In the past couple of years, the trend has been to add image stabilization to wide angle lenses. Why? Because many photographers tend to handhold their cameras and lenses rather than put them on tripods. So that makes a lot of sense when you consider Tamron’s 15-30mm f2.8 VC lens. The lens is targeted at Real Estate, Architecture, Adventure, and Landscape photographers that want to leave the tripod at home while also trying to keep their kit as minimal as possible. Both Canon and Nikon have competing offerings–but neither incorporates image stabilization nor were they probably developed with resolving a 50MP full frame sensor in mind.
The Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD is a lens with not only vibration compensation, but lots of weight at that. And for the professional photographer, it’s sure to be a constant companion.
Pros and Cons
– Great image quality
– Excellent colors
– Fast and accurate autofocusing abilities
– Internal zooming
– So large that it’s bound to intimidate most other photographers (if you care about that sort of thing)
– Not a bad price considering what you’re purchasing
– Vibration compensation isn’t very effective to even a single stop away.
– Big and heavy
We tested the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 VC with the Canon 5Ds and Canon 6D.
Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the lens.
|Focal Length||15 – 30mm
Comparable 35mm Equivalent on APS-C Format Focal Length: 24 – 48 mm
|Camera Mount Type||Canon EF|
|Format Compatibility||35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor|
|Angle of View||110° 32′ – 71° 35′
APS-C Picture Angle: 85° 51′ – 49° 53′
|Minimum Focus Distance||11″ (.28 m)|
|Maximum Reproduction Ratio||1:5|
|Diaphragm Blades||9, Rounded|
|Dimensions (DxL)||Approx. 3.87 x 5.71″ (98.4 x 145 mm)|
|Package Weight||3.35 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||9.4 x 7.0 x 5.1″|
Taken from our first impressions of the lens
The Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 is a large lens. In fact it’s probably the largest wide-angle lens that we’ve tested. This is due to the wide-angle zoom range and constant f2.8 aperture. We start our tour with this lens’s front element–which has a permanently attached lens hood to protect it from evildoers.
The lens cap goes over the entire hood–which is very typical of wide-angle lenses like this. You’ll want to keep it around for sure.
The lens’s body is composed mostly of tough plastic with texture for better grip. When you look at the top, what you’ll find is the distance scale along with the manual focus ring and the zooming ring.
Go to the side and you’ll spot the lens controls for vibration compensation and autofocus/manual focus. If you’re shooting on a tripod, remember to take off the VC.
During our testing period, the humidity overlords chose not to drown NYC in lots of rain–signaling the return of the Krakken and Kaiju that are bound to tear the city apart while the rest of the planet watches. However, we took the lens to the beach on a pretty windy day while out with the Lomography company. Sand blew into the lens’s front very often but we were able to clean it off and kept shooting. Though the lens isn’t being billed as dust-resistant it had no real troubles standing up to the elements of Rockaway Beach.
Otherwise, I carried it in my camera bag as I traversed NYC and put up with bumps and hits from commuters from every bridge and tunnel that connects to Brooklyn and Manhattan on the L train and others in the subway system. It took all the bumps like a champ–even when strapped around my torso.
What we’re not a big fan of is the lens cap. It goes around the built-in hood and it comes off a bit too easily for our liking. To be honest, we would have much preferred a solution that screws onto the front of the lens hood in some way or another.
Ease of Use
What any photographer using this lens will essentially do is attach it to the DSLR, point, focus and shoot. That’s all that there is to this lens despite having a very functional distance scale. While the old school shooters will say that you don’t even need to focus something this wide, we tend to disagree. Manual focusing is an option that is available to the photographer and if anything, shooting at f5.6 and focusing halfway through the distance is the way to go 82% of the time.
If you like not toting along a tripod, then you’ll want to crank up the ISO settings a bit in lower lit situations. The Vibration Compensation works when using the reciprocal rule of focal lengths, but if you’re down to 1/8th of a second it becomes tougher. While the overall job it does is good, we expected better at its widest focal length. This is why we state that you’re better off either cranking up the ISO or under-exposing to ensure that you can hold it better. To date, modern camera sensors are so good that you can push the shadows more than enough to get the results that you’ll want without major noise issues that can’t be nerfed in Adobe Lightroom.
In our testing, we never had any failures with the autofocus except in the least contrasty and lowest lit situations. If you’re the type of shooter that likes to focus and recompose, we advise that you don’t even if you’re shooting this wide.
We also always recommend placing the focusing points over a high contrast area if you can. Despite the fact that this sounds like business as usual, you should still keep it in mind despite this being an extremely wide-angle lens offering.
In comparison to Canon and Nikon’s offerings, the Tamron lens offers the most life-like colors and the best sharpness. But both Canon and Nikon offer some sort of practical weather-sealing for landscape photographers–which makes them very attractive offerings.
What helps with this sharpness and colors is the Vibration Compensation will ensure camera shake doesn’t ruin your images in the right situations. But overall, with a good sensor behind the lens, you’re bound to get an image that you or a client will be satisfied with.
Despite having 9 aperture blades, you’re not going to get a whole lot of bokeh from this lens.
This lens wasn’t exactly designed to be bokehlicious and make you drool on command when shooting images, but any bokeh that you’re able to get is hazy though not incredibly distracting. We’ve seen better bokeh from Rokinon’s offerings and we recommend not getting this lens if what you want is extreme closeups with lots of bokeh. If anything just get a longer lens.
Here’s where we’re very impressed: the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USM renders incredibly sharp photos that sing with detail. Real estate and landscape shooters will be very happy with the results. The wide open performance is quite good but when stopped down to f5.6 or f8 you’ll be able to get super sharp and super detailed images. Again, this is standard–but we haven’t seen a wide-angle offering with a constant f2.8 aperture that is this amazingly sharp.
Tamron’s colors are beautifully saturated. They’re not as saturated as Zeiss, Rokinon or Sigma but instead they tend to add just a tad more punch while remaining very life-like. The lens offers less contrast than the others out there and in doing so gives you life-like colors without deepening the blacks to fool the eye into thinking that the image is sharper than it really is when looked at as a whole.
If what you’re looking for is life-like colors, then go for this lens–though both Zeiss and Sigma may offer alternatives that could be more appealing to landscape photographers over architectural and interior shooters.
In our tests, we couldn’t find any signs of color fringing even when we cranked the contrast up in the photos. If you’re the type to go complain about this type of stuff, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not going to be present anywhere in your image.
Extra Image Samples
– Great colors
– Very sharp wide-angle offering
– An extremely versatile zoom lens
– VC could be better.
– Weather sealing would have been nice.
When it comes to creating excellent wide-angle photos and giving the most bang for the buck to photographers, Tamron seems to have the formula almost perfect. With great colors, excellent sharpness, and a very versatile focal length range, a photographer would be thrilled to have the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD in their hands. At the price point, they’ll have very little to complain about.
At the same time though, a lens this large should incorporate some sort of weather sealing and also should have slightly better image stabilization.
The Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD receives four out of five stars and is a great buy for most wide-angle shooters. Want one? Check out the B&H Photo listing for the latest prices.
Recommended Cameras and Accessories
Canon 5Ds: The highest megapixel camera on this list is bound to be here. Do you really expect anything less?
Nikon D810: In all honesty, this camera is probably the best pairing with the Tamron lens. It combines dynamic range, colors, and raw file versatility with Tamron’s great sharpness and image quality.