Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 Technical Review

The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 SP Di USD VC is a fast all-purpose lens designed for full frame digital SLRs. Its highlight feature is an image stabilization system inside the lens that in use offers around 2-3 stops of additional exposure room at the tail end of an already fast lens. Tamron’s direct competitors in the fast all-purpose lens market are the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8G ED AF-S and the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L. These reliable performers are certainly the primary all-purpose or “walk around” lens choice for many enthusiast and professional photographers. They do not, however, offer image stabilization—which is a great feature for indoor shooting and low-light work.

There were 14 real customer reviews of the Tamron 24-70mm all giving it 4-5 star rating if you would like to read these reviews you can do so here.

At the time of this review, the Tamron 24-70 f2.8 costs around $1300. It is definitely not inexpensive, but it is fair bit less expensive than its Nikon ($1800) or Canon ($2300) counterparts. Low cost coupled with onboard image stabilization make this lens a tempting purchase for enthusiast photographers looking for a fast all-purpose lens to upgrade an inexpensive, low-performance kit lens. It is available in Canon and Nikon mounts as well as Sony—the Sony model does not have image stabilization (also called Vibration Control or “VC”).

Technical Specifications and Build:

The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 SP Di USD VC is a technically advanced lens. It includes three low dispersion elements, two high refractive index elements and three glass molded aspheric elements. It also has a single hybrid aspheric element. The 9-blade aperture is designed to increase bokeh (background blur out) quality. A very fast maximum aperture of f2.8 makes the lens useful in lower light conditions. While not as fast as some prime lenses, f2.8 is as fast as any all-purpose zoom lens that you can buy.

An Ultrasonic Drive autofocus (AF) motor powers the Tamron to fast and quiet autofocuses. Full time manual focus mode makes micro adjustments of manual focus on the fly easy. Additionally, the lens includes a switch to turn off Vibration Compensation (VC) mode.

While the lens does not feel as sturdy as a Canon “L Series,” it will definitely take a beating. It has a solid construction and will take a bit of force to break.

Tamron SP 24-70mm Di VC USD Nikon Mount AFA007N-700

Image Stabilization:

The 24-70mm’s VC works to compensate for camera shake while shooting at slow shutter speeds. Instruments within the lens sense camera shake and adjust a portion of lens elements to compensate for the shake. The idea behind the technology is to maintain a constant and steady projection of incoming light on the image sensor. Tamron claims that the lens has a “4-stop” stabilization system. This means that VC should be able to correct for camera shake at 4-stops less than what you would normally be able to shoot at. Tamron is basically saying that if you usually get blurred images from hand holding at a shutter speed of 60 with the VC off, the lens can be pushed 4 stops more to a shutter speed of 4 (a quarter of a second) with VC on. This seems pretty impossible, and it is. In reality, the VC system works well for about 2 or 3 stops work of shake compensation. It is important to keep in mind that no image stabilization system can correct motion blur—it does not help when shooting indoor sports or fast moving subjects in low light conditions.

Tamron_24-70mm_f2.8_VC_2Image sharpness and over all image quality is excellent. The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 produces sharp images wide open at all apertures across its focal length range. Sharpness drops off at the corners slightly on full frame images. At an aperture of f8 corners become much sharper. The perfect aperture range for this lens is between f5.6 and f8. Image sharpness is comparable, if not better in some situations than the Nikon 24-70 f2.8.

Barrel distortion is limited in the mid ranges of the lens (35mm to 50mm) but quite pronounced at 24mm. A patterned subject will show more apparent distortion. Performance in this area is slightly less than stellar—both the Canon 24-70 and the Nikon 24-70 have less barrel distortion at 24mm. It is important to keep in mind that most post-processing software can correct for barrel distortion. This is not necessarily a “turn-off” for this lens.

Vignetting is most apparent at 24mm as well. The outside edges of a full frame image appear darker than the center. Performance in this area is similar to other 24-70mm lenses. The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 is not unique—most lenses have significant vignetting when paired with a full-frame digital SLR. Vignetting is less apparent in the Tamron in smaller aperture ranges, but it is quite noticeable wide open.

The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 shows very little chromatic aberration across the entire focal length and aperture range of the lens. In this respect, it performs on par with Canon and Nikon walk-around lenses.


Conclusion:

The Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 VC is a good lens choice for anyone looking to upgrade an inexpensive kit lens on a Nikon or Canon digital SLR. If you are looking for a lens for a camera with an APS-C sensor, this lens is an ideal choice. It is fast, inexpensive and it produces high quality images. At the same time, an APS-C sensor will reduce vignetting effects. It is also a full frame lens that will be fully functional in the event that you upgrade to a full frame digital SLR.

Image stabilization is the real benefit to the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8. In this example, Tamron’s VC gives you about two stops of extra control in low light conditions. That makes it more useful than anything Canon or Nikon can offer right now.

Tamron is making this lens available at a much lower price point. While a Canon 24-70 “L” that has a nice red ring on the end of the barrel might be appealing for visual purposes (and for showing off to your friends) the Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC is definitely worth consideration. In many respects it is an ideal all-purpose lens that while not perfect, matches up to its higher priced competitors in many respects.

Photos Copyright Tamron USA, Inc.