Focal length rangeThe 10-24mm range of the Tamron was the widest (for a wide angle zoom) until the introduction of the Nikon 10-24mm, and it is still a strong point of this lens. At the wide end, it goes all the way to 10mm. While it may seem like nitpicking to praise a 10mm lens over a 11 or 12mm lens, at such small focal lengths, a difference of 1mm is actually quite large. For example, the Nikon 12-24 has an angle of view of 99° at the wide end, where as the Nikon 10-24 has 109°. 2mm makes quite a difference. At the other end of the range, it goes all the way to 24mm. While this is not the reason you buy the lens, it overlaps quite nicely with the usual 18-xx zoom lenses and thus saves frequent lens changes.
DistortionOne of the nicest things about this lens is the relatively low barrel distortion. Even at the widest setting of 10mm, the barrel distortion is only moderate. It is certainly less noticeable than the Nikon 18-105mm VR at 18mm. Note that I am talking about barrel distortion and not perspective distortion, which is normal (and unavoidable) at 10mm.
AutofocusSince the Tamron has an internal autofocus motor, it works with the Nikon D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D5000 bodies which have no autofocus motor. I found the focus quiet and accurate even with my lowly D40, it doesn’t hunt or fail to acquire focus. Focusing speed is not the fastest, I would say it is similar to the Nikon 18-55mm kit lenses.
Image qualityFrankly, you are on the wrong website if you are looking for detailed sharpness comparisons or something similar. All I can say is, the image quality of this lens is good enough for me not to notice any obvious problems. The only obvious problem is flare. If there is a light source at the edge of the frame, it often produces a very distinctive red halo, which can be annoying sometimes.
Size / HandlingPhysically, this lens is not small, the lenght is modest, but the diameter at the front of the lens is quite large. I was concerned that it would be very front heavy on my Nikon D40, but actually it balances quite well. It is much lighter than the looks suggest, but I also suspect that much of the weight is close to the camera. In terms of size and handling, I found it quite similar to the Nikon 18-105 VR. I also like that the zoom ring is closer to the camera than the focus ring, I can never get used to the other way around. The autofocus / manual focus switch is much easier to use and feels much better than the same switches on Nikon lenses. The zoom ring has a very lazy travel of almost 90°, which feels kind of weird. The minimum focus distance is also very small, which is nice for getting close to things.
Hands-onBeing an extreme wide angle lens, it is quite different to use compared to any other type of lens. At 10mm, the angle of view is extremely wide, and using it like a normal lens produces quite boring images. You end up with large amount of empty ground and sky around your subject in the middle. You have to be very careful with your composition to actually fill the frame properly. A lot of times, this means getting very close to the subject, and moving just a centimeter or two then has an enormous effect on your composition. You have to be much more patient and careful while composing. I like that it allows you to put a tiny thing in the foreground right next to a huge thing in the background.
Indoors, this lens is a joy to use, you never have the problem of “I can’t back up any more!”. It makes even small spaces look massive. It is also fun to smile at people who ask “Am I in the frame?”, not only are they always in the frame, they are usually 1-2 meters from the edge. However, be careful about having people near the edges of the frame due to the strong perspective distortion at the wider focal lengths. This is not a fault of the lens itself, but a consequence of using such exteme focal lengths.
ConclusionThe Tamron 10-24mm offers a very useful wide angle focal length range for crop sensor DSLRs. It is lighter than similar lenses, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view. The image quality is generally very good, except for some noticeable flare problems. Autofocus is fine, nothing to complain about, and it works with the screw-drive-less Nikon cameras. All in all, quite a nice wide angle lens, with an attractive price. Recommended!
Read about the Nikon D40.