Anybody using the Tamron 60mm macro?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by chris drake, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. chris drake

    chris drake TPF Noob!

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    I am looking at different macro lenses for my Canon XSI and wanted opinions on the Tamron 60mm macro. I will mainly be shooting reptiles and amphibians and random insects. I was originally leaning toward the Canon 100mm usm. I would like to stay around $500_550. Is anybody here using the 60mm? Thanks,

    Chris
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I have a Nikon 60mm f/2.8 AF-D macro lens,and it's great for copying things like 8.5x11 documents, posters, paintings, and things that are relatively large. The problem with any 60mm macro lens is that at 1:1, the subject is around 4 inches from the front of the lens. So, in order to get a large, frame-filling image of a small object, the lens has to be right on top of the subject, where the photographer's body can easily block sunlight, and camera-mounted flash is difficult to position, due to the camera, lens, and photographer occupying the surrounding areas. All in all, the 50,55,and 60mm macro lenses are, in my experience, poor choices for living subjects--unless those subjects are not camera-shy, and you can get right on top of them to get the shots you want.

    I own a 100mm f/2.8 Canon USM macro, the internal focusing version that's been on the market the last ten years or so; it's a pretty good lens, but the out of focus diaphragm highlights are seven-sided and sharp at smaller apertures. Optically, it's a sharp lens at close-up ranges, and is solidly built. Tamron and also Sigma make some equally good (perhaps better,actually) lenses with their 90mm Di and 105mm EX-HSM macro models.

    Seriously...the 50,55,and 60mm macro lenses are great for document copying and working at 2,3,4,5,6 feet, but up close, I find them a PITA. At portrait ranges, the focusing is such a hair-trigger affair that missed focus is an every-shot-concern type of affair, as it is with all macro lenses except the new Zeiss manual focus models that have very long,slow focusing at intermediate and longer distances. I have read only one user review of the Tamron 60--as focusing seemed to be a major issue with this lens. The idea that a 60mm macro lens will also make a good portrait or generalist lens doesn't seem to pan out very well, due to the way macro lenses are optimized for very close-range focusing, and beyond 1 meter, everything is a crapshoot.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Hmm interesting but remember the Tamron 60mm is a new lens and offers the "working distance of a 100mm macro lens" which means that its distance from subject to lens is longer than for other 60mm options (note distance from lens to subject is called working distance; minimum focus distance is from the subject to the camera sensor).

    Its other major feature is an internally focusing setup which means that the lens does not extend not contract as you focus (all those actions go on internally).

    It's also pretty new on the market so not a lot of opinions out on it yet - for a 60mm macro its probably going tobe one of the best options based on its features; however I will hasten to add that its a crop sensor only macro lens. It won't work on a fullframe camera body like a 5D - however for any crop sensor body its certainly a very good option to consider.

    Other lenses to consider whilst taking into account the insect aspect, would be the Tamron 90mm macro; Sigma 105mm macro, Canon 100mm macro (the older version without IS); Tokina 100mm macro. There is also a sigma 150mm and 180mm macro lenses though I belive they are outside of your price boundary.

    All of the above lenses will give you very high quality images; infact most will hardly show any difference between each other when used in the field - studio test might show up some differences, but its not going to affect real world shooting (and further sample variation would be a bigger component to consider in studio test work)
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Sorry to rain on your parade Overread, but the marketing hype Tamron spews about this new 60mm macro is not very accurate.

    TAMRON | SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II LD [IF] MACRO 1:1 [Model G005] Specifications

    Mimimum working distance: 100mm

    Like I said the Tamron 60mm lens has a minimum working distance of ******four inches****** from the front of the lens. At least, that's what the Tamron official specifications page lists. 100mm

    The Nikon 60mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro~NIKKOR I referenced in my comments above has a minimum working distance of 90.4mm, according to Nikon.Nikon | Imaging Products | AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D

    Sorry that I misspoke about the 60mm f/2.8 AF-D Macro I own--I said its minimum working distance was four inches, when in reality it is 90.4 millimeters, or 3.55905 inches.

    The new Tamron 60mm lens has a working distance of 100mm, or 3.93700 inches.

    So, the new Tamron 60mm offers an improvement of 0.37795 inches. So, the Tamron will allow the photographer to move back 3/8 of one inch to get the same sized image as a Nikon 60mm macro lens.

    NOT really living up to the hype, I would say. A 60mm macro lens is really a document copying lens, for all intents and purposes.
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Heh would you belive it that the Tamron site is the only one to list the working distance (sigma and canon are both only listing minimum focusing distances). However you are right it appears that its focusing distance is really not living up to the hype at all.

