Review: Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] Lens

If you can live with a few limitations, Tamron’s new 10-24mm can fulfill your wide-angle needs, big time.

By Ellis Vener

Sometimes you find yourself in need of an ultra-wide zoom. The Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] is a really good, not quite great lens that fits the bill for landscape, corporate and perhaps some architectural photography. Although designed for formats smaller than 24x36mm, from 13.75mm to 24mm, without the included lens hood, it covers the full 24x36mm (Nikon FX)—for a price around $499.

The optical path consists of 12 elements, three of them molded aspheric glass designs, two others hybrid aspheric designs. There are two LD elements, similar to Nikon’s ED elements. Internal flare and reflection are well controlled, even when there are light sources in the frame. I tested this lens with FX-format Nikon D3 and D700 camera bodies and a DX-format D300 body; with the exception of some slight purple fringes, or blooming, around light sources, chromatic aberrations are virtually non-existent.

©Ellis Vener

Size comparison: Left, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED; center, AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED; right, Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] lens.

If you work with Nikon DX (APS-C) format cameras, the full-frame coverage equivalent is 15-36mm, slightly wider in my experience. With Canon APS-C (20D, 30D, 40D, 50D) cameras, the equivalent range is 16-38.4mm. Minimum focusing distance is 9.44 inches at all focal lengths. At 10mm, this results in a purported 1:5X magnification ratio (one-fifth life size) for close-up photography. In my tests, compared to AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G and AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lenses, at any given focal length the Tamron lens has a slightly wider angle of view than you’d expect for that focal length. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the focal lengths are different from their designations, but it does indicate a difference in optical design.

Wide: AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm.

Wider: AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED at 12mm.

Widest: Tamron SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] at 10mm. These three images were shot with a tripod-mounted Nikon D300 (DX format) camera from the same location.
All images ©Ellis Vener

The handling characteristics are generally fine. Both the zoom ring and the focusing ring are well dampened, the lens exhibited no creep with the camera pointed downward. Like the G-type F-mount Nikkors, there’s no aperture control ring on the lens. Like the similarly sized DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G, the Tamron 10-24mm can take a 77mm filter, which could be handy for landscape photographers who still use graduated neutral density or polarizing filters.

Optically, the 10-24mm doesn’t have quite the same quality as the already legendary AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G lens, at least on the D3 and D700 bodies. The quality comes close on the smaller-format D300, but the nod still goes to the big Nikkor. If you use an FX Nikon body and need a super ultra-wide angle lens but can’t afford the 14-24mm f/2.8 Nikkor, and if you’re willing to live with the slightly lower resolution and the moderate barrel distortion, this may be the lens for you.

Another good use for this lens is stitched panoramic interior photos. I do a lot of these for clients and, weird as it sounds, 14mm, even with the long side of the FX format turned vertically, sometimes just isn’t wide enough. Until I started working with this lens, I’d have to resort to using a fisheye lens, which takes in an extremely wide angle of view by exploiting barrel distortion. Though there’s some barrel distortion at the edges of its widest setting when used on a format larger than the designers intended, the rectilinear type Tamron 10-24mm lens reduces my post-processing headaches.

This image was taken with the Tamron 10-24mm on
an FX-format Nikon D3X.
©Ellis Vener

In all, this is a very good specialty lens at a very good price.

Special thanks to PPR Atlanta for the loan of the rental studio, Nikon D300 camera and 12-24mm Nikkor lens.


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Comments (10)

oh!i love it!!thanks!!

great to get more perspective!!thanks

So this lens actually covers the whole FX sensor? It doesn't just put the D3 in dx mode?

Automatically the D3, D3x or D700 will go into DX mode when a DX designated lens is mounted lens is mounted. You can disable or enable this on the camera menu: Shooting Menu> Image Area > Auto DX crop > off/on . The default is "on".

Once you choose to turn Auto DX crop off, you can choose the size format you want: FX (36x24mm), DX format (24x16mm).

On the D3 & D3X you also have the choice of the 30x24mm ratio. This size format may or may not now be available on the D700 as well, but I haven't checked the latest firmware update for the D700 to confirm that possibility.

To clarify my remarks of 1:04pm on 1/27/2009.

The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens does not cover the full 24x36mm area of the Nikon FX format at focal lengths shorter than 13.75mm. Additionally, to cover the full FX format area in the range between 13.75 to 15mm it is necessary to remove the lens hood.

Any chance of seeing some shots with the lens used on a D700?

Well not with the D700, but with a D3X. I should have something later on today.

Thank you Sir. A very welcome review. I was playing with the Tamron 11-18 yesterday (the 10-24 hasn't got to my local shop yet) and it too is usable on an FX camera from about 14 through 18 but 10-24 (or even 13.75-24) would be more useful of course.

I've got a Sigma 10-20 which I love, but it vignettes at every FL on the D700. I bought a D90 mostly to be able to continue to use the Sigma, but I really want to shoot wider than 24mm on the D700 in full 12MP and simply cannot justify the most excellent Nikkor 14-24/2.8 at the moment. If the image quality of this Tamron is acceptable (and it sounds like it is) it will hold me over until I can justify the Nikkor 14-24/2.8.

Mark Cavanough:

Great comments by all. I have a D90 and cannot decide between the Sigma 10-20 and the Tamron 10-24. I seem to have read both +ve and -ve reports on both. I would be using the lense mainly for amateur landscape and architectural work.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.


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