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Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Review

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Review - John Riley reviews the new Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens for full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLRs.

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Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Tamron 70 210mm F4 Front Oblique View

Tamron are here offering a very interesting alternative concept to their already very fine 70-200mm f/2.8 option. Reduce the constant aperture to f/4, retain the high quality level and moisture resistance, and we end up with a much lighter, more compact optic that lends itself much better to travel photography, and indeed in any situation where the reduced bulk and weight are seen as an advantage. It might even cost less. So, voilà! we have the Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens, reviewed here using the full frame Nikon D810 36MP body.

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Handling and Features

Tamron 70 210mm F4 On Nikon D810

Weighing in at a relatively modest 850g (Nikon) or 860g (Canon) the lens feels light and compact for its focal length range. It is a full frame optic, although obviously it can just as well be used on an APS-C body, where the “35mm equivalent” range will be 105-315mm (Nikon) or 112-336mm (Canon). A generously sized and effective petal lens hood is provided and this bayonets cleanly onto the lens. Within this outer bayonet we find a 67mm filter thread.

Behind this, as we take our tour towards the lens mount, is the zoom ring, which is smooth in operation, operates evenly, being just firm enough to prevent accidental focal length changes. There are clear markings at 70, 100, 135 and 210mm. Zooming is internal and does not change the lens length and hence also keeps the balance of the lens.

Next up, a small plastic window reveals the distance scale, marked in feet and metres. Focusing is down to 0.95m (37.4 inches), giving a maximum magnification of 0.32x, or 1:3.1. This is usefully close, enabling for example fine close ups of flowers.

The manual focusing ring also operates internally and has the same even feel of the zoom ring. The mechanism is a full time manual focus system, so tweaks can be made to the AF position at any time. The AF is driven by a USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) ring type motor and it is snappy and accurate.

The only other lens controls are the two switches, one for selecting AF/MF and the other for switching the VC (Vibration Control) system on and off. Here we find the only slight operational glitch in that if we are supporting the lens underneath with the left hand it is possible to nudge either one of the switches. If the switches were slightly firmer in operation this could be avoided, but being aware of the possibility it can generally be avoided. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but just a small detail to watch.

Tamron 70 210mm F4 Top View With Hood

Optical construction is 20 elements in 14 groups, three of which are LD (Low Dispersion). There is a fluorine coating on the front element to repel dust and moisture, and the lens itself has a moisture resistant construction. There are 9 aperture blades which should help to enhance the bokeh of the lens.

There is no tripod mount supplied, but mount A0334TM is available as an optional extra. Throughout the review period it never felt that such a mount was necessary as the lens is relatively light in its class. It is compatible with two teleconverters, the TC-X14 (1.4x) and the TC-X20 (2x) as well as the TAP-in Console. This latter item makes updating the lens firmware and adjusting the AF possible.

Overall construction seems excellent, and Tamron do offer a 5 year guarantee.

There are some lenses that gel from the outset, and in terms of handling on the D810 this one is a sheer delight. The reduction in bulk and weight is very welcome and the range is extremely useful. Let's see how the technical tests worked out.

Tamron 70 210mm F4 Rear Oblique View

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Performance

Looking at sharpness first, at 70mm centrally the lens is excellent from f/4 all the way through to f/16. It is still very good at f/22 and it is only at f/32 that it softens. The edges are very good at f/4, excellent from f/5.6 to f/11, very good at f/16 and f/22 and again soft at f/32. Performance on full frame is already very even and on APS-C would be virtually identical right across the frame.

At 100mm the picture centrally is exactly the same – excellent from f/4 to f/16, very good at f/22 and soft at f/32. Again, the edges perform well, being very good at f/4 and f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16 and f/22 and softening at f/32.

At 135mm, the centre is again excellent from f/4 to f/16, very good at f/22 and soft at f/32. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/8, excellent at f/11, very good at f/16 and f/22 and soft at f/32.

210mm can so easily be a lost cause but here the Tamron continues to excel, and any drop in the actual figures is very slight indeed. Centrally, sharpness is excellent from f/4 to f/16, very good at f/22 and soft at f/32. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and soft at f/32.

