Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 for Canon

Monday June 25 2012

Lens Review
Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 for Canon

The Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 Canon would make an ideal lens companion for nature and wildlife photographers who are on a budget. Affordable and lightweight, the lens excels in many of DxOMark’s image quality tests, but it is also tripped up in one important category.

Looking for an affordable macro telephoto lens for your Canon camera? The Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 Canon might save you and your wallet from suffering the common photographer illness known as sticker shock. Priced at just under $700 (USD), the relatively lightweight (920 grams) telephoto lens is hundreds of dollars cheaper than its competition. But does its cheaper value come at a cost of reduced image quality?

Measurements

Benefits of the Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 Canon include:

  • Perfectly controlled distortion.
  • Acceptable vignetting, which disappears around aperture f/5.6
  • Chromatic aberration is excellently contained.

The biggest drawback of the lens was observed during its resolution testing. Much of its sharpness fell off around the edges and corners of an image. Its resolution was sharpest at the relatively high aperture of f/8. This is not the most desired f-stop for nature and wildlife photographers, who often prefer a shallow depth of field.

Nikon D800E and Nikon D800
A sample image taken by the Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 Canon. Photo courtesy of Tamron.

Comparison

Tamron SP AF180mm F/3.5 Di LD (IF) MACRO 1:1 Canon Vs Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro Canon on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Show interactive data, found here.

Advantages of the Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 Canon include:

  • It’s a feather, at least compared to the Sigma 150mm Macro. The lens is nearly 260 grams lighter than Sigma’s macro telephoto lens.
  • It won’t break your piggy bank. The Tamron 180mm Macro is $690 (USD) to the Sigma 150mm Macro’s $1,099.

The Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro for Canon bests the Tamron 180mm Macro at:

    Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 for Canon
  • The Sigma 150mm Macro is brighter, with a 3.4 T-stop score versus the Tamron’s 3.8 T-stop. This gives the Sigma 150mm Macro an advantage in lowlight situations like at night, sunset and sunrise.
  • It is more compact, measuring just 15 centimeters in length.

Conclusion

Affordable. Lightweight. And a lens that does a great job at containing distortion and chromatic aberration, the Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD (IF) Macro 1:1 Canon would make an ideal lens for photographers watching their pennies. But for those who are obsessed with sharp and crisp images, the lens’ resolution score is a little fuzzy, at least compared to the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro.