Tamron lenses have been a photographers favourite third party brand for as long as I’ve been in photography. Besides being extremely well made and having fantastic optics, Tamron lenses have also been innovative in regards to features and camera compatibility. Because of this, I have found some of the best Tamron lenses on the market!
Tamron was one of the early pioneers decades ago of adapting third party lenses to a variety of camera brands and models with different lens mounts.
Are Tamron lenses compatible with my Canon or Nikon camera?
For the most part, the answer will be yes! A few things do need to be taken into consideration though…
Camera format is one of the most important things to look at. APS-C and full frame format cameras can usually mount either format of lenses to the bodies, but they will be very different in application. This is because of a basic fact of digital SLRs called crop factor.
Nikon and Canon APS-C format cameras have a crop of 1.5X and 1.6X respectively. What this means is that the focal lengths we were used to in 35mm film photography aren’t the same for the smaller format cameras. Though a 50mm lens remains 50mm regardless of what type of camera it’s mounted to, the field of view will change.
Autofocus and electronic aperture control is another thing to look at. Some Nikon cameras don’t have focus motors built in, relying on the lens to have a motor. Image stabilization and special modes are other considerations for certain camera models.
Why use a Tamron lens as opposed a Canon or Nikon Lens?
- Choices. It’s nice to have options. The availability of high quality third party brands like Tamron means we don’t have to go over our budget or settle for a lesser lens.
- Focal Length. Or zoom range. Maybe there is a particular focal length we want, or a zoom range that we’re more comfortable with. For APS-C cameras especially, there are some really wide ranging all-in-one zoom lenses. Ultra wide and extreme telephoto are other ranges to think about a Tamron lens.
- Functionality. If we want our all-in-one lens or other zoom lens to have macro focusing, check to see if it does. Most Tamron zooms will. Same with image stabilization, not all lenses have it. Indeed, not all lenses need it.
- Size & Weight. It seems that some OEM lenses are just so big. Quite a few of the Tamron lenses are smaller and lighter weight than the camera brand models.
- Quality. Tamron lenses have enjoyed a reputation of high quality for many years. Compared to some other third party brands, Tamron is very high quality.
- Price. To be sure, this is often one of the bigger reasons to choose a third party brand. This includes remotes, flashes, as well as lenses. For the same type of lens or similar focal lengths, Tamron lenses are usually lower priced than the camera brand lens. Even when less expensive, we love that we still get superb optical performance from the best Tamron lenses.
Top 7 Best Tamron Lenses For Canon & Nikon Cameras
1. Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom Lens Review
Coming in first on my list of best Tamron lenses is the uber versatile 70-300mm lens. This piece of glass is compatible with full frame cameras and is also perfect for APS-C format cameras (both Nikon & Canon). On the cropped format cameras, the field of view is equivalent to 105-450 for 1.5X and 112-480 for 1.6X.
A mechanism Tamron calls Macro Switchover enables very close focus within the focal length range of 180-300mm. You can fill the entire frame with tiny subjects at a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2. This is ideal for capturing images of flowers, insects, or other small subjects.
A maximum aperture of f/4.0, f/5.6 at 300mm, means that this lens may not be ideal for some wildlife or sports photographers. It is a great lens for the general hobbyist, especially on smaller cameras and cropped format cameras. Very compact at 70mm, it increases a great deal in length when zoomed to 300mm.
2. Tamron Auto Focus 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 VC PZD All-In-One Zoom Lens Review
Tamron is making wonderful all-in-one lenses for APS-C format cameras. Larger and heavier than standard kit lenses, but much smaller and lighter than carrying several different lenses to cover the same range of focal length.
Another consumer level lens, there are some compromises we make when choosing one of these lenses. Slower maximum apertures and less heavy duty construction are the biggest compromises. Optically, this lens is fine, maybe a little distortion and softness at the extremes of the zoom range, but that all pretty much falls away when stopped down a couple of stops from wide open.
The built in focus motor is amazingly quick, and mostly quiet. Image stabilization, called VC by Tamron, is also built in. I’m glad it has it, because this 15X zoom range will push the limits of hand held use.
3. Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Lens Review
Next up is a great lens that could be a great replacement for the standard 18-55mm Nikon & Canon kit lenses. It has a focal length range comparable to kit lenses, but this lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 which makes it great for low light settings, street photography and even bokeh!
If you have a higher MP sensor camera in the cropped format, you’ll appreciate the advantages of this fine lens. Even better is that this has a comparable price point, so this is great value when just buying a camera body.
As for the build quality, it has a heavy duty construction, compared to inexpensive kit lenses. The focusing and zoom ring are also very tactile and surprisingly quite smooth for an inexpensive lens.
At the other end of f-stops, having f/2.8 available gives control for shallow depth of focus to isolate a subject from the background. Overall Tamron really has made an amazing lens here that would be great for a beginner or pro.
4. Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 SP XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Review
Another normal range zoom I would consider pro quality, this one is intended for full frame format cameras. Small enough to feel at home on smaller full frame cameras, it is also sharp enough to take advantage of the extremely high MP sensors on newer cameras, too.
A very quiet focus motor built in to the lens moves very fast and I felt comfortable using it in AF while shooting video. The f/2.8 aperture enables great video options in more lighting conditions, besides what it gives us when shooting stills.
Sharp, smaller than I expected, heavy duty, fast focus, the price is reasonable too, for a full frame format lens anyways.
5. Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC All-in-One Zoom Review
A smaller, lighter, and cheaper all-in-one lens for cropped format cameras, this lens is a great buy as a replacement for the kit lens included with most consumer level cameras.
Autofocus is very fast with the built in focus motor, vibration control image stabilization helps hand held sharpness at longer focal lengths and lower light conditions. As with every all-in-one lens I’ve tested, there is distortion at the extreme ends of the zoom range, it gets better as you stop the lens down.
This is another lens I would be very comfortable with for shooting video. A wide range of usability, low noise AF motor, macro focusing, all add up to versatility and usability.
6. Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Review
Usable on cropped or full format, this lens has an amazing telephoto range. Already at the super telephoto end of things, when used on a cropped format camera, that reach is truly phenomenal. The 150-600mm become equivalent to 225-900 with 1.5X cameras, 240-960 with 1.6X cameras.
Its built in AF motor is fast, though a bit noisy, and the VC image stabilization is very capable, using 3 coils and ceramic ball bearings. Even with the VC feature, there is no way anyone can handhold a 12X (FF) or 19X (APS-C) magnification telephoto lens.
Trust me on this, not a chance. Unless you use 1/2000 or higher shutter speed and prop it on your knees. Even then, I really don’t think so. The well placed tripod collar becomes one of the more important features on this lens.
It is astonishingly sharp, and doesn’t have very much distortion at all, even at the extreme ends of the zoom. Zooming is smooth and easy, it actually feels better than the OEM ultra-tele zooms I’ve tested. Autofocus is fast and accurate, with little or no hunting. You can grab the focusing ring for instant manual focus override regardless of focus mode set on camera or lens.
Its high price may look intimidating, at first. Compared to OEM ultra telephoto lenses, prime or zoom, this lens is way below those in price. So, even though it is in the four figure price range, I consider this lens to be budget friendly. A bargain, quite frankly.
7. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro Lens Review
Starting out with a wider angle than most all-in-ones, this 18.8x zoom lens for APS-C sized digital SLR cameras is an outstanding performer. For those who want more tele than wide, Tamron also has an 18-400mm all-in-one zoom.
By extending the wide angle end, opening the maximum aperture a bit, including macro focusing, and building in the focus motor and VC, Tamron has created a beast of a lens. I use the word beast in a good way.
It is big, and heavy, and costs a lot, but it is still smaller, lighter, and less expensive than the three or more separate lenses you could replace with this one.
Just as in film days, Tamron has made a great assortment of high quality, versatile, and reasonably priced lenses. Hopefully this guide has helped steer you in the right direction to find the best Tamron lenses for your camera. If you want to edit your recent images, you can check out my guide on some awesome free online photo editors. Thanks for reading!