Sony 55-300 Comparison

Started Sep 29, 2012 | Discussions
jcurtistx
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Will make a decision soon...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 4, 2012

So I only plan on keeping one of these three lenses: Minolta 100-300 APO D, Tamron 70-300 USD or Sony 55-300 SAM and I am getting closer to a decision.

The old school kid is close to being kicked off the block.  The Minolta 100-300 is at the moment in last place mainly because of the fact my copy often times has a slight green tint to the colors compared to any other lens I own.  I do like the size and speed of focus, but it is losing the go to lens feeling that I have with the others if I need to pick one off my desk.  Still a good lens, but just missing something - could be the longer starting focal length and minimum focus distance too.

The Tamron - ah the Tamron.  A lens that many people say is right up there with the Sony 70-300G.  I have not had it long enough to make that statement, but the optical quality is very good throughout the range and the focus speed and quietness are very good.  But man, it is a big lens compared to either the Sony or Minolta.  I know I have said this before, but size and weight do affect how often I may grab the camera with the Tamron lens and hand it to my wife or put it in a backpack for a trip to the zoo with the 2 kids (3 & 2 yrs).  Initial impressions are the Tamron is a great value if the size and weight of the lens are not an issue for you.

Then there is the Sony...  The SAM powered inexpensive $300 new lens from Sony.  By all accounts, for this price the optics and build should be ok - but not great.  However, I see myself surprised more than disappointed when I look at photos of just normal situations - not ones I create to highlight the lacking feature which is focus speed.  When it really comes down to it, if I need focus speed and accuracy I will grab my Sigma 50-150mm HSM II f/2.8 lens.  For portability and to avoid being looked at like Paparazi compared to the Tamron, the Sony would fit the bill nicely.

I plan on using the Tamron more today and the Sony to see if my thinking still holds on the size and if the real world focus speed difference is significant enough between the two to outweigh the convenience of the size on the Sony.

Decisions, Decisions...

Jeff

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jcurtistx
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Re: Sony 55-300 Comparison
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 4, 2012

ISO 400 300mm f/8 1/3200

In this corner we have the Sony 55-300mm SAM - the underdog

ISO 400 300mm f/8 1/2500

In this corner we have the Tamron 70-300 USD - the reigning champion

Optically it is hard to say which is better in my limited experience.  In one photo I will think the Tamron - in another the Sony (maybe a very slight edge to Tamron @ 300mm).  Surprisingly I was able to catch this bird with the Sony, granted it is a large graceful one...

Jeff

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jcurtistx
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The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 5, 2012

After using these three lenses this week and seeing which lens I could see myself using more often, I am keeping the Sony and returning the Tamron plus selling the Minolta 100-300 APO D.

All three of these have their plusses and minuses but it came down to which one fits my situation the best.  As I expected, I can see that the bulk of the Tamron would be more if an inconvenience for me than the other lenses.  I have nothing negative to say about the Tamron except for the size (for me).  One thing playing around with all three did, was help me determine the best lens for my use.  I actually had the Sony 70-300G a few years ago and sold that - now I remember why I did.  The size is similar to the Tamron 70-300 USD.

Being that the Sony 55-300 is APS-C and not Full Frame, that helps cut down on the size and weight.  If I had a larger camera say the A77, the Tamron 70-300 may have felt better balanced.  Then again, I would have even more to lug around with a diaper bag in toe - LOL...

Hope my experience helps and if you have any questions for me I will be happy to help.  I will not be able to test the three lenses against each other any more, but I will have the 55-300 to enjoy and post photos.

Jeff

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BlueFightingCat
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Re: The Tamron is here - how they stack up...
In reply to stefan662, Oct 5, 2012

@stefan662: Thanks for the photo comparison. It shows that the 50-300 is sharper than the 18-270. I was wondering whether you noticed any differences between focusing speeds. A lot of people on this thread are saying the focus speed is slow. How would you compare it to the 18-270?

BFC

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wallawallaron
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 5, 2012

Jeff,

Thank you for all the work you put into this report.  as you stated it came down to size,balance and IQ. on your A57.  This report helped me decide to go with the Tamron 70-300 for my A77 use. I moved up from the A100 and was using a older Sigma 70-300.  So far the Tamron and a77 work great together,have only had the camera and lens for one day what a joy to use.  The lens works great. I tried it in sport mode and it just keeps on trucking. Hope to find some football games and soccer games to try it all out on.  I do mostly landscape,family, and wildlife photos. Want to start shooting some rodeos and air show. Once again thanks to all that added to this post.

