Stepping into the vibrant world of photography often leads to a crucial question: which lens should I choose? The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 in question today are two popular choices among photographers, each known for their distinct attributes and performance. Are you a travel enthusiast aiming to capture stunning landscapes, or perhaps a seasoned event photographer seeking a lens that can make your subjects pop? Whatever your genre or style, this detailed comparison between these two contenders could be your guiding light.
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each lens is essential in choosing the right tool for your craft. In this head-to-head, we’ll delve into each aspect of these lenses – from their portability and handling to their performance in varying lighting conditions and everything in between.
Not only will this comprehensive comparison allow you to understand each lens’s unique characteristics, but it will also empower you to align these features with your creative needs. Reading this article could save you from costly mistakes and guide you to make an informed decision that will enhance your photographic journey.
So, prepare to embark on an enlightening journey as we unravel the mysteries of the Nikon and Tamron lenses, enabling you to take your photography to the next level.
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
|Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Nikon F (FX)
|Focal Range (mm)
|Nikon F (FX)
|Nikon F (FX)
|Zoom Ratio (X)
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 share a lot of similarities, such as the variable aperture, the focal range of 28-300mm, the Nikon F (FX) mount type, a max format of 35mm full-frame (FF), and a zoom ratio of 10.7x. However, there are subtle differences in the maximum aperture that might influence a photographer’s choice depending on their needs and preferences.
Firstly, the Nikon lens offers a maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6. This means that the lens’s aperture will vary between f/3.5 and f/5.6 depending on the zoom level. The wider aperture, f/3.5, will allow more light into the camera and can be beneficial for low-light conditions.
In contrast, the Tamron lens has a slightly narrower maximum aperture of f/3.5-6.3. This may reduce its performance in low-light conditions compared to the Nikon lens, requiring slower shutter speeds or higher ISO settings that could potentially increase noise or motion blur. However, this minor compromise in aperture range might not be a significant issue if you primarily shoot in well-lit environments or use a tripod.
Both lenses are variable aperture lenses, which means the maximum aperture changes as you zoom in or out. Variable aperture lenses are generally more affordable and lighter than fixed aperture lenses, making them more appealing for hobbyist photographers who prioritize budget and portability. However, compared to fixed aperture lenses, they may struggle in low-light situations and show some compromises in image quality.
It’s also worth mentioning that both lenses, being zoom lenses, offer greater flexibility in terms of composition and framing, compared to prime lenses. This adaptability makes them suitable for various genres and situations, such as travel, events, or wildlife photography. However, they may show some compromises in terms of image quality, particularly at certain focal lengths or aperture settings, compared to prime lenses.
In conclusion, while both the Nikon and Tamron lenses have their merits, the Nikon lens with its slightly wider maximum aperture could offer a slight edge, particularly in lower light conditions or when a shallower depth of field is desired.
Design and Ease of Use
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
|Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Nikon F (FX)
|Diameter x Length (mm)
|Filter Thread (mm)
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, with dimensions of 83mm in diameter and 114.5mm in length, and a weight of 800g, is larger and significantly heavier than the Tamron lens. This could impact its portability and the ease of carrying it around for extended periods. For travelers or those involved in street photography, where less conspicuous gear and lighter weight are often appreciated, the Nikon’s size and weight might be a disadvantage.
Moreover, the balance of your camera setup could also be affected. A heavier lens like the Nikon might make your camera feel front-heavy and potentially unbalanced, which could lead to discomfort or difficulty in handling, particularly during prolonged shoots. Its larger size also requires more storage space in your camera bag and might make lens swapping a bit more cumbersome in fast-paced shooting scenarios.
Conversely, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, with its smaller dimensions of 74mm in diameter and 96mm in length, and a significantly lighter weight of 540g, scores better in terms of portability and discreetness. Its compact size and lighter weight make it easier to carry around, causing less fatigue over long shooting sessions. This could be a significant advantage for street or travel photographers, or for anyone who prefers a lighter setup. The Tamron’s smaller size also means it’ll take up less room in your camera bag, leaving space for additional gear or reducing the overall weight of your bag.
