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Lens Reviews

Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD [IF] Macro 1:1 Lens Review

Paul Fisher (Paul_Fisher)

Keywords: tamron, lenses, non_nikon, sp, 180mm

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Tamron has long had a 90mm macro lens in both manual and autofocus versions, with a maximum aperture of f/2.5 or f/2.8. This lens has had a formidable reputation for sharpness and performance, and continues in production to this day thorugh several technological updates. More recently, Tamron has introduced a new lens which has attracted a lot of interest. It is the ....

Tamron SP AF 180mm F/3.5 XR Di LD [IF] Macro 1:1 Lens




I was lucky enough to have the use of this lens for a week to put it through its paces. This brief review will describe the lens and give my impression of its qualities and performance.

In the past, macro lenses have tended to be fairly short, with focal lengths in the 55 to 105mm range. In recent years, the longer 180 to 200mm macro lens has become more popular with professionals and amateurs alike. 

The longer focal length offers three significant advantages:

  • It gives a greater working distance, which is less likely to scare off insects, and also gives better options for positioning light sources.
  • A longer focal length has a narrower field of view, making it easier to isolate the subject and avoid distracting background elements.
  • The longer focal length also has a shallower depth of field (all else being equal) which again helps isolate the subject against a nicely blurred background.



The very first impression of this lens is the size of the box! It's much bigger than I expected. Opening the box reveals not a lens, but a large padded and zippered pouch, complete with shoulder strap. Inside this pouch is the lens itself.


There is no doubt that Tamron's SP series optics are presented extremely well with black barrels, metal lens mount, and flashes of gold inscription. The optics are multi-coated and look the part. The front element is not recessed, and could be vulnerable to knocks or scratches.  

However the lens is provided with an enormous hood which would keep all such perils at bay.

The lens has an easily- detachable tripod collar which seems adequately rigid for the size of the glass. It holds the lens barrel snugly, and there is no untoward wobble. I found it worked very well.


As a clever touch, the filter threads (72mm) are attached to a knurled ring -the Filter Effect Control (FEC)- just behind the front element. 

Turning the FEC makes the threads rotate - an elegant solution to the problem of accessing polarizers and graduated filters when the lens hood is in place.


Detaching the tripod collar reveals a body which cradles nicely in the hand. A very large focusing ring makes manual focus a delight. 

First impressions are highly favourable.

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Originally written on November 3, 2003

Last updated on December 31, 2020

Paul Fisher Paul Fisher (Paul_Fisher)

Awarded for his multiple article contributions

Perth, Australia
Silver, 12884 posts


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