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Studio Tests (APS-C)

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD performs exceptionally well on APS-C in the studio, coming remarkably close to the much more expensive, and unstabilized, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM tested on the same body. It also matches or surpasses the older designs from Nikon, Sony and Sigma. The only blips are slightly soft edges wide open at 35mm, and rather strong barrel distortion at wideangle.

Sharpness Sharpness is very impressive indeed - in fact the Tamron is one of the best performers in its class. It's very sharp in the centre wide open at all focal lengths, although there's a slight drop-off towards the edges at intermediate focal lengths. In general the best results are obtained around a stop either side of F5.6, with diffraction starting to soften the output from F11 onwards. As usual on APS-C, F22 is best avoided unless extreme depth of field is essential.
Chromatic Aberration Chromatic aberration is overall pretty well controlled, and unlikely to be a problem in normal use. As expected it's most visible at the extremes of the zoom range, with a little green/magenta fringing at wideangle and red/cyan at telephoto.
Vignetting Vignetting is negligible, as usual for a full frame lens used on APS-C.
Distortion Distortion relatively high at 24mm, with visible barrel distortion even on APS-C cameras - other lenses in this class tend to do a bit better. But it reduces on zooming in, and from 35mm onwards is essentially a non-issue.

Macro Focus

Macro (APS-C) - 102x68mm coverage
Measured magnification: 0.22x
Distortion: Very slight barrel

Minimum focus distance*: 34.8 cm
Working distance**: 16.2 cm
Focal length: 70mm (112mm equiv)
* Minimum focus is defined as the distance from the camera's sensor to the subject
** Working distance is measured from the front of the lens to the subject

The Tamron 24-70mm continues to perform pretty well on APS-C cameras towards its minimum focus distance. It's quite obviously soft at F2.8, but improves dramatically on stopping down to F4, giving decent cross-frame sharpness. The best results in terms of sharpness are obtained from F8 to F16; F22 gives noticeable diffraction softening. There's a little lateral chromatic aberration, but not much, and just a hint of barrel distortion. Overall this means the Tamron gives better results close to its minimum focus distance than we found from the more expensive Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM.

Specific image quality issues

As always, our studio tests are backed up by taking hundreds of photographs with the lens across a range of subjects, and examining them in detail. This allows us to confirm our studio observations, and identify any other issues which don't show up in the tests. Here we're looking at issues specific to APS-C users; for a fuller picture, be sure to read the next two pages too.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is generally very low on APS-C bodies, and only really visible at the wide end of the zoom. The example below shows what you can typically expect - it's clearly visible, but not too objectionable even without any correction. It can, as usual, be eliminated more-or-less completely using appropriate RAW processing.

Lateral Chromatic Aberration - Canon EOS 650D, 24mm F8
Camera JPEG RAW file converted in Adobe Camera Raw
100% crop, lower right 100% crop, lower right, CA corrected
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Total comments: 18

This is a great lens. I highly recommend it. Just don't buy it from DigitalRev. You would get charged tax and if they used DHL as shipper, there is a so called "payment deferment" charge for being a broker for Customs and Border Patrol.


The payment deferment charge is pretty normal for all private shipping companies like DHL actually, unfortunately..

And, much to my annoyance, as it's quite a fee sometimes, more than the value of the goods in occasional cases..


Just got it two days back and am totally zapped by its results. Tack sharp at all aperture settings and zoom range..the much-criticized vignetting and CA at 24mm 2.8 are not too obvious at least to me (I am not a pixel-peeper and don't want to be one). Luckily, I got the good copy...I will surely give five stars to this lens!


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.

1 upvote

...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.

OK. Done.


...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.


...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.


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.


I think you might be comparing jpgs produced by a combination of camera and lenses that are profiled inside the camera while the Tamron obviously isn't.

I have no problem with the Tamron files after I get them into Lightroom and I have a hard time telling them apart from the 40/2.8 and 50/1.8 at similar settings.


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

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.

Average User

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

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.


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?


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.

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.


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

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

Total comments: 18