Lens Review: Tamron AF 60mm F/2 Di II

Friday November 18 2011

Lens Review

The Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II is an affordable fast lens for macro photography fans. Even if the build quality isn't perfect, its image quality test results are quite satisfying for a lens at that price. Let's have a look at the details.

We measured the Nikon version of the Nikon version of the Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II mounted on a Nikon D7000 body and its Canon version on a Canon 7D body. In both cases, the resolution is quite good and the lens showed a good homogeneity across the field from f/4 and above, especially the Nikon version. It is this measurement, by the way, that accounts for the difference in scores for these particular lens/camera combinations. It is worth noting that both scores are on the low side but at that price, it could be a good compromise.

All other image quality measurements were within acceptable limits, including those for distortion and transmission. As for vignetting, it’s more noticeable on the Nikon than the Canon at f/2 and f/2.8, but this said, it entirely disappears from f/4 onwards. The measurements for chromatic aberration were similarly negligible for both cameras.

Tamron AF 60mm F/2 Di II vs Canon EF-s 60mm F2.8 Macro USM

We then compared the Tamron AF 60mm F/2 Di II with the Canon EF-s 60mm F2.8 Macro USM lens (full results here), both mounted on a Canon 7D body. Again, the results for both lenses were disappointingly lower than expected (48 lp/mm). From f/5.6 to the highest shutter speed, their resolution profiles are identical; at f/2.8, however, the Canon lens shows better homogeneity.

Distortion and transmission are within acceptable limits. Vignetting for the Tamron at f/2 is comparable to vignetting for the Canon at f/2.8; for both lenses, vignetting disappears at f/5.6. (Note that this lens can be mounted on certain full-size camera bodies, in which case vignetting becomes very important, naturally enough.) Neither lens produced significant chromatic aberration.  

Between the two competing lenses, the Canon has a slight edge over the Tamron, as the former achieves its maximal performance at f/2.8, while the latter achieves its best performance at f/4.

As for other performance criteria, here are a few points to be noted: Even if the manual focus ring feels a bit “stiff’ or “sticky,” the fact that you can manually focus this lens while still in auto-focus mode has won praise from macro-lens users across the board. This seems to have been a good design decision on Tamron’s part, since quite often the Tamron AF feature does not work very well when mounted on a Canon body.

Conclusion

Despite its being more expensive than many typical macro lenses (which start at f/2.8), it is clear that many macro aficianados have been completely charmed by Tamron’s ability to shoot at f/2, with virtually distortion-free performance at 1:1 macro distances as well as at “normal” shooting distances.