8 out of 10 points and recommendedGood color, contrast, bokeh, speed and sharpness,AF could be faster, slight softness wide open
This is a great zoom range for the sports and aviation shooter. Nikon needs to cover this range with a VR lens. This lens would benefit from Sigma's new Optical Stabilization (OS). I bought this lens used and have used it for aviation mainly, but also some children playing shots, on my D300 (1.5 crop). I've shot it almost all handheld. When using it for kids playing (similar to sports), the focus speed limitations start to show. But then, I'm spoiled with the fast focus of the Nikon 70-200 AFS VR. It's slightly soft at 2.8/300mm and gets better as it's stopped down, coming to very sharp at f5.6 and seemingly even better at f8. I haven't shot enough at the lower end of focal length to judge. Color and contrast are amazing. It gives a great bokeh that is nice and soft/creamy. This is a pro piece of glass and its heavy at around 6lbs. Corners look great on my D300, but you'd expect that of a fullframe lens on a 1.5x crop camera. I suspect this lens will get updated with OS soon and it would make this excellent lens even better. This lens seems to be very popular, yet SLRgear has yet to test it or the 100-300 f4 Sigma that both have a large Nikon following due to lack of coverage from Nikon. SLRgear would be serving the photographic community well to test both of these lenses.reviewed May 31st, 2009 (purchased for $2,000)
6 out of 10 points and recommendedexcellent color and contrastbackfocused about 3 ft on a 7ft subject
3/10/09, I bought this last Friday and tested it over the weekend all at f2.8. Nikonians.org has a couple threads on this lens. I found it backfocused about 3ft behind a subject at 7ft. The images were pretty soft. Since I was testing on a D300 Nikon, I immediately went to the AF correction page of my camera menu and tried the extreme offsets for AF. The -20 setting showed a good improvement. Further testing showed that -15 was the correct offset for the AF on this lens. I did some comparisons of my pics to Ken Rockwell's examples and they are very similar after the D300's AF offset settings. However, I wanted a lens that I could use on my D50 (no AF correction feature) as well. I went back to the store and tried their other example...same issue. I called THK and they said bring it in. I took it to them yesterday 3/9/09. In a couple weeks I should have it back. My intent is to get rid of my Tamron 11-18mm if the Tokina performs well. The color and contrast is hands down much better on the Tokina than the Tamron, no question. Even though I could get good performance after my AF corrections, this lens and the other in the store, would produce unsharp pics if not for my D300's AF correction capability. Therefore, I would not recommend it to anyone without that camera feature until THK Tokina gets their production corrected.reviewed March 10th, 2009 (purchased for $569)
8 out of 10 points and recommendedinexpensive, lightweightcheap build typical of Tamron
I bought this lens about 2 yrs ago now, used on ebay. I hadn't really tested it much until I bought the Tokina 11-16 and set up some tests (see my Tokina 11-16 review). The Tamron AF accuracy was very good and required only -3 units (backforcused about 5-6 inches at 7ft subject) of AF correction on my D300.reviewed March 10th, 2009 (purchased for $375)
In comparing this lens to the Tokina, I found the Tamron had a much lower contrast and lower color saturation level. It also had a sort of warm color cast to it.
Currently, Tokina has some quality control issues with their AF calibration, so the Tamron is the better choice for those that don't want to hassle the repair work or don't have cameras capable of AF correction.
I've worn out a Tamron recently, to the point that the front barrel is wobbling around. The Tamron construction is such that it has plastic parts as wear surfaces on the zoom and focus parts. So, for those contemplating this lens as longterm investment, I'd say go for another choice such as your camera brand or the Tokina (with consideration of the backfocus issue).