations
Lateral chromatic aberrations are well under control, with the lens having less than 2 pixels of CA at all focal lengths and apertures. As can be seen from the below graph, the least amount of lateral chromatic aberrations is seen at both ends of the zoom range:
Similar to distortion, chromatic aberrations are also relatively easy to deal with in post-processing, so I would not be overly concerned about the above numbers, even at pixel level.
13) Infrared Performance
I tested out the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 on my IR-converted Nikon D800E and I am happy to share that the lens performed well at all focal lengths, with no visible hot spots. As a result, I set the IR rating to “Good” in the lens page of our lens database. The only thing to be careful about is sun rays potentially reaching the front element – I have seen some IR images get spoiled by internal reflections as a result.
14) Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
By now, you are probably dying to see how the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 fares against the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G lens in sharpness. Let’s take a look at the below charts, comparing performance at similar focal lengths. We will start out at the widest setting of 15mm and 14mm on both lenses:
The performance pattern of both lenses is a bit different – the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC starts out stronger at f/2.8 and reaches excellent sharpness levels by f/5.6, while the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is a bit weaker wide open, particularly in the corners. However, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G outperforms the Tamron at f/5.6, where it reaches superb sharpness throughout the frame. Next up is 18mm:
Once again, we see that the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC outperforms its Nikon counterpart at maximum aperture, whether looking at the center frame or in the corners. The difference in corner performance is pretty obvious here, with the Tamron looking noticeably better. The same thing happens at f/4 – the Tamron looks a bit better all around. However, once stopped down to f/5.6, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G again outperforms the Tamron in the center, delivering crisper details. But this only applies to center performance – mid-frame and the corners look quite similar on both.
Lastly, let’s take a look at 24mm:
With both lenses performing worse at 24mm, it is interesting to see how the two compare. From the above charts, we can see that the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G starts out much worse at f/2.8 and f/4, but once stopped down to f/5.6, it is still a stellar performer. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 also shows better overall corner performance at all apertures.
15) Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G Summary
From the comparisons above, we can see that both lenses have their strengths and weaknesses, so it all depends on what you use these lenses for. For astrophotography, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is a clear winner – its sharpness at f/2.8 is impressive at all focal lengths, looking better than what the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G has to offer. If you primarily work at smaller apertures like f/5.6-f/8, the Nikon shows better overall results, particularly in the center of the frame. But overall, there is no clear winner here – both lenses perform admirably at comparable focal lengths. This is great news for the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC, because such impressive performance comes with a few nice bonuses, like image stabilization and a $700 less price tag. Based on this, the Tamron offers much higher value in my opinion.
16) Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR
Let’s take a look at how the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC compares to Nikon’s enthusiast-level 16-35mm f/4G VR, which also features image stabilization. Here are both lenses at their widest focal lengths of 15mm and 16mm:
Wide open, there is a pretty clear difference in performance between the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR, with the former showing clearly better performance throughout the frame. Stopped down to f/5.6, however, the difference in center and mid-frame performance diminishes greatly, but the 16-35mm still cannot reach the resolving power of the 15-30mm in the corners. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR needs to be stopped down to f/8 to get better corner performance. In addition, the 16-35mm f/4G VR exhibits very heavy distortion, measuring a whopping 5.89% in barrel distortion, compared to 3.49% on the Tamron, along with noticeably higher levels of lateral chromatic aberration.
Here is a comparison at 24mm:
While the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR is very sharp in the center, we can see a pretty big difference in mid-frame and corner performance here, where Nikon shows quite poor performance when compared to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR matches the center performance of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC at f/5.6, but it still cannot match the latter in mid-frame and corner performance. However, stopped down to f/8, both lenses look about the same in terms of sharpness.
17) Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR Summary
Based on the above charts, it is pretty clear that the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR cannot match the performance of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC at large apertures. So if you are looking for a lens that performs really well wide open, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a much better choice than the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR. However, stopped down to f/8, there is little difference between these lenses, so if you always work in a small aperture range, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR could be a great alternative. But keep in mind that you would be sacrificing 1 mm of focal length coverage, which translates to substantial 7° difference in angle of view (114° vs 107°), while gaining another 5mm of focal length on the long end. Again, it all depends on what you shoot. For most landscape photographers, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR would probably still make more sense overall, primarily because it can accept normal screw-on filters and filter holders, and it weighs almost half of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC. But if you want the best overall lens (taking into account all of the previously-mentioned advantages), the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is really hard to beat, especially at its current MSRP price point, which is less than what Nikon wants you to pay for its 16-35mm f/4G VR. Because of this, I would personally favor the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC over all other ultra-wide angle zoom lens choices for the Nikon F mount out there, including Nikon’s 14-24mm and 16-35mm lenses…
Tamron deserves a lot of praises for its SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC lens – it truly is a remarkable lens if you factor in its features and overall performance. As you can see from the previous section of this review, the lens shows impressive sharpness figures when compared to the legendary Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, showing superior performance at large apertures. Compared to the 14-24mm, it does not suffer from the same focus shift issues either, making it a better choice for consistently yielding razor-sharp images when relying on phase detection autofocus. Although it loses 1 mm of focal length on the wide end, the Tamron 15-30mm extends the coverage by another 6mm, which can come quite handy in the field. The added benefit of image stabilization is huge – as I have demonstrated earlier in this review, image stabilization is immensely helpful for photography, even on ultra-wide angle lenses such as this one. And videographers will be even happier with the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, because it will make their videos look smoother when shooting hand-held. Lastly, at $1200 MSRP, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC presents amazing value when compared to the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G, which retails for $700 more and offers less. Based on all this, it is hard to continue to recommend the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G to our readers anymore, as the Tamron holds better overall value…
The only area of concern when it comes to Tamron lenses is sample variation, which based on my experience tends to be a bit more random when compared to Nikon’s and Canon’s professional-level lenses. Although third party manufacturers like Tamron and Sigma have certainly stepped up in improving their QA processes, I would encourage our readers to thoroughly test their copies of lenses before deciding to keep them. A simple test shot of distant subjects at infinity at different focal lengths while standing on higher ground will reveal quite a bit about the lens. Particular areas of concern with third party lenses are usually noticeable decentering and AF issues.
Overall, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a clear winner and it now certainly falls into my “highly recommended” list of DSLR lenses. If you are looking for a professional-grade ultra-wide angle zoom lens without spending a lot of money, look no further – the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is hard to pass by…
19) Where to buy and availability
20) More image samples
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Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 VC
- Optical Performance
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Stabilization
- Size and Weight
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