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Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Lens Review

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the brand new Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Lens with Vibration Correction and UltraSonic Silent Drive.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC USD
Price : £999
Rating :
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

TamronSP2470 008

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.

TamronSP2470 005

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Features and Handling

Due to the inclusion of the Vibration Compensation system, this 24-70mm lens is quite large and chunky. The diameter of 88.2mm may not suit those with dainty hands and the 82mm filter size may be a little awkward for some, but both are necessary to accommodate the VC system. Even though the lens is large compared with other contemporary 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses, it isn't too heavy, weighing 825g. Due to this it balances very well on the 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.

TamronSP2470 007

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.

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Performance

At maximum aperture and 24mm, sharpness in the centre is already approaching excellent levels and the clarity towards the edges of the frame is good. Stopping down improves performance across the frame and peak clarity is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 where resolution across the frame is outstanding.

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 @ 24mm

MTF @ 35mm
MTF @ 35mm
MTF @ 70mm
MTF @ 70mm

How to read our charts

The 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 @ 24mm
CA @ 35mm
CA @ 35mm
CA @ 70mm
CA @ 70mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic 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


Value For Money

At 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.

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Verdict

The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD offers very good optical performance for a reasonable price. The added bonus of Vibration Compensation will appeal to many, especially if your photography tends to require shooting at slower shutter speeds in low light, rather than faster shutter speeds to freeze action.

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 Pros

Good sharpness throughout the range in the centre.
Effective Vibration Compensation system
Good value
Good build quality
Moisture resistant construction
Low distortion


Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Cons

Strong falloff of illumination towards the corners at maximum aperture
Drop in contrast at maximum aperture

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
VERDICT

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC USD Specifications

ManufacturerTamron
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF
  • Canon EF-S
  • Sony Alpha
Lens
Focal Length24mm - 70mm
Angle of View34.21 - 84.04
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size82mm
35mm equivalent24mm - 70mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus38cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades9
Elements17
Groups12
Box Contents
Box ContentsFlower-shaped lens hood
Dimensions
Weight825g
Height88.2mm

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Comments


Mord 3 1
25 Apr 2012 6:33PM
Is a Pentax mount likely to materialise any time soon?

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25 Apr 2012 11:17PM
Far too pricey for a third party lens, the VR on this class of lens is not really needed, and a waste of money. I would spend a bit more to get a proven main manufacturers lens without VR if was to spend this sort of money.
26 Apr 2012 1:55AM
Regarding the only sample photo at f/2.8:

"Out of focus highlights are rendered neutrally"

Look at photo in medium-sized (click on it) or in high-res. The main highlight to the right of the center. has several concentric rings and very strong color fringing. You can clearly see it even at web resolutions.

Onion bokeh is not neutral rendering. It's bad rendering, at least in this shot.

Does the lens do this consistently at f/2.8 with OOF highlights?
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
27 Apr 2012 2:38PM
Hi William.

The concentric rings are caused by a water droplet on the front element as it was beginning to rain.

If it were a feature of the lens ("onion bokeh" as you call it), it would occur across all OOF highlights.

I hope this explains this occurrence adequately for you?
Ive never been i big fan of tamron lenses. they always feel a bit cheap. for third party lenses i nearly always go with sigma. plus i agree with the previous post. I can't see when you would need VR on this lens. If you do buy this lens you will probably be using it for portraits or studio work. the maximum focal length is 70mm or 105mm on a aps camera. if your shooting portraits you will rarely go lower than 1/125sec. anything lower your subjects movement will cause blurring, so having VR to avoid camera shake at slower speeds is pointless.
maybe i'm missing something. each to there own.
Ricky37 6 12
30 Apr 2012 10:26PM
Way way overpriced , must be a fool to buy this at this price , 450 at the very most
theorderingone 10 2.4k United Kingdom
10 May 2012 12:02PM

Quote: Way way overpriced , must be a fool to buy this at this price , 450 at the very most

I think that may be a little unrealistic... You'd be lucky to pick up some f/4-5.6 zooms for that price.

Saying that, as with everything, the street price is often different to the price at release... so it may be worth taking that into account if/when it becomes more available.
duratorque 11 412 United Kingdom
22 May 2012 10:57AM
I think a lot of wedding tog who shoot with 24-70mm f2.8 would love to have IS/VR/VC. Or if you shoot video hand held. Personally, I would consider this lens if the price is around 800, maybe in a few months time the street price will be around that price.
If this lens can compare optically and mechanically with Canon's 24-70 mk i, then I don't think 1000 in unreasonable. Have you seen how much Canon's 24-70 mkii costs ? - and it's still not got IS/VR. I think Canon are really trying to ratchet up lens prices with their new releases so I think it's good that the 3rd party manufacturers are challenging them at significantly lower prices.

Contrary to other posters above, I think that IS/VR is actually of great use on a zoom lens in this focal length range since it'll get used as a general-purpose/walk-around lens where lighting can sometimes be challenging. I've got a 24-105 IS and use it quite a lot on my 5dii and I find its IS to be of great help.
No, the lens produces onion bokeh. It's not just due to drops of water.

