Eric L. Woods

The frugal photographer strikes again. Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di.

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My recent switch to a Pentax K-3ii has been a success. Next up? A zoom.

 

Note: I also had always wanted a body with a topside LCD, in body image stabilization, dual front and back dials, and 2 memory card slots. No camera I owned had that combination of features, but the K-3ii had them all with a many buttoned control layout I really liked as a bonus.

Specifically a zoom lens that has tripped up a number of systems for your humble frugal shopper.  A 70-200mm f2.8. Why? Glad you asked. A recap via my system journey in chronological order.

Prices below as of the writing of this post from B&H Photo Video. Best APS-C (except the E-M1) camera and least expensive lens combo that brings IS, with the A7 solution thrown in for comparison’s sake.

Olympus: E-M1 ($1,099) + 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO ($1,399) = $2,498

Nikon: D7200 ($1,096) + Tamron 70-200mm VC f/2.8 ($1,399) = $2,495

Samsung: NX1 ($1,299) + 50-150mm f/2.8 ($1,599) = $2,898

Sony: A7 ($1,098) + 70-200mm f/4 ($1,498) = $2,596

And now this:

Pentax: K-3ii ($979) + Tamron 70-200mm Di ($769) = $1,748

Body and lens combined is $648 less than the VR Nikon 70-200mm alone at $2,396. And I paid even less as I caught a body on sale and traded for $825. Another route to new is to pickup the very similar K-3. You lose GPS, but you ‘gain’ a flash. While I do not plan to tag files with location nor do I plan to use the astrotrace feature for star shots it is nice to have the option so I chose the ii.

I will not quibble about best tool for task, etc., etc. After dancing through a few systems and sensor sizes I firmly believe any modern system can meet my needs.

Another admission. I had a Tamron 28-75mm for the D3300 that I liked quite a bit so I had no 3rd party apprehensions.

I have had the lens only 5 days and I am already impressed. Lastly here are some pros, cons, and a gallery:

Pros:

  • Excellent optics like the Tamron 28-75mm I had for Nikon some time ago.
  • Not a true macro as marked, but with a close focus distance of 51.2″(1.30m) at 200mm it does a great quasi-macro impression. Check out water drops on leaf shot in gallery.
  • One would expect great low light performance given the specs and it does not disappoint. Band shots in gallery were taken in a dimly lit gymnasium on a rainy day with the windows blocked and I had no issue getting bright, clear shots across the gym.
  • Also as one would expect with these specs it is a great portrait lens.
  • Focuses very quickly with little to no hunting on the K-3ii.
  • f/2.8, in body stabilization, teamed with the 3 center vertical -3EV focus points means low light is of little challenge.
  • It is light compared to other like spec’d lenses.
  • I really like the quality of the bokeh this lens creates.
  • Acceptably sharp at f/2.8 and tack sharp starting at f/3.8 – f/4 and up.
  • Comes with a nice lens bag, hood, and a sturdy tripod collar.
  • Great value.

Cons:

  • Pull focus ring manual focus switch falls victim to 3rd party one design for many mounts issue since Pentax has an on body switch that must also be switched. As a result switching to manual focus and back is a 2 step, albeit quick, process. It is of no consequence personally since I have yet to miss focus using AF.
  • AF by body screw drive is noisy compared to newer in body focus drive systems, but it has not been an issue for me. I imagine it would be an issue if there was a lot of hunting, but that has not been the case here.
  • That is about it.

Here is an ongoing gallery and a sample gallery below:

 

 

 

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