WWR

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stefan662
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Re: The Tamron is here - how they stack up...
In reply to BlueFightingCat, Oct 5, 2012

BlueFightingCat wrote:

@stefan662: Thanks for the photo comparison. It shows that the 50-300 is sharper than the 18-270. I was wondering whether you noticed any differences between focusing speeds. A lot of people on this thread are saying the focus speed is slow. How would you compare it to the 18-270?

BFC

I made no tests with a stopwatch. But my impression is the Sony is slower to move through the whole focus range especially at the wide end. But the Tamron hunts more than the Sony. So in real world use I think the Sony is faster. But there are no worlds between.

Where the Tamron beats the Sony is the focus noise. The Tamron is more in the league with the SSM of the Sony 16-50/2.8 noise wise.

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Setter Dog
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 5, 2012

jcurtistx wrote:

All three of these have their plusses and minuses but it came down to which one fits my situation the best.  As I expected, I can see that the bulk of the Tamron would be more if an inconvenience for me than the other lenses.  I have nothing negative to say about the Tamron except for the size (for me).  One thing playing around with all three did, was help me determine the best lens for my use.  I actually had the Sony 70-300G a few years ago and sold that - now I remember why I did.  The size is similar to the Tamron 70-300 USD.


Jeff

Jeff,

Thanks for this really good discussion. It cleared up some things for several of us. These lenses are all a compromise in one are or another, but we can find one that suits our needs. From what you wrote, the Sony fits you just right. Happy shooting!

Jack

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jcurtistx
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to wallawallaron, Oct 5, 2012

I think you made a very good choice.  I do really like the Tamron and I am glad you are enjoying it too.  That lens in particular really makes me wonder how much of a dent in the 70-300G market that lens has made.  Great job by Tamron.

Jeff

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jcurtistx
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to Setter Dog, Oct 5, 2012

Glad I was able to help out.  I use this site a lot to get recommendations and help from others so where I think I can contribute I try to.  I will say, having all three lenses together for a few days did really make me solidify my choice and avoid buyers remorse.

If the time comes later on that the Sony 55-300 no longer suits my needs for some reason, the Sony ecosystem of lenses is growing and that is a great thing.  Between the Sony 55-300, Tamron 70-300 USD and Sony 70-300G, there is a great selection of options to choose from based one's needs.

Jeff

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jcurtistx
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Re: The Tamron is here - how they stack up...
In reply to stefan662, Oct 5, 2012

stefan662 wrote:

I made no tests with a stopwatch. But my impression is the Sony is slower to move through the whole focus range especially at the wide end. But the Tamron hunts more than the Sony. So in real world use I think the Sony is faster. But there are no worlds between.

Where the Tamron beats the Sony is the focus noise. The Tamron is more in the league with the SSM of the Sony 16-50/2.8 noise wise.

I agree with that.  The Sony may take longer to go through the entire range back and forth, but it does not seem to hesitate or hunt much to try and lock focus.  The motor is not as whisper quiet as the Tamron 18-270, Tamron 70-300 USD, Sony 18-135 SAM, or Sony 16-50 SSM.  However, when in video mode the focus is very quiet - quiet enough that I cannot really notice it.

Jeff

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ValeryD
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 5, 2012

jcurtistx wrote:

After using these three lenses this week and seeing which lens I could see myself using more often, I am keeping the Sony and returning the Tamron plus selling the Minolta 100-300 APO D.

All three of these have their plusses and minuses but it came down to which one fits my situation the best.  As I expected, I can see that the bulk of the Tamron would be more if an inconvenience for me than the other lenses.  I have nothing negative to say about the Tamron except for the size (for me).  One thing playing around with all three did, was help me determine the best lens for my use.  I actually had the Sony 70-300G a few years ago and sold that - now I remember why I did.  The size is similar to the Tamron 70-300 USD.

Being that the Sony 55-300 is APS-C and not Full Frame, that helps cut down on the size and weight.  If I had a larger camera say the A77, the Tamron 70-300 may have felt better balanced.  Then again, I would have even more to lug around with a diaper bag in toe - LOL...

Hope my experience helps and if you have any questions for me I will be happy to help.  I will not be able to test the three lenses against each other any more, but I will have the 55-300 to enjoy and post photos.

Jeff

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Sony A57, Sony 18-135, Tamron 60 f2, Sigma 50-150 f2.8, Tamron 70-210 f3.5-4.5 (Circa 1988), Sony 55-300 SAM

Thank you!

