Why Tamron Has a Lot to Prove Now That They Have Redesigned

Why Tamron Has a Lot to Prove Now That They Have Redesigned

Yesterday Tamron announced the development of a new lens, but what caught my attention more than specs and the PR-speak that comes with a product launch was the way the new lens looked... strikingly like what Sigma is going for. I’m excited and happy to see Tamron pushing with a new design, but they have a lot to prove with the change and, arguably, a lot to lose if it doesn’t stack up.

The new Tamron lens is sleek, smooth and sports that classy black and white design that we’ve come to love about Zeiss lenses or Sigma’s updated line. Speaking of Sigma, just about a year ago they surprised us all with the release of the shockingly amazing 35mm f/1.4. Sigma had been struggling with unhappy professional shooters who weren’t getting the performance out of Sigma glass that they wanted. In response, Sigma redesigned themselves. They dropped the red logo and went instead with flat white. They smoothed out their lens design and gave us a design that, as I said back then and still believe now, looked simply fantastic.

Sigma Tamron new design similar Comparison
Tamron redesigned, but who was the inspiration? Their new lens next to the Sigma 120-300mm.

But most importantly, Sigma pushed the envelope with their lens quality. Not just of the initial build, but in their commitment to consistency. They wanted to assuage the feeling that quality control was a major problem, and in my experience (and the experience of a large number of photographers I’ve spoken to), they have upheld that commitment.
So what changed at Sigma to drastically alter everything like this? Leadership. The company is now run by Kazuto Yamaki, the son of the former president. It wasn’t just a shiny gloss on the exterior of the same product, Yamaki had a completely different vision for the company than his father, and totally overhauled the company to match that vision. It was not an easy task, and it’s why Sigma has been slow to release new lenses. They’re committed to making them perfect, not making them quickly.
Sigma proved that they were capable of excellence, and showed that a redesign meant more than just making a pretty-looking product. They proved a third party lens manufacturer could indeed compete with glass being produced by Nikon and Canon. What does that mean for Tamron? It means they have a lot to live up to. It means that they can’t just make it pretty, they have to make it impeccable inside and out because we as consumers know it can be done, and won't accept anything less.
When approached about the new design, what it meant and where it was going to take the company, Tamron representatives did not respond to inquiries.
So what if it’s just an aesthetic improvement? Won’t that be enough? I don’t believe so. This turn in design makes me believe they’ve noticed a dip in sales, likely due to the success of Sigma. They don’t want to lose more. They want to compete, and I think many photographers are happy to give them another shot at it, just as we were with Sigma. But if Tamron doesn’t come out of the gate with a lens that not only looks the part, but also plays the part, photographers will be a lot less willing to give them the benefit of the doubt the next time.
Jaron Schneider's picture

Jaron Schneider is an Fstoppers Contributor and an internationally published writer and cinematographer from San Francisco, California. His clients include Maurice Lacroix, HD Supply, SmugMug, the USAF Thunderbirds and a host of industry professionals.

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I have no doubt that Tamron has seen a dip in sales with the 'new Sigma' on the block. A few years ago, Tamron with the middle ground between mediocre Sigma and expensive 1st party lenses... leaving Tamron looking like the cheapo lens. And being inexpensive is fine, but their marketing message doesn't fit with that.

Interesting times...

I borrowed their old 200-500 from a friend a couple of years ago and had some decent success with it. However this was before I knew my exposure triangle, specifically my aperture. With what I know now if this new lens will price in $1500 range I am giving it a lookie-lu. Granted taking it up to f/11 to get the more tack sharp images will present challenges with shutter speed and ISO but if the IS they are offering now gets me some stops back on the shutter speed...bonus. I've been really comfortable with the Canon 300mm f/4 plus a 1.4x converter hand-held so if this brings me to 600mm at f/6.3 and I can still manage it mostly without a tripod plus the price is right then I am totally looking at it. I love to shoot wildlife and I just want something that I could own that will do it well at that range while being affordable. I could stop borrowing my friend's 300mm prime + a 1.4x converter or renting it to at least have a hand-held option. I would love for this to be my affordable occasional hand-held option I've been looking for.

I could honestly are less how a lens looks. I am much more interested in how it performs and how reliable it is.

I think Jaron's point is that Tamron is aping Sigma, and hopefully in more ways than how the lenses look.

Exactly. Spy Black read the article.

well it´s a lens you clowns... of course they look similiar.

they are cylindrical and most are black... big deal!!

Except that their SP 70-200MM F/2.8 Di VC USD that was recently released as well as the 90MM macro have both won recent awards in Europe. http://www.tamron.com/en/news/2013/0815.html

The ratings and acclaim for the recent Tamron offerings have been phenomenal.

I am a nikon and Canon "soon to be sony" user. I plea to you people, don;t put these inferior lenses on your camera. Stick to your Canon and Nikon lenses.. maybe Zeiss

:) Do as you please everyone.
I like the results I get from this TAMRON 90mm macro f2.5 of mine


Whats so special about that image? I rest my case. Spend a little more

so a nikon lens would have done a much better job you say?
This image is bad because it was a tamron lens right?

No, not at all, These lenses are third party lenses without support from Nikon and canon, in short Knock-offs. Sorry Joe but no knock offs on my D4, D800 Mark!! or 1Dx. My clients pay too much for my services

So you rested your case and then said that the point you were trying to make wasn't really the point you were trying to make?

