TAMRON
Model 30A
Fast-Aperture
Telephoto
Zoom Lens
SP Symbol80~200mmF/2.8
Fast-Aperture Telephoto Zoom Lens
Tamron SP 80-200 F/2.8 LD Model 30A Lens

Tamron SP 80-200mm F/2.8 LD Model 30A: This is an absolutely superb optical design which features a three element focus group incorporating one low dispersion (LD) element, plus a five element variator group coupled with a three element compensator group. Resolution and contrast, compared to similar OEM lenses, is excellent to say the least. Quite possibly this lens is the ideal portrait lens due to its flexibility in combination to its inherent sharpness and contrast. Professional photographers know that lenses of around 80mm to 100mm focal length produce portraits which feature visual distortion that closely mimics the human eye. On the other hand, taking portraits at around 150mm to 200mm places the photographer further away from the subject. This is beneficial since the subject feels less "crowded" and is likely to be more relaxed and spontaneous.

Overall, this lens is very slightly soft in the corners at F/2.8 due to extremely slight off-axis astigmatism and coma. Chromatic aberration and lateral color are extremely slight as well. Corner sharpness equals center sharpness by F/4, producing very sharp images across the entire film plane. Sharpness peaks at F/8 with images which are razor sharp and the equal of all but the very best moderate to medium telephoto prime lenses. Always use this lens with its included lens shade to minimize internal reflections and prevent flare. Performance is exceptional compared to similar after market lenses, and is comparable to the best of the similar OEM lenses such as the 80-200 F/2.8 Nikkor.

Lens Specifications:

Lens Model 30A
Focal Length 80-200mm
Aperture Range f/2.8 — 32, AE
Angle of View 30~12°
Optical Construction
(Groups / Elements)
12 / 16
Min. Focus from Film Plane 59.1" (1.5m)
Macro Mag. Ratio
Filter Size 77mm
Diameter 3.2" (81.8mm)
Length at
[w/Nikon mount]
6.8" (173.5mm)
[7.0" (178mm)]
Weight 47.9 oz. (1359g)
Lens Hood Bayonet type #82FH, reversible.
Accessory Accepts SP 2X tele-converter #01F and SP 1.4X tele-converter #140F. Supplied wth lens hood. Tripod mounting ring available as optional extra.

Tamron SP 80-200 F/2.8 Versus Tokina 80-200 F/2.8:

Both the Tamron and Tokina 80-200 F/2.8 lenses are highly sought after items on the used market, and both lenses originally sold for nearly the same price as well. To the best of my recollection, the Tokina lens was introduced a year earlier than the Tamron. Which lens is better? The Tamron is, particularly in wide open aperture and off-axis performance. While both lenses display very similar resolution, note in particular the center contrast differences at 200mm and F/2.8, and the corner contrast differences at all focal lengths for wider and smaller apertures. See Modern Photography's test charts, below, for these two lenses. The Tamron is on the left and the Tokina is on the right.

