Tamron 60mm f/2 SP AF Di II Macro - £350/$460
Given the success of Tamron's full-frame 90mm macro lens, it's natural that the brand should try to replicate the winning recipe in a 60mm lens for DX cameras. On bodies such as the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D7000 you get an effective 90mm focal length in a smaller package. A key difference is that this 60mm lens has internal focusing, so its length doesn't increase as focus distance decreases.
The 90mm f/2.8 SP AF Di Macro's push-pull focus ring design is replaced here with an AF/MF switch. The autofocus motor is still a basic electric type, so there's no manual override and the switch is more fiddly and time-consuming to use than the push-pull arrangement. Build quality is nothing special, though this is the 'fastest' lens on test, with a maximum aperture of f/2.
Whereas Tamron's 90mm lens is extremely sharp at its maximum aperture, the 60mm is by far the poorest in the group. It redeems itself with good resolution in the f/8 to f/16 range, which is more appropriate for macro shooting. However, the focus ring is horribly stiff and jerky, making fine adjustments tricky when you're focusing manually.
There's a major lack of sharpness when you shoot at f/2 and f/2.8. The lens doesn't get into its stride until f/5.6.
Sharpness at f/2.8: 532
Sharpness at f/8: 2346
Sharpness at f/16: 2027
Noticeable colour fringing can be problematic outside the centre of the frame, and is quite poor in the corners.
Fringing at f/2.8: 0.79
Fringing at f/8: 0.28
Fringing at f/16: 0.3
Visible barrel distortion is a flaw, the Tamron delivering lab figures almost as bad as those from the Nikon 85mm.
Image quality verdict
Disappointing in almost every respect, the Tamron 60mm has the worst all-round image quality of the lenses in our test.