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Design

The SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD looks much like other recent Tamron lenses, with a utilitarian matt black plastic barrel, and a gold band beside the focus ring as the closest to any sort of design flourish. But while the company's consumer-grade lenses tend to be somewhat lightweight in construction, the 24-70mm is anything but, and instead feels reassuringly well put together. The barrel may be plastic rather than metal, but the standard of fit and finish is high, as you'd hope for the price. There's a rubber seal around the mount to help protect from water ingress.

Unusually for this class of lens the zoom ring is placed at the front; on other manufacturers' 24-70mm designs it tends to be positioned towards the rear of the barrel, closer to the centre of gravity of the camera/lens combination. The slim manual focus ring is located centrally on the barrel, with a basic distance scale behind it. Two switches on the left side of the lens turn autofocus and image stabilization on and off, and another switch on the zoom ring locks it at the 24mm position for transport.

Both the zoom and focus rings operate pretty smoothly, but the zoom is relatively stiff. Likewise the AF and VC switches require a little more force than usual to move, partially due to their rather flat profiles which don't provide much purchase. Overall this means that the lens handles slightly less well than its competitors, but we'd consider this an inconvenience rather than a deal-breaker.

Compared to Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM lens

Left - Tamron SP 24-70mm D/2.8 Di VC USD    Right - Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM

Here's the 24-70mm F2.8 VC alongside the lens that was announced a day later: the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. The two are remarkably similar in terms of size and weight; the Tamron is fractionally shorter and heavier, but in practical use they feel essentially the same. The difference in control positioning is clear here, with the Tamron's zoom ring in the same location as the Canon's focus ring.

The table below compares the Tamron's key specifications with all of its main competitors. The Nikon and Sony lenses are notably heavier than the other three, but are narrower in diameter and use smaller 77mm filters. The Nikon lens is the longest of the bunch, while the Sigma is the shortest. It's important to note that the Sony lens doesn't need optical stabilization, because the company's Alpha mount cameras all use in-body sensor-shift image stabilization.

 
Approx price*  • $1300
 • £810
 • $2300
 • £1750
 • $1900
 • £1250
 • $825
 • £600
 • $2000
 • £1500
 Focal length  24-70mm  24-70mm  24-70mm  24-70mm  24-70mm
 Aperture  F2.8  F2.8   F2.8  F2.8   F2.8
 Optical stabilization  • Yes  • No  • No  • No  • No
 Max  magnification  0.21x  0.21x  0.19x  0.19x  0.25x
 AF motor  Ring-type
 ultrasonic
 Ring-type
 ultrasonic
 Ring-type
 ultrasonic
 Ring-type
 ultrasonic
 Ring-type
 ultrasonic
 Filter thread  82mm  82mm  77mm  82mm  77mm
 Weight  825g
 (1.82 lb)
 805g
 (1.77 lb)
 900g
 (1.98 lb)
 790g
 (1.74 lb)
 955g
 (2.11 lb)
 Diameter  88mm
 (3.5")
 89mm
 (3.5")
 83mm
 (3.3")
 89mm
 (3.3")
 83mm
 (3.3")
 Length  109mm
 (4.3")
 113mm
 (4.5")
 133mm
 (5.2")
 95mm
 (3.7")
 111mm
 (4.4")
 Weathersealing  • Yes  • Yes  • Yes  • No  • No
*At time of writing, May 2013

Click here for a detailed specification comparison between current 24-70mm F2.8 lenses from Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Sony and Tamron

On the camera

The 24-70mm is a fairly sizeable beast, and as usual handles best on bodies with a decent-sized handgrip such as the EOS 6D shown left. On the smaller entry-level bodies such as the EOS 650D it becomes more a case of holding the body by the lens than vice versa. The front-mounted position of the zoom ring forces you to cradle the lens with your left hand further forward than usual, which feels a little less natural than lenses with a rear-mounted zoom ring.

Another small criticism is that we find the zoom lock switch to be a little awkwardly-placed if you find yourself suddenly needing to unlock the lens to grab a shot. But this also means that you're unlikely to lock the zoom accidentally; of course it won't matter at all if you choose not to lock the lens when putting it into your bag.