    It's minimum focusing distance is not much different from other 60mm options (around 20cm) and is not as long as the 100mm options (typically around 30cm).

    Going off Juza's rough working distance table in this article
    Juza Nature Photography

    it does appear that the tamron is not doing much better than the sigma 70mm macro (I've never measured its actual working distance). However as for it being a document copying lens I have to disagree a bit - a short macro lens and harder to use on bugs I agree -but not impossible.
    However with the less than expected working distance I think that the Tamron 90mm will be keeping its place as the shortest recomended starting lens for a macro shooter.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Indeed...the older Nikon 60mm f/2.8 AF-D allows one to be 90.4mm from the front of the lens...Tamron specifies 100mm from the front of the lens. Their claim while perhaps technically accurate, is real-world B.S. A 3/8 improvement over a 10 year old Nikon design is basically zilch.

    The problem really, for insects/reptiles as I see it, is that a "four inch" working distance makes the flash calculations ***exceedingly*** critical, whereas when using something like a 180 Sigma or a 200mm Nikon macro lens, the flash unit or units is farther away,and the exposure is more stable with changing distances. At 100mm, a 10mm variance in distance is a 10 percent change,and the flash exposures will vary quite a bit.

    When using a flash to illuminate a living, moving subject, when the flash is say a ring light, a difference of only a scant few millimeters means an exposure error of 1/2 of an f/stop. Many flash units are vastly too powerful for use at 4 inch working distances. Plus, the photographer's body, camera, or lens can all throw shadows from natural light, and whenever the photographer moves in close to a small insect with a 60mm macro lens, his own body can drop the light level 3 or 4 f/stops in many situations.

    At the excruciatingly close camera-to-subject distances that a 55 or 60mm macro lens entails, the extreme close distance of the flash means that the inverse square law becomes a veritable exposure nightmare, with flash shots yo-yoing all over the place, due to the critical variations that each centimeter brings with it. I far,far prefer the 180mm macro for insects/butterflies/amphibians. A 60mm is great for using of-camera lights positioned 3 or 4 feet away on a copy stand.
     
  7. Darkhunter139

    Darkhunter139 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the useful post I was considering getting this lens. What would you guys recommend to someone with a D40 that wanted to shoot bugs? It looks like the best option with an autofocus motor built in would be the nikkor 105mm but its pretty expensive.
     
  8. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well if the 60mm didn't focus any closer then a 100mm macro then it really wouldn't be a "macro" now would it?
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Derral what you describe with flash powers is certainly something I have felt with my shorter macro lenses - however more so with the MPE 65mm than with my 70mm sigma. This is because at around 1:1 the auto flash modes (at least on my canon system) put up a very good performance. Often there is a need to apply some flash exposure compensation and to take a few test shots to balance this out by reviewing the histogram - however once done the result are pretty stable much of the time.

    With the MPE65mm however I have found that I often need to resort to the manual power output and it is then that I have experienced these big changes in exposure even with tiny movements of the flash distance from the subject. A ringflash or twinflash however on auto or even on manual would not be so hard to use however - since working at a fixed magnification and with a fixed flash location exposures manually or auto with flash exposure compensation would not be so adversly affected.



    Also djacobox372 I'm not quite sure what you mean here. The 1:1 (true macro) focusing distance of my 70mm macro, 150mm macro and 65mm macro lenses are all very different however the frame area covered is the same. Thus its not distance that determins the macro capacity of a macro lens, but the area of frame that it covers in relation to the sensor size (the subject in real life is the same size as it is reflected onto the sensor by the lens)
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There is both the Tamron 90mm macro, Sigma 105mm macro and Tokina 100mm macro lenses in the lower price ranges. Their features are not as good as the nikkor which has better AF and the VR feature - however image quality wise each of the lenses is more than capable of taking a sharp, good macro image.
     
  11. Darkhunter139

    Darkhunter139 TPF Noob!

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    Do you think the lack of internal auto focus will be a problem? The D40 does not have one built in so I would only be able to manual focus. I know people manual focus most of the time with macro work anyway though so I guess that would not really be a big issue.
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I haven't done any proper macro work with auto focus in a long time - manual is far more reliable (for me). Heck one of my macro lenses has no af at all so its not even an option on that one. So no having AF is not too much of a limitation - certainly you can do macro without it - but it might be harder to take further off shots. Macro lenses tend to have very fine close up focus control - but very rough further of focus control - a tiny turn moving the focus a lot. This makes them harder to use (manually) for further off subjects.
     

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