Tamron 16-300 on Canon 7DmkII -- overall quite happy

Started Jul 8, 2016 | User reviews thread
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Robert Krawitz Contributing Member • Posts: 638
Tamron 16-300 on Canon 7DmkII -- overall quite happy

After about 3500 frames with this combination, time to review it. I'm focusing on the lens, but in one regard the body combination may be relevant.

I purchased this lens a few months ago to replace my Canon EF 18-135 (non-USM/STM) and EF 70-300 IS lenses. My purpose in purchasing this lens was to replace those two lenses for travel and other purposes where convenience and light weight is more important than large aperture and absolute top image quality. The fact that it adds 2mm on the short end is a definite plus. I have a Sigma 8-16 for when I need shorter focal length and Sigma 50-500 OS for longer. I do have fast zooms, but I don't want the weight for travel purposes.

I've shot quite a variety with this combination: wildlife, landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, fireworks. I have the following observations:

Image quality is just fine for all but possibly the most critical purposes. Center sharpness, even at 300 mm, is just fine; I'm more limited by technique than by the lens. Note the feather detail below, which is straight out of the camera without any processing; with some sharpening, the detail is considerably better. Not every shot is as sharp, which I'm attributing to technique and/or environment (atmospherics), but this shot is good evidence that the lens is capable of very high quality.

Edge/corner quality is not quite as high, but in practice for what I do it doesn't matter (it might well matter for repro work, for example). In practice, for what I have been shooting, it isn't particularly critical. In extreme cases, such as a snowfield against dark rock, color fringing is certainly visible if you look for it, particularly at long focal lengths, but it's less off a problem than it was on the 70-300, which was considered an excellent lens when it was released and is very easy to correct in post with Darktable (I use Linux) using profiled lens correction.

I got excellent flower shots with this lens. It's not a true macro lens, of course, but it's very capable for quasi-macro work in the field.

Image stabilization works well, as long as you otherwise use good technique.

The maximum aperture is slow (f/6.3 toward the long end), and general recommendation on the net has been to use it at f/8. But you'll note that the shot above was at f/7.1. But I'm very comfortable at ISO 3200 and certainly go higher when I need to; we're not living in the film era any more. It's certainly not a good choice for low light, but that's the tradeoff for the size and weight.

The major weakness that I observed with this lens is that the shutter doesn't always release as quickly as it does with other lenses. That made shooting birds in flight and similar more difficult. The 7DmkII is normally a very responsive body -- hit the shutter button and it fires right away. With this lens, there was sometimes a hesitation before the first shot. I haven't established exactly when that happens and when it doesn't -- it does not appear to be related to image stabilization, as turning that off does not resolve this. It doesn't appear to be focus speed per se either; the lens does appear to focus quickly. It may be worth my while taking this up with Tamron technical support. The Sigma 50-500 does not have this problem, and certainly the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II doesn't.

Overall, I strongly recommend this lens for non-action purposes if convenience is important -- and the shot you get is always better than the one you don't because you have to change lenses or because the lens you have mounted is heavy enough to be awkward. If you want to use it for action shooting, make sure to test it carefully first to make sure that what I observed either doesn't apply to you or doesn't interfere with your shooting. I'm taking off a star because of that, but I would otherwise have no trouble rating it 5 stars.

 Robert Krawitz's gear list:Robert Krawitz's gear list
Canon PowerShot SX1 IS Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS M Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +5 more
Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro
Lens • Canon EF-S, Nikon F (DX), Sony/Minolta Alpha • B016
Announced: Feb 6, 2014
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro
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