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

May 2013 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on Amazon.com From $1,242.39

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (Model A007) was announced in February 2012, just one day before the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. Its headline feature is indicated by the 'VC' in its name, which stands for 'Vibration Control'; it's the first and only optically-stabilized fast normal zoom for full frame cameras. As befits a premium SLR lens it also includes an ultrasonic-type autofocus motor for fast and silent focusing, and as an added bonus it features a degree of weathersealing (Tamron uses the term 'drip proof'). Put together, this makes it the highest-specified 24-70mm lens currently on the market.

To achieve this feat, Tamron has employed an exotic optical formula that makes extensive use of special elements. It includes three Low Dispersion (LD) glass elements, two Extra Refractive Index (XR) glass elements, three glass molded aspheric elements, and one hybrid aspherical element in its 17 element / 12 group design. A 9-bladed aperture diaphragm uses curved blades for the attractive rendition of out-of-focus backgrounds.

As usual for Tamron the lens is available in versions for Canon, Nikon and Sony SLRs. The latter doesn't include optical stabilization, relying instead on the camera body's built-in sensor-shift stabilization, and drops the 'VC' from its name as a result. But in all other respects it's identical, including the same optical design.

What's perhaps most impressive about the 24-70mm F2.8 VC, though, is its price. At around $1300/£800 it's significantly cheaper than Canon, Nikon and Sony's own 24-70mm F2.8 lenses, although it's rather more expensive than Sigma's older, unstabilized model. You could be forgiven for thinking this is too good to be true - on paper it looks like a steal. So the question is: how well does it work in practical use? Read on to find out.

Headline features

  • 24-70mm focal length
  • Fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum
  • Vibration Control (VC) optical image stabilization
  • Ring-type Ultrasonic Drive (USD) focusing with full-time manual override
  • 0.38m closest focus, offering 0.2x magnification
  • For Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts (Sony version doesn't have VC)

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the angle of view on Canon full frame and APS-C cameras (taken from our standard position):

24mm, full frame 70mm, full frame
24mm, 1.6x APS-C (38mm equivalent) 70mm, 1.6x APS-C (112mm equivalent)

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

 Price  • $1300 (US)
 • £810 (UK)
 Date introduced  February 2012
 Maximum format size  35mm full frame
 Focal length  24-70mm
 35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C)
 38-112mm
 Diagonal Angle of view  • 84-34º (full frame)
 • 61-23º (1.5x APS-C)
 Maximum aperture  F2.8
 Minimum aperture  F22
 Lens Construction  • 17 elements / 12 groups
 • 3 LD (Low Dispersion) elements
 • 2 XR (Extra Refractive Index) elements
 • 3 glass molded aspheric elements
 • 1 hybrid aspherical element
 Number of diaphragm blades  9, rounded
 Minimum focus  0.38m
 Maximum magnification  0.2x
 AF motor type  • Ring-type Ultrasonic Drive motor
 • Full-time manual focus
 Zoom method  Rotary, extending
 Focus method  Internal
 Image stabilization  • Yes (not available on Sony mount version)
 Filter thread  • 82mm
 • Does not rotate on focus
 Supplied accessories*  • Front and rear caps
 • Petal-type Hood HA007
 • Soft lens case
 Weight  845 g (29.1 oz)
 Dimensions  88.2 mm diameter x 116.9 mm length
 (3.5 x 4.6 in)
 Available Mounts  Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony Alpha

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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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