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Lens review

Tamron SP 90 mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD

11 January 2013
Szymon Starczewski

4. Image resolution

The resolution test of the Tamron SP 90 mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD was based on RAW files from the Canon EOS 1Ds MkIII. In the case of that camera the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm and the best fixed-focus lenses can get as high as 44-47 lpmm.

The results of the tested lens are easily comparable with those of the Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM and the Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro as both these instruments were tested on the same body. You can also compare them easily to the older Tamron version which was tested on the EOS 20D, featuring the same pixel density as the 1Ds MkIII. The Nikkor 2.8/105 VR was tested on the Nikon D3x and here there will be no problems with the comparison as well because the D3x and 1Ds MkIII provide very similar MTF values if you attach to them the same lenses.

Let’s glance at a graph below to assess how the tested Tamron 2.8/90 VC fares here.

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Tamron SP 90 mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD - Image resolution

The performance in the frame centre can be described only in superlatives. Already at the maximum relative aperture the image is of very high quality and on slight stopping down it becomes outstandingly sharp. By f/4.0 and f/5.6 the MTFs reach a very high level of 46 lpmm.

The chart below compares the performance of the Tamron and its rivals in the frame centre ( we put together the maximum results these instruments got and their performance at the maximum relative aperture). It allows us to assess how the tested lens fares in comparison with other lenses of this class.


Tamron
2.8/90 VC
Tamron
2.8/90
Canon
2.8/100L IS
Nikkor
2.8/105 VR
Sigma
2.8/105 OS
f/2.8
36.1
29.1
43.7
40.0
36.2
Max
45.9
43.0
46.2
44.6
43.4


The first thing that sticks out is a significant improvement compared to its predecessor. When it comes to the maximum relative aperture the Tamron gets an identical result as the rival Sigma – both these lenses have to admit their defeat in this category as their brand name rivals are better.

The situation changes a bit when you look at the maximum achievements. Here the Sigma and the Nikkor lag behind a bit for a change and the first place is awarded joint to the Canon and the Tamron.

When it comes to the performance on the edge of the frame we don’t have any reservations here. At the most demanding combination of maximum relative aperture and the edge of full frame the image is still useful. On slight stopping down it becomes of good quality on the edge of the frame (regardless of the size of the detector).

At the end of this chapter we present crops of our resolution testing chart which were taken from JPEG files (saved at the lowest sharpening level).

Tamron SP 90 mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD - Image resolution