Autofocus

The 24-70mm uses a ring-type ultrasonic focus motor, of essentially the same kind as used in all the other lenses of its type. It's pretty quick and responsive, although in side-by-side testing on the same camera bodies it's clearly not quite as lightning-fast as the Canon equivalent. We've seen no obvious systematic problems with focus accuracy on any of the cameras we've used for testing, ranging from the entry-level EOS 650D, through the enthusiast-orientated EOS 60D, to the semi-pro EOS 6D.

Switch from the optical viewfinder to live view, though, and the story changes. Focusing slows down considerably, although the exact speed will be highly dependent on the camera used. It's still pretty quiet, but if you refocus during movie recording, the clicking of the AF motor as it fine-tunes focus might be audible on your soundtrack in quieter conditions.

Lens body elements

The 24-70mm is available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts; our review sample was the Canon version.

If you look closely at this view you can see the rubber seal that surrounds the mount, and helps protect against water penetrating the join between camera and lens. (It's more obvious if you click-through to the larger version.)
The filter thread is 82mm, larger than the 77mm of the Nikon and Sony equivalents, but the same size as its Canon and Sigma counterparts.

Due to the lens's internal focus design, the filter thread doesn't rotate on focusing. This means filters such as polarizers and neutral density gradients are much easier to use.
The zoom ring rotates 70 degrees clockwise from wideangle to telephoto - the same direction as Nikon and Sony lenses, but opposite to Canon. It's marked at the 24, 35, 50 and 70mm positions.

The ridged rubber grip is 33mm wide, and rotates with a smooth but rather stiff action.
The slim focus ring has a 11mm-wide ridged rubber grip. It rotates 90 degrees anti-clockwise from infinity to 0.38m - again the same as Nikon lenses, but opposite to Canon and Sony. Its action is nice and smooth, and it doesn't rotate on autofocus.

The lens has a basic distance scale, with markings in metres and feet, but no depth-of-field indicators or IR focus index.
Two switches on the side of the of the lens barrel control the autofocus and image stabilization. They're quite stiff and have relatively flat profiles, which makes them a little awkward to set. They're also identical in design, so can't be distinguished by touch alone.

As usual for a lens with a ring-type ultrasonic motor, you can manually tweak the focus in AF mode.
There's a switch on the other side of the barrel that locks the zoom in its fully retracted position (i.e. 24mm).
The bayonet-mount petal-type hood is provided as standard, and clicks positively into place on the front of the lens.

The hood is made from thick plastic, and ribbed mouldings on the inside minimize the reflection of stray light into the lens.

The hood reverses neatly for storage, and the lens comes supplied with a chunky, easy-to-grip centre-pinch front cap.

Reported aperture vs focal length

The 24-70mm VC offers an aperture range from F2.8 - F22 at all focal lengths.

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Comments

Total comments: 14
Neogene

Used during my 15days Japan Tour, after three days of rain the lens got steam inside it, i had to wait until it got dry.

It's a mess isn't weather sealed.

I noticed a bit of color aberrations during my cloudy shots.

0 upvotes
jkmnop

...still going:

When we talk about lens contrast, we are not talking about that quality. What we're talking about is the ability of the lens to differentiate between smaller and smaller details of more and more nearly similar tonal value. This is also referred to as “microcontrast.” The better contrast a lens has (and this has nothing to do with the light/­dark range or distribution of tones in the final print or slide) means its ability to take two small areas of slightly different luminance and distinguish the boundary of one from the other.

https://luminous-landscape.com/understanding-lens-contrast/

OK. Done.

