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Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di LD Macro 1:1 model 272E

Like macro?

I wanted to photograph the small objects from my audio gears, that includes the cartridges with their tiny stylus and cantilver, the small peanut tubes glowing, and so on. Later on, when I get the opportunity to learn taking insect shots, I plan to make a nice collection.

Having only the Nikkor kit lens that came with my D40, the first attempt was to make use of the extension tubes that I purchased here. While it costs me only P880, it has good quality and not made of plastic. In addition, it does not contain connectors or electronics for the body and lens to communicate with each other.

The lack of aperture ring on the kit lens adds to the difficulty as there's no way for me to adjust the aperture, furthermore, the D40 does not have a DOF preview button that can be used to trick the lens to remain in a certain aperture setting.

Extension Tube experiment
Generic Extension Tubes w/out CPU contacts

Extension Tube experiment
Sample#1

Extension Tube experiment
Sample #2

Feeling satisfied with my experiments, I feel I'm ready for a real macro lens so I crawled the web in search of information on what could be a good dedicated macro lens that I can use for my D40. A read a couple of reviews and my decision seemed to become easier after a friend recommended I visit this review site before making a major purchase.

A couple of days later, I made a decision to purchase a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 so I went to a store that distributes the Sigma brand. My excitement died down when I discovered that this lens I intend to buy will not AF on my D40. Lacking the confidence on my hand held shooting, I ended up trying the 10-20mm, 150mm Macro, and 70-300mm that all can AF with the D40. I find the 150mm just too big for my liking. In the end, I came home empty handed, and contemplated on other options.

Further recommendations from a couple of friends got me interested in another macro lense, this time from Tamron, the model 272E SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di LD Macro 1:1. As I am building great interest on this lense, an opportunity came when a member from this forum posted this lens for sale. This time, I grabbed the opportunity and bought the lense, despite knowing it will not auto focus on my D40. Why the sudden change of heart? I don't know for sure, but the reputation of the lens added to my confidence in using it fully manual.

Specifications

There is no need to repeat what the manufacturer said here.

Buying pre-owned

This is a pre-owned lense, sold to me by a member of a local photography forum. It came with with front and back caps, lens hood, leather lens case,  and documentation. The lens is MINT, as the seller claimed and I am very happy with how the transaction went.

Reading up on the Tamron Japan website, I found that the SP designation means "super performance" that equates to higher quality compared to non-SP models.

Having said that, I liked the build a lot though some would think that plastic/polycarbonate does not relate to quality when compared to old lenses in the past. Despite that, the gold accent with embossed letters gave some touch of class.

From a layman, I think build tolerances are very tight and the lens feels very solid, and reasonably light with does not affect the balance of the lense/body.

Features that matter to me

I bought this macro lens for macro shooting, so the 1:1 macro and bigger aperture (F/2.8) are the main features I'm after.

AF/MF switching is set by sliding the focusing collar towards the camera body for MF and away for AF. I thought this is a nice way of setting the AF/MF compared to tiny slide found on other lenses. When MF is engaged, a blue band appears at the front of the focus ring.

While my D40 won't be able to AF using this lense, I thought the focus limiting switch is a great addition. The manual said engaging this switch will restrict the focus action between the closest distance of 0.29 metres to 0.4m approximately, or from 0.4m to infinity. I wish to try it with another body, like the D80.

Aperture ring! I can now use my extension tubes with better results and easier focusing. The focus ring locks at f/32 according to the aperture index with visual indicators for 32, 22, 16, 11, 8, 5.6, 4 and 2.8.

The lens cap is pinch type I prefer it that way. Not a big deal, but that's why I have a preference.

Performance

I would not be able to determine the feel and speed of the lens auto focus due to the lack of built-in motor required by cameras like my D40. So this lens is always set to MF, and the rubber focus ring together with somewhat damped movement gives me confidence on taking manually focus shots.

Image quality for the price, is superb. They're very sharp and while this is a macro lens, it also performs well for portraits.

Conclusion

What can I say? This is a lens that offers great value, great price/performance and a lot of fun! I thought that my copy is really sharp, with the color rendering with my D40 a bit on the warm side.

I am not in professional photography, so for me, this lens is optically superb! I would recommend it to anyone considering a macro lens in this focal length.

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