Both the Nikon and Tamron lenses utilize a rotary (extending) zoom method. This means that when you zoom in or out, the lens physically extends or retracts. This design tends to be simpler and potentially lighter, which aligns with the weight characteristics of both lenses. However, it might slightly affect the camera’s balance while zooming, as the lens’s length changes, which could take some time to get used to. Additionally, achieving effective weather sealing might be more challenging for these lenses due to the extending nature, potentially making them more vulnerable to dust, moisture, and other elements.
In conclusion, if you prioritize portability, compactness, and light weight, the Tamron lens could be the superior option. However, both lenses share the same zoom method, which introduces similar handling characteristics while zooming. Consider these aspects carefully while making your decision.
Lens Mount and Barrel
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 has a lens mount composed of sturdy metal with a dull-chromed brass finish, a testament to its durability and quality. To combat dust accumulation, the lens mount is equipped with a rubber seal, which provides a basic layer of protection.
However, the lens barrel is primarily plastic, which may raise concerns about long-term durability despite its rubber-coated zoom ring for enhanced grip. The barrel’s design permits significant size change while zooming, extending up to three inches at 300mm, which could be cumbersome for some photographers.
In contrast, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 features a robust metal bayonet lens mount that promotes lasting use. Its protection against dust and moisture intrusion is heightened with the addition of a rubber gasket, increasing the resilience of the lens in various environments and shooting conditions. This design contributes to the lens’s proclaimed dust and splash-proof characteristics.
The lens barrel, primarily composed of top-grade plastic, carries a matte finish and an ergonomic design that inclines gently towards the mounting plate for a comfortable grip. Despite its sophisticated design, this lens remains compact, extending just over 100 mm from the camera body at the 28mm position and roughly 80 mm at the 300mm zoom level, a bit less than the Nikon lens.
The mount material—metal in both cases here—provides strength, with Tamron’s additional rubber gasket enhancing its weather resistance significantly.
In summary, while both lenses offer commendable features, the Tamron lens outshines the Nikon one slightly. Its solid metal mount with added weather-sealing capabilities and a durable, well-designed lens barrel that ensures comfortable handling makes it more versatile, durable, and user-friendly.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6, despite not being officially labeled as weatherproof, does feature a rubber seal around the lens mount for basic dust protection. Regrettably, this lens does not incorporate internal seals within its rings, switches, and front barrel. Additionally, it lacks a fluorine coating on the front element, which would typically serve to repel water and dirt. These missing features could potentially limit its robustness in diverse weather conditions, thereby affecting its suitability for photographers who frequently work outdoors or in unpredictable environments.
Conversely, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 boasts several robust weather sealing attributes. These include a protective rubber gasket around the metal lens mount that prevents dust and moisture from entering the camera body, and the lens itself is marketed as being dust and splash-proof. The internal sealing of this lens further strengthens its resistance to challenging environmental conditions, making it a more dependable choice for outdoor shooting.
Weather sealing is a significant aspect of lens design, ensuring that dust, moisture, and minor water splashes do not infiltrate a lens. This feature ensures consistent performance and enhances lens durability across various weather conditions. While non-sealed lenses might be more prone to damage over time and require additional caution in harsh conditions, fully weather-sealed lenses, such as the Tamron lens in this case, are engineered for optimal performance even in adverse conditions.
Given this analysis, the Tamron lens’s weather sealing capabilities far surpass those of the Nikon lens. The various sealing features incorporated into the Tamron lens design make it a more reliable and durable option for photographers who often work in diverse or challenging environmental conditions.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 consists of 2 rings dedicated to zoom and focus. The zoom ring, located towards the front, is an inch wide with a tactile rubber surface and raised ribs for an improved grip. It provides a 90-degree turning radius and requires two fingers for movement, offering a controlled zoom experience. Contrarily, the focus ring, located closer to the lens mount, is narrow and made of grippy plastic, offering a simpler, more straightforward feel. Despite the lens missing a depth-of-field indicator, a distance scale is provided behind a window. The zoom range spans from 28mm to 300mm, with a zoom lock switch at the 28mm point to prevent accidental adjustment.
On the other hand, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 also features a zoom ring and a focusing ring. The zoom ring is situated near the lens’s front and has focal length markings from 28mm to 300mm, offering a visual guide for adjustments. This ring boasts a quick zoom range, covering the full extent in roughly a quarter of a turn. To prevent accidental extension, a zoom lock has been incorporated. Located behind the zoom ring is a dual-unit (meters and feet) distance scale that goes from the minimum focusing distance of 49 cm to infinity. Towards the lens’s rear, the focus ring, clad in ridged rubber, can be turned 360 degrees for meticulous focus adjustments. Furthermore, both rings on the Tamron lens are well-damped for smooth, precise adjustments and are resistant to accidental changes.
