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Comments about Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di MACRO 1:1 USD Lens for Sony:
I purchased this lens to use with my Sony A57 (16.1 megapixel APS-C, 1.5x crop). I have three other Tamron SP lenses (A16, A005 and B01) and chose them because I felt their image quality was as good, maybe even better than the comparable Sony or Sigma lenses. Also, Tamron lenses are priced reasonably and come with a 6-year warranty.Since my review is rather lengthy, I've posted the pros and cons of this lens in the beginning. Please keep reading for detailed explanations and additional information.PROS- Lens feels solid, overall very good fit and finish- Very sharp at f/2.8 through f/3.1 and tack sharp at f/3.5 through f/16- Lateral chromatic aberration not present in any test photos- No pincushion, barrel or mustache distortion- Lens barrel does not extend during focusing- Very quiet AF- No front/back focus issues- Very smooth manual focus ring- Moisture resistant- 6-year warrantyCONS- A-mount connector a hair loose- Sharpness starts to slowly decline at f/16 through f/32- Diffraction limiting present above f/16- Minor longitudinal chromatic aberration present from f/2.8 through f/7.1- Minor vignetting present from f/2.8 through f/3.5- Lens flair present if sun is in frame- Sony version lacks VC yet costs the same as Canon & Nikon versions- AF was slower than anticipated and occasionally hunted- No case or pouch included- Other lenses are less costly and offer similar performanceBUILD QUALITYThis lens is solid and feels like a quality item while holding in your hand. Yes, it is made with mostly plastic, but the plastic seems to be durable and of reasonably high quality. Like all my other Tamron lenses, this one is just a hair loose with the A-mount connector. This is extremely common with Tamron lenses and does not affect the lens' ability to communicate with the camera.SHARPNESSThis lens is very sharp if the aperture is set between f/2.8 through f/3.1. This lens becomes tack sharp between f/3.5 through f/16. Expect image quality to degrade slowly after f/16 – you don't even have to view your photos at 100% to notice this.LATERAL CHROMATIC ABERRATIONLateral chromatic aberration is when all colors are in focus, but do not meet in the same position along the focal plane. This only shows up in the corners of the image in high-contrast areas. I am happy to report that this lens does not suffer from any lateral chromatic aberration during my real-world testing.LONGITUDINAL CHROMATIC ABERRATIONLongitudinal chromatic aberration (aka LoCA or bokeh fringing) occurs when different wavelengths of color do not meet at the optical axis. This causes red, green or blue fringing around objects throughout the entire photo. Unfortunately, this type of fringing is very common on fast prime lenses and the F004 is no exception. I took multiple photos of different objects and test charts and noticed green fringing above the focus area and red fringing below. I was able to process the images in Lightroom and successfully remove the fringing. The fringing I noticed was not as bad as some photo samples I viewed for other comparable lenses. Any fringing I found was noticeable while viewing these 16 megapixel photo at 25% or higher. I don't see any reason to be concerned about the amount of LoCA with this lens – as I mentioned this is a common issue with fast prime lenses and it is easily corrected with software. The fringing does disappear by f/8.DISTORTIONPincushion, barrel and mustache distortion are non-existent.VIGNETTINGVignetting is very well controlled on this lens. Stopping down to f/4 will eliminate any visible vignetting.LENS FLAIRLens flair is a problem if the sun is in the frame and your photos will contain green blobs. Definitely use your lens hood while taking photos outside. I did not notice any issues with flair when the sun was out of the frame.VIBRATION COMPENSATIONThe Sony version of this lens does not include VC since this is already built into the Sony DSLR bodies. Even without VC, this lens costs the same as the Canon and Nikon versions. I would like Tamron to adjust their pricing accordingly.LENS BARREL EXTENSIONThis lens does not extend while focusing since this is all done internally. This is a plus since it will offer more protection against dust entering the lens. Also, the Tamron lenses with the IF feature include a non-rotating filter ring, more precise handling since the lens length does not change during focusing and improved optical quality by minimizing illumination loss at the corners of the image field (according to Tamron).AUTO FOCUS NOISEThis lens features the Tamron USD auto-focus drive mechanism and is probably the most silent Tamron lens I own. The only other lens I have with USD is the 70-300 and that one is very quiet too, but I think this lens is even quieter – most of the time I cannot hear it focusing.AUTO FOCUS PERFORMANCEThis lens does have a focus limiter switch which you will appreciate in AF mode. I like the limiter switch because it can greatly reduce the time it takes to focus on an object. For the most part, auto focus works well and is accurate. There have been a few times where it hunted and took a second or so to focus on an object. It's safe to say that this lens focuses much faster than my A16 which does not have the USD feature.FRONT/BACK FOCUSThe copy I received had absolutely no issues with front or back focus.MANUAL FOCUSThis lens has the smoothest focus ring I've ever used – I wish my 180mm macro was this smooth.DIMENSIONSLength with both caps attached: 5-3/8" (13.65cm)Length with rear cap and hood attached: 7-5/16" (18.57cm)Width: 3" (7.62cm)Width of hood: 3-5/8" (9.21cm)ACCESSORIESThe previous version of this lens (272E) came with a nice lens pouch even though it costs a few hundred dollars less, lacks the ultrasonic silent drive (USD) and is not moisture resistant. Now, I have to out of my way to find a lens case/pouch that will comfortably hold the F004 and probably spend about $20 doing so.The following cases/pouch should work fine with the F004:Tamrac MX5341 (600D nylon & closed-cell padding, 4" x 5.5")Tamrac MX5378 (600D nylon & closed-cell padding, 3.5" x 5.75")iKan SBSL35 (neoprene, 3.5" x 5")COSTLet's be real, $[$] is a lot for the beginner or enthusiast to spend on a lens. There are other options out there like the Tamron 272E, Sigma 105mm or older Minolta macros that are cheaper. You could spend about $50 more for the Sony SAL100M28, but you might as well save $50 because this lens is just as good – plus it features the USD motor, a 6-year warranty and most of the time Tamron is offering some sort of rebate. Sorry Sony, a 1-year warranty for a lens that costs $800 is unacceptable.CONCLUSIONOverall I found this lens to be a pleasure to use. I am not sure how much I will actually use auto focus, but it's nice to have since this lens can AF silently and pretty darn quick. It is a little pricey considering no accessories are included, the Sony version lacks VC and there are many other primes around this focal length. I wish the tack level of sharpness was present throughout every aperture, but I realize this is unlikely. It would be nice not to correct any images to remove bokeh fringing, but again this is very common with fast prime lenses and the level of fringing with my copy was below average compared to other 70-135mm primes.I feel this lens deserves a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.