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Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus SP AF

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23 115975 Jan 5, 2016
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96% of reviewers $631.64
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This lens employs an IF (Internal Focusing) system that maintains the overall length of the lens during focusing. Uses two LD (Low Dispersion) glass elements that effectively compensate for chromatic aberration. Provides high-contrast, outstanding image quality and a soft out-of-focus background effect. Incorporates an AF/MF one touch switchover mechanism built into the focus ring(for Canon & Nikon only). Super performance series provides high performance through outstanding design specifications. Features the new FEC (Filter Effect Control) function that enhances operational ease of Polarizing Filter use. The new Filter Effect Control is designed to rotate the filter to the desired position while the hood is attached. This is accomplished by turning the FEC ring that in turn rotates the portion of the filter mount where the filter is mounted.


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Registered: Sep 16, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 856
Review Date: Jan 5, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, image quality, good working distance, large manual focus ring
None for my uses.

I have been using this lens on a Sony a7 mirrorless camera with an adapter. My copy is for Nikon mount, so that I can have aperture control.

After searching for long macro alternative lenses I realized I would be better off with the Tamron 180. It is similarly priced (and sometimes cheaper) than the older lenses and offers modern coatings. The build quality isn't up to the top end Nikon, Canon L or Sony G standards, but it is well built and light for its size.

The lens is sharp at all apertures with very good control of aberrations and nice colors and contrast. There is a large manual focus ring that is almost as good as the older lenses designed for manual focus. I have no comments about autofocus, since I've only used the lens manually.

I think that this is a great "sleeper" lens due to the popularity of the shorter focal length Macro's and the Sigma 150 Macro. If you don't need autofocus and want a good working distance for subjects like butterflies and dragonflies, this is the best option for the price in my opinion.

Jan 5, 2016
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Registered: Feb 3, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 2220
Review Date: Apr 5, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $525.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image quality, build quality, people are impressed when they see you with this lens, 1:1 macro, 3.5 is pretty good speed, seems sharpest at f/4 so you don't have to stop down much, works well with 1.4 becomes good tele
Needs focus limiting switch

This lens has good, perhaps great, image quality. I use it wide open all the time in the macro range and closer to infinity with good results. It is good with a 1.4 teleconverter, which I have on mine perhaps most of the time. Turns it in to the 35mm/FF equivalent of 400mm on a 1.6 sensor!!! Plus 1.4x magnification in macro!!! Since a 400/5.0 is adequate for wildlife, this is a tele as well. Without teleconverter is about 300mm 35mm equivalent, so still a decent tele on 1.6 crop. A lot of people with 300/4 IS on FF. I probably lose some sharpness with the teleconverter as always, but it is usable even wide open.

Popular Photograpy said this lens was at its best in the macro range at 5.6. I think this is probably true, which is good for me because I use it handheld.

Did an informal test on a brick wall and f/4 seemed the sharpest aperture in the center at about 15ft. from subject. I've heard "ideal" lenses are sharpest wide open, so perhaps close to ideal.

I dropped this lens from 2-3 ft. landed on fake hardwood floor. Never sent it in for a repair. The manual focus is a bit goofed up but the lens Still works. Still sharp. Great build quality.

Love the 1:1 macro. Much better than half life size.

The AF on this lens can drive you nuts when it hunts down to 1:1 though. Needs focus limiting switch. Also would prefer an on off switch for AF, but the clutch has it's advantages, much easier to reach when using the lens.

Got mine from KEH for 525 when the Canon new was about 1100 so saved money, too.

Great for bugs and stuff, more distance from subject, good speed, plus good tele.

I recommend this lens.

Apr 5, 2010
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Registered: May 24, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 20, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: - usual incredible macro sharpness - possibly the longest working distance for all canon compatible macros - comes with hood and tripod ring - less than half the price of the Canon 180mm and reputedly as sharp
- that FEL filter spinning device is a minus if you're using a ring flash or twin flash, but not insurmountable.

First of all - this is a Very sharp lens.

I bought this used on ebay, from Canada (I wonder if it's the same lens sold by the poster who gave it a 2 on this site?). I paid half what I would have paid for it new, and that is less than half what the Canon version costs new. 300 - what a bargain!!!

