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Lens review

Tamron 100-400 mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

8 May 2018
Maciej Latałło

11. Summary


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Pros:

  • casing of good quality,
  • excellent image quality in the frame centre, no matter what focal length you employ,
  • very good image quality on the edge of APS-C sensor,
  • sensible image quality on the edge of full frame,
  • lack of problems related to spherical aberration,
  • moderate lateral chromatic aberration,
  • imperceptible longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • moderate distortion,
  • excellent coma correction,
  • low astigmatism,
  • slight vignetting on the APS-C/DX sensor,
  • silent, quick, and accurate autofocus,
  • efficient image stabilization.

Cons:

  • noticeable vignetting at longer focal lengths on full frame,
  • a bit too many flares and too noticeable loss of contrast while working against bright light.
The duel beween the Tamron 100–400 mm f/4.5–6.3 Di VC USD and the Sigma C 100–400 mm f/5–6.3 DG OS HSM was too close to call for most of the time. Their respective levels of performance are so similar that often, in a given category, the winner and the loser were divided by just a hair’s breath, right within the margin of error. What’s more, for the majority of testing categories both lenses were able to compete on equal terms with much more expensive equivalents produced by Canon and Nikon. I suppose it’s the best recommendation for a substitute lens produced by an independent company.

Perhaps the number of small victories scored by the Sigma in different testing categories is higher than the number of the respective victories of the Tamron. The Sigma’s MTFs are slightly bigger, it corrects lateral chromatic aberration and astigmatism in a better way, and its image stabilization unit is more efficient. In the case of spherical aberration, longitudinal chromatic aberration, bokeh, coma, and flares you get a draw. Tamron is slightly better when it comes to distortion correction and vignetting.

So far these two are going almost neck and neck so the autofocus performance and pricing might become two decisive factors. As it happens, in both categories the Tamron prevails. Its focusing mechanism is faster, it works smoothly without any strange wavering we noticed while testing the Sigma. The price tag of the Tamron on the Polish market reaches almost a level of 3000 PLN (about $800) and is by several hundred PLN lower than the price of the Sigma. If you can save such a sum of money while buying a lens which is a tad lighter, faster, with a shorter minimum focusing distance and a longer warranty period you’ll think twice. I suppose most of prospective buyers might decide the Tamron actually fits the bill better.