In comparing the Nikon and Tamron lenses, the Tamron lens rings offer superior user-friendliness and functionality. The rubber grip bands ensure a secure hold, and the smooth, well-damped rotation allows for easy, precise adjustments. The Tamron lens also boasts a zoom lock and distance scale, enhancing its usability. The mechanical coupling of the focus ring with the PZD (Piezo Drive) system also allows for manual override of autofocus, providing increased control to the user. Therefore, the rings on the Tamron lens provide a more enhanced user experience and superior control compared to the Nikon lens.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is equipped with 3 switches along its barrel, designed for easy access and convenience. The switches offer control over the Vibration Reduction system, the switch between manual and autofocus, and the option to select between active and normal modes. These features promote usability, making the lens straightforward and simple to navigate.
In contrast, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 features two switches on its barrel’s side: an AF/MF switch and a Vibration Compensation (VC) ON/OFF switch. The AF/MF switch provides quick interchangeability between Auto Focus and Manual Focus modes, granting adaptability in diverse shooting scenarios. The VC switch enables or disables the lens’s Vibration Compensation feature, aiding in low light conditions or slower shutter speeds.
The lens’s switch placement on the left side of the barrel allows effortless accessibility and smooth operation without removing the camera from your eye. Raised switch profiles and distinctive clicks upon selection enhance tactile feedback and ensure mode security. While the Tamron lens may have fewer switches or buttons, its streamlined design allows for rapid control of essential functions, maintaining a clutter-free lens barrel preferred by photographers seeking a simplistic shooting experience.
In the comparison of switch/button features, the Nikon lens offers an additional switch, giving the user more direct control options. However, the Tamron lens, although only featuring 2 switches, provides an intuitively designed interface, with easy-to-locate, raised switches that deliver reassuring tactile feedback.
In terms of superiority, the choice between the two depends greatly on user preference. If a photographer values having more direct control options and dedicated switches, the Nikon lens may be preferable. Conversely, for photographers valuing simplicity, streamlined design, and satisfying tactile feedback, the Tamron lens may hold the upper hand.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 sports a non-rotating 77mm filter thread, constructed from plastic. This design aspect allows compatibility with other telephoto lenses, providing a degree of versatility. A vital feature is its non-rotating characteristic during focusing, ensuring convenience when utilizing filters, particularly polarizing and neutral density types.
Conversely, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 hosts a slightly smaller 67mm filter thread, also made of plastic. The filter thread remains stationary during both focusing and zooming operations, an advantage for photographers often working with angle-critical filters, such as polarizers and graduated filters. The non-rotating feature coupled with a standard size ensures the lens’s compatibility and ease of use with a broad range of filters.
Comparing the Nikon and Tamron lenses, the choice of superior filter thread largely depends on your specific needs. The Nikon’s larger 77mm filter thread offers potential compatibility benefits with more telephoto lenses and a wider range of filter availability. However, the Tamron’s 67mm thread size, while smaller, provides the same non-rotating convenience and is compatible with commonly used filters.
Taking the above into account, the Nikon lens, with its 77mm filter thread, might offer a slight edge due to its wider compatibility with telephoto lenses and potentially a broader selection of available filters. This could prove more cost-effective if you already possess lenses or filters compatible with this thread size.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 comes with a plastic, petal-shaped bayonet HB-50 hood in the package. This lens hood is designed for effective operation at the lens’s wider end, suggesting it’s tailored for this lens’ specific focal length range. The smooth rotation capability of the hood allows for easy adjustment, essential when quickly transitioning between different shooting scenarios. Additionally, the hood features a matte finish on the interior, a factor contributing to the reduction of internal reflections, which can lead to improved image contrast and reduced flare.
