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.
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36 Comments

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...

Brian Anderson's picture

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.

Jason Ranalli's picture

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.

Jaron Schneider's picture

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

JOE DDD (Daniel Dalin Drechsler)'s picture

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

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bronco_rider/10768948624/

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

JOE DDD (Daniel Dalin Drechsler)'s picture

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

David Vaughn's picture

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?

Yeah, I'll take my tamron and Sigma lenses and keep them. They've served me extremely well over the years. That's not to say I'd buy every lens they put out. They've most definitely got some crap out there, but they've also got some pretty amazing lenses for an even more amazing price.

Tamron 70-200 MACRO THROUGH GLASS: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7150/6847278285_0f2e1c88c0_o.jpg

Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS on a 7DD at ISO 12800 after some serious noise removal to degrade the sharpness: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3690/9720731354_68575b2422_h.jpg

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.

Jaron Schneider's picture

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

JOE DDD (Daniel Dalin Drechsler)'s picture

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.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bronco_rider/9769286183/lightbox/

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.

Jaron Schneider's picture

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...

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