8 out of 10 points and recommendedGreat if you only want to bring one lens, very affordableDepends on the camera for low light sensitivity
It is interesting to read the wide variety of reviews (pro and con) of this lens. It may not have the technical specs of a group of available lenses that together encompass this large zoom range, but for one lens it has no competition as far as I've found.reviewed November 30th, 2008
To put what you are about to read in context, I am an accredited photojournalist and have won several awards for my photography. I originally bought this non-VC Tamron 28-300 mm lens when I bought my Nikon D-100. I was on a tight budget and the camera store recommended it, so I took their advice. I have since upgraded my cameras several times, now shooting primarily with a Nikon D3, with a D300 as a second camera body. I also have several Nikon lenses, for limited-use applications. The problem is a lack of a broad range, Nikon brand zoom lens for their full frame FX sensor Nikon cameras (as opposed to DX lenses for the smaller chip). Even though I never use my D100 anymore, most of my shots taken with the D3 are taken in combination with my trusty Tamrom 28-300mm lens. It consistently takes good photos. I made a huge mistake a few months ago by buying Tamron's new VC version of this lens. That lens is a disaster. After missing several easy shots at my daughter's graduation due to the lens not focusing (instead, it hunted back and forth), I took the lens back to the store -- only to learn that other shooters had returned their Tamron VC 28-300mm lenses too. Another of my fellow journalists returned his for the same reason. He is still peeved that he blew an opportunity to get a $300 Nikon rebate on a combination D300 camera and lens purchase, because he chose to buy just the camera body and the Tamron VC lens instead.
This non-VC Tamron 28-300mm Nikon-mount lens is great if you want or need to travel light by bringing only your camera with a single, attached lens. It has a great zoom range and auto-focuses well. Note that there are some Nikon models that this lens will not auto-focus with, so be sure to verify your application before ordering one.
Granted this lens is not great in low light with older cameras, but the newer Nikons (including the D3, D300, D700 and others) have terrific low light sensitivity so the lens' low light capabilities do not matter that much. Simply set these camera bodies in their Auto-ISO mode, attach this Tamron lens and you'll be good to go for most situations. Using a relatively high shutter speed, my Nikon D3 and my aging Tamron lens, I was able to shoot sharp shots of a motorcycle stunt-jumping exhibition outside of the Palms hotel (in Las Vegas) at night, during the recent SEMA Show. The motorcycles, as they jumped high in the air, were lit only by a couple of spotlights. The results were amazing.
I have repeatedly asked Nikon reps for such a lens from Nikon for use with their new, full frame cameras (D3 and D700). They tell me they cannot make one that would sell for a low enough price that people would be willing to pay. Go figure. Perhaps someday Nikon will listen and make such a lens available. In the meantime, especially considering there is now a $50 rebate on this Tamron lens, I am tempted to buy another of these for when (or if) mine finally wears out.
1 out of 10 points and not recommendedGreat zoom range, compact, affordableTerrible autofocus mechanism - hunts and often will not focus
Do yourself a huge favor and buy the non-VC version of this lens. It is cheaper (under $300 with the current $50 rebate from Tamron) and, if your camera model is compatable with the autofocus mechanism (entry model Nikon DSLRs apparently do not have the needed autofocus motor on board) it focuses just fine. Read my review of the non-VC version of this lens elsewhere on this site.reviewed November 30th, 2008
As for this lens, I made a huge mistake a few months ago by buying it. Its auto-focusing capabilities on my Nikon D3 are terrible. After missing several easy shots at my daughter's graduation due to the lens not focusing (instead, it hunted back and forth, or locked out of focus), I returned the lens to the store -- where I learned from the store's manager that other shooters had returned their Tamron VC 28-300mm lenses too. Another of my fellow journalists returned his for the same reason. He is still peeved that he blew an opportunity to get a $300 Nikon rebate on a combination D300 camera and lens purchase, because he chose to buy just the camera body and the Tamron VC lens instead. I just convinced him to buy the non-VC version of this lens.