I love to work with macro lenses because they focus close enough to give me a window into another world. With a macro lens, common spiders become giant predators, and a grasshopper is a creature from outer space.
Tamron's SP AF90mm ƒ/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 lens focuses all the way down to life-size (1:1) without extension tubes. On a 35mm camera, that means you can come close enough to capture subjects as small as 1x1 1/2 inches across. On D-SLRs, the cameras' usual magnification factors will enable you to record an even tinier area just 2/3x1 inch across. As you might imagine, seeing into such a small space is strangely addictive!
Compared to 50mm or 60mm macros, the Tamron's 90mm focal length gives you extra standoff distance from skittish subjects like insects. Mounted on a D-SLR, the lens' angle of view narrows to about that of a 135mm lens, letting you achieve the same crop from still farther away. In either case, the extra distance gives you some extra room to position lighting equipment.
The lens is pretty fast at ƒ/2.8. Its minimum ƒ-stop of ƒ/32 also is important, though, as it helps counteract the shallow depth of field inherent in close-up work. I spent much more time at that smaller ƒ-stop than at the wider openings.
The 90mm focuses quickly with both AF and manual control. A handy push-pull system allows you to switch between the two modes quickly. A large focusing ring with perfect tension on its movement gives the manual focus a great feel.
A focus-range limiter can restrict focus to either the extreme close-up range or from moderate macro to infinity. This can help prevent "searching" through the whole focus range and saves time.
The long lens barrel necessary for macro focusing provides a built-in lens shade for the 90mm's recessed front lens elements, protecting them and helping to prevent flare. Tamron includes an additional twist-on lens shade for even better protection (it stores easily in the reversed position when you're not using it). With Tamron's Di technology controlling internal reflections, the optic minimizes flare very well, and the lens produced sharp and beautiful images on my D-SLR.
Contact: Tamron, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com.
[ Specifications ]
Focal Length: 90mm
Focus Range: Life-size (1:1) to infinity
Filter Size: 55mm
Size: 2.8x3.8 inches
Weight: 14.3 ounces
List Price: $850
1. Lens focuses from infinity to 1:1 (lifesize) without accessories
2. Moderate telephoto leaves you
3. Focus-range limiter makes focusing more efficient