Conversely, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 also includes a petal-shaped hood in the package. The hood performs well in shielding the front element from unwanted light, minimizing flare, and preserving contrast. Crafted from high-quality plastic, this hood can be reversed over the lens barrel for convenient storage, signifying a smooth rotation feature similar to the Nikon lens hood. Despite the hood’s practical design and ease of attachment or removal, some users have reported concerns over its brittleness, which may impact its durability. The hood is designed to attach to the bayonet fitting on the lens front, a feature that avoids interfering with filter thread rotation or lens zooming. This ensures the hood remains in the optimal position for blocking undesired light, even when focus or zoom settings are altered.
In comparing the two, both the Nikon and Tamron lens hoods offer practical designs that effectively block unwanted light and ensure ease of use. However, the Nikon hood appears to offer a slight advantage in terms of material finish and customization for its specific lens. The Tamron hood’s potential durability issue could be a concern, despite its beneficial non-rotating feature.
The final verdict would likely lean towards the Nikon lens hood, considering its tailored design for the lens and the quality of the material finish. Nonetheless, the Tamron hood provides competitive features, especially for photographers who frequently adjust focus or zoom settings. The choice ultimately hinges on the individual’s specific needs and priorities.
Focusing and Optical Stabilization
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
|Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Nikon F (FX)
|Silent Wave Motor
|Piezo Drive (PZD)
|Rotating Front Element
|Does not rotate on focusing
|Does not rotate on focusing
|Min Focus Distance
|Max Magnification (X)
|Full-Time Manual Focus
When it comes to focusing performance, the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 showcases moderate autofocus competence, but may falter with fast-paced subjects such as birds in flight. Its focusing speed, while satisfactory, isn’t instantaneous, sometimes taking a second to adjust from infinity to half a meter. The lens could potentially struggle with focus hunting, particularly at longer focal lengths. Despite the autofocus motor not being completely silent, the noise level it produces is typically negligible. The lens’ autofocus accuracy proves to be consistent across settings, resulting in sharp images under a range of conditions.
Further, the lens possesses a manual focus override and smooth operation, ensuring precise adjustments when necessary. Its internally focusing design ensures that the lens’ length remains constant irrespective of focus or zoom adjustments. Notably, the lens does exhibit focus breathing at 300mm, although this isn’t considered an optical defect. In dim lighting conditions, the lens’ focusing speed and accuracy might suffer, though the built-in vibration reduction system can alleviate these issues by compensating for slower shutter speeds.
Contrarily, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 boasts a Piezo Drive (PZD) system in its autofocus motor, an upgrade from its predecessor’s traditional electric motor. This development enhances focusing speed while keeping the operation near-silent, reducing noise disruption during focusing. The lens’ autofocus system demonstrates both rapidity and accuracy, performing effectively under various shooting modes and lighting conditions. A manual focus override feature allows for additional control when precision is required. Its manual focusing ring operates smoothly, making fine adjustments enjoyable.
Similar to the Nikon lens, the Tamron lens also employs an internally focusing design, maintaining a fixed length regardless of focus or zoom changes. Tests indicate that the lens’ autofocus system consistently performs well across the wide and telephoto ends of the focal range. Furthermore, this lens permits micro adjustments at both ends of the focal range, which can enhance focusing accuracy, particularly beneficial at longer focal lengths where depth of field tends to be narrower.
Comparatively, the Tamron lens appears to outshine the Nikon lens in terms of focusing performance. The former’s faster, quieter, and more accurate autofocus system, coupled with the provision for micro adjustments, gives it an edge over the Nikon lens, especially when shooting in dynamic or challenging conditions. While the Nikon lens offers reliable focusing capabilities, its slightly slower autofocus speed and occasional focus hunting, particularly at longer focal lengths, may limit its performance under certain conditions. Thus, the Tamron lens appears to deliver superior focusing performance in this comparison.
In terms of optical stabilization, the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 equips the latest Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, VR II, mitigating camera shake equal to a shutter speed boost of roughly four stops. Two stabilization modes are offered: Normal and Active. Normal mode mitigates quick and small vibrations while Active mode compensates for a broader range of movements. The stabilizing effect is observable through the viewfinder in both modes. This lens is proficient in producing sharp images at slower shutter speeds when handheld, even at a speed as low as 1/13th of a second, contingent on the utilized focal length.
Conversely, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 uses Tamron’s proprietary Vibration Compensation (VC) system, known for its exceptional image stabilization capabilities. It offers around 3 to 4 stops of compensation, depending on hand-holding technique and conditions, enabling more effective low-light shooting. The VC system compensates for all sorts of camera shake, including diagonal movements, thanks to the triadic pairs of driving coils and ball bearings positioned around the shake-compensating optics.