Now that the lens is in a wider distribution, there have been posts of samples with some pretty bad onion bokeh.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/oscar210/6952579478/sizes/k/in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/oscar210/7098623821/sizes/o/in/photostream/

http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/741-tamron2470f28eosff?start=1

Won't matter to some, but for me personally, a fast lens has to have good bokeh.
SEMANON 2 95 United Kingdom
13 Aug 2012 11:46PM
Too close in price to Nikon 24-70 for me to consider. And I am looking for a 24-70 f2.8 but saving isn't enough.
cameracat 10 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
18 Oct 2012 3:35PM
Onions or Mango's aside, As already mentioned the fanciful recommended retail or street price is the real downfall, When considering a 3rd party lens, The real factor is a price saving over OE products.

There may be a few niggles or a small detail that one can live with, IF the price differential is sufficient.

However running amok with over the top RR values ( Even if the street price is more sensible ) Will put a lot of people of, Mind you Tamron are not the only manufacturer to be guilty of this sill RR nonsense.

Its really time we had proper sensible pricing, From the factory to the retail outlet......Grin

Its never going to happen though.......Is it...Wink
ChrisV 7 718 26 United Kingdom
16 Nov 2012 12:46PM
I sometimes read these Tamron reviews and wonder if there's some level of sponsorship of this site from the lens maker.

I don't know how good this lens is - although pricey, it looks positively a steal compared against the new Canon equivalent.

But I'm with those posters who feel VR at this focal length is of limited value and I note the newly published article extolling the virtues of shooting indoors at low speeds with the VR engaged is not allowing comments.

Maybe that's because it might be pointed out that if you're indoors to take pictures of people, [and I think Cathedrals aside, that would be the most common scenario], unless you're commanding them to remain still, you really don't want to shoot at much under 1/60th anyway. If you can't take a sharp shot at 70mm at that speed perhaps you ought to find another profession/hobby...
Pete e2
13 18.4k 96 England
16 Nov 2012 3:29PM
In answer to ChrisV
This is a totally independent non biased review and we pride ourselves in our editorial integrity. Occasionally a company will pay us to do a specific article. This will be clearly marked as an advertising promotion and will aim to explain features about the product. We still only accept these if we believe the product is worth endorsing in such as way...and Tamron is one such product that usually delivers. You only have to look at the year long blog that David did using the 18-270mm super zoom to see what that lens was capable of.

Points about the VR are of course relevant, but the point being made in the article is you cannot just shrug VR off as not needed, because it can be very useful. We picked one such use to illustrate this. You could also be out travelling without a tripod and want to take a low light scene. And there are many situations indoors where you may not want people in shot, museums, stately homes, exhibitions etc.
Scottelly 1 35 United States
5 Dec 2012 2:51PM
Even it the price of this lens was the same as the price of the Canon or Nikon equivalents, people would buy it for the VR (IS, if you're a Canon user) feature. Of course, not as many people would buy it, but it would still sell. Some people are shaky . . . especially older people who are often the ones who can afford such an expensive lens (because they make more money than us whipper snappers, or because they already paid off their house, so they don't have the same monthly expenses, even though they have a similar income from their retirement benefits, etc.). As I get older, I am finding I am getting shakier. This is one reason I bought a Sony camera. Another reason is the fact that the Sony gives me VR (or IS or "anti-shake") capability even with wide-angle and fixed focal length lenses that seem as if they will NEVER get in-the-lens VR (or IS, etc.).

I would not buy this lens though, because I don't want my images being affected by "onion bokeh" or what may eventually become known as "bokeh fringing." What I can't understand is that I have NEVER seen this bokeh issue on ANY other lens. I think there is a design flaw with this lens.
dave18 5
24 Apr 2013 1:41PM
Difficult to understand flashman's comments VR not needed at this focal length, he is obviously not a wedding photography, taking shots in a church in the middle of winter you need it unless you can go to ludicrously high iso's. I use Sony DSLR's exclusively for wedding photography for this reason.
In any case the quality of this Tamron optic looks like it can match or exceed the Mk2 version of the Canon 24 70 at 2300 its a no brainer. Brand loyalty is for fools with no money sense
17 May 2013 10:31AM
am with dave18 - there isn't a 'best' lens, just a 'most suitable for your needs' lens, which is why I like these reviews so much, and so it's very positive to say that VC/OS/IS "will appeal to many".
To that end I'd also nudge dave18 that brand loyalty may well suit people for different reasons such as discounts or service contracts or whatever, and the canon one is certainly better and quicker to focus if money isn't the top priority. I got some for work, and they pay themselves back.

re this lens, it is indeed attractive to me, as I can't afford the canon and will probably choose this over the sigma full frame equivalent now, much as i love my sigma 17-50/2.8 for my aps-c. I'm no good at brand loyalty myself!
Not only would it be great for wedding situations, I live in England, where we just don't have that much light generally Wink

Ephotozine, Thanks for taking the time to make such in-depth reviews and post them for free, it's appreciated.
douglasR 7 54 Scotland
5 Jun 2014 10:24AM
This is simply a superb lens for the money,unbeatable,sharper than my old Nikon 28-70 2.8 and by all accounts as sharp as the current Nikon 24-70 plus it has excellent stabilisation. I am using it on a Nikon d800 and it is sharp wide open and by f4 sharp edge to edge, forget the fact that it's third party it's a professional lens in every sense.
SebR New Member
6 Jul 2014 4:04PM
As an owner of this lens with Canon mount with a 6D, I can attest that this is a good lens and as always good for the money. I've used this lens for some fantastic portrait images in particular. It may not be perfect considering light fall-off, sharpness and focus speed but there is no competition at 800 for a full frame camera.

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