I keep thinking about buying a 60mm in addition to this one, due to it's portability (It would fit in my pocket as opposed to my 180 with convertors and MR14 EX ringflash - which doesn't Wink ), but then I remember what's so great about this lens and I realise that that 'handy pocket sized 60mm just wouldn't give me what I find so useful in the 180mm

1. - Working distance! This lens has the longest working distance of all the canon compatible macros - the canon 180 is very close, but as mentioned it's twice the price new. That distance is Great for shooting insects which is what I do most for macro. Dragonflies, damselflies, etc are quite twitchy and you often do need that extra working distance so as not to scare them off.

2. - Works well with teleconvertors (I'm not sure that a 60mm would be so good as telecons are not really designed for such short focal lengths). I've used it often with a canon 1.4x teleconvertor and also with a 2x convertor, attached by adding a 12mm extension tube between the convertor and the lens. It works really well although you do loose infinity focus due to the extension tube and sometimes that's annoying (if you suddenly see something that's more than a few feet away, you can't take that picture (butterflies, randomly appearing deer, hares etc). Solution - I bought the kenko pro 300 DG 1.4x which fits without the need for an extension tube. Initial tests indicate it's optically equal to the canon (amazingly).

Occaisionally I consider replacing this lens with the canon 180, but all the reviews I've read say that optically, this Tamron is a whisker better, so for the weather sealing and the red ring - I just don't think it's worth it.

I love this lens. Here are some of my pictures taken with it:

Lens only:

Lens with 1.4x and 12mm extension tube:

Lens with 2x and 12 mm extension tube:

Go on,,,,,,,,, treat yourself!

Jan 20, 2010
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Registered: Nov 30, 2008
Location: Finland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: image quality really impressive.
slow af. The "click-clack" -system in focusing ring does not feel always good.

Excellent macro lens! Optically impressive and leaves just nothing to desire. Really sharp in all apertures, CA well in controll, colours are beautiful, no distortion, vignetting minimal. This is not an easy lens to handle, because Dof is very short in large apertures and because of the slow af the "click-clack" (af-to-mf) -system in focusing ring must be used a lot. But, all in all, after some practice the lens works fine and the most important, the results, are always good. I do not hesitate to recommend this lens. In my opinion belongs to the same league as Canon ef 135 f2.

Aug 17, 2009
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Registered: Apr 7, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 352
Review Date: Jun 1, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredibly sharp, not too heavy, very very very high IQ, contrast and colors are beautiful and accurate, absolute bargain
AF takes a while if you are not already in the ballpark. I usually AF and then fine tune my MF.

I used EF-s Canon 60mm F/2.8 and needed more working distance. I did not want to sacrifice IQ or 1200 dollars for a specialized lens. After reviewing all sorts of samples, charts, internet forums, etc. I realized that the Canon is better built. It's sexier. It has the red ring. Optically, however, it is no better than the Tamron. The DOF is really small at 3.5, but even wide open the lens takes amazing shots. I can't recommend the lens highly enough; it feels very solid in hand. It is not as solid as my 70-200 F/4L, but it's in the ballpark; more solid than my Sigma 50/1.4. If you need working distance and you don't plan on spending 700 more dollars for the same performance (most tests indicate the Tamron is actually the superior lens optically), then do the right thing and buy this lens. You will love it.

Jun 1, 2009
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Registered: Mar 25, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 657
Review Date: Feb 1, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good color, good AF speed for non-macro use, nice design of the filter turner, good build
no manual focus override in AF.

Like all Tamron lenses, the whole package is impressive. Very nice build, good and solid body, lens case is nice and useful. On my Canon 20D, the lens focus quite fast for non-macro use. Macro focus is a challenge as all macro lenses. The biggest problem is when you switch to AF, MF is totally disengaged, there is no manual override like Canon's new USM lenses.

IQ is very good, especially the color. I do notice the contrast is not as high as Nikon's 105mm/2.8 VR, which gets the hi-tech Nano coating. But Canon lenses are no match to Nikon's Nano coated lenses.

The lens filter section has a turning ring, so you can use c-PL filter with hood on. Very nice and useful.

