Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD SP

Lens Reviews / Tamron Lenses i Not yet tested
90mm $749
average price
image of Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD SP

(From Tamron lens literature) Tamron Co., Ltd. (President and CEO: Morio Ono / Headquarters: Saitama City), a leading manufacturer of optical equipment, announced the development of a next generation 90mm Macro lens for full-size SLR cameras. The lens features completely redesigned optics, a proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation), and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive).

Product Features

  • Tamron has updated their legendary 90mm Macro lens with a new, state-of-the-art optical design. The lens, reborn for the age of digital photography, offers VC (Vibration Compensation)*1 and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive)*2.
  • Adopting a state-of-the-art optical design and a rounded diaphragm*4, this lens carries on the long tradition of Tamron's 90mm Macro lens in delivering spectacular blur effects. Two XLD*5 (Extra Low Dispersion) glasses and one LD (Low Dispersion) element reduce chromatic aberrations, yielding sharp images and outstanding resolution.
  • Tamron's newly developed eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating*6 delivers a dramatic improvement in antireflection performance—significantly reducing flare and ghosting for clearer, crisper images.
  • The VC (Vibration Compensation)*1 image stabilization mechanism reduces camera shake to deliver sharp images.*7
  • Features USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive)*2 to power a speedy AF drive together with a continuous manual focus mechanism.
  • Incorporates IF (Internal Focus) system, which focuses by moving only the internal lens group, rather than the front lens elements. The overall length of the lens therefore does not change when focusing, thus ensuring a broad working distance.
  • Moisture-resistant construction helps prevent moisture from penetrating the lens.

*1 VC (Vibration Compensation) is Tamron's proprietary image stabilization mechanism.
*2 USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) is Tamron's proprietary ultrasonic motor drive.
*3 The Sony mount does not include VC, as Sony digital SLR bodies include image stabilization functionality. The Sony lens is designated as “SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 USD”.
*4 This rounded diaphragm retains a nearly circular shape even when taken two stops down from its fully open state.
*5 The XLD (Extra Low Dispersion) glass is made from specialized high-grade glass, which offers greater chromatic aberration correction properties than LD (Low Dispersion) elements.
*6 The eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating is a new nanotechnology-based coating technique developed by Tamron to reduce unwanted reflection.
*7 From 3m, the benefits of VC (Vibration Compensation) gradually decrease as the focus distance becomes closer.

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD SP User Reviews

9.0/10 average of 2 review(s) Build Quality 8.0/10 Image Quality 9.0/10
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by MediaGuru (2 reviews)
    solid build, good fit & finish, very sharp at f/2.8-f/3.1 and tack sharp at f/3.5-f/16, no lateral chromatic aberration, no distortion, IF, quiet af, no front/back focus issues, smooth focus ring, moisture resistant, 6 yr warranty
    a-mount connector a bit loose, sharpness declines after f/16, minor bokeh fringing from f/2.8-f/7.1, minor vignetting from f/2.8-f/3.5, lens flair, Sony version lacks VC, AF slower than expected, no case/pouch

    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.

    This 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.

    This 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 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 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.

    Pincushion, barrel and mustache distortion are non-existent.

    Vignetting is very well controlled on this lens. Stopping down to f/4 will eliminate any visible vignetting.

    Lens 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.

    The 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.

    This 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).

    This 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.

    This 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.

    The copy I received had absolutely no issues with front or back focus.

    This lens has the smoothest focus ring I've ever used - I wish my 180mm macro was this smooth.

    Length 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)

    The 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")

    Let's be real, $750 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.

    Overall 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 less than other 70-135mm primes I looked at.

    I feel this lens deserves a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars.

    reviewed October 27th, 2013 (purchased for $749)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by lensreporter (12 reviews)
    AF silent and quick, bokeh, sharp of course (a little less than the older version), VC
    still a bit plastic-feeling

    Nice lens! excellent macrowork, great bokeh, quick AF and fantastic stabilization, nice colours and of course sharp. I paid 450 new, good price for a luxery-macro!

    reviewed August 2nd, 2013 (purchased for $450)