It all started with a test of an old lens from Cosina; as I got my appetite wet, I decided to see how it compares against some more recent AF zooms. Previously in this series, you find the articles:
test of the old Cosina "Super Cosina" MC 80-200mm f4.5-5.6, manual focus
Cheap zoom lenses for Pentax-K, test I
Cheap zoom lenses for Pentax-K, test II and conclusion
For those who already read the other test reports, I will repeat to nausea that I am in no way using standard or professional procedures, so look somewhere else for high-level quality tests!
Today I pit two Tamron zoom lenses in direct competition:
- Tamron 80-210 f4.5-5.6 AF (out of production). Min focus distance 1.5m (4.9ft). Serial no.803324
- Tamron 70-300 f4-5.6 Di MACRO 1:2 (a product you can buy today). Min focus distance 0.95m (3.1ft). Serial no. 608682
I didn't include the former in the previous tests simply because I did even remember I had it. It is really time to get rid of some old stuff at home!
This time I want to make it quick, so I will just state that, as for sharpness, there is a very pronounced superiority of the 70-300 lens, almost at all length/aperture combinations, with maybe some exceptions in the 135-200mm where a rare tie occurs.
Very often, the older lens is one step behind, in the sense that you need to close its diaphragm one stop to catch up the other lens; other times, even one stop is not enough to close the gap.
As for colour issues, well... there is plenty, and maybe the more annoying come from the 70-300 (look at the foliage in the first batch, for instance, where out-of-focus colour issues concur to produce a very bad bokeh), considering that it is a modern item. But again, at the same aperture the new zoom is the winner.
In the final images (with trees against the sky) you can clearly see some fringing, sometimes a lot of fringing, even in the center, though rarely and at full aperture.
The 80-210 is never really sharp if not a few situations; the 70-300 is never razor-sharp but remember we are talking of a cheap zoom lens, not a prime. For the price you pay, the 70-300 remains an unbeatable lens, especially if you never use its full aperture and you don't come nearby the 300mm focal length, where it performs very badly.
Believe me, at 300mm images will be unpleasantly soft, don't fall into temptation!
Anyway, there is no competition at all, the 70-300 is the clear winner, as it also offers at least one more half-stop at all apertures, more range and a macro function, even if a somewhat clumsy one.
The only areas where the 80-210 comes first is compactness and noise (auto-focus seems both faster and less noisy), but this are minor consolations for a lens that never convinces if not at a few length/aperture combinations.
For more tests of Pentax (currently a Ricoh brand) equipment, I suggest a visit to the Pentax Forums site
And now, let the images speak for theirselves.
Each image is made of six boxes. The four boxes on the left are full-crops from the image borders; the on in the top-right is taken from the center.
In each couple, the composition from the 80-210 is above; sometimes I only show an image from the 70-300, because the same aperture or length is not available on the older lens.