Tamron interview: "Our strength is high quality lenses in a compact size"
At last month's CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan we sat down with senior executives from several major camera and lens manufacturers, including Tamron. Our conversation covered various topics, including the move to new native mirrorless designs, and the decline in DSLR lens sales.
The following interview was conducted through an interpreter, and has been edited for clarity and flow. Answers from the four interviewees have been combined.
Is the new 28-75mm a completely new design?
It is, yes.
How long has it been in development?
Typically a lens like this takes around one year to develop.
|Tamron's upcoming 28-75mm F2.8 is the first third-party zoom lens designed natively for full-frame mirrorless cameras.|
What was your goal when designing this lens?
When we are planning new products, we’re always thinking about the voice of our customers, and customer benefit. The market is moving towards mirrorless, so we wanted to launch new FE lenses. Sony has the biggest market share of the mirrorless market.
With the Sony Alpha 7 series, the bodies are compact, but the lenses are relatively big
We’re also aiming for high quality, and good performance. And specifically for FE lenses, we wanted a small and lightweight option. With the Sony Alpha 7 series, the bodies are compact, but the lenses are relatively big. So when we were planning a fast lens for FE lens it was important to us that it would be compact, but still high quality.
This is the first third-party [zoom] lens for the Sony full-frame E-mount, and we’re expecting it to do well in the market.
Are you planning to create Sony E-mount versions of your existing SP primes and zooms, or will you make entirely new designs?
We’re not planning on making Sony E-mount versions of our existing lenses, no. Our concept is a little different to Sigma’s. We’re trying to customize lenses specifically for FE, otherwise they’d be too big. When it comes to autofocus, mirrorless has different requirements too. Mirrorless cameras are good for movies as well as stills, and existing AF motors aren’t very good for video. This lens [the new 28-75mm F2.8] has a stepping motor for autofocus, which is better for video.
|The new 70-200mm F4 promises high quality, without the size and weight that we generally associate with faster F2.8 telezooms.|
How important is the Sony customer base to you now?
Very important. Everybody is going to mirrorless. Canon and Nikon will launch full-frame mirrorless cameras, probably in the near future. When this happens, we can easily make Canon and Nikon versions of our [native] E-mount lenses. The same design could work for [multiple mirrorless mounts].
So with this new lens, you’re thinking ahead.
Yes, to the near future.
Optical performance of the new 28-75mm F2.8 will be equivalent to our SP lenses
This new lens is not in the ‘SP’ range. What does this signify?
Within Tamron, we have an internal definition of SP, where we usually utilize metal for the body material, and certain other features. Optical performance of the new 28-75mm F2.8 will be equivalent to our SP lenses, but for this model we prioritized smaller size and lower weight, so we used polycarbonate instead of metal.
Is this new lens weather-sealed?
Yes, it is. We describe it as ‘moisture-resistant construction’.
|Despite not belonging to the 'SP' range of lenses, the new 28-75mm is moisture-resistant, featuring a rubber gasket around the lens mount to protect against dust and water incursion.|
Is making this change to mirrorless lens designs an urgent priority for Tamron?
I can’t give you any detailed information about our future roadmap, but we’re watching the market closely. And Sony has the biggest share of the mirrorless market, so of course E-mount lenses are a priority.
How do you want the Tamron brand to be viewed by your customers?
We’re always thinking about our customers, and we’re not going to sacrifice performance and quality. We want to be recognized as a high-quality brand, and we stand by our customers, always. Each brand has a strategy, and our approach is a little different to [some competitors]. We try to very open with our customers.
Our strength is making compact, light and high quality lenses.
We’ve seen some manufacturers create entry-level cine lenses for videographers. Is that something that Tamron is interested in?
Maybe in the future, but at this point I can’t say whether we’ll enter that market.
Balancing performance and size is a Tamron strength
If you had a choice between making a lens that was very large, but very high quality, or one that was smaller and optically less impressive, which would you choose?
