90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro

Started Mar 25, 2012 | Discussions
sarahorsomeone
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90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
Mar 25, 2012

Hi everyone.

I was given a Canon EOS 1000D a couple of years ago, and I currently only have the EFS 18-55 mm kit lens that came with it. I'd never bought myself an SLR because of the expense of the lenses, but I'm not getting the use I'd like out of my camera because my main interest is macro photography; so I've decided to invest in a macro lens.

There are two main things I need my lens to be suitable for:

  • Photographing insects and other 'buggy-things'.

  • Still-lifes of small objects (jewellery in particular, since I make small items in sterling silver and since hardly any of it is kept, I like to keep a record of everything I've made)

I'm currently leaning towards either the Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro or the Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II LD IF Macro, but I just can't work out which I should go for. I'm aware that 90mm lenses generally have a bigger working distance than 60mm lenses, but I've also read (on his forum) that, since the Tamron 90mm has an unusually short working-distance and the 60mm an unusually long working distance, there isn't much between them. Any advice wanted!

I'm also willing to consider other macro lenses, although my absolute maximum budget is £400. Weight is also an issue, with the 90mm Tamron probably being near my limit.

Help! and thanks in advance!

Canon EOS 1000D (EOS Rebel XS / Kiss F Digital)
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Statross2
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 25, 2012

The 90mm has a normal working distance, the 60mm has a long WD compared to what most would expect from a 60mm macro.

After seeing the first comment about that i did some checking up elsewhere and it does appear they are about equal in WD (still, always best to do your own research, too).

I've not used the 60mm. Reports are it's very good. Slightly better than the 90mm. I can see that in photos online, it does appear a little sharper.

I did have a 90mm, its weight is not an issue, really. It's not super light but it's not heavy. A (lowest-level) gorillapod can take the weight of my cam+90mm.

If I had the money i'd buy the 60mm based on reviews, user reports and online photos...but, try and find some professional sites that have compared them. Some say to buy the 60mm because it has an ever-so-slightly faster aperture. But for macro that wont matter(90% of the time), and if you're into portrait photography you'll already have a 30-50mm 1.x. So i'd ignore that factor.

if you've never done macro photography before...one piece of advice i have is to try and find your lenses diffraction-softness drop-off point. For my 90mm it was about f16 when it fell off a bit of a cliff. At max aperture it was noticeably suffering (in crops).

The first-timer (well...me) will have heard about increasing aperture for DOF, will see the DOF on their camera monitor is reasonable at max aperture but will have soft photos at home when reviewing. I mention this because I was most unhappy with the lens until I started to reduce aperture on a little test set-up and saw sharpness (though much less DOF).

Anyway, in conclusion...most people say that with a macro lens you cant really go wrong because modern ones are all very good. If it were me: if money is an issue and the 60mm is £100 more expensive i'd go for the 90mm, if it's 50 or less between them i'd go 60mm. But since I havent used a 60mm, I can only really advise on the 90mm, my 60mm advice is speculative

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Brev00
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 26, 2012

The 60mm lens is if , that is, it does not grow while focusing. The 90mm lens has a touch more working distance but does grow while focusing. This can be a factor if you are shooting things that might be startled. I had a chance to use both and preferred the auto/manual focus clutch of the 90. I wound up getting a few more keepers with it at a Tamron field event. I wound up going in a completely different direction getting a Sigma 70mm 2.8 Macro. Go figure. After all that research. It is worth giving them both a try if you get the chance. One more thing, the 60mm 2.0 is dx and the 90mm 2.8 is fx. The 60 cannot follow you to an fx body if that is in your future.
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Nikon D90 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4 DX II Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD +2 more
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_sem_
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 26, 2012

You can find some more details in some threads on the Nikon forums.

I've got the 60/2 and am generally happy with it. Optically they're both good, sharp with smooth background bokeh.

The 60 is a newer non-extending design, which is great for certain things, for example it works fine at 1:1 with just the pop-up flash of the D90 at base ISO with a collapsible diffuser that mounts on the lens. The 90 extends too far, so more flash power is needed.

But I'd agree the new Nikon-AFS-line instant MF override clutch is a step back if one wants likes to MF a lot. It has much more of a "stick-slip" handling than similar Nikon lenses. It also lacks an AF limit switch to make focus search shorter in case it isn't able to lock focus.

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sarahorsomeone
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to _sem_, Mar 26, 2012

Thanks for the advice so far everyone.

Although this would be the first macro lens I've OWNED; I'm not completely new to macro photography (used to borrow my - now ex - boyfriend's 50mm Sigma macro, which produced good images in the right conditions, but I want something with a bit more working distance.)

Brev00; I can't see me ever getting an FX (unless in some distant unforeseeable future they're the same sort of price as the DXs) so that's not a major issue. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but is there any kind of disadvantage to using an FX lens on a DX camera?

sem , would you mind elaborating on the 'stick-slip' issue with the manual focusing? I suspect I'd use it in MF most of the time (from my experience borrowing a macro lens I wasn't that keen on AF, and I use MF a good portion of the time even with my kit lens), so that might rule the 60mm out for me.

As much as I'd love to give both lenses at try, I'm not sure how realistic that is; when I went in my local Jessops they didn't have a single macro lens in the shop (shop assistant seemed to think it was some strange invention from outer space....), and the few independent camera shops near me have gone bust in the recession!

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_sem_
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 26, 2012

sarahorsomeone wrote:

sem , would you mind elaborating on the 'stick-slip' issue with the manual focusing? I suspect I'd use it in MF most of the time (from my experience borrowing a macro lens I wasn't that keen on AF, and I use MF a good portion of the time even with my kit lens), so that might rule the 60mm out for me.

