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Conclusion - Pros

  • Extremely good optics
  • Highly effective image stabilization
  • Silent, accurate focusing
  • Impressive flare resistance
  • Very good build quality including sealing
  • Competitive price compared to camera manufacturers' equivalents

Conclusion - Cons

  • Unpleasant vignetting at F2.8 on full frame at the telephoto end
  • Slightly less-fast autofocus than Canon or Nikon equivalents (but far from slow)
  • AF and VC switches rather stiff, difficult to change quickly

Overall conclusion

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is distinguished by being the first fast standard zoom for full frame cameras to include optical image stabilization. The fact that it does so in a design that includes a ring-type ultrasonic motor for fast, silent autofocus and a degree of weathersealing (Tamron uses the term 'drip-proof'), all at a significantly lower price than Canon's non-stabilized EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM that was announced around the same time, might lead you to think suspect must be some serious compromise involved in its design. But there isn't.

The Tamron's test results are very good indeed, making it a very real competitor to the 24-70mm F2.8s from Canon, Nikon and Sony. About the only criticism is fairly strong barrel distortion at wideangle on full frame, but this is easy to correct in this day and age when necessary. As usual for a full frame lens you can also expect noticeable vignetting when shooting wide open at either end of the zoom range, which in some circumstances can be quite unattractive. But again it's pretty straightforward to correct when necessary.

Once we get outside the studio and start using the lens for real, it continues to perform well. Autofocus is silent and accurate - it's not quite as quick as the Canon equivalent when tested side-by-side on the same camera bodies, but for most purposes it should be easily fast enough. It also behave well with regards to the less-quantifiable aspects of image quality - it works well when shooting into the light, and generally gives attractively-blurred out-of-focus backgrounds.

Obviously the lens's standout feature is its optical image stabilization, and crucially it works very well. In our controlled testing it allows you to get usably-sharp images at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than you can with it turned off, which is up there with the best we've tested. Again this is reflected in real-world shooting, where you can hand-hold the lens with much slower shutter speeds and still get sharp results. This is extremely useful not just in low light, but also if you want to stop down for depth of field, or use slow shutter speeds for creative blur effects.

We don't have any complaints about the build quality either - the 24-70mm feels much better constructed than Tamron's consumer lenses. Some users many not take kindly to the front-mounted zoom ring - most lenses of this type or size place the manual focus ring at the front, with the zoom ring closer to the camera towards the center of gravity of the combination - but we suspect this might only be any kind of problem in practice if you'll be regularly swapping lenses with a wideangle zoom that has a conventional layout. One criticism we do have though (and it's a small one) is that the rather flat profile and stiff action of the AF and VC switches can make it tricky to change these settings in a hurry.

The Final Word

Overall, we're extremely impressed with the Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 VC. It demonstrates that it's entirely possible to add an effective image stabilization system to a lens of this type without a significant drop in quality elsewhere. The optics are excellent, the autofocus fast, silent and accurate, and the build quality very good indeed.

Overall the Tamron comes so close to the much more expensive non-stabilized Canon and Nikon lenses, both optically and operationally, that it's difficult to see why most enthusiast photographers might choose to buy them instead. That's not to say that there aren't any differences - the Tamron's not quite so quick at focusing, and chances are it's not as well weathersealed - but quite simply it offers much better value for your money.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
Category: Normal Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Enthusiast and semi-professional photographers looking for a high quality fast zoom for full frame cameras.
Not so good for
Photographers who require the very fastest autofocus and most robust construction. Owners of APS-C/DX cameras may find lenses in the 17-50mm F2.8 class offer a more useful focal length range.
Overall score
85%
The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is the first fast standard zoom for full frame cameras to feature optical image stabilization. Its combination of impressive optics, effective autofocus and image stabilization systems, and drip-proof construction makes it a compelling alternative to the much more expensive offerings from Canon, Nikon and Sony.

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Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Review Samples

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Comments

Total comments: 16
jeejay98

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.

0 upvotes
handsomeguy

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!

0 upvotes
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.

1 upvote
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: 16