We try to pursue both small size, and high performance. Balancing performance and size is a Tamron strength. For this new zoom, if we had started at 24mm for example, the lens would be much bigger and heavier. By starting the zoom range at 28mm, it became much smaller and lighter, and easier to handle. We think that’s what our customers want.
|Tamron's 'Tap-in Console' allows the performance of some of its SP lenses to be tweaked and customized on an individual basis.|
Increasingly when we visit factories, we’re seeing more and more automation. How much automation does Tamron use in your factories?
Automation is being gradually increased, but we don’t emphasize it. In some cases, manual processes are better for product quality. If automation would be good for the quality of the final product, we might utilize it. It all depends.
Are your lenses mostly assembled by hand, at present?
Some processes are automated, but others are manual so it’s difficult to say.
We’re always thinking about what we can provide in the market that’s innovative
Where do you think the biggest opportunities lie for Tamron in the future?
We’re always thinking about what we can provide in the market that’s innovative. Our strength is high quality lenses in a compact size. So going forward we want to be able to provide good products in each market segment.
The requirement for video must change how you develop lenses, beyond just the kind of AF motor you use?
Yes, it does. We have also developed other technologies to support video. At this point we’re not finished, but we’re always developing ways of manufacturing new lenses.
Optical designs need to change, and also autofocus technology
When we look at conventional DSLR lenses and mirrorless lenses, the technologies necessary to make them are a little bit different. The optical designs need to change, and also the autofocus technology. We’re always thinking about what kind of technologies would be good for mirrorless compared to DSLR, and what works for what focal length, and things like that.
You mentioned that the audience for mirrorless lenses will increase - will the audience for DSLR lenses decrease?
Yes, it already is. We’re watching the market and the data already shows us that the market is declining.
Perhaps the most interesting insight from our interview with Tamron this year was confirmation that the market for DSLR lenses is declining. It makes complete sense that Tamron (and Sigma) would be focusing on developing lenses for full-frame Sony E-mount cameras now, since by common agreement, Canon and Nikon will launch their own large-sensor mirrorless cameras pretty soon.
Tamron's executives see their company's mission as slightly different to Sigma's
In the same way as one basic optical design can be adapted for multiple SLR mounts, Tamron's new FE 28-75mm F2.8, which is optimized for the short flange-back distance of modern mirrorless systems, could be adapted for future mirrorless platforms as and when they emerge.
It is clear that Tamron's executives see their company's mission as slightly different to Sigma's. Whereas Sigma is committed to a 'no compromise' approach in its Art-series which sometimes results in large, heavy products, Tamron sees its value in small, lightweight but still high-performing lenses. Maybe the primes will open up to F1.8 rather than F1.4, and the zooms might start at 28mm rather than 24mm, but clearly the company believes that some users will be happy with those compromises for the sake of smaller, lighter (and potentially cheaper) lenses.
Tamron sees its value in small, lightweight but still high-performing lenses
I think they're right about that, and the new 28-75mm F2.8 looks like a good start. Obviously we don't yet know how it will perform optically, but if it compares well to Sony's own 24-70mm F2.8 GM at equivalent focal lengths, it might well become a benchmark standard zoom for mirrorless. That, in turn, would put Tamron in a very good position to get in on the ground floor of development for the wide range of full-frame mirrorless cameras we're expecting from various manufacturers in the future.
|Astronomical Clock in PRAGUE by stadros|
from Your City - Clocks
|Glassball on a perforated metal plate_3 by harubux|
Olympus has published the third teaser video for its upcoming sports-oriented mirrorless camera, due for release next week.
Fujifilm has announced its new GF 100-200mm F5.6 R LM OIS WR tele-zoom lens. The lens, equivalent to 79-158mm when mounted on a GFX camera, has image stabilization (with a claimed 5 stops of shake reduction), a linear AF motor and weather-sealing.
Amongst all of the camera news yesterday, Sony also announced its new Imaging Edge mobile app, which replaces PlayMemories Mobile. Three desktop applications have also been updated, adding support for time-lapse movie creation.