It performs well as portrait lens too.

Feb 1, 2009
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Registered: Oct 9, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 9, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $625.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The working distance, about 2 feet, is perfect for insects or other creatures that would get scared and move away if you got any closer. Images sharp.
Not really a negative, but the lens' build is not up to par with Canon L lenses.

I haven't used other comparable lenses, but this lens was perfect in quality and usability. I really think the working distance, about 2 feet, is perfect for insects or other creatures that would get scared and move away if you got any closer. Here are some shots I took with this lens: http://obscuredclarity.blogspot.com/2008/10/tamron-af-180mm-f35-11-macro-lens.html

Oct 9, 2008
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Registered: May 21, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 938
Review Date: Feb 9, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $660.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Super sharp Excellent and very sweet MF Compact size
Noisy AF Build not in par with Canon 100 and Sigma 150.

I have used Canon 100 f2.8 macro and Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro for Canon for a few years. I just switched to Nikon and did an extensive research for a new macro lens since I like to shoot close ups like flowers and butterflies. During the research, I found this lens was mentioned many times to have excellent optics, but seems often get ignored due to another excellent macro lens, the Sigma 150 f2.8 macro. And this lens doesn't seem very popular. Since I have used the Canon 100 f2.8 macro and Sigma 150 mm f2.8 for quite a few years, I decided to try something new for my new Nikon D300 camera.

I just got my new lens for a few days. All I can say is "Wow!" . It's incredibly sharp. I did a focus chart test and this lens is proably the best, in par with my Canon 300 f2.8 IS. The focus is dead-on. And the images from this lens are so sharp that it's simply sharper than both of my Sigma 150 for Canon and Canon's 100 f2.8 AF lenses. It's probably in par with my best lens, the Canon 300 f2.8 IS.

The AF on this lens is really noisy, like a typical Tamron lenses. But what make this lens stand out is the MF (manual focus). The MF is very fine, that is, you need to rotate the focus ring a lot to change focus from one point to another, kind like a very fine mechanical machine. The MF mechanism is so smooth that everytime I use it I just felt it's so SWEET. The adjustment is very fine that you can easily tell whether a part is in focus. And I can use my bare eye through the D300 view finder to do MF without the need of an angle finder (Canon term, don't know the corresponding part for Nikon yet.)

The boken and background from this lens is simply georgeous! This matches exactly what I found out duiring my research.

Many people say the 180 macro is big whe ncompared to the Sigma 150 and the 100's macrps. Not true with this lens. I found the size for this lens is comparable to the Sigma 150 f2.8. It's probably a little bit smaller but with a longer and bigger hood. From the B&H web sites, it shows the same weight as the Sigma 150.

The max aperature for this lens is f3.5. However, the lens at f3.5 is sharper than my Sigma 150 at f2.8, though which is usable too. I cetainly wish it has f2.8, but it only cost USD$600. I'm satisfied!

The only real issue I found with this lens is its built : purely plastic. So far it's good and I can only wish it will last. The tripod collar is solid, though not comparable to the Sigma 150, it's better than the add-on Canon tripod collars I bought for my Canon 200 f2.8 and Canon 70-200 f4 IS lenses.

Overall, I like it and now I'm even considering to get its little brother too: the Tamron 90mm macro.

I'd recommend this lens to any one if image quality is your main concern!

Feb 9, 2008
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Registered: Aug 29, 2007
Location: China
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp when wide open, stunning sharpness after stop down a bit
Need time to get use to the focusing mode

Got a good copy from ebay. It's a very sharp lens and the sharpness is at least on par with Canon's counterpart. Once you get use to the focusing mode, you can even use this lens to take photos of fast-moving butterflies! Highly recommended.

Some samples at http://www.dchome.net/viewthread.php?tid=292240&extra=page%3D2%26amp%3Bfilter%3Dtype%26amp%3Btypeid%3D20

Sep 23, 2007
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Registered: Jan 20, 2005
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 11
Review Date: Sep 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very Good
Don't have full/limit switch.

Very good.

