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Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro review

June 2008 | By Andy Westlake

The SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro is Tamron's latest lens, announced at the end of February 2008. A fast telephoto zoom for the more budget-conscious photographer, the design features 19 elements on 16 groups, including three Low Dispersion (LD) glass elements for minimizing chromatic aberration. Tamron say the lens is 'packed with features that allow stress-free photography', and accordingly these are indicated by the plethora of initials packed into that painfully protracted lens name. 'SP' designates this to be a member of Tamron's top-line 'Special Performance' range, 'Di' indicates that it is 'Digitally Integrated' (i.e. optimized for DSLR use, but still covering the full-frame 35mm format), and IF reveals that it incorporates an internal focusing mechanism. Finally the 'Macro' description provides a clue to one of this lens's more interesting characteristics, a minimum focusing distance of 0.95m, which leads to a class-leading reproduction ratio of 0.32x; slightly ahead of the Sigma equivalent's 1m/0.28x, and significantly better than the ~1.5m more typical of this class.

Tamron has something of a history of producing high quality affordable fast zooms, as exemplified by the SP AF 28-75mm F2.8 Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro, which has become something of a cult classic due to its winning combination of excellent optics, a compact lightweight body and keen pricing (especially in comparison to F2.8 standard zooms from the major camera manufacturers). It's therefore no surprise to see Tamron emphasizing in its publicity material that this product concept has been retained for the new 70-200mm. Of course this lens is also by no means the company's first foray into fast telezoom territory, and photographers whose experience stretches back to the days of film will remember the SP AF 70-210mm LD and the older manual focus SP 80-200mm LD; this is a len with undeniable pedigree.

The 70-200mm Macro is slated to be available in Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax-mount versions (although only the Canon and Nikon models are currently shipping as of June 2008), making this a viable alternative to OEM lenses for the majority of DSLR users. Additionally, the Nikon mount variant incorporates a built-in autofocus motor, making it fully compatible with the D40-D40x-D60 range of budget DSLRs. Perhaps most importantly, the lens is available at an undeniably attractive price point, even shortly after its release, further increasing its buyer appeal. However the big question to be answered is of course whether the optics and performance can compete with the class leaders; let's find out.

Headline features

  • 70-200mm focal length range; fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture
  • Focus ring clutch-type manual focusing
  • To be available in Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax mounts

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto, on 35mm full-frame and APS-C camera bodies:

70mm (full frame) 200mm (full frame)
70mm (APS-C; 112mm equivalent) 200mm (APS-C; 320mm equivalent)


Tamron SP AF 70-200mm 1:2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro specifications

Street price • $700
• £530
Date introduced February 2008
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 70-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length
109-310mm (1.5x)
112-320mm (1.6x)
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 34º - 12º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 23º - 8º
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F32
Lens Construction • 19 elements/16 groups
• 3 LD elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus 0.95m
Maximum magnification 0.32x at 200mm
AF motor type • Micro motor
• Manual focus clutch
Focus method Internal
Zoom method Internal
Image stabilization • None
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood
• Soft Case
Weight 1330g (46.9 oz)
Dimensions 89.5mm diameter x 194.3mm length
(3.5 x 7.6 in)
Lens Mount Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony

* 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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Total comments: 4

I own the Pentax mount version and have shot with it on a K20D body and a K5IIs I'm pleased with the results at all focal lengths, thought best IQ is from f4.0 and smaller. The build quality is fine. To find something to complain about, focus can't be maintained when using the push-pull MF-AF focus ring. Also, the MF focus throw is far too short for a telephoto lens. But the price was excellent. It's a worthy substitute for any OEM lens of similar focal length.

Comment edited 15 minutes after posting

I bought this lens and sold it for a slight loss literally 2 days later. The lens is very sharp within its sweet spot. However this lens should not be called a 70-200, more like a 70-170. Anything above 170 is unacceptably soft. The autofocus on this lens is acceptablly slow when focusing on a subject that is not moving, however if your subject is moving, forget it. This lens simply cannot keep up. Even though this is an entry level 2.8 70-200, it's just not worth $700-800 or so. The Tamron 70-200 2.8 VC however is pretty amazing and I have a hard time telling differences between it and the Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII.


The review says "About the only flaws are the slightly high distortion on full frame"

So what is a 'slightly high' distortion? term seems contradictory and confusing.

unknown member
By (unknown member) (Nov 8, 2013)

I have been a Nikon user since the 1970's.

I have had this Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 lens about four years. I bought in Raleigh when I upgraded, purchasing a Nikon D700 to use as a primary camera along with my Nikon D300. At the time the Nikon 28-70mm 2.8 was scarce, even online.

The salesperson recommended the Tamron 28-75m F2.8 and this 80-200mm F2.8 as they were both in stock, both could be had for less than the price of the Nikkor 80-200mm F2.8. He showed me samples of photos taken in and around the shop with the Tamrons and the Nikons. I made a few test shots, inside and outside the shop, we examined them on their 20 inch monitor, the shots were good. He asked me a thought provoking question...."if the Tamrons being half the price of the Nikkors, produced images half as sharp, would Tamron be able to sell ANY lenses?". This made me think, perhaps a 5-10 percent difference would be about all the real sharpness difference between brands.

I have been happy with both Tamron's

Total comments: 4