Review Tamron 60mm f/2 Di II LD IF Macro 1:1 SP AF (C APS-C)
The subject of this lens test is a macro lens from 2009, that is probably more often used as a portrait lens. The Tamron 60 mm macro f/2 Di II is designed for use on a camera with an APS-C sensor and offers the same capabilities as the famous Tamron 90 mm macro f/2.8 on a camera with a full-size sensor. When this lens came on the market, it was the only macro-lens with such high brightness. I think that four years later, that is still the case. The high brightness and image angle, comparable with a 90 mm lens at full-size, make this lens ideal for playing with the background sharpness of portraits or for taking macro-shots in low light.
Tamron 60mm f/2 Di II LD IF Macro 1:1 SP AF @ Canon 650D
It is a general misunderstanding that a macro lens is only for use for pictures of minutely small subjects. We (still) conduct tests of macro-lenses at the same distance as for "normal" lenses, so that the test results are directly comparable. At full aperture, this lens renders a bit softer, as you often see with bright lenses. But that changes quickly: even at nearly maximum aperture (f/2.5), the sharpness is already very high, while the background appears nicely unfocused. There are few lenses that can deliver a comparable result to this Tamron 60 mm macro.
Click (2x) on the photo shown for a 100% view.
Tamron 60mm f/2 Macro, f/2.5, 1/4000, 400 ISO
Construction and AF
This Tamron is a solidly built consumer lens. The broad rubber ring for manual focusing is slightly muted. On this lens, there is one switch for AF/MF. There is no built-in image stabilization. The Tamron 60 mm macro makes use of internal focusing, which means the length of the lens remains unchanged and the front lens does not turn while focusing. The autofocus is therefore also fast, but you can clearly hear the AF motor. At any time, the AF can be manually overridden, without first having to flip the switch.
At full aperture, the Tamron 60 mm macro offers considerable sharpness. Already after 1 stop, the peak center sharpness is reached. Some portrait photographers will even appreciate that this lens renders a bit more softly at full opening. From aperture f/5.6, the sharpness in the far corners is fairly comparable to the center sharpness. Good scores already.
Tamron 60mm f/2 Macro @ f/4.5, 1/125, 400 ISO
Vignetting from the Tamron 60 mm macro remains limited well. And that is a very good performance for a bright lens. Even at aperture 2, the vignetting is less than half a stop and thus in most cases negligible. From aperture 2.8, the vignetting remains invisible.
To our surprise, the Tamron 60 mm macro showed visible, nearly 1%, barrel distortion. With help from standard lens correction profiles in Lightroom or Photoshop, this is simple to correct, but you don't expect it from a macro-lens. Macro lenses in general show very little distortion. If you're not doing reproduction photography or architectural photography with this Tamron lens, in most cases you will have very little trouble with distortion.
The background blur is a combination of the lens quality and the focal depth. If you want to achieve the same focal depth on a camera with an APS-C sensor as with an f/2.8 lens on a camera with a full-size sensor, then you need an f/3 lens. The Tamron 60 mm f/2 macro is one of the few lenses with a solidly high brightness.
The Tamron 60 mm macro has a beautiful, big, round bokeh that delivers an attractive background sharpness, comparable with the bokeh of many lenses on a camera with a full-size sensor. At full aperture, you see that the bokeh in the corners takes on some of the form of a cat’s eye bokeh due to vignetting. At aperture 2.8, that’s gone.
Flare Tamron 60mm f/2 Di II LD IF Macro 1:1 SP AF
The Tamron 60 mm macro aims high when it comes to preventing flares. You will practically never be bothered by a bright light source outside the frame. During the test period, we made a number of pictures in which we were photographing directly against the sun. Without image editing, there was practically no flaring visible, except for a spot shown by the red arrow. In the partial enlargement shown here, we edited the image: you now see a small zone with reduced contract, some sun rays and a couple ghosts in the shape of aperture rings. This is really top performance.
Chromatic aberration Tamron 60mm f/2 Di II LD IF Macro 1:1 SP AF
Lateral chromatic aberration is also kept well under control. Only at very high enlargement (100% on your screen) can you spot at sharp contrast transitions in the far corners green and purple edges. Just as on the distortion section, the Tamron 60 mm acts less like other macro lenses.
Conclusion Tamron 60mm f/2 Di II LD IF Macro 1:1 SP AF review
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
It is a mistake to think that a macro lens is only for use for pictures of minutely small subjects. This Tamron 60 mm is also an ideal portrait lens, which delivers a bokeh that can compete with lenses on a camera with a full-sized sensor. This is a bright lens with a very high image quality and an attractive price tag. The less quiet AF, the visible distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting at full aperture are relatively weaker aspects of this lens. Relatively weaker certainly does not mean bad in this case, but if you look at the bokeh and the sharpness, you might wish that other brands were at the same high level. With respect to the price/quality ration, the Tamron 60 mm Macro is an attractive option for every photographer with an APS-C camera.
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Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.