Tamron SP 80-200 F/2.8
PERFORMANCE
Modern Photo's
Standard
as Tested
Focal length: ±5%
(76.00-84.00mm)
(190.00-210.00mm)
82.96mm
198.41mm
Aperture: ±5%
at 80mm: (f/2.66-2.94)
at 200mm: (f/2.66-2.94)
f/2.92
f/2.88
Distortion:
80mm: (±2.0%)
200mm: (±2.5%)
0.44% (barrel)
1.2% (pincush.)
Light falloff: at f/5.6
+1 stop from theoretical limit
80mm: (0-1.2 stops)
200mm: (0-1.0 stops)
0.3 stops
0.4 stops
Tokina AT-X 80-200 F/2.8
PERFORMANCE
Modern Photo's
Standard
as Tested
Focal length: ±5%
(76.00-84.00mm)
(190.00-210.00mm)
81.59mm
196.43mm
Aperture: ±5%
at 80mm: (f/2.66-2.94)
at 200mm: (f/2.66-2.94)
f/2.87
f/2.86
Distortion:
80mm: (±2.0%)
200mm: (±2.5%)
1.08% (barrel)
1.76% (pincush.)
Light falloff: at f/5.6
+1 stop from theoretical limit
80mm: (0-1.2 stops)
200mm: (0-1.0 stops)
0.5 stops
1.0 stops
Tamron SP 80-200 F/2.8
F/no. RESOLUTION
at 80mm
at 1:49 magnification
CONTRAST
at 80mm
(30 lines/mm)
Center
Lines/mm
Corner
Lines/mm
Center % Corner %
2.8 49 44 51 40
4 55 49 52 44
5.6 62 55 56 49
8 69 55 56 50
11 62 55 63 57
16 62 49 56 50
22 55 49 44 42
32 49 44 37 30
Tokina AT-X 80-200 F/2.8
F/no. RESOLUTION
at 80mm
at 1:48 magnification
CONTRAST
at 80mm
(30 lines/mm)
Center
Lines/mm
Corner
Lines/mm
Center % Corner %
2.8 43 43 42 20
4 48 48 50 23
5.6 48 48 52 28
8 48 48 40 40
11 54 54 54 53
16 54 48 52 51
22 48 43 35 36
32 43 43 34 20
Tamron SP 80-200 F/2.8
F/no. RESOLUTION
at 135mm
at 1:50 magnification
CONTRAST
at 135mm
(30 lines/mm)
Center
Lines/mm
Corner
Lines/mm
Center % Corner %
2.8 50 45 50 39
4 56 50 52 41
5.6 63 56 56 45
8 63 56 58 46
11 63 50 60 50
16 56 50 55 43
22 56 50 45 38
32 50 45 36 30
Tokina AT-X 80-200 F/2.8
F/no. RESOLUTION
at 135mm
at 1:48 magnification
CONTRAST
at 135mm
(30 lines/mm)
Center
Lines/mm
Corner
Lines/mm
Center % Corner %
2.8 54 48 53 23
4 61 48 62 26
5.6 61 48 70 37
8 61 48 78 40
11 54 48 67 41
16 54 43 55 42
22 48 43 32 27
32 43 43 26 20
Tamron SP 80-200 F/2.8
F/no. RESOLUTION
at 200mm
at 1:50 magnification
CONTRAST
at 200mm
(30 lines/mm)
Center
Lines/mm
Corner
Lines/mm
Center % Corner %
2.8 50 45 48 39
4 56 50 53 41
5.6 56 50 57 47
8 63 56 58 47
11 63 50 61 50
16 56 50 54 48
22 50 45 45 36
32 50 45 35 29
Tokina AT-X 80-200 F/2.8
F/no. RESOLUTION
at 200mm
at 1:50 magnification
CONTRAST
at 200mm
(30 lines/mm)
Center
Lines/mm
Corner
Lines/mm
Center % Corner %
2.8 45 45 24 20
4 50 45 26 23
5.6 50 45 32 28
8 56 45 41 20
11 50 45 40 42
16 45 45 38 26
22 45 40 35 25
32 45 40 26 20

What can you conclude after examining Modern's test reports for these two lenses?

  • The Tamron lens, wide open at F/2.8, has noticeably better contrast towards the corners.
  • The Tamron lens has somewhat better control of off-axis aberrations which makes photos with the Tamron appear inherently sharper towards the corners at all apertures due to better contrast.
  • The Tamron lens has noticeably more consistent optical performance regardless of the aperture and zoom settings.
  • The Tokina lens has just one "sweet spot" with somewhat better center resolution and contrast compared to the Tamron lens. This "sweet spot" occurs at the 135mm setting with medium apertures.
  • The Tamron lens exhibits less distortion and light falloff.

What isn't obvious after examining Modern's test reports, yet was described or can be determined by an optical engineer based on Modern's optical bench analyses for these two lenses?

  • Both lenses have very slight spherical aberration at maximum aperture. The spherical aberration of the Tamron lens is milder and disappears by F/4.
  • The Tamron lens has better correction for chromatic aberration and lateral color, and better correction of off-axis coma.
  • The Tokina lens suffers from persistent yellow chromatic aberration and yellow lateral color. Since green is a component of yellow, the Tokina lens isn't nearly as close to true APO performance as the Tamron lens is. In the Tokina lens, green and red combine to create the yellow flare. The fact that Modern observed this persistent yellow flare indicates that the "smoothness" of correction for all colors throughout the visible spectrum isn't nearly as good as in the Tamron lens. Thus the Tamron lens far more closely approaches true APO performance.
  • While both lenses use similar LD glass, Tamron's 5 element zoom group combined with a 3 element compensator group allows for much better and consistent correction of axial spherical and chromatic aberrations, plus better and more consistent correction of off-axis aberrations including lateral color, astigmatism and coma.

So, what did $50 to $80 more for the Tamron lens get you? A lens with somewhat better performance wide open, and a lens with better off-axis performance in particular when using wider or smaller apertures.

Is the Tokina lens a good lens? Yes, it most definitely is a good lens. Yet the Tamron lens is somewhat better in that it provides more consistent performance across the entire image plane.

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