Sep 13, 2007
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Registered: Jul 16, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 10
Review Date: Jan 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp, good build quality, tripod collar included. Good focal length for creepy crawly macro.
None that effect its fine optical performance,

It was a tough decision between choosing this lens and the Canon 180mm macro. After trying some shots with the Tamron I was convinced it was for me. It turns in excellent sharpness and very good contrast. Ideal focal length for getting in close to small insects, butterflies, even frogs.
Some do not like the speed of focusing, but it has never bothered me.

Jan 28, 2007
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Registered: Aug 24, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 761
Review Date: Jul 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Extremely sharp.
Cheap plastic feel. Autofocus is *retarded* too much of the time. Slow, loud, hunts on objects that you feel should be contrasty enough to focus on.

Jul 8, 2006
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Registered: Jul 13, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: May 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $575.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The Tamron 180 is a tack sharp macro lens. Good contrast with very real color. Pictures are very sharp mated to my Nikon D2x.
AF is slow and loud compared to Nikon AFS. HOWEVER, when using MF for macro work the focus ring is smooth and easy to use.

Some may consider the Tamron 180 to be cheaply constucted because it's so light. I think anything that produces such tack sharp images and is this light to be a quality piece of engineering. In addition I like the extra working distance the 180 provides compared to my Tamron 90 macro.

May 31, 2006
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Registered: Sep 23, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1344
Review Date: Jan 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very good build quality. Excellent optics. Ability to rotate polarizer filter with the hood attached. Price.
None so far.

I have had two copies of the Canon 180 macro, and recently acquired the Tamron. I sold my first Canon because I didn't think it was as sharp as I was lead to believe. When the second copy performed the same as the first, I decided to try the Tamron. The Tamron is a bit sharper than the Canon, even stopped down. Color and contrast are basically the same (both excellent). The bokeh in the Canon 180 is just slightly smoother than the Tamron (maybe there is an extra aperture blade or two?), but it is still very pleasing with the Tamron. Autofocus is slow, but accurate (same with the Canon). Build quality is quite good. The lens feels solid (though not as solid as the Canon). The clincher for me is the new Filter Effect Control (FEC) ring. This allows you to rotate a polarizer filter while the hood is attached. Last but not least, the street price is about 1/2 of the Canon price. I highly recommend the Tamron 180 macro.

Jan 20, 2005
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Registered: Jan 15, 2002
Location: Germany
Posts: 175
Review Date: Aug 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp, good colors, absolutely no chromatic aberations, slow but very accurate AF, lightweight,
Filter effect control: the moving filter ring shold be something good, but in real life it's anoying to have your flashes twist around when doing macro work

After a long and extensive search for a good and long macro lens I gave this lens a try and fell in love with it: it's the sharpest lens I've ever used and the only one whichs AF beats my MF skills.
It has a very usable lens hood included, tripod collar (which could be build a little bit more massive, but works as designed and easily hold my D60 + battery grip + lens + flashes without problems) and a very smooth focus ring which makes MF a joy.
Besides Canon 100mm macro lens it's one of the few lenses that has VERY good corner sharpness when focused to infinity, so I recommend it for astro work, too.

If you want to see some sample photos (mostly macros) go to
select this lens and hit the search button.

Aug 30, 2004
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Review Date: Aug 18, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $675.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: SHARP! as usual Tamron provides a good lens, and its Lightweight
tripod collar paint not so strong, i have few days and its already few scratch on the paint. Switch between AF and MF is a bit nopt comfortable, especialy when you go near to the insect, if u want to switch there's a click sound that some times make ur insect run.

i use Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro and change to 100mm f/2.8 USM macro, at the end still need the working distance, so at the end i'll try Sigma 180 f3.5. from my friend.

But after compare the result with Tamron 180, i choose Tamron one, cos im not trusting sigma for optically and compability with canon.

At the end it was one of my finest lens i ever used, the result u can match with canon L lens but with half price of it.

if you serious macro i recomend it before u buy other, slow AF? who need AF when u shoot macro, i use micro positioning plate or manual focus, but most of the time i use 550EX with ST-E2 transmitter to trigger, so just use handheld.

Aug 18, 2004
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Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus SP AF

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
23 115975 Jan 5, 2016
Recommended By Average Price
96% of reviewers $631.64
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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