Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens (Model B001)


    Photo Review 8.5
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    Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens (Model B001)

      In summary

      Buy this lens if:
      - You want a capable ultra-wide-angle lens for landscape and/or architectural photography.
      - You require high central resolution and can tolerate a little edge softening.
      - You have a camera with an APS-C sized sensor.

      Don’t buy this lens if:
      - You need macro capabilities.
      - You require superior flatness of field.

      Full review

      The SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II is Tamron's second ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for cameras with APS-C sized sensors. Replacing an 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, it provides a wider zoom range, particularly at longer focal lengths. On Nikon, Pentax and Sony cameras, it's equivalent to a 15-36mm zoom, while on Canon EOS bodies, it covers a 16-38.4mm range (35mm equivalent).

      Side view of the Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II without the supplied lens hood and end caps. (Source: Tamron.)

      The market is already crowded for lenses of this type. While preparing this review, we conducted a Google search and found the following options:

      Canon: EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, retailing for around $1040;

      Nikon: AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24m F/3.5-4.5 at around $1100

      Nikon: AF-S DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED for around $1460

      Pentax: smc Pentax DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED (IF) Fish-eye zoom for around $745

      Pentax: smc Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF) for around $1270

      Sony: SAL 1118 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6  for around $955

      Plus the following lenses from third-party manufacturers:

      Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM (Canon and Nikon mounts) for around $580;

      Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM (Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts) for around $700

      Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 DG HSM II (Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts) for around $1070

      Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX 11-16mm f/2.8 (Canon and Nikon mounts) for around $730

      Tokina AT-X 124 AF PRO DX II 12-24mm f/4 (Canon and Nikon mounts) for around $720

      The average street price for the Tamron 10-24mm lens was around $600, which makes it competitive, particularly with the camera manufacturers' lenses. If you're interested in photographing extensive landscapes or architecture or taking close-ups of sports action, this lens should appeal.  It's relatively small and light for its type and comes with a bayonet-mounted, petal-shaped lens hood.

      The optical design consists of 12 elements in nine groups and includes three large-aperture glass-moulded aspherical lenses, as well as three hybrid aspherical lenses. Together they help to minimise spherical aberrations, coma, and distortion and position this lens within Tamron’s SP (Super Performance) series.
       

      The diagram above shows the location of the exotic elements in the lens design. (Source: Tamron.)

      Autofocusing is driven by a standard DC motor, rather than an ultrasonic motor (indicated by USM or HSM on other lenses). It's fast, although fairly noisy, and not quite as precise as the more modern drive motors.

      The minimum focusing distance of 24 cm across the zoom range provides a maximum magnification ratio of  1/5th life size at 24mm and enables users to shoot with an exaggerated perspective at the 10mm focal length. Consequently, macro shooting is out of the question.

      Seven iris blades close to a circular aperture. No stabilisation is provided, a standard feature in ultra-wide-angle lenses. The front of the lens is threaded for 77 mm filters.

      Build and Ergonomics
      The build quality of this lens similar to other Tamron lenses in its class. Although made mostly of plastic, it is solidly constructed with a metal mounting plate that connects firmly to the camera body.

      The focusing ring is approximately 25 mm wide with a 12 mm wide grip band clad in thickly-ridged rubber. This ring turns through about 90 degrees as you span the focusing range from 24 cm to infinity.

      Its leading edge carries a distance scale marked in feet and metres. These line up against a small white dot on the back of the filter ring.

      Behind the focusing ring is a narrow gold band carrying the Tamron brand and lens name. The 32 mm wide zoom ring is located immediately behind it. Most of this ring is covered by a 27 mm wide ridged rubber grip, which has a slightly different feel to the grip on the focusing ring.

      The trailing edge of the zoom ring is stamped with marks indicating the 10, 13, 15, 18, 20 and 24 mm focal length settings. These line up against a white line on the rear section of the lens barrel.

      The lens extends by about 10 mm when zooming in to the 24mm position. The front element doesn't rotate during focusing or zooming, enabling angle-critical attachments to be used without the need for re-adjustment. However, normal circular polarisers produce vignetting (corner darkening) at the widest angles of view.

      There's no aperture ring, and no built-in stabilisation but you can find an AF/MF slider switch between the zoom index mark and the lens attachment mark (a prominent red dot).

