The Tamron 70-300mm f / 4.5-6.3 DI III RXD is an absolute delight. Now I know that it is a little atypical, especially for me, to lead to a review with such a messy, straightforward explanation.
At the same time it would kind of get cheaper if I talked about the bush about how I feel about Tamron’s new telephoto lens for Sony E-mount, how much I enjoyed shooting with this gorgeous lens.
If you’re a Sony shooter, either a full frame or a crop sensor, you’ll most likely love this lens for its range, portability and, all I can tell you, it’s low light. Now I know I know … but how can a lens with a maximum aperture of f / 4.5 be a champ of the night? I was just as surprised, but I promise I’ll have the photos to secure it.
But first let’s dive into the basics of Tamron’s 70-300mm / 4.5-6.3 Di II RXD.
Out of the box
First things first: The 70-300 mm is extremely light for a lens with this focal length range. We’ll get into the specifics of the build in a second, but know that this lens only weighs 545g. * This makes it the lightest, yet highest zooming lens I’ve tested from Tamron’s latest series of telephotos for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras.
Aside from the obvious suspension, the sterile refinement of the overall aesthetic makes the lens shine on Sony cameras. For lack of a better word, it fits my Sony A7R MK3 perfectly.
Of course, the 70-300mm Tamrons offer wonderful moisture and dust protection. The lens also uses corrections and image stabilization in the Sony camera, as well as eye and hybrid autofocus. This means that there is no external AF / MF switch and no image stabilization switch. Speaking of switches …
It is noticeable that this lens looks so inconspicuous that there is no zoom lock switch. This is a feature I have often touted on longer focal length lenses for use in all day transportation. There is literally nothing on the lens barrel. That being said, I really would have loved to have a zoom lock, which is another point we’ll address a little later in the list.
For now, enjoy a few photos of the beautiful Tamron 70-300 mm 1: 4.5-6.3 Di III RXD.
Before we go any further, here is a list of the official specifications for the 70-300mm / 4.5-6.3 Di III RXD courtesy of Tamron:
|Viewing angle (diagonal)||34 ° 21′-8 ° 15 ‘(for mirrorless full screen format)|
|Optical construction||15 elements in 10 groups|
|Minimal object distance||0.8 m (31.5 inches) (WIDE) / 1.5 m (59.1 inches) (TELE)|
|Maximum enlargement ratio||1: 9.4 (WIDE) / 1: 5.1 (TELE)|
|length||148 mm (5.8 in)|
|Weight||545 g (19.2 oz)|
|Aperture blades||7 (circular membrane)|
|Standard accessories||Round hood, lens caps|
|Compatible mounts||Sony E-mount|
* * It is interesting to note that I weighed the lens with my scales and in “Recording configuration”(Front and rear caps removed, hood attached), it was 21.06 ounces (597 grams). However, with the hood removed, the lens weighed 535 g (18.87 ounces), making it a bit heavier and less heavy than the numbers given by Tamron. Of course, my scales couldn’t be accurate.
Performance in the field
Granted, a lens with this focal length and modest maximum aperture range doesn’t immediately suggest that it would be a solid performer for night photography. However, this was one of my favorite uses of the Tamron 70-300mm. An early morning excursion on Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Granted, the five stops of image stabilization in the A7R MK3’s camera made things a lot easier. Nevertheless, the long range of this maximum focal length of 300 mm was a great pleasure under these conditions. It was absolutely wonderful to be able to zoom in and still achieve acceptable, if not excellent, sharpness in such poor lighting conditions.
Now back to that zoom lock … or its lack. I experienced a lens barrel drift during a particularly long and vigorous hike in the Arizona desert. Although the lens is naturally sealed to keep out dust from entering, I would have preferred to insert the lens as best I could in the dirty desert conditions. A zoom lock would have been of great use in this case.
Sharpness, contrast and color
And yes, let’s talk more about the sharpness, color, and contrast of the 70-300mm / 4.5-6.3 Di III RXD. In short, it’s beautifully sharp and renders images wonderfully from my Sony’s high resolution sensor. For the most part, I shot with the maximum apertures for the specified focal lengths. This means that even with the apertures wide open, there are no real concerns about sharpness.
It is similar for contrast and color rendering. The colors are beautiful and saturated, with the contrast maybe a little heavy for my taste. I would even go so far as to describe the 70-300 mm as a “high-contrast” lens. In most cases this worked to my advantage and personal taste. However, with some images I had to lower the contrast depending on the inherent contrasts within the scene.
In terms of vignetting and chromatic aberrations, these problems are becoming increasingly difficult to quantify due to the more general implementation of lens corrections in the camera. Even so, I did notice a small amount of vignetting at focal lengths below 100mm and above 200mm, but this has become less and less of a problem for me. It’s worth noting that at the time of this review, there was no correction profile available in the current 10.0 version of Lightroom Classic, but the profile for Tamron’s 70-300mm f / 4.5-5.6 seems to work quite well.
At focal lengths below 250mm, in my tests, virtually no distortion of the cylinder or pincushion was observed at any focal length, and at focal lengths below 250mm, only slight distortion of the cylinder above 250mm was observed.
In my opinion, one of Tamron’s greatest achievements over the past five years has been the development of the RXD (Rapid eXtra-Silent Stepping Drive) AF system. The RXD-AF also worked excellently when taking pictures in poor lighting conditions, only in a few cases the AF could not capture the subject quickly. The AF is virtually silent and vibration-free, and seems even less noticeable with larger lenses like this one. Personally, I prefer the wonderful VXD drive on the 70-180mm f / 2.8, but I think the RXD system is incredibly sufficient for most shooters and most shooting situations.
For more information on the processed and RAW image samples created at 70-300mm, as well as my thoughts on the shooting experience with this lens, please see our video below.
Final thoughts on the Tamron 70-300mm Di III RXD
How do I summarize my experience with the Tamron 70-300mm? Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the lens was to carry for long periods of time.
It’s extremely light for its size. I would have liked a zoom lock to avoid the lens drift I experienced on long hikes when the lens was carried nose down. That minor issue aside, the overall sharpness, color, and contrast performance, plus solid AF performance, make the 70-300mm an unexpected delight.
With that in mind, it’s the most budget-friendly of Tamron’s current phones for Sony E-mount, which was priced at around $ 549 at the time of this review. This makes this lens an incredibly attractive option for those looking for a high performance telephoto lens for their full frame mirrorless or even crop sensor Sony cameras.