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This highly anticipated lens from Tamron covers the popular 24-70mm range with a fast constant aperture of f/2.8. It is one of Tamron's 'SP' lenses, which denotes that it should be able to produce professional quality results. Unlike lenses in this range from the main camera manufacturers, this optic has Vibration Compensation, which should help to tame camera shake at low shutter speeds. An ultrasonic focusing motor should provide quick focusing speeds, silently with full time manual focus override.
This lens is available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts, with the Canon model becoming available first. The Sony compatible model will lack Vibration compensation, as this functionality is already built into Sony DSLR and SLT bodies. As this lens is a 'Di' optic, it is compatible with both full frame and crop sensor camera bodies.
Canon EOS 5D MkII used for testing.
High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens barrel's construction and the wide rubberised zoom ring is well enough damped to prevent lens creep, without being too stiff either. A lock switch is provided to prevent the lens from extending during transport, just in case. The lens sports a moisture resistant design and a thin rubber gasket has been placed around the metal lens mount to help prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body.
As this lens incorporates Tamron's USD silent focusing motor, focusing is reasonably quick and very accurate. Focusing speeds may not be up to the speeds of Nikon and Canon equivalents, but they are not too far behind in all but the darkest conditions. Manual focusing is a pleasure as the narrow focus ring is well damped, which makes it easy to apply fine adjustments. Manual adjustments can be made at any time, whether in Auto or Manual focus mode. A minimum focus distance of 38cm is fairly typical for a lens of this type.
With care, sharp images are possible hand-held at shutter speeds as low as 1/10sec at 70mm, approximately half the time. This is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand haled images would permit. The VC system also provides a very steady viewfinder image, which can help with accurate composition.
Zooming to 35mm results in very similar performance at maximum aperture, which centre sharpness approaching excellent levels and good clarity towards the edges. Sharpness towards the edges doesn't improve as quickly when stopped down at 35mm, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/8.
Finally, at 70mm, overall sharpness is reduced a little, but clarity in the centre at maximum aperture is still very good. Towards the edges resolution drops down to fair levels at maximum aperture, improving as the lens is stopped down. Again peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where resolution is excellent across the frame.
MTF @ 24mm
MTF @ 35mm
MTF @ 70mm
How to read our chartsThe blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II using Imatest.
Chromatic aberrations are well controlled throughout the zoom range, thanks to Tamron's use of LD glass in the optical design. Fringing is most prevalent at 24mm and maximum aperture. Fringing of 0.7 pixel widths should not pose too many issues, even in images with high contrast edges towards the peripheral areas of the frame.
CA @ 24mm
CA @ 35mm
CA @ 70mm
How to read our chartsChromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II using Imatest.
Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very pronounced. At 24mm the corners are 2.9 stops darker than the image centre and at 70mm the corners are 2.5stops darker. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform illumination across the frame throughout the zoom range.
Distortion is very well controlled throughout the zoom range. At 24mm only 1% barrel distortion is present, which is replaced with 0.02% pincushion distortion at 70mm. If straight lines are paramount, then you'll be pleased to learn that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, making it relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.
During testing, there were very few issues with flare and ghosting, even when shooting into the light. A petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a reasonable job of protecting the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues. However, there is one small caveat. Contrast is noticeably reduced when shooting at maximum aperture increasing as the lens is stopped down past f/3.5.
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC USD Sample Photos
Out of focus highlights are rendered neutrally | 1/500 sec | f/2.8 | 56.0 mm | ISO 100
Sharpness is excellent across the frame when stopped down | 1/125 sec | f/6.3 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100
Distortion is kept very low throughout the zoom range | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 100
Shooting into the light posed no issues for this lens | 1/160 sec | f/11.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100
1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 38.0 mm | ISO 100
1/160 sec | f/11.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
1/400 sec | f/5.6 | 70.0 mm | ISO 100
1/160 sec | f/4.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 50
Value For MoneyAt release, this lens will retail for around £999, which is pretty good value for money, given that the lens sports Vibration Compensation, moisture resistant construction and silent focusing with full time manual override.
The price is comparable to the current price of Canon's older 24-70mm f/2.8L. Although this older MkI Canon lens is still available, but it lacks the Vibration Compensation feature of the Tamron optic. Canon's newer 24-70mm f/2.8L II costs a whopping £2300 at the time of writing. Nikon's 24-70mm lens comes in around £200 dearer than this Tamron optic at £1200, and just like the Canon MkI 24-70, it lacks optical stabilisation. Sony users have a Carl Zeiss branded 24-70mm f/2.8 as an alternative, which costs around £1460.
Third party manufacturer, Sigma, also offer a 24-70mm f/2.8 for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. Although their lens is considerably cheaper at £640, it also lacks the Vibration Compensation of the Tamron optic and doesn't have a weather sealed design either.
Despite the chunky size, the lens isn't overly heavy and the moisture resistant construction should provide some peace of mind when shooting outdoors in changeable conditions.
Those looking for a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom may wish to check out this lens as a suitable alternative to manufacturer’s own offerings, especially if the Vibration Compensation is a feature that will help with your particular field of photography.
|The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD offers very good optical performance for a reasonable price.|
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD ProsGood sharpness throughout the range in the centre.
Effective Vibration Compensation system
Good build quality
Moisture resistant construction
Strong falloff of illumination towards the corners at maximum aperture
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Cons
Drop in contrast at maximum aperture
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC USD Specifications
|Focal Length||24mm - 70mm|
|Angle of View||34.21° - 84.04°|
|35mm equivalent||24mm - 70mm|
|Box Contents||Flower-shaped lens hood|