0 upvotes
jkmnop

...still going:

*microcontrast/lens contrast - here's an interesting piece (predating the digital era) about what this means and what you're looking for/at when you're digging deeply into the quality of a lens. Here's the essence of the piece (by my lights):

Many photographers and even some experienced and knowledgeable ones, seem permanently confused about contrast, especially when the word is used to describe lenses. In photography, like the word “speed” (which can refer to the maximum aperture of a lens, the size of the gap in a constant-rate shutter, or the sensitivity of an emulsion), the word “contrast” actually refers to several different things. “Contrast” in photo paper, for instance, or in a finished image, refers to overall (sometimes called “global“) contrast, meaning how the materials distribute tonal gradation from black to white or lightest to darkest.

0 upvotes
jkmnop

...continued from previous post:

At 100mm - I compared the Tamron at 70mm and forgot to try the 70-200mm here - and here again the 24-105 was better on both counts. And, if you want to have your socks blown off for reasonable bucks, check out this 100mm: stunningly beautiful sharpness and contrast.

0 upvotes
jkmnop

So I went back and tested the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD vs all of the lenses I have:

Canon EF17-40mm F/4L USM
Canon EF50mm F/1.8 II
Canon EF24-105mm F/4L IS USM
Canon EF100mm F/2.8 Macro USM
Canon EF70-200mm F/4L IS USM II

Except in the case of the 100mm I matched focal lengths and shot everything at F4, the same image, from a tripod.

The 50mm lens, a cheapie but goodie, trailed the pack. Not worth discussing.

At 24mm the Tamron showed slightly less sharpness than the 17-40 and markedly less sharpness than the 24-105. Microcontrast/lens contrast* was noticeably poorer than both the Canon lenses resulting in flatter depth and flatter tonality.

At 50mm the Tamron showed slightly better sharpness than the 24-105 but again the microcontrast/lens contrast* was poorer resulting in poorer perceived sharpness away from the point of focus as well as flatter tonality.

At 70mm the 24-105 was sharper and showed better contrast. The 70-200 smoked them both...continued.

0 upvotes
jkmnop

Just bought one yesterday and will return it. I was hoping to replace my Canon EF2-105mm f.4L IS USM with it. I tested the Tamron against my existing lens as well as my Canon EF70-200mm f/4L IS2USM at the 70 mm focal length.

While the Tamron is good there is, on close inspection, a very noticeable difference in the differentiation of highlight and shadow between the Canon lenses and the Tamron. The Canon lenses do it much better. This improves perceived three dimensionality as well a giving a depth and richness of tone that the Tamron simply does not. The Tamron images appear flat and washed out compared to those with the Canon lenses. I'm all about that tone.

Sorry, Tamron. Keep swinging.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
robogobo

I'd love to hear some real world anecdotes from someone who went from the Canon 24-70 v1 to the Tamron, instead of going with the Canon 24-70 v2. Any regrets? It's the Zoom ring location and backwards direction that are making me hesitate. I've been shooting with the Canon for 12 years and can't imagine relearning that reflex.

Also, I've heard a few stories about AF problems with the Tamron.

Never used a Tamron lens before. Always thought they were junk. I have used a few Sigmas and had mixed feelings, though their Art line is stellar.

0 upvotes
Average User

Will Tamron make this lens for Sony FE mount? If so, could it have image stabilization?

0 upvotes
Jimothy H

Hello Admin,

Why is it the quality decrease when step down from 2.8 to 4 at the 70mm end? It's for a crop sensor test. The test with full frame doesn't have the same problem.

0 upvotes
jungfrow

Hi,
Just bought the Tamron SP 24-70 Di VC USD for nikon.
I noticed that there is a plastic rubbing sound when it focuses and when moving around the elements inside the lens seem to bump around a bit.
Is that normal?

0 upvotes
Chamu

Just bought this recently and absolutely love this lens. The lens is sharp and very quick. It's a very good alternative to similar Nikkor lenses.

0 upvotes
Nader Erfani

Indeed a very good lens which thanks to its stabilisation offers a lot more towards creative photography than one would at first anticipate.

0 upvotes
ecube

This Tamron SP 24-70 f/2.8 seem a cheaper and better alternative to Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8. I'll stop by a local dealer to try it on my D800

1 upvote
camerosity

Just got this lens today. It's amazing. Heavy! But sharp at f2.8 and beyond with my D800.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 14