Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro review
6 Conclusion & samples
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent optical quality
- Very good macro capability
- Relatively lightweight for its class, but still generally solid build
- Low price
Conclusion - Cons
- Slow and noisy autofocus motor
- Somewhat clunky manual focus switchover mechanism
- Tendency towards slight misfocusing (at least in Canon mount)
The SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro is certainly a very creditable effort by Tamron to produce a high quality, yet affordable fast telephoto zoom. Indeed if we look solely at the studio optical tests, it is a resounding success, as the technical quality of the images this lens can produce is superb throughout most of the range, matching or even outperforming the much more expensive Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM. It's slightly soft wide open in the middle of the zoom range (most visibly on the more demanding APS-C/DX sensor format), but stop down a little and the quality really starts to shine through. Resolution is excellent from corner to corner, chromatic aberration is generally very low, and vignetting about average for a lens of this class. The close minimum focus distance is very welcome, especially as image quality holds up pretty well, and the rendition of out-of-focus regions of the image is very pleasant; this may not be a substitute for a true macro lens, but it's not bad at all. About the only flaws are the slightly high distortion on full frame (unlikely to be a problem for most typical uses of a telephoto zoom) and occasional severe flare issues with strong light sources just outside the frame (which tends to be a weak point of fast telezooms generally).
The big problem with this lens, however, lies in the focusing systems. The autofocus motor is relatively slow and noisy, which puts it at a major disadvantage compared to its ultrasonic motor-equipped competitors, simply because AF performance impacts strongly on many of the typical uses for a fast telezoom lens. The slow speed of the motor means focus tracking simply isn't fast enough for sports or action, or even children running around playing; it's also a distinct problem in low light or with low-contrast subjects, where the lens can take what feels like an eternity to achieve focus. This is compounded by the noise the motor makes, which could be a real problem in situations such as wedding or event photography for which the user wishes to remain unobtrusive; discrete it is not. Also the Tamron lacks a focus limiter switch, so has a tendency to hunt back and forwards through its entire range when it fails to lock focus first time. But perhaps the biggest problem we encountered was a tendency for the lens to mis-focus, seemingly at random and disturbingly frequently, such that F2.8 shots in particular were often not critically sharp (although it must be pointed out that this may be specific to either our test sample, or the Canon mount version).
However it's not just the autofocus system which is an issue, and the manual focus isn't perfect either. The use of the push-pull clutch on the focus ring to engage manual is a good idea in principle, but not perfectly implemented in practice; the action is remarkably noisy (in context, the click-clunk noises on switching between AF and M are substantially louder than the shutter release on any current DSLR, including the top-end professional models such as the Nikon D3 and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III), and the focus ring has a bad habit of sticking in an intermediate position in which the gearing isn't correctly engaged, and manual focus doesn't work properly. Also, it's not possible to use autofocus to pre-focus on a specific point then switch to manual, as the focus distance can often be thrown in the switchover. Finally, the manual focus ring is just a little too highly geared, with relatively short travel between infinity and the close focus of 0.95m, making critically accurate manual focus difficult to achieve (certainly outside of live view).
Now it must be acknowledged that we've only tested this lens in the Canon EF mount, and we can't assume it will behave in exactly the same way on other mounts. We'd presume that the Nikon version shares the same AF motor system, so will likely be just as noisy and probably as slow, but may well not suffer from the accuracy problems we observed with Canon bodies. It's also fair to say that the body-driven Pentax and Sony versions may behave rather better all round. Of course users of these two brands will then have to put up with the irritation of needing to select manual focus using both the body switch and the focus ring clutch, but that would be a small price to pay for the prospect of having these excellent optics benefit from a faster and more consistent autofocus system, especially on a body with built-in image stabilization. (Indeed on that point; it's a pity Tamron couldn't have incorporated the impressive stabilization system from their 28-300mm VC lens into the 70-200mm, at least for the Canon and Nikon mount versions.)
So ultimately what we have here is a flawed gem, a lens which fully capable of delivering excellent images, but also frustratingly capable of missing focus on that once-in-a-lifetime shot, either through mis-focus or simply being too slow. And this is a real pity, because the optical quality of this lens is genuinely superb. Now if you shoot mainly outdoors in bright light, the focus speed and noise issues probably won't be a great problem (especially if you're not trying to track fast moving subjects), in which case this lens could well be ideal. However if you shoot frequently in low light, need to track erratically moving subjects, or demand quiet operation, then the relatively unrefined autofocus will leave you frustrated. Also, whilst the mis-focusing issues we observed can certainly be mitigated by taking multiple shots if you have the time and opportunity, that's simply not always possible. Because of these issues, the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8, despite its stellar optics, just fails to take our top award.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.0|
There are 30 images in the samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.
Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 samples
Sep 2, 2008
Jun 16, 2008
Feb 7, 2008
Jun 15, 2011
|Smile by Olymguy|
from Ultra Asian Indian Female Faces
|Space Shuttle Cockpit- by vbuhay|
from Aircraft Control Stick
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.
Since its introduction in November last year Instagram's live streaming feature has been used by millions, but videos could not be archived for watching at a later stage. A new update has now added the capability.
CopyTrack's study also found that the second most-stolen image is a woman wearing painted jeans. That's apparently a thing.
Forget expensive lenses with fancy coatings and special lens elements – photographer Robin de Puy took these portraits using just a water drop for a lens.
Adobe reports a record quarterly revenue of $1.77 billion for the second quarter fiscal year 2017 ended June 2, 2017.
Zeiss says its new lens is particularly suited for portrait photography but also a good all-rounder and can be used in video applications.
We present to you the top photos from the Kennel Club's 2017 Dog Photographer of the Year photo contest – take a look at 10 of the award-winning puppers.
In case you were looking for any more inspiration to go fly one.
Following a couple of successful Kickstarter campaigns, Videre 35mm's creator has re-tooled the camera with sturdier components and a simpler user assembly process.
The two hour long video covers everything an aspiring drone pilot needs to know.
This is what happens when a Canon 17-85mm F4-5.6 lens meets 60,000 PSI of water pressure. Spoiler Alert: the water jet always wins.
Andrew Harnik discusses the challenges – and rewarding moments – of a career making images for the Associated Press in his native DC.