Stick-slip is known from mechanics, with valves etc. Means that at first the ring does not move, then jumps a little bit, so it is prone to overshooting with very short moves. However in macro practice one mostly focuses by moving the camera, and the focus ring is mainly used to set magnification. It's not horrible, just a small annoyance Maybe gets in the way if trying to focus stack by turning the ring (but a focus rail is mostly a better idea for this because it doesn't change magnification). It'd be more annoying if one would insist on MF for non-macro things, portraits or such (where most folks prefer AF). I think the lacking AF limit switch is a bigger issue, though common to many macros. If this lens had one, it could AF a bit faster than the 50/1.8D in the overlapping part of the range (and just about as noisily).

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Brev00
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 26, 2012

I don't think the Tamron 90 has any disadvantages in terms of using it on a dx body. I think it is a wonderful lens. Even though I have the Sigma, I still think about getting a 90 (more dreaming). It really is a classic macro: inexpensive (relatively speaking) and light enough to handhold. I like the manual focus of the 90--very precise and really nice on a tripod--while I found the clutch on the 60 trickier (probably just me). I guess its only disadvantage is the the field of view on a cropped body makes it equivalent to a 135mm lens which is one reason I passed on it: a bit too long for my purposes. Usually dx lenses are smaller and lighter than fx lenses (there are exceptions), but I think Tamron often likes a lighter design so that is not an issue with the 90.
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 Brev00's gear list:Brev00's gear list
Nikon D90 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4 DX II Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD +2 more
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cjed
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 26, 2012

I'd certainly get the Tamron 60mm f2 macro over the Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro. They both have a working distance or about 100mm at 1:1 (maximum) magnification. The only advantage (for Macro work) of the 90mm Tamron is that it will work on Full Frame DSLRs (the 60mm is for APS-C sensor DSLRs), and that it's usually slightly cheaper.

Here's a gallery of macro samples, almost all from the Tamron 60mm f2 (shot on a Canon 50D) :
http://www.pbase.com/cjed/misc2011

And here's a general selection from the Tamron 60mm (also on Canon 50D) :
http://www.pbase.com/cjed/tamron60f2

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Check out my galleries (lots of macros) at :
http://www.pbase.com/cjed

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sarahorsomeone
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to cjed, Mar 26, 2012

Cjed, if the advantage of the 90mm is the fact it will work on an FX camera (which as previously discussed, isn't much of a practical advantage for me personally), what are the advantages of the 60mm (other than the fact it's less likely to obscure the flash)?

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cjed
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 26, 2012

Well, for me the three big advantages are the IF (Internal Focusing), which means that the lens doesn't extend as you focus closer, the f2.0 maximum aperture which means I can use it as a replacement for the 50mm f1.8, and the small size and weight.

I always like to take a Macro as part of my travel "kit", and a low-light lens as well. The 60mm f2 serves both roles. The full kit is Canon 50D, EF-S 10-22mm, EF-S 15-85mm IS, EF-S 55-250mm IS and Tamron 60mm f2. This all goes into a Kata backpack which holds accessories (spare batteries, filters, flash etc.) and my laptop.

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Check out my galleries (lots of macros) at :
http://www.pbase.com/cjed

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Chris De Schepper
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to cjed, Mar 27, 2012

another thing to consider, the 60mm will be a nice portrait lens at F2. For macro a big difference might be a more quiet background.

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_sem_
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 27, 2012

sarahorsomeone wrote:

(other than the fact it's less likely to obscure the flash)

Obscuring the flash is not relevant. Direct flash does not look good, even as fill it needs to be used sparingly. Attaching that diffuser at the end of the lens makes pics look much better, not only does away with the shadow. Then limited flash power may be an issue with an extended lens and the pop-up flash if you don't have the big one with you.

Chris De Schepper wrote:

another thing to consider, the 60mm will be a nice portrait lens at F2. For macro a big difference might be a more quiet background.

I guess the backgroud is just about as blurred with the 90 @2.8 as with the 60 @2

It does matter which FL you prefer. With the 90 you are need to stand a bit further away and get a smaller frame of the background...

I think the 60 has less loCA - not commonly a problem but difficult to get rid of in post-processing (unlike lateral CA, distortion, vignetting) when it does appear - I mean purple / green tint in out-of-focus specular highlight that should be white, most problematic with the lens wide-open.

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Chris De Schepper
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to _sem_, Mar 28, 2012

I mean the background when using it nearby, the 90mm is going to have a lightly different effect.And I mean using for instance focus 16 for DOF in macro situations

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sarahorsomeone
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to Chris De Schepper, Mar 29, 2012

Well, I've not totally decided yet, but at the moment I'm leaning towards the 60mm. Mainly because, watching a Youtube clip of the 90mm in action, I was surprised just how much it extends when focusing considering it's a prime lens; much further than I'd imagined.

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RayG123
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Re: 90mm Tamron Macro vs. 60mm Tamron Macro
In reply to sarahorsomeone, Mar 29, 2012

+1 vote to Tamron 60mm

On my Nikon DSLR, I had both Tamron 90mm and 60mm at different times and now none... and use Sigma 105mm DG

Another reason for Tamron 60mm is it's little bit faster autofocus in general use, compared to T90.

sarahorsomeone wrote:

Well, I've not totally decided yet, but at the moment I'm leaning towards the 60mm. Mainly because, watching a Youtube clip of the 90mm in action, I was surprised just how much it extends when focusing considering it's a prime lens; much further than I'd imagined.

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