If you have recently bought a DSLR camera then, you must have realized that the kit lens (generally 18-55mm) does not provide enough zooming capability. If you want to capture shots at varying distances then, you need to have a Tele-zoom lens. If you have already started searching about it then you must be stuck in the choice Tamron 70-300 vs Nikon 55-300 (more precisely Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro versus Nikon AF-S DX 1: 4.5 – 5.6 ED VR).
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron is one of the best lens manufacturer companies and makes some really great lenses. Tamron has two variants in the category of 70-300 mm lenses for Nikon. The difference comes in the handling of vibrations. The cheap model of Tamron AF 70-300mm does not have Vibration Reduction (VR) capabilities and therefore it is so cheap. In this article, I am going to discuss this cheaper of Tamron AF 70-300mm only.
- Very Cheap: if you have recently started using DSLR and looking for something at a cheap price then this is a great lens
- Good Image Quality: Tamron is world famous for its good quality lenses and the images captured by this lens are really sharp and produce natural colors.
- Macro Feature: This is a big bonus point with this lens. The lens has a physical switch to turn it to the macro mode (watch the video below). The macro mode allows you to focus and capture micro subjects from a very close distance (read further about micro photography).
- Poor Auto-Focus: I was really disappointed with the auto-focus capability of this lens. First of all, it takes a little longer with the lens’s motor to focus and secondly, the focus is not absolutely precise most of the time (so, you need to fine-tune it little). The situation becomes even worse in low light conditions. But considering the price, I can say that you would be able to live with it if you don’t want to use this lens quite often.
- Missing Vibration Reduction: This is probably the most needed function, which is missing in this lens. Vibration Reduction (VR) is the capability of a lens to compensate the camera vibration (due to shaky hands etc), which results in blurring of captured shots. This feature becomes necessary especially during low light conditions (you need low shutter speed during low light conditions to capture more light). But if you are going to use this lens during daytime then, this feature is not much needed.
- Chromatic Aberrations: If you want very high-quality images with proper reproduction of edges then, this is not a good lens. But as a beginner, you won’t be able to even notice it.
My Verdict: Buy this lens if you are a beginner and if this is not going to be your most used lens.
Nikon/Nikkor AF 55 – 300 mm
- Vibration Reduction: This is probably the most selling feature of this lens and the huge advantage above Tamron AF 70-300mm. This feature allows you to capture really sharp photos even at low light conditions.
- Fast Auto-Focus: The auto-focus of Nikon 55-300mm lens is very fast and accurate in comparison to the Tamron AF 70-300mm. The auto-focusing motor of this lens is way more silent to that of Tamron’s.
- Good Picture Quality: For a bright sunny day, the color reproduction of this lens could be a little less than to that of Tamron but the difference is negligible. If you have been using 18-55mm kit lens so far, you would find the picture quality of this lens far better.
- Price: This lens is more than double the price of Tamron AF 70-300mm. But if you are going to use telezoom lens quite often then, it is all worth it.
- No Macro Feature: This lens does not have the extra bonus of macro photography as provided by Tamron AF 70-300mm. But this is not a deal breaker!
My Verdict: I do not see any major drawback of this lens for a beginner (and even beyond). If you can spend a little more money then, I would suggest buying this lens.