TrueToad Digital Imaging, News and Reviews, Nikon, Camera Lens Reviews, Nikkor,
Close
Nikon 105mm Macro vs Tamron 90mm Macro
TrueToad / Wednesday, October 25, 2017 / Categories: Reviews

Nikon 105mm Macro vs Tamron 90mm Macro

Two Super Macro Lens Compared

Side by Side images coming - please bookmark.

Bottom Line Upfront (BLUF): Tamron 90mm SP VC USD is a top shelf Macro lens- This lens excels as a macro and general purpose lens, and if you are in the market - I highly recomend you consider one.

In this article I will compare two Macro Lens that are renowned for their abilities, the Nikon 105mm f2/8 VR Macro and the Tamron SP 90mm Macro f/2.8 Di VC USD, both lenses are considered top performers. I will have side by side images taken under the same conditions and lightings to show the results from both Nikon 105mm Macro and the Tamron 90mm Macro.

We start with the technical specifics first and the “ON-PAPER” review. 

 

 

 

 

Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro  Tamron SP 90mm Macro f/2.8 VC USD 

Which is Better on Paper

Nikon 105

Tamron 90

Price

$899.95

$649.00  (FO17 Model)

-

++

Warranty  5 years 6 Years  + ++

Construction

Mostly Metal

All Metal

+

++

Weather Sealed

Yes & Rear Gasket

Yes & Rear Gasket

=

=

Focal Length

105mm

90mm

Subjective

Subjective

Angle of View

23 degrees

27 degrees

Subjective

Subjective

Max Aperture

f/2.8

f/2.8

=

=

Min Aperture

f/32

f/32

=

=

Aperture Blades

9

9 circular type

+

++

Min Object Distance

12 inch (.314m)

11.8 inch (.3m)

+

++

Macro Ratio

1:1 (life-size)

1:1 (life-size)

=

=

Front Filter Size

62mm

62mm

=

=

Front Filter Material

Plastic

Metal

=

+

Length

116mm (4.6 inch)

114.6mm (4.5 inch)

+

++

Weight

720 g (25.4 oz)

610g (21.2 oz)

+

++

Special Glass Elements

1 ED

1 LD, 2 XLD

+

++

Optical Construction

14 elements 12 groups

14 elements 11 groups

Subjective

Subjective

Image Stabilization

Yes VR

Yes VC & Gyro

+

++

Coatings

Nano & Super Integrated Coatings

Fluorine, eBAND, BBAR

=

=

Focus Motors

Silent Wave

Ultra-Silent

=

=

Focus Type

Internal

Internal

=

=

 

As you can see from the “ON_PAPER” comparison above, the Tamron is a strong consideration and in some areas edges out the legendary Nikon 105mm Macro.

Both Nikon and Tamron have been manufacturing macro lenses for a long time, and both companies have fans of their Macro lens products.  I own and use both these lenses. Out in the field both handle very nicely and weigh close enough that you may not notice Nikon is a bit heavier. Because I  carry a 7-pound lens for my wildlife photography, when people ask me is this Macro heavy I say no, @ 1.5lb approx., these are on the smaller side for their focal length.  Both lenses are easy to hand carry and shoot without becoming overly tired, and that brings us to the optical/image stabilization:

Tamron VC: uses what they call XY VC image stabilization that can compensate side to side and laterally – similar to what Nikon refers to as Sports VR used on Nikon’s higher-end Super Telephotos.  In this regard, I can state the Tamron was remarkable at stabilizing my handheld shots, again and again.

Nikon VR: Nikon 105mm lens use Nikon's  traditional Vibration Reduction (VR) which is a mainstay on their newer lenses. Being a user of many Nikon lenses with VR I find the Nikon 105mm Macro does an adequate job to help me get handheld photos. There is some chatter during operation. While the Tamron VC is nearly silent.

Who has the better Image Stabilization? Hard to measure, BUT if sound matters - Tamron is a clear winner.  Nikon claims 3  stops, while Tamron claims 3.5 stops, but from my experience, I am impressed by how well Tamron performs. I seem to get better results with Tamron when hand-holding – but, remember 90mm is not 105mm, Tamron seemed to have push image stabilization to the next level. Tamron uses an accelerometer with a gyro to detect shake/movement on XY axis.

Manual and Automatic Focusing: Nikon 105mm Macro and Tamron 90mm SP Macro are fast and quite. I find the Nikon performs better autofocus in lower light while the Tamron performs better overall in normal lighting conditions. I hear very little motor noise from either – whisper quiet, and this is good news for video users. Both lenses offer focus over-ride from automatic focus to manual focus, and both lenses have large, firm, responsive focus rings.  * Tamron focus rotates opposite from standard Nikon lenses, and so, you may find yourself focusing out when you should be going the other direction.

Focus Speed: I find the Tamron SP 90mm better overall. Tamron is super fast and almost silent in the operation.  Looking through the viewfinder from near to far focus is ridiculously fast.

Focus Limits: This is where Tamron got it right. I don’t understand why Nikon does not have a three focus position limiter on any Nikon lens, to my knowledge. Setting the lens to a specific distance makes sense in controlled situations.  Tamron offers three limits while Nikon provides 2 (near and far).

Focus Breathing: Both the Nikon 105mm and Tamron 90mm shows some focus breathing; Focus breathing causes the image size to change as you focus, slight but still present.

Outdoor Weather Sealing: I feel confident both are outstanding as far as lenses go. Tamron claims throughout the glass to have water and dust seals. While Nikon lists the Nikon 105 lens as “weather sealed”. One thing that cuts down on dust entering your lens is “Internal Focus, ” and both Nikon 105mm Macro and Tamron 90mm Macro have internal focusing.  Tamron uses the Fluorine coating for the exterior lens – this is great! Nikon uses Fluorine on some of their lenses but not the 105mm. Fluorine makes glass very resistant to dust and water, stuff slides off or is easy to wipe off without streaks.

Optical Performance: Both Nikon 105mm Macro and Tamron 90mm Macro are very sharp lenses across the entire focus range. Now, splitting hairs and this is where we either need specialized equipment or make a judgment call based on our experiences and images over time. 

                The Nikon 105mm Macro is renowned as a macro lens and no one states otherwise it has a long history of being a very sharp macro tool. I love the results you get with this lens and rarely are any images not sharp due to optical performance. Nikon uses Nano and Super Integrated Coatings to help improve optical performance in tricky lighting, but read the next statement about Tamron.

                The Tamron 90mm Macro is also renowned as a macro lens and has a long history optically. I honestly feel the Tamron 90mm SP Macro lens outperforms the Nikon optically in “some” situations.  Tamron touts more LD an XLD glass elements throughout the lens and uses coatings that are claimed to reduce glare, ghosting, and anti-reflection, called Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency on top of BBAR – Broad-Band Anti-Reflection coatings.  In bright lighting conditions or is reflective I get the impression that the Tamron 90mm SP Macro is superior.

Bokeh: Nikon 105mm Macro and Tamron 90mm Macro being f/2.8, neither are considered as head and shoulders over each other in this race.  But once again, Tamron used a nine-blade round diaphragm, making the background softer than Nikon's nine-blade setup. If you need creamy Bokeh - go for a Nikon 105 f/1.4 or similar. Both Nikon and Tamron are just about equal @ 2/8.

Build and Quality: Tamron 90mm Macro lens and Nikon 105mm Macro lens have been delivering top-quality performance and both lenses now originate from Japan. Tamron has made the most significant improvements in quality and construction over past years, and this example is outstanding when you pick it up and use the instrument. Build quality was an area Tamron needed to improve on – and they certainly did with the SP line.  Pound for Pound both Nikon and Tamron macros are remarkable in their quality and craftsmanship.  Tamron simplified the look without gaudy bands or placards, just a single silver ring at the base with a smooth surface.  The Nikon shell is tactile, positive feeling with a mix of plastic and metal construction using a slight bump texture.  I try not to bang my lenses around so; both seem to withstand normal professional use. Comparision between the two are subjective for which is better.

Future Proof: Nikon has camera Firmware updates, and newer Nikon cameras such as the D series have a way to calibrate lens focus.  But when using 3rd party lenses, you are at risk that the "new" Nikon focus algorithm will not be compatible with your lens. Tamron helps solve this with the TAP-in Console. The TAP-in console allows you to configure your lens. $60.00 option - the Tamron should have a coupon for 1/2 price off :( on the purchase.  I have not tried using the Nikon built-in lens calibration system - but if front or back focus is an issue, this may be an easy fix using it.

Where do you go from here: Sorry to be similar to others on the internet. I feel confident with this spectacular 90mm from Tamron It is a very nice positive experience for everything a Macro lens should be. Tamron 90mm SP f/2.8 Macro VC USD is a very wise consideration, otherwise, buy the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro if using a Nikon camera body and have the additional $200.+ Dollars to spare. 

 

Print
Rate this article:
5.0
288
Lens
  • Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP VC USD
  • Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Micro
Camera Body
  • Nikon D500
  • Nikon D810

TrueToadTrueToad

I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

Other posts by TrueToad
Contact author

Please login or register to post comments.

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x

Nikon D850

Buy a Nikon D850

Nikkor 400mm ED FL Lens

SiteLock

Great Gear

Terms Of UsePrivacy StatementCopyright 2017 TrueToad
Back To Top