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Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Lens Review - Sony E Mount

John Riley has been putting the Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD to the test which is a new standard zoom lens for Sony E-mount APS-C mirrorless camera range.

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Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8

Following a long run of new full-frame lenses, Tamron now shows that APS-C (crop sensor) users have not been forgotten. This new zoom lens is for Sony E fit crop sensor cameras, although it can be used in crop mode on the full-frame bodies. The 17-70mm has a constant, bright maximum aperture of f/2.8 and offers a field of view similar to a 25.5-105mm lens on 35mm format, an extremely versatile range that can cover a wide variety of subject matter. Coupling the new lens with the 24MP Sony A5100 camera body, let's explore its performance and its handling and see if there is still potential in the APS-C format.


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Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD Handling and Features

Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8

The lens, made with extensive use of plastics, is extremely well put together. It is moisture resistant, has a Fluorine coating on the front element to repel water, dust and grease, and shares the good looks and smooth lines common to all the new range of Tamron optics. It weighs in at a reasonable 525g. However, it has to be said that it is the sort of size that would be expected of a DSLR 17-70mm lens, although it does have the extra speed of its f/2.8 maximum aperture. It does seem a little bit like putting a telescope on a mobile phone as the lens is disproportionally big compared to the tiny camera body. To be fair though, any handling issues are really down to the fiddly design of the camera and are not the fault of the lens, which is simplicity itself.

If we start our tour of the lens at the front as usual, first up is the effective petal lens hood, included in the box. This bayonets cleanly and firmly onto the front of the lens and shows no signs of being able to be accidentally dislodged. Withing the bayonet fit is a standard 67mm filter thread.

The wide zoom ring is smooth in operation and extends the lens when zooming in. It is clearly marked with accurate focal lengths at 17mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm. The "standard lens" is of course around 35mm for APS-C format, so this is a versatile fast standard zoom.


Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8

The manual focus ring is slimmer, probably a good idea so it is not accidentally nudged, but equally so it is smooth. Its operation is electronic. Interestingly, Tamron quote “Minimum Object Distance” (MOD) rather than the usual minimum focus distance, so we can assume they mean the distance from the front element rather than the usual measurement from the focal plane. MOD at 17mm is 0.19m, or 7.5 inches, for a maximum magnification of 1:4.8. MOD at 70mm is 0.39m, or 15.4 inches, for a maximum magnification of 1:5.2. This is usefully close, although not going down to macro distances.

The lens is compatible with the usual Sony focusing features, such as AF Fast Hybrid AF, Eye AF, MF and DMF (Direct Manual Focus), the last one being the ability to tweak the focus position manually during AF operation. This is all controlled via the camera body, there being no controls on the lens itself. AF is driven by Tamron's Rapid eXtra Silent Stepping Drive and does seem to be fast, quiet and accurate.

Vibration Compensation (VC) is also switched on or off via the lens. Tamron indicates some circumstances where it may be better switched off, including when used on a tripod, when there is excessive movement of the camera, shooting from a moving vehicle and when shooting long exposures.

Optical construction comprises 16 elements in 12 groups, including 1 Hybrid Aspherical and 2 Glass Moulded Aspherical elements. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades. There is the usual Tamron BBAR2 multi-coating.


Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8

The metal lens mount is well-engineered and bayonets very smoothly into place. There is no hint of play in the mount. Extra reassurance as to the longevity of the lens is also available in that if we register our new lens within two months of purchase then Tamron offers an extended 5 Year Warranty.

As previously mentioned, the lens itself is pure simplicity, with no additional controls and no particular vices. However, the handling does become tricky because of the tiny camera body, which is clearly not the fault of the lens. It is a large lens for a diminutive camera, and in fact, it sits much better on the full-frame Sony A7R III that the APS-C A5100. Of course, it is used in crop mode on the larger camera at an image size of just 15MP, rather than the 24MP of the crop sensor camera.


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josa 10 25 Czech Republic
27 Jan 2021 10:09AM
Nice lens!
Oxygenum 9 6 Poland
27 Jan 2021 11:23AM

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