Notably, this system operates seamlessly and quietly, even quieter than some Canon lenses, making it suitable for various settings. The VC system operates smoothly, with no reported image jarring or disturbances in the viewfinder. The lens supports handheld shooting at shutter speeds as low as 1/30 sec at 300mm, which is about 4 stops slower than generally recommended, dependent on the photographer’s stability and technique. Furthermore, the stabilization system does not adversely affect image quality, contributing to image sharpness and clarity across the frame, particularly beneficial at slower shutter speeds or longer focal lengths.
Considering the comprehensive stabilization, minimal noise, and adaptability across diverse movements and conditions, the Tamron lens’ VC system offers superior optical stabilization. Although the Nikon lens’ VR system provides a satisfactory performance, the broader compensation range and quieter operation of the Tamron lens’ VC system make it an even more reliable choice for ensuring image stability, particularly in challenging shooting situations.
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR
|Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Nikon F (FX)
|2 ED glass elements 3 aspherical elements
|1 Hybrid Aspherical element, 3 Molded-Glass elements, 4 Low Dispersion elements, 1 Extra Refractive Index element, and 1 Ultra-Extra Refractive Index element
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 presents some chromatic aberration, visible as blue-magenta fringing along high-contrast borders, especially at the corners. Nevertheless, the lens manages these aberrations well, largely due to the inclusion of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements. Coma or saggital coma flare, a type of aberration causing smeared blurs around bright points of light at the corners, is not prominent with this lens. Spherical aberration, distortion that affects sharpness, is somewhat present, particularly when focusing at closer distances, but it is not significantly prominent in most scenarios. Notably, the effects of these aberrations on image quality can be reduced through post-processing software and judicious choice of aperture and focal length settings.
On the other hand, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 displays a moderate amount of chromatic aberration. While it is generally within acceptable limits across the zoom range, it can exceed one pixel width at f/6.3 and 300mm, becoming more conspicuous. The aberration can sometimes cause noticeable fringing, more so towards the frame edges and even somewhat towards the center, visible as purple fringing. Despite its pronouncement, most of this aberration can be rectified post-capture using software tools such as Lightroom.
In summary, both lenses show chromatic aberration to varying degrees, with each managing them differently. The Nikon lens effectively uses ED glass elements to control the aberration while the Tamron lens relies more on post-processing software. Considering the all the factors, the Nikon lens appears to manage aberrations more effectively, offering better control in-camera, which can result in less post-processing work.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits a range of sharpness levels that vary with the focal length and aperture. Its center sharpness generally holds good, albeit with some softness at fully open apertures, which is rapidly improved upon narrowing the aperture. The corners show their best sharpness in the f/8-f/16 range, displaying some noticeable softness at fully open apertures, more so at the telephoto end.
The lens’s sharpness significantly improves as you stop down, with the sharpest results typically at f/8 or f/11, varying with the focal length. However, the lens’s performance declines at its maximum focal length of 300mm, compared to shorter focal lengths, although stopping down to f/11 aids in achieving better outcomes. It’s worth noting, though, that the Nikon lens might not rival the sharpness and contrast of pro-grade lenses like the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G or Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II.
The Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, on the other hand, displays an inconsistent sharpness that is contingent on both the aperture and the focal length. At 28mm, the frame-wide sharpness is excellent, especially when the lens is narrowed to f/8. As the lens zooms into longer focal lengths, such as 100mm, the sharpness slightly reduces, particularly at the maximum aperture, with the center showing good sharpness and the edges slightly less so. Narrowing to f/11 at this focal length greatly enhances the performance, resulting in remarkable sharpness throughout the entire frame.
At the extreme telephoto end of 300mm, the lens maintains decent levels of sharpness at f/6.3, though the performance is at its peak at f/11, where the frame-wide sharpness is very good. However, at smaller apertures such as f/16 and f/22, diffraction starts to impair the image quality, leading to a drop in sharpness. Despite the somewhat weaker performance at wide-open apertures, stopping down a few notches considerably enhances the sharpness. In general, the sharpest results appear to be around f/8 to f/11, depending on the focal length. As for edge sharpness, stopping down to f/11 yields acceptable results.
