My daughter is playing on the Morton Grove All-Stars 8-year-old girls softball team this year. This is our family’s first experience with this kind of thing and we just completed a four day tournament in Richmond, Illinois. Richmond is about 50 miles from Morton Grove and over the course of the tournament we experienced one-way commute times anywhere from 60 minutes to 100 minutes depending on the time of day. Getting to bed late, getting up early to get back on the road to Richmond, commuting at least 2 hours each day, and sitting in the 90 degree sun for 4 days – we were all SO TIRED! It was a great experience for my daughter though and her team won second place. Woot!
These next few paragraphs are for the photographers who follow my blog: This tournament was a chance for me to test out a new lens. This might seem like I have lost my marbles, but after shooting professionally for 8 years I went out and bought a consumer grade zoom lens. Why? Because I shoot predominantly in studio and knew I could not use a long zoom in studio. Tamron was having a rebate a few months ago and I ended up getting a great deal on the Tamron SP70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD. I really couldn’t justify the $2300 for the Nikon 70-200 2.8 at this point if I were not going to use it professionally. It’s all about the right tool for the job. You know me – I am the professional photographer who takes her point and shoot to Disney World. Although I want to document the action, I also want to enjoy my time with my kids and not stress out about taking care of thousands of dollars of camera gear at Disney World. But I digress.
I shot the whole softball tournament with my D7000. I used this new Tamron and my Nikon 24-70 2.8. After shooting for two years with the D700, I consider my D7000 to be a pretty noisy camera. I find that I need to run some sort of noise reduction on almost every non-studio image from my D7000. As anyone would expect, the images I shot with the 70-300 were definitely noisier than the ones with the 24-70.
I did see a bit of chromatic aberration on the Tamron images. And even with the vibration compensation I found I needed to shoot this lens at pretty fast shutter speeds to prevent blur. Before I bought this lens, I considered the more expensive Tamron 70-200 2.8 (still 1/3 the price of the Nikon equivalent) but it didn’t have vibration compensation. I am a shaky shooter with heavy lenses so I really need that VC (or VR if you speak Nikon).
I was worried about missing shots due to slow focus but I felt like the Tamron focused just as fast as the Nikon 24-70 I had with me.
Overall I would say this consumer-grade Tamron did exactly what I needed it to. It allowed me an affordable way to get amazing reach for sports pictures of my kid. Coupled with the crop factor of the smaller sensor of the D7000, I was able to get pretty good shots of my daughter playing in right field while I was sitting along the 3rd base line. If I wanted to print 16×20’s of these images, I might notice some of the flaws I mentioned earlier (noise, chromatic aberration, slight blur at lower shutter speed due to my own shakiness). And of course I couldn’t blur the background as much as I wanted because of the higher aperture of this lens. I would not recommend this lens as a professional lens due to the limitations mentioned earlier, but for personal scrapbooks and slideshows I am surprisingly happy with the results.