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Best Digital SLR Lenses: Tamron and Tokina

Sections: Digital SLR, Lenses, Zoom

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Tamron-90mm-VC-ReviewTamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC Macro 1:1 USD

You can experience the full power of life-size macro with Tamron’s new 90mm f/2.8 lens—an updated version of the company’s renowned 90mm macro lens. The lens was refined for higher detail and sharper photos with a new eBand coating, which improves its antireflection performance to reduce flare and ghosting so you can make clearer, crisper photos. It also includes VC (vibration compensation) image stabilization to combat the effects of camera shake; now even in dim light you can shoot handheld with confidence.

Specifically for full-size Canon, Nikon, and Sony-mount digital SLRs, the upgraded lens features completely redesigned, state-of-the-arts optics. Two XLD (extra low dispersion) glasses and one LD (low dispersion) element reduce chromatic aberrations, so you get images with outstanding resolution. Its internal focus (IF) system, which focuses by moving only the internal lens group rather than the front lens elements, does not change the overall length of the lens when focusing, allowing you to benefit from a broad working distance.

Plus, an ultrasonic silent drive (USD) results in a speedy, accurate autofocus response. And you can fine-tone the focus using manual focus during autofocus shooting without changing the mode. Additionally, its maximum magnification ratio of 1:1 reproduces a life-size image of the subject on the image sensor. This means the lens is ideally suited to close-up photography of small objects, capturing the minute world that otherwise would be missed when viewed by the naked eye.

With a nine-blade rounded diaphragm, the lens carries on the long tradition of Tamron’s 90mm macro lens in delivering spectacular natural blur effects—with the subject in sharp focus and the foreground and background artistically blurred to achieve a richer, deeper feel in the image.

Other features include moisture-resistant construction, a minimum focus distance of 11.8 inches, and an overall length of 4.8 inches. Tamron’s model F004 comes with a lens hood as a standard accessory. $849. tamron.com

  Tokina-AT-X-12-28_Pro_DX-ReviewTokina AT-X 12-28 Pro DX

Kenko Tokina Co. just released the AT-X 12–28mm f/4 Pro DX lens, the upgraded successor to its AT-X 124 Pro DX II. The wide-angle to semi-standard zoom lens has an increased telephoto focal length from 24mm to 28mm to give you greater shooting versatility.

A new optical design matches even 20-megapixel DX sensors, and the company improved its color balance and the lens’s creative blur bokeh effect so you can take professional portraits. The lens also achieves higher image definition through the use of glass-molded aspherical lens elements and an ultra-low dispersion glass. An aspherical P-MO lens element is positioned in the front group, which works with a molded glass aspherical lens in the rear group to correct aberrations and distortion to give you a crisp, clear image. And SD glass (ultra-low dispersion glass) was used to emulate fluorite glass in performance to eliminate chromatic aberration.

Also new is an autofocus control sensor—a “GMR (magnetic precision) sensor” capable of high-resolution autofocus that is mounted close to the drive unit for better efficiency. Plus, the lens employs a newly developed SD-M (silent drive-module) to lower the sounds emitted by the AF drive for quiet performance. And with its one-touch focus clutch AF/MF mechanism, you can slide the manual focus ring forward for AF or rearward for MF operation. The Nikon mount version has a built-in autofocus motor.

Tokina’s AT-X 12–28mm f/4 Pro DX lens in a Nikon mount will be released this spring, and the Canon mount version is scheduled for summer 2013. Pricing has yet to be announced. tokinalens.com

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One Comment

  1. I’ve only ever used a few big name lenses. You know, the kit lenses and maybe a cheaper prime or zoom. Never ventured into the more expensive lenses from the big guys. I’ve read good reviews about the 3rd parties and their prices are always competitive against Nikon and Canon. I’ve really been thinking about a wider lens and that 12-28 is looking pretty amazing. And it’s a DX like I’ve got. Thanks for the article. I’ve got lots of research to do now. That macro looks cool too, but I don’t think I can drop nearly 1000 dollars if I don’t plan on making money with that glass.

    Lincoln