Tamron 15–30mm f/2.8 VC Review

When Canon came out with the Canon 5DS, it wasn’t received very well. However, I have been extremely pleased with mine. One thing is for sure with this camera, it is not as forgiving as the 5D Mark III was in terms of lens sharpness. The extra megapixels really magnify any defects in lenses.

Previously, I had owned the Canon 16–35mm f/2.8L II lens. A few years ago, I was quite pleased with that lens and the results. However, when the 5DS came out, that lens was certainly not up to par with many other lenses out there. Canon’s solution? They came out with a slower f/4 lens.

I went to Glazer’s camera in Seattle and tested out my 16–35mm f/2.8L II lens and compared it to Canon’s newest f/4 version, but also I compared it with Tamron’s newest 15–30mm lens. Hands down, the Tamron was sharper, one stop faster, and had vibration compensation too!

Rather than do a boring technical review, I prefer to show real world images. I’m trying something new with this review / photos. I’ve overlaid the EXIF data on the photos to answer some technical questions about how the lens performs at any given aperture / setting. Let me know in the comment sections below if you find this helpful or not.

All of these photos were edited in Lightroom. LENS CORRECTION PROFILES HAVE BEEN USED ON THESE SHOTS. One thing I notice about my shooting style, I usually shoot at the extremes of this lens, very rarely in the middle.

Back in September, we took the kids and their grandfather to Seattle for the day, we went to the zoo, out to eat, and then to get some ice cream. Here are some shots from that day:

Keeping your main subject towards the center of the frame really works great for showing people and what they are doing. Notice my daughter’s eyelashes. This lens is sharp!

Nadia was climbing up a structure, but this really helps to exagerate the area she was climbing. Also, notice the sharpness. Again, this was shot at f/2.8!

It’s not a macro lens, but stopped down and close up, you can get some great closeup shots. I was within inches of the skull. Really a fund lens to use.

I’m not sure what caused the weird blur on the edges in this shot, perhaps it was the angle that I shot it at, but but you really don’t see this in the other shots posted here.

The corner’s are soft, but it’s a perfectly useable image. Of course, why would you shoot this scene at f/2.8 anyways.

f/10, this definitely makes a lot more sense for the scene.

Heading down to the Fremont area of Seattle. You’ll see distortion which is common for this type of lens.

While not a portrait lens, for shooting close to a person and showing the surrounding scene, it’s great! Just remember to keep your subject towards the center of the frame. Notice the sharpness of her eyes.

It’s great for getting a unique perspective. Jam the lens in a person’s face and have fun with it!

Now, on to some action shots! I was asked to shoot some photos for the karate school I attend for both the kid’s tournament as well as the youth/adult tournament. It’s a small dojo, without a lot of room. I wanted to be able to show the action, but also everything else that was happening including the reactions of the bystanders. Due to poor lighting conditions and the fact that I needed to use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, most of these were shot at f/2.8.

Great sharp lens! Notice the amount of detail in the parents and sensei.

I had to get close with this shot, and yes it’s distorted, but it’s a great effect. It really allows for subject isolation and the blur on the edges doesn’t detract from the shot.

Pow! Get in close with this lens. Don’t be shy, get right in there!

I was asked to take a group portrait in a very narrow dojo with terrible lighting, and not a lot of room to step back to get the shot. Without the 15mm in my bag, there was no way to get this shot. I used one flash, off camera, bounced on the ceiling, in between two rafters. People are distorted, but so what? Good luck getting this shot without distortion for that tight of a space.

Similar to the shot above, but a different tournament, different day, larger group of people, and diferrent lighting due to being pointed a different direction in the dojo. One flash, bounced. Without a wide angle lens, there was no way to get this shot.

It has it’s quirks, soft on the edges, vignetting, distortion, but it’s sharper than either of Canon’s 16–35mm offerings. Also, you can’t beat the price and the extra stop of light compared to Canon’s f/4. I’m perfectly happy with this lens. It’s built well, the VC works great, and the images are awesome. In short, I recommend this lens.

Originally published at bershatsky.com on December 20, 2015.

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