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Build quality and handling
Surprisingly lightweight for a full-frame camera lens, the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro weighs just 435g. The downside is that it also feels a bit flimsy and plasticky.
At 77-117mm, it's also fairly compact, although the length stretches to 214mm with the lens hood fitted, at the closest normal focus setting and maximum telephoto zoom. The overall length extends further, to 237mm at the 0.5x macro setting.
Handling is hampered by a slightly stiff and jerky zoom ring, but at least there's no zoom creep. By contrast, the focus ring is very smooth and effective. There's also a handy focus distance scale printed around the rear edge of the focus ring, and a macro magnification scale at the front edge.
A capable performer throughout the 70-200mm zoom range, the Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro loses the plot a bit as you get towards its maximum 300mm focal length. Sharpness drops off, compounded by a lack of stabilisation for handheld shooting.
The net result is that getting consistently sharp long shots is always a challenge. Sharp macro shots are equally tricky, because resolution drops massively if you choose a very small aperture to try to increase depth of field.
Based on a standard electric motor, autofocus proved painfully slow in our tests, especially at long focal lengths, where it was particularly ponderous as well as being prone to hunting back and forth when trying to lock onto targets. Colour fringing was also more noticeable than with many competing lenses, especially towards the edges and corners of the frame.
Taken at 300mm, f/5.6