Many photographers claim that equipment doesn’t really matter—simply put, the best lens won’t make a bad photographer any better, and even bad lenses in the hands of a skilled master will produce great results. While this may be true to some extent, quality equipment can make a difference, and unfortunately poor equipment can constrain your photographic process. When I test a new piece of equipment, I ask myself whether its quality and design limit my artistic choices, or whether it gives me the flexibility to pursue my creative vision.
I recently tested Tamron’s new entry into the mid-length telephoto zoom class—its “60th Anniversary” SP70-300 Di VC USD. I got a chance to play around with this lens for a few weeks, but unfortunately it was during a period when I was at home in Virginia. I would have liked the opportunity to test the lens in an exotic location such as Yellowstone or Patagonia, but instead some of my local parks had to suffice. It’s “twig season” here in the Old Dominion, and everything is fairly barren and lifeless, but the upside is that the un-photogenic conditions have forced me to test the creative limits of the SP70-300 to the max.
My first impressions? I find the SP70-300 to be a surprisingly versatile, high quality lens, providing the user with flexibility for a wide range of outdoor subjects. Build and optical quality is very good, and the lens' auto focus and image stabilization work very well. I found the lens perfect for zooming in on distant or small details, such as the back-lit cattails above, or the leaf trapped in ice and ice shards lit by the setting sun below.
My bottom line after using the lens for a few weeks is that this lens is a solid performer, and offers good value for its cost—it packs a lot of bang for the buck. Its flexibility will prove useful for travel and nature photographers alike.
The Tamron SP70-300 is available at B&H Photo (my camera store of choice) for $449, in Canon, Nikon, and Sony mounts. I've provided links below in case you are interested in learning more.