Tam­ron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

The Fi­nal­ists: EBC Fu­ji­non XF 8-16mm f2.8 R LM WR, AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm f4.0E TC1.4 FL ED VR, Tam­ron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD, Tam­ron 70-210mm f4.0 Di VC USD,


once in a while a prod­uct comes along that just seems to get ev­ery­thing ab­so­lutely spot-on. From the mo­ment it’s taken out of the box, it de­liv­ers on ex­pec­ta­tions, of­ten even ex­ceeds them. So it was with Tam­ron’s 100-400mm tele zoom which wowed us from the off.

Well, of course, at first it was all about cre­at­ing im­pres­sions… a very ver­sa­tile fo­cal range – es­pe­cially for sports and wildlife – in a nicely man­age­able and well-built pack­age. The weather-proofed bar­rel con­struc­tion is great for shoot­ing in the great out­doors as is the flu­o­rine coat­ing on the ex­posed sur­face of the front el­e­ment which makes it eas­ier to clean. The op­ti­cal image sta­biliser – which has its own ded­i­cated high-speed mi­cro­pro­ces­sor to en­hance re­sponse times – gives up to four stops of cor­rec­tion for cam­era shake which, no pun in­tended, is handy for hand­held pho­tog­ra­phy (even more so, as Tam­ron charges ex­tra for an op­tional tri­pod-mount­ing col­lar). The op­ti­cal con­struc­tion em­ploys 17 el­e­ments in 11 groups with three of these el­e­ments made from op­ti­cal glass with low-dis­per­sion char­ac­ter­is­tics to help min­imise both ax­ial and trans­verse chro­matic aber­ra­tions. Tam­ron’s ‘eBAND’ multi-coat­ing is used to re­duce re­flec­tions and so help con­trol both ghost­ing and flare. The aut­o­fo­cus­ing also gets its own pro­ces­sor which again is de­signed to en­hance the re­sponse speed and more pre­cisely con­trol the fo­cus­ing drive in terms of start­ing and stop­ping.

It all looks very good in the­ory, but where the Tam­ron 100-400mm re­ally de­liv­ers is in the prac­tice. Yes, you re­ally can com­fort­ably use it hand-held, even in low light, and the op­ti­cal per­for­mance is what we’d ex­pect from one of the com­pany’s much pricier ‘SP’ lenses. The uni­for­mity of cen­tre-to-cor­ner sharp­ness is con­sis­tently good across both the zoom­ing and aper­ture ranges with the crisp­ness of the def­i­ni­tion in the cor­ners peak­ing be­tween f8.0 and f16. It’s re­ally ex­cep­tional at 400mm, which is great be­cause this fo­cal length is prob­a­bly a big rea­son for buy­ing this lens, rather than spend­ing a for­tune on a more spe­cialised prime tele­photo. With the Tam­ron, you also get the shorter fo­cal lengths thrown in for ‘free’, along with much bet­ter close-up fo­cus­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, giv­ing a very use­ful max­i­mum re­pro­duc­tion ra­tio of 1:3.6 (that’s just a shade smaller than one-third life size by the way).

Which­ever way you look at it, Tam­ron’s 100-400mm is a win­ner, but more than any­thing else, it rep­re­sents un­beat­able value for money… pity, then, then that only the own­ers of Canon and Nikon D-SLRs can cur­rently en­joy its many at­trac­tions. But it’s still a win­ner.

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