Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di macro - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published November 2005

Special thanks to Giedo van der Zwan for providing this lens!


The Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di macro is a recent update to the highly popular AF 90mm f/2.8 SP macro. The lens is a designated Di (Digitally Integrated) lens which refers to an optimized lens design for image sensors specially regarding chromatic aberrations (CAs). Tamron also improved the coating of the lens elements to take care of the more pronounced reflections from the image sensor. The lens belongs to Tamron's SP (Super Performance) line up indicating a professional grade lens similar to Sigma's EX lenses. On APS-C DSLRs the field-of-view is equivalent to about 145mm on full format cameras. The primary application of the lens is, obviously, macro photography but it's not limited to that - infinity focus is possible.

The optical construction is made of 12 elements in 9 groups without any special elements. The lens features 9 aperture blades. Typical for most macro lenses the lens provides a max. magnification of 1:1 at a min. focus distance of 0.29m. The filter size is 55mm. With a weight of 405g and a size of 72x97mm it is more compact than e.g. the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro - at least a infinity focus. The length of the lens grows substantially when focusing towards closer distances.

The build quality is very good with an exceptionally smooth but little damped focus ring. The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is not problem. Besides the lens and a softbag the lens package also includes a lens hood but this is really a strictly optional accessory item because the front element resides deep within the lens (about 2cm below the front) making it a little hard to clean the lens.

Switching between manual and auto-focus isn't done via a small switch as typical for most lenses but via a focus clutch mechanism by moving the focus ring back and forth. This can be done in any focus position. Quite nice actually (Canon & Nikon only. On Minolta and Pentax DSLRs it is a two step process). On the downside the friction of the mechanism is quite high so if you pre-focus using AF and switch back to MF you tend to shift the focus setting. The AF speed is decent for a macro lens.

FWIW I wouldn't call the lens a beauty (not that it really matters).

Disclosure: When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network and Google Adsense.