In terms of sharpness, this means that the lens is fully usable for high quality work throughout the range, and can be used with absolute confidence at all but the smallest aperture of f/32. An excellent performance throughout.

 

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D810 using Imatest.


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well corrected, with consistently low figures at all focal lengths, centre and edge.

 

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) 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 Nikon D810 using Imatest.

 

Distortion is also very well controlled. It measures -1.22% barrel at 70mm and thereafter moves to pincushion; +0.32% at 100mm, +1.06% at 135mm and +1.59% at 210mm. This is a very good, consistent result and distortion is unlikely to be a problem. In any event, we can always turn to software or in-camera solutions for further correction.

Flare is not a problem either and throughout the review period almost impossible to find in any of the shots, no matter how demanding.

Bokeh is delightfully smooth and this makes the lens ideal for portraiture, flower studies and any situation where the main subject will be enhanced by a smoothly gradated out of focus background.

Finally, the VC system claims to offer 4 stops advantage. Testing indicates that 5 stops is entirely possible, with a high degree of sharpness retained. Although this will do nothing to address moving subjects, it does enhance the usefulness of the lens in low light with more static subject matter.


Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Sample Photos

 

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Aperture range

 

Value For Money

The Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens is priced at £699. For such a high quality optic that really does seem, even in isolation, a very fair price. Competitive lenses might include:

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM, £1209
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, £589
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 G ED VR, £1269
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS, £1149

There are also plenty of f/2.8 lenses, but generally this can almost double the price.

For more options have a look at the Top 12 Best Tamron lensesTop 25 Best Telephoto zoom lenses.

 

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Verdict

Some lenses are impossible to dislike, and this is certainly one of them. It is compact and light compared to the f/2.8 lenses, performance is excellent and gives beautifully crisp images, handling is superb and the price very attractive. The Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD is a lens for any Canon or Nikon user to put very high on their list and an Editor's Choice.

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Pros

  • Compact and light
  • Excellent sharpness
  • No flare
  • Well controlled distortion
  • Very low CA figures
  • Close focusing
  • 5 stops VC system
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • High quality manufacture
  • Excellent price
  • 5 year guarantee

 

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Cons

  • Switches on lens can be accidentally moved

Features4.5/5
Handling5/5
Performance5/5
Value5/5
Overall Verdict

Own this lens? Let us know what you think of it in the EQDB

Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Specifications

ManufacturerTamron
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF-S
  • Canon EF USM
  • Canon EF
  • Nikon AF DX G
  • Nikon AF-S DX G
  • Nikon AF-S D
  • Nikon AF-S G
  • Nikon AF I
  • Nikon AF G
  • Nikon AF D
  • Canon EF-S USM
Lens
Focal Length70mm - 210mm
Angle of View11 - 34
Max Aperturef/4
Min Aperturef/4 - f/32
Filter Size67mm
StabilisedYes
35mm equivalent105mm - 315mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnification0.32x
Focusing
Min Focus95cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements20
Groups14
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight860g
Height176.5mm

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Spotted a mistake? Let us know in the EQDB. 

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Comments


ChrisV Plus
11 2.1k 26 United Kingdom
15 May 2018 12:26PM
A 140-420 constant f4 zoom? [if you mount on MfT]. For 700? They're virtually giving it away.

Looking at it the other way, mounted on 35mm format it's only the same AoV as a 35-105mm on MfT. Sad With the same DoF characteristic and overall light gathering as a constant f2. Grin For 700? They're almost giving it away.

Seriously, once Tamron/Sigma start producing their mass market lenses for Sony's E-Mount [or the forthcoming flagship mirrorless cameras on the horizon from Nikon and Canon], it would presumably be fairly easy to produce variants for MfT. While 140-420mm equivalent doesn't suggest itself as an ideal range, I still think an AF variant for MfT at that sort of price would fly off the shelves [comparatively speaking of course].

Incidentally, I also think it could put pressure on Sony whose own 35mm format E-Mount lenses are very highly priced.

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