You are just oozing credibility, my friend.

So you admit to being a bad photographer in addition to having bad taste in lenses?

Call me ignorant, call me a snob, whatever. The only glass that will ever touch my 3 Nikon bodies is Nikon glass. I'm tempted by Sigma's 35 1.4, but it's still no. All the other options, aren't even really options. The quality gap is pretty ridiculous most of the time, especially in sharpness and microcontrast.

James, you ignorant snob!

Somebody's an upvote whore. ;)

Which is such a boring kind of whore.

I actually agree with you. While they might be "cheaper", they're not cheap; while they're "just as good" or "almost as good, but cheaper" I still prefer the 'nicer' glass - if you're going to spend a lot of money on something, it may as well be exactly what you want, not an imitation.

And you, Sir, have my tuppence.

Don't knock it till you've tried it ;)

If you give me a Tamron or loan me one for free, I'll be happy to. Otherwise, it's not worth my time. ;)

I had a friend who said that about a Thailand holiday experience.

Here! Here!

My experience with a whole bunch of Tamron lenses is a mixed bag.

Considering the price point Tamron lenses deliver good sharpness. However a very common issue of Tamron lenses is severe maladjustment of the aperture lever. Most of my lenses expose about 0.6 stop too bright.

Here in Brazil I am canon user (5D3) and I think the only canon lenses I use are the 15mm f 2.8 fisheye and 50mm f1.4 (but the auto focus is too slow). Since the launch, I am a big fan of the Sigma 35 f/1.4, I think is perfect for wedding and photojournalism in dim light, but as it has no wether sealing so in some cases I use the tamron 24-70 VC (that is the only with VC) and the wonderful tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC (did some trash the dress in waterfalls with it). By the latest releases (including the 90mm macro with VC), I think Tamron is on track! Gaeta, Sergio Brazilian Photojournalist and Weddings Photographer at http://www.amazingfotos.com.br

i have an older, shiney black plastic, tamron 90mm macro f2.5 lens.
It works amazingly, in my opinion.
here's a pic from it.

i have a sony alpha and my preference is for sigma lenses first then an old minolta and then sony SAL. if tamron can match sigma on build quality and image quality then i have no problem buying their lenses

Tamron lenses probably lack in many aspects in comparison with Sigma lenses but considering image quality Tamron lenses give better image quality than sigma of the same category.
Plus the fact that Sigma review many of it's "professional" lenses every two or three years and make the customers look like fools.

this is kind of a silly article, because without reviewing an actual copy of the lens, it's limited to comments about aesthetic looks, not optical performance. get back to us after you've tried it.

I never once said about this as a review, or that I'm even judging the lens at all. It's all expectation and the situation. I feel like you didn't really read the article...

i read the article,it's just that it was lacking in substance. your point was essentially a) sigma has leapfrogged tamron and b) the new tamron lens looks a lot like a sigma lens. not to be obtuse, but THAT'S COMPLETELY SUPERFICIAL, literally. Why even write an article if you dont actually have anything to say about the product in question, other than its outward appearance being close to another lens, about which you also have little to say. did you talk about possible uses for the lens, or who it might appeal to? no. Did you do any research to back up your speculative claim that tamron has dipped in sales? no. in fact, you even make a highly misleading statement which implies that tamron has been sitting around making mediocre lenses: "They proved a third party lens manufacturer could indeed compete with glass being produced by Nikon and Canon. What does that mean for Tamron? It means they have a lot to live up to." Sorry but in actuality, Tamron's latest release, the 70-200 VC model, has gotten high marks, and their last release, the 24-70 VC, was actually rated higher than the Nikon equivalent on DXO Mark. which, had you bothered to do any research, you would know. Next time you blog about a new lens or product, i suggest you think about whether you are imparting any valuable information to the reader or not. if the answer is no, don't even bother sharing your inane musings and pointless observations. Thanks.

what you don't note, btw is that: tamron has added VC to an already highly-regarded exotic long zoom which targets sigma's 120-300 and nikon's 200-400, both of which are upwards of $3000. since in the past, tamron's rep is for designing well-performing, underbuilt lenses at affordable prices--for whom aesthetics left much to be desired, it's curious why you choose to focus on the "sexy" new design. consider that for wildlife DX shooters, this news lens is a 300-750mm equivalent, and you have a sense of the target market. for CX users, you're now looking at a stabilized 540-1350/6.3 extreme telephoto. you could have mentioned the favorable photozone review of the older model, but no, you chose to concentrate on the looks and nothing else. maybe you should learn to write for an audience before you blog again.

So you've made 6 comments on this site, and they have all been negative complaints...maybe you're not their target audience? just a thought.

Tamron makes pretty decent glass, but a 150-600... it will take even darker lens voodoo than the Sigma 18-35 1.8 to be anything better than a bigger version of the 150-500 Sigma still makes. If they just took the 200-500(the extra 100mm doesn't mean that much in the long end) , refined the optics and added vc it would have garnered much less skepticism, but the jury won't be back till we get a hands on review.

I'm not betting on this horse...

A lens is a tool first and foremost. Try it, if it doesn't do the job onto the next tool. Anyone limiting themselves from brand wars and internet reviews simply won't know unless they try it. I never liked tamron much, but hey this technology progresses so fast so you never know, again, unless you try it.

Pointless wank.