The lens’s center sharpness holds generally acceptable across different aperture ranges, such as f/5.6 and f/11 at 28mm, f/8 and f/11 at 100mm and 200mm, and between f/8 and f/16 at 50mm. At these apertures, edge sharpness is typically acceptable, though some softness is evident when the lens is used fully open. Despite some softness at maximum apertures and towards the frame’s edges, the lens’s sharpness can be substantially improved by stopping down a few stops from fully open.
In conclusion, both lenses demonstrate variable sharpness depending on the aperture and focal length. The Nikon lens manages sharpness well with minor improvements needed at wider apertures and longer focal lengths, while the Tamron lens also provides impressive sharpness over a broad zoom range, particularly when the aperture is appropriately stopped down. The Tamron lens, considering its impressive sharpness across the zoom range, offers the superior sharpness of the two, particularly for photographers willing to work within its strengths and around its limitations.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 generates a fairly pleasing bokeh for a zoom lens, largely due to its iris diaphragm composed of 9 rounded blades. However, it’s important to note that bokeh quality is inherently subjective and differs based on individual aesthetic preferences. When stacked against prime lenses such as the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G, the Nikon 28-300mm lens’s bokeh may not exhibit the same level of smoothness or allure. In certain situations, the bokeh may appear less rounded and less refined than that of lenses with fewer diaphragm blades like the Nikon 18-200mm.
Transitioning to the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, the bokeh quality produced is largely contingent on the specific settings and conditions under which the images are taken. In situations with high contrast differences in the background, the lens tends to generate a more turbulent bokeh. However, the bokeh renders smoothly when the background contrast is low. Despite its smaller aperture, the lens can create pleasant, round bokeh highlights due to its rounded aperture blades. The challenge, however, lies in its relatively small maximum apertures, particularly at longer focal lengths. This could pose difficulties in blurring out background details, consequently affecting the smoothness and overall aesthetic of the bokeh. The lens is especially praiseworthy for the quality of the bokeh at the 300mm focal length and for close-up shots.
In summary, both lenses offer distinctive bokeh characteristics. The Nikon lens, with its 9-blade diaphragm, creates generally pleasing bokeh, although it might not compare favorably to some prime lenses. On the other hand, the Tamron lens exhibits a range in bokeh quality depending on the conditions, with its performance at 300mm and in close-up situations standing out. The decision between the two would largely be a matter of personal preference and specific shooting conditions, but the Tamron lens, with its commendable performance at longer focal lengths, could potentially offer more versatile bokeh quality.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits a tendency to produce ghosting and flare, especially if the sun or a bright light source is improperly positioned within the frame. Nonetheless, this is not a major concern and can generally be sidestepped with careful handling and appropriate framing when photographing against the sun or other bright light sources.
In contrast, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 boasts commendable flare and ghosting control, largely owing to its specialized coatings and design elements. These features play a significant role in mitigating these optical anomalies, particularly in tough lighting conditions. The lens retains impressive contrast and color fidelity even in instances of severe backlighting, underscoring its robust control over flare and ghosting.
It is noteworthy that even when directly pointed towards intense light sources, the lens resists introducing flare effects, signifying the superior anti-reflective properties of the lens. Ghosting effects are minimal and are usually restricted to the edges of the frame under extreme conditions, with negligible loss of contrast or color. Although the lens demonstrates a slight increase in flare effects at the longest focal lengths, it is still minor and doesn’t significantly detract from the image quality.
In conclusion, the Tamron lens, with its advanced coating technologies and design, significantly outperforms the Nikon lens in terms of controlling flare and ghosting. It ensures superior image clarity and quality across a broad spectrum of lighting conditions, thereby enhancing the overall photographic experience.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 exhibits prominent vignetting, especially noticeable when using wide apertures and at certain focal lengths. This vignetting effect is particularly pronounced at the 28mm and 300mm range. While this is somewhat expected for a lens of its class, it may necessitate post-processing adjustments to mitigate the darkening. The vignetting can be somewhat alleviated by adjusting the aperture or zooming towards the telephoto end. However, the vignetting degree can differ based on the camera and the specific JPG engine employed.
