- Excellent image quality at shorter focal lengths
- Minute manual focusing ring
- Review Price: £149
This is a very smart-looking lens with a dominant gold band that proclaims its specification in full. The only other markings are a set of focal-lengths on the rear edge of the zoom ring. There are no distance markings – partly because the manual-focusing ring is only a few millimetres wide. As a result, and despite its AF/MF mode switch, this is really an AF-only lens.
That may be a negative consideration for some potential buyers but upside of this arrangement is a very wide zoom ring bearing a lovely tactile rubber grip. Similarly, the disadvantage of an externally rotating focusing movement is minimised by the relative proportions of the two rings, which reduce the chances of stray fingers obstructing the focusing ring as it rotates in AF mode.
Numerically, the Tamron 55-200mm returned some stunning MTF results at larger apertures for short-to-medium focal-length settings but displayed rapid fall-off and significantly poorer results at its 200mm setting. Although this was disappointing it has to be said that close examination of pictorial images showed them to be much more even-keeled. Importantly, however, that finding cuts both ways and the Tamron looked neither as bad nor as good in real-life as its technical figures predicted.
Curiously, the Tamron’s pictures consistently had the appearance of transparency images, looking slightly underexposed but benefiting from protected highlight detail as a result. It also has a slightly smaller zoom factor than its 55-200mm designation suggests and lacks a little at its shortest focal length: as a result the lens seems to cover a range closer to 60-200mm.
The Tamron excels at wide apertures and short-to-medium focal lengths but is numerically weaker at the 200mm setting. Overall this is a very competent and good-looking lens that should appeal to everyone other than photographers for whom a practical manual-focusing option is essential.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
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