Conclusion - Pros
- Equal widest angle in its class, and largest zoom range (by a whisker)
- Low distortion
- Generally good resistance to flare
Conclusion - Cons
- Soft wide open (low local contrast)
- Soft corners at all focal lengths and apertures
- Wide diameter lens hood takes up lots of space in a bag
The SP AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) is Tamron's second attempt at a wide angle zoom for DX cameras, and it certainly looks as though this time the company has come up with a more compelling product than its older 11-18mm. The new lens offers a more useful zoom range - the additional wide angle capability is welcome, and while that 1mm difference may not sound much at first, it's significant in practice (109º vs 103º diagonal angle of view). The increased range at the long end can also be helpful, as it means less need for changing lenses while shooting; the 10-24mm can now also be much more plausibly paired with 24mm or 28mm zooms (such as Tamron's own 28-75mm F2.8). The faster maximum aperture is also welcome, and while sharpness wide open leaves something be be desired, you do at least have the option of using it when necessary (as well as getting the benefit of increased viewfinder brightness).
We'll see how this lens compares to its direct rivals in forthcoming reviews, but in absolute terms image quality is perfectly acceptable for a lens at this price point. In terms of sharpness and chromatic aberration, the 10-24mm is broadly comparable to mid-range zooms such as the Nikon AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6G VR, but without the extreme barrel distortion such lenses exhibit at wideangle. This alone makes it much better suited to shooting subjects such as architecture, which are dominated by straight lines across the frame. Usefully it's sharpest at the wide end, which is of course what users will be buying it for, although it's no slouch at longer focal lengths either. And while the extreme corners are rather soft, this only affects a very limited region of the frame, and on those rare occasions where it's really a problem, only a slight crop is needed to deal with it.
On an operational level, there's not much to criticize; the lens handles and works well. While we've been critical of Tamron's comparatively slow autofocus systems on other lenses, in this case it's really not an issue in real-world use; after all this lens is probably not going to be the first choice for a sports and action photographer. About the biggest practical problem is actually rather mundane; the large-diameter, widely-flared lens hood certainly facilitates the use of polarisers, but does so at the cost of portability; you'll need a relatively large slot in your bag to accommodate it, and the temptation will probably be to leave it at home.
So overall, this is a wide angle zoom which will give good results when used with a little care (i.e. not shot wide open), and which has much to like about it in terms of operation and results. With the broad zoom range and reasonable price, it's worthy of a place on the shortlist for anyone looking to buy an ultrawide DX zoom.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.0|
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|Tamron 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 Samples Gallery - Posted 11th February 2009|