      Despite its relatively compact size, the review lens was better balanced on the heavier Canon EOS 40D body we used for our tests than our smaller and lighter EOS 1100D. The lens barrel was long enough to provide comfortable handling and

      Versions of this lens with Canon and Nikon and Nikon mounts can be used on 'full frame' cameras in these brands – at a pinch. Although the image circle of the lens won't cover the full 36 x 24 mm frame and vignetting was severe at wider angles of view, by the time we had zoomed in to about 16mm on the Canon EOS 5D II the effect was small enough to be corrected easily in post-capture editing (particularly with raw files).

      Performance
      Although not a match for the Tamron 24-70mm lens we reviewed recently, the review lens showed itself to be a competent performer in our tests. Autofocusing was quite fast and responsive for a micro motor system and the associated buzzing wasn't loud enough to be distracting.

      Imatest showed the lens to be capable of matching the performance of the EOS 40D's 10-megapixel sensor and even exceeding it at times. Not unexpectedly, the highest resolutions were recorded a stop or two down from maximum aperture, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results below.
       

       
      Edge softening was evident at all focal length settings, with the 10mm focal length most seriously affected across its aperture range. Centre sharpness was highest at 15mm between f/4.5 and f/5.6 and lowest with the 24mm focal length.

      Lateral chromatic aberration ranged between low and moderate, as you might expect from such a wide-angle lens. In the graph of our Imatest results below, the red line marks the boundary between 'negligible' and 'low' CA, while the green line separates 'low' and 'moderate' CA.
       

       

      Test shots showed both purple and cyan fringing, particularly at shorter focal lengths. Many recent DSLRs include in-camera correction for this aberration so we don't see it as a major issue for the majority of photographers.

      Rectilinear distortion was relatively low for such a wide-angle lens. However, slight barrel distortion could be seen across the entire zoom range. Vignetting at maximum apertures was also very low when the lens was used on a camera body that doesn't correct it automatically.

      Strong backlighting  was also handled very well and the combination of the effective lens hood and multi-layer coatings provided plenty of control, even when the light source was inside the frame. However, we noticed a slight fall-off in brightness in some shots of subjects lit with low-angle sunlight that came from the side.

      Because this lens can't focus closer than 24 cm from subjects, it's not suitable for close-up shooting unless subjects are relatively large. Bokeh at maximum apertures was acceptable for the limitations of the lens.

      Buy this lens if:
      - You want a capable ultra-wide-angle lens for landscape and/or architectural photography.
      - You require high central resolution and can tolerate a little edge softening.
      - You have a camera with an APS-C sized sensor.

      Don’t buy this lens if:
      - You need macro capabilities.
      - You require superior flatness of field.

      SPECS

       Picture angle: 108 degrees 44 minutes to 60 degrees 20 minutes
       Minimum aperture: f/22
       Lens construction: 12 elements 9 groups (includes 2 LD and 3 aspherical elements)
       Lens mounts: Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony
       Diaphragm Blades: 7
       Focus drive: DC micro-motor
      Stabilisation: No
      Minimum focus:  24 cm
      Maximum magnification: 1:5.1  (at  f=24mm, MFD : 0.24m)
      Filter size:  77 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 83.2 x 86.5 mm
      Weight: 406 grams

      RRP: $849
       Distributor: Maxwell International Australia; 1300 882 517; www.maxwell.com.au

      TESTS

      (based on JPEG files from the Canon EOS 40D.)

        

       

      SAMPLES

      Vignetting at 10mm.
       
       

      Vignetting at 18mm.
       
       

      Vignetting at 24mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 10mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 18mm.
       
       

      Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.

      10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/7.1.

      24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/8.
       
       

      Close-up at 24mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/5.
       
       

      10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/8.
       
       

      Crop from the above image enlarged to 100% to show coloured fringing and corner softening.
       
       

      10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/20 second at f/5.
       
       

      10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/60 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      Strong contre-jour lighting; 13mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/10.
       
       

      More strong backlighting, this time with the light source blocked; 10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/8.
       
       

      10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/13 second at f/13.
       
       

       10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/10.
       

      10mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/8. (Taken with EOS 1100D.)

      Rating

      RRP: $849

      • Build: 8.8
      • Handling: 8.8
      • Image quality: 8.5
      • Versatility: 8.0

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