The Tamron 90mm Macro VC Lens: Handheld Heaven – Guest Article by Steve Russell
My Tamron 90mm 2.8 1:1 Macro Lens has been very, very good to me. I would have been content to use it as my primary macro lens for life because of its sharpness, versatility, lightness and shooting distance. But Tamron upgraded the lens this year and added vibration control (VC) and I took a chance, sold my beloved lens and got the new VC version. It has paid off in spades, and here’s why.
I shoot bugs. Bugs have a tendency to move and go in all directions. I move with them to keep the lens parallel to them in order to get as much in focus as possible. When I move, the camera and lens move and while I can be very patient and persistent, hold my breath for long periods of time, and brace the camera and/or lens against a hiking pole, the least little movement on my part diminishes the clarity and focus of the image. The addition of VC noticeably improves my percentage of sharp shots per shots taken.
For example, on two occasions this summer a pair of mating Blue Dasher dragonflies landed near me without warning (see the first pair in the attached photo). They are extremely skittish when they are “hooked up” and up until then I’d only been able to capture them from at least six feet away with my 70-200 lens. Both of these times, with the twin flash EV and the Manual camera settings already set, I moved like a mime to activate Live View, get into position, compose, magnify the view on the LCD and focus on one of their eyes, lock in the VC and shoot. One shot each time before they flew off. No time for the hiking pole let alone a tripod. Both times I nailed it. If I was shooting from my usual six feet with a longer lens I would have fired off, perhaps, 10-15 shots and hoped for one to turn out. And I could not have matched the sharpness I got with a true macro lens. Luck? Yep. Being prepared? Yep. Good camera (Canon 5D Mark II) and flash (Canon MT-24EX)? Yep. Nice mime work? Well, not bad. But the difference maker was having VC.
See for yourself. All of these images were handheld shots. The level of detail is the best I’ve ever been able to produce when shooting handheld and they took fewer attempts to get. I’m through grieving the loss of my original Tamron macro lens and am fully embracing the new VC version.