We've been busy shooting with Sony's newest mirrorless camera, the mid-range a6400. Have a look at our initial samples.
Adobe has taken the new year as an opportunity to introduce an updated Behance with improved user profiles and more prominent project pages.
OPPO's 5x zoom prototype never made it into a production unit but now the company is about to release an even longer optical zoom for smartphones.
Our intrepid team is in San Diego, for the launch of the new Sony a6400. In this short overview video, Carey, Chris and Jordan talk through the main specifications of the new camera, and what they might mean for photographers and videographers.
After further testing, Sigma has updated its lens compatibility notice to highlight what lenses work with Canon's EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera.
The Sony a6400 is the company's new midrange mirrorless camera, whose standout features include an advanced autofocus system, flip-up touchscreen LCD and oversampled 4K footage with Log support. Learn more as we go hands-on with the a6400.
OWC has released the Helios FX 650 eGPU, a modular chassis that works with macOS and Windows computer over Thunderbolt 3.
Adorama has announced the availability of a new studio flash head from its own Flashpoint range.
Instagram has quietly added the iOS-exclusive ability to post images or videos to multiple Instagram accounts at once on the same device.
Sony has announced major firmware updates for the a7R III, a7 III and a9. All three cameras gain improved Eye-AF, the ability to recognize and focus on animals' eyes, and timelapse capability. The a9 gets more sophisticated subject tracking.
Sony has announced the a6400, an updated 24.2MP mirrorless camera with a flip-up rear touchscreen and the processor and autofocus system 'borrowed from the a9'.
We're live blogging at Sony's launch event in San Diego, where the company is rumored to be announcing a new mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor.
The latest CamFi model lets you tether your camera wirelessly to your computer and transfer images directly into 3rd-party apps such as Capture One, Lightroom or EOS utility.
United States Transportation Secretary Eleain Chao introduced a proposed rule change that could make it easier for commercial operators to use drones at night and above crowds of people.
SmugMug Films has released its latest film from its award-winning series. 'Framing the Journey' follows photographer Karen Hutton around the landscapes and cityscapes of Slovenia.
Timelapse+ has announced its VIEW intervalometer now offers support for select Fujifilm and Panasonic camera systems.
The Miami Beach Police Department is using a camera blimp to get around a drone surveillance ban that went into effect in 2015.
The Nikon Z6 may not offer the incredible resolution of its sibling, the Z7, but its excellent video quality and faster performance make it an impressive camera at a considerably lower price.
What do you get when you combine an iconic camera brand from the past with a crowdfunding campaign for a 'rangefinder' camera? The Yashica Y35, that's what. Watch Chris and Jordan try to make lemonade out of a lemon.
Photographer Jimmy McIntyre has been working with Nikon, shooting a pre-production sample of the new Z 14-30mm lens. We're reserving final judgement until we see a reviewable lens, but it looks pretty impressive.
Photographer Nigel Danson recently had a chance to use the new Fujifilm GFX 50R for one of his landscape shoots. In this video, he shares his thoughts on the benefits and challenges of using a medium format camera like the GFX 50R for his work.
2019 is DPReview's 20th anniversary year, so we decided to take a walk down memory lane and shoot with a couple cameras that helped usher in the digital era for pro photographers: The Canon EOS 1D and the Nikon D1H.
The International Leica Society has shared a video of a camera sensor being cleaned at the Leica service centre in the Wetzlar factory in Germany.
The Natural History Museum has shared a gallery of 25 photos for its 2018 LUMIX People's Choice Award shortlist.
The Indemnis Nexus is the first parachute system designed for DJI drones that qualifies as compliant with the ASTM F3322-18 standard.
Western Digital's latest portable storage solution offers large capacities and fast performance in a rugged case.
Sigma's 28mm F1.4 semi-wide-angle 'Art' lens it first showed off at Photokina last year is now listed for pre-order.