I'm looking for a consumer grade telephoto lens and zero'd in on these two.

Which one is a better product overall optically, cost and reliability-wise.

Some people seems to have bad luck with their tamron copies like af issues or under exposed images. but given that tamron is available from amazon warehouse used good condition at 270$ (less than half of nikon), should i opt for tamron as some reviews suggest tamron is at par with nikon if not above. I'm biased towards Nikon but its too expensive so if both performs equally I'd probably go for a tamron.

Side Question: Does the high number of returned items at amazon displays the poor quality of tamron? nikkor are hard to find refurbished or used cheaper.

  1. Nikon 70-300 AF-S VR
  2. Tamron A005 70-300 VC Di USD
  • 2
    I would suggest revising your question to fit some of the suggestions in this answer: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/a/1804/4892 As your question stands right now, it is very vague on what you are looking for in a lens, and even which lenses you are specifically looking at. The pieces about Nikon vs Tamron are already covered in this topic: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/4303/… and the Pieces about Amazon specifically are really off topic here. – dpollitt Jan 17 '12 at 20:17
  • Which Nikon lens are you referring to, the VR version or the non-VR version? The non-VR version is very low quality, surely no better than the Tamron. The VR version is a very different lens, and I expect it is much higher quality than the Tamron. – MikeW Jan 17 '12 at 20:36
  • I dont think it dosnt meet the bar as the question is pretty clear and this topic has definitely been debated a lot on various forums so very relevent to the beginners. I'm looking for people opinion on the copy of tamron they recived and in general their feedback on returned tamron lenses and if this particular tamron lens is worth the bucks. I probably should have added more specifics of the lens. I just though it was pretty clear as there are only one popular model in that category. Will update the post with specifics. – Sandeep Singh Rawat Jan 18 '12 at 17:51

As is the case with pretty much all third-party lens manufacturers, many of the lenses use reverse-engineered "compatible" mount designs, rather than designs from official specifications. That can pose a problem from the standpoint of long-term compatibility, and compatibility of established third-party lenses that are older than new camera bodies from major manufacturers like Nikon and Canon. I know for a fact that Canon has not made their EF mount an open specification, and I believe the same is true for the Nikon F mount with its modern electronic connections.

From an optical and built quality standpoint, third-party lenses tend to be good, but they are often not quite as excellent as brand-name lenses. That is a part of the reason for the higher prices for Canon and Nikon lenses, and high quality third-party lenses like Zeiss. There is a tremendous amount of engineering effort that goes into such lenses to maximize IQ, resolution, and build quality, not to mention many of the material costs. You are paying for quality more so than brand name.

Simply put, there are no guarantees when it comes to using a third-party lens, and you can't always expect top of the line quality from a third-party lens.

That said, there are no guarantees they will not work, either, and many people have found Tokina, Tamron, and Sigma lenses to suit their needs perfectly. I wouldn't write them off because of how many returns Amazon has. If you have done your research, have a specific budget, and the rate of failure/rate of return for a given third-party lens is within an acceptable bound (which will probably always be higher than comparable brand-name lenses), I would say give the Tamron lens a try. If you have the option of trying it out in a local store before buying, I would definitely do so. If you want any kind of solid guarantee, such as a good warranty serviceable anywhere in the world, and top-notch quality, then budget can't really be a consideration and I would go with the brand-name Nikon lens.

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