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mmhendrie
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Re: The Tamron is here - how they stack up...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 7, 2012

Jeff - just wanted to pass on my thanks. I've been following your evolving opinion on the comparison of these 3 lenses. Its an interesting thing to see. I think most of us who don't have serious cash to part with would look at these 3 as the battle of the best quality affordable lenses that get you to 300mm.

One of the interesting things for me is the Sony being 55 at the short end. Many times I'll take my 75-300mm (Minolta 'new') out with the family for a day at the zoo, and find myself having to jump back to something shorter to get the family shots, I think the 55 on the Sony might be a good solution for the flexibility, but provide better IQ then the super zooms. A bit disappointing that they didn't use the newer quieter SAM, it seems like that would have clearly set the Sony apart as the #1 choice, instead of a needs-based compromise, but I suppose you can't have everything for $300! That said, having just picked up the 18-135mm, it looks like Sony are starting to ramp up the quality of their glass production.

Thanks for all the time and effort on this post, very helpful I'm sure to many.

-Matt

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stefan662
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Re: The Tamron is here - how they stack up...
In reply to mmhendrie, Oct 8, 2012

mmhendrie wrote:

... One of the interesting things for me is the Sony being 55 at the short end. Many times I'll take my 75-300mm (Minolta 'new') out with the family for a day at the zoo, and find myself having to jump back to something shorter to get the family shots, I think the 55 on the Sony might be a good solution for the flexibility, but provide better IQ then the super zooms. ...

-Matt

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This was exactly one of the 2 major aspects (the other one being size) for me for choosing the Sony over the Tamron. I used the 55mm quite often and could leave the 16-50 in the bag.

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Timmy Fox
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Re: The Tamron is here - how they stack up...
In reply to stefan662, Oct 16, 2012

What I am wondering is how the 55-300 would compare to the older 55-200 SAM.

Imo the flaws of the 55-200 is somewhat slow focusing and some CA at the longer end (though that can be corrected in lightroom).

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Setter Dog
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Why so little info on Sony 55-300mm
In reply to stefan662, Oct 17, 2012

stefan662 wrote:

mmhendrie wrote:

... One of the interesting things for me is the Sony being 55 at the short end. Many times I'll take my 75-300mm (Minolta 'new') out with the family for a day at the zoo, and find myself having to jump back to something shorter to get the family shots, I think the 55 on the Sony might be a good solution for the flexibility, but provide better IQ then the super zooms. ...

-Matt

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This was exactly one of the 2 major aspects (the other one being size) for me for choosing the Sony over the Tamron. I used the 55mm quite often and could leave the 16-50 in the bag.

I think the weight of the Sony lens and the 55mm at the wide end are two definite pluses. They are exactly the two reasons I'm still considering this lens. As we know, the Tamron and Sigma and other Sony offerings are heavier and start at 70mm.

All of this information can be learned from the press releases and spec sheets, however. There are very few subjective opinions being offered and virtually no reviews. Dyxum has only two user reviews, neither very good. Amazon has none so far. Jeff was good enough to share his opinions with us.

Surely there are other users on this forum that can give us their impressions. I hope so.

Thanks again to Jeff. Maybe he has some more thoughts to share.

Jack

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romicva
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 17, 2012

First of all - big thank you for documenting your work!

I've got a quick question about 100-300 APO D: if your copy didn't have persistent tint issue, would you keep it over 55-300?

Thank you.

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jcurtistx
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to romicva, Oct 17, 2012

romicva wrote:

I've got a quick question about 100-300 APO D: if your copy didn't have persistent tint issue, would you keep it over 55-300?

Thank you.

Simple answer - yes...  I like the wider range and quieter focus for video.  Optical quality in my eyes was similar which is to say very good in this price range.  The Minolta is a very good lens in its own rite, but the Sony is just better in my eyes for my purpose.

Jeff

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Codified Likeness Utility CLU
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Oct 18, 2012

Loved all the research on the Sony 55-300mm.  Motivated  me to order the Sony 55-300mm today.  I was leaning toward the Tamron 70-300 but I prefer the lighter build so I will post more when mine gets here!

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DistantView
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to jcurtistx, Jul 2, 2013

Jeff

I've just been pointed at your post(s) when I asked the same question earlier today -thank you for saving me & others so much time & effort, great work & much appreciated

Many thanks

RT

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crupp
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Re: The verdict...
In reply to DistantView, Jul 11, 2013

Thanks for all the hard work with this. I need a longer zoom for kids soccer, tennis, etc. I have an 18-135 which is great. Can get a 55-300 for $135.00, looks like a no brainier.

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