Wooden Bowls

I chose these bowls because they have some finer details at high magnification. Here’s the Tamron version:

Cropped to the same size and proportions, here is the Nikon version:

Even without magnifying these images to show full resolution, you can look at the edge of the bowl and see that the top image is sharper than the bottom. When you look at the background, the bottom image is sharper. The question is… what do you want to be in focus?

I focused on the front edge. That’s the subject in this photo, so I want that to be tack sharp (photographer slang for really well focused). Unfortunately, it’s not that sharp in the Nikon version. Why? It’s all about the aperture.

Both images were taken in aperture priority, and I opened it as wide as I could. For the Tamron image, that was f/2.8. The wider opening meant the shutter was only open 1/40th of a second. The Nikon image below could only be opened to f/5.6, and the camera kept the shutter open much longer, 1/10th of a second. Even though my subject wasn’t moving, the length of time the shutter was open meant a little blur in the image. Yes, the Nikon has image stabilization, but because the shutter speed was faster in the Tamron image, the picture is sharper.

The other thing a wider aperture does is it blurs the background. In the top image, the background is “blown out” because of the larger aperture. In the bottom, the narrow aperture keeps the stripes of the bowl in greater focus.

The thing I like about the Tamron lens is I can set it to f/5.6 if I want to (sometimes you want the background to be more focused), but with the Nikon lens, you don’t get a choice. There is no f/2.8, so you don’t get a choice.


  1. A nice range of colours in the bowls, I prefer the second photo, the slight out of focus of the inside of the bowl really shows off the depth of the item being photographed, well that’s my opinion anyway ;)

  2. That’s a fair assessment, Karen. The smaller aperture definitely makes it easier to see more of the bowl, and it gives the photo depth.

  3. James Moralde says:

    What I’m getting with this post is that this particular Tamron lens is better than its Nikon counterpart. And that the Tamron lens can do the effects shown in the 2nd photo while Nikon lens can’t replicate that which is shown in the first photo.

    Whether I’m right or wrong in my above observations, I know I prefer the tack-sharpness of the first photo, but would have prefered also a little more detail in the background too, like that in the 2nd photo. :)

    • That’s a spot on assessment, James. More flexibility to play with aperture, and less background definition when you use it to its full abilities.

  4. I think I prefer the first photo (Tamron) to be honest!
    I think the first photo has more depth than the second due to the greater variance in focus. The second photo looks more flat as more of it is in focus at once.

  5. alexbard says:

    i think you should test lense on same appertures and shutter speed to make any observations..

  6. Liewilyn Baynosa says:

    I’ll go for the first one. But give just a bit more detail on the blurred part,

  7. This bowls is so detailed with the stripes! Great result on the photo.

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