Tamron 60-300

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Now for something completely different

Once again a lens out of the curiosity cabinet. Just like the Nikon 35-105 I got this for around 50 used. It is essentially two lenses in one. There is a zoom covering a decent range, and a 60mm macro that has a very respectable reproduction ratio of more than 1:2 (1:1.55). Similar to the Nikon 35-105 the minimum focus distance changes from about 2 meters to about 20cm when changing modes.

Technically this would be my Zoo lens, where you both need a macro (for plants and small animals like frogs, insects) and a zoom for most others. However, this is not the easiest lens to work with. It is manual focus, has no vibration reduction, and will not be recognized on most digital cameras directly. As a macro, these are not big issues, you usually need a tripod and use manual focus anyway. 60mm is really a bit too short for serious macro work as you need to come really close, which ends up blocking the light. For a zoom it is not so easy to handle such a long focal length without vibration assistance.

This is a lens that asks to be used on a tripod, and requires a bit of patience. Like most older lenses, it has a solid build and beautiful engraved markings on the lens. Unlike the Nikon 35-105 this lens covers a ridiculous range (see pictures in the gallery below), from a serious macro to a rather long zoom.

My Tamron 60-300mm f/3.8-5.4
Price Very cheap
Weight Heavy, 900g
Good for Close ups, plants, tripod zoom
New or used Not so common, but can be had for very cheap (around 50)

This is a lens for a full frame camera, but I think its pieces work better on different cameras. As a zoom the range is definitely more interesting for the full frame. You anyway will have a bit of an issue handling a 300mm focal length with f/5.6 aperture, and my experience with such zooms is that having a shorter focal length at the lower end is really important, and you can almost get away with 60mm on a daily walkabout. For the macro side 60mm is a bit too short, and I would much rather have it on the APS-C camera.

But this is not a beginners lens. It requires quite a bit of patience to get the most out of it, and it works much better if you use a tripod.

The lens has two modes, as mentioned for the full frame part, as a zoom, it works a bit better for full frame. On an APS-C, it is essentially a 90-450mm lens. The short end at 90mm is quite long, which essentially means, for most cases you will need a second lens/camera with you. And 450mm without vibration assistance, with f/5.6 requires either a patient subject, or very high ISO to compensate for the exposure around 1/500 that you will end up needing.

But as a macro, the jump to 90mm is actually quite welcome. Technically the minimum focus distance remains, but the reproduction ratio improves to almost 1:1.

You will most probably need a tripod for this lens, but at this price it is a very interesting buy. Consider that you can hardly find any prime macro lenses for under 200 no matter how old they are, getting a decent 90mm macro is very interesting


These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.