Contrastingly, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 displays considerable vignetting, especially noticeable at its widest aperture settings throughout the zoom range. The most significant vignetting is observed at 28mm and 300mm, with the image corners being roughly 2.39 stops darker at 28mm and around 1.69 stops darker at 300mm when compared to the image center. The lens achieves more uniform illumination when it is stopped down to f/8 or further across the zoom range. Fortunately, this issue can be less impactful for many users due to modern cameras’ in-camera corrections.
In essence, both lenses present notable vignetting, which is a common characteristic, especially for wide-angle and telephoto lenses. However, the Tamron lens shows a slightly more balanced vignetting performance as it attains uniform illumination when stopped down to f/8 or further, and its in-built issues can be mitigated with in-camera corrections. Thus, the Tamron lens offers a slightly better handling of vignetting, although both lenses may require some form of post-processing or in-camera adjustments to correct for this effect.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 showcases noticeable distortion, which is predominantly conspicuous at the wider end, specifically at 28mm, where it displays considerable barrel distortion. This characteristic can lead to a ‘bulging’ effect in the center of the image. As the zoom increases past 35mm, the lens transitions from barrel to pincushion distortion, peaking between 50 and 105mm. This type of distortion results in an effect where the image seems to ‘pinch’ inwards. However, the silver lining is that these distortions can be easily remedied either in-camera on newer digital cameras or with post-processing tools.
In comparison, the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 also manifests discernible distortion, especially at the extreme ends of its zoom range. At the widest end, 28mm, there’s a significant 4.51% barrel distortion. Such distortion can be visible especially when photographing subjects with straight lines, like architectural elements. Moving to the telephoto end, at 300mm, the lens presents a relatively less noticeable 1.1% pincushion distortion. This pattern of distortion remains consistent across the frame, making corrections in post-processing straightforward, if necessary. Further testing also revealed moderate barrel distortion and vignetting at 28mm, with a mild amount of pincushion distortion noticeable at the maximum zoom of 300mm. However, these distortions were minimal in practical use and could be easily corrected.
In the final analysis, both lenses display a fair amount of distortion at various focal lengths. However, the Tamron lens edges out the Nikon in terms of lesser percentage distortion, particularly at the telephoto end. Plus, the uniformity of the Tamron’s distortion across the frame can make post-processing corrections more efficient. Thus, from a distortion standpoint, the Tamron lens appears to have a slight edge over the Nikon lens.
Based on the detailed comparison of various attributes of the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3, the final verdict swings in favor of the Tamron lens for a broad spectrum of photographic genres. Here’s why:
For portrait and event photographers, a wider maximum aperture for low-light conditions and a shallower depth of field could be paramount. In this regard, the Nikon lens, with its slightly wider maximum aperture, may have an edge. However, for such genres, bokeh quality also plays a significant role. Here, the Tamron lens, with its impressive performance at longer focal lengths, offers more versatility in creating pleasing background blur.
For travel and street photographers who value portability and compactness, the Tamron lens stands out. Its lightweight and compact design make it a convenient companion for on-the-go photography.
When it comes to nature and wildlife photography, where durability, weather-sealing, and a high-quality autofocus system are important, the Tamron lens excels. Its superior weather-sealing makes it more reliable in diverse or challenging environments. Furthermore, its faster, quieter, and more accurate autofocus system, along with superior optical stabilization, ensures sharp and stable images even in dynamic conditions.
In terms of landscape and architectural photography, control over chromatic aberrations, sharpness, and distortion are critical. While the Nikon lens controls chromatic aberrations more effectively in-camera, the Tamron lens, with its superior sharpness and lesser distortion, especially at the telephoto end, makes it a preferable choice.
Regarding genres where the handling of flare/ghosting and vignetting are important, like astrophotography and backlit photography, the Tamron lens again performs impressively. Its advanced coating technologies and design offer superior flare and ghosting control, while its vignetting performance is slightly more balanced than the Nikon lens.
In conclusion, while both lenses have strengths and areas for improvement, the Tamron lens demonstrates an edge in versatility, durability, and overall performance, making it suitable for a wider array of photography genres. Its strengths in handling challenging conditions, providing superior sharpness, and managing distortions make it a robust choice for photographers of all stripes. The Nikon lens, however, is a worthy contender, particularly in situations where a wider maximum aperture or in-camera control over chromatic aberrations is needed.