The pro zoom market doesn’t leave photographers with very much to choose from. Regardless of what camera you’re using, most likely Canon, Nikon or Sony, the standard zoom is defined as a 24-70mm f/2.8. Needless to say each manufacturer has a gem of a lens to cover this need, which usually costs around $2k. While it is definitely a price tag not unheard of, it is limiting for many photographers who don’t necessarily make a living from photography or are just starting their career. Up until recently, third party choices would leave photographers wanting a lot from their lenses and the quality gap was pretty huge. But the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD has finally changed that and it has made pro level quality a little more affordable.
When you first take a good look at it, the classic Tamron design we’ve seen on most of their lenses stands out. The lens has a matte black finish and although the barrel is not made of metal like other lenses it wants to compete with, it still feels very well built and reliable. The mount is sealed with rubber to prevent water ingress. The switches aren’t as smooth to operate as on competing lenses, but this is probably an inconvenience that can be easily overlooked.
It’s about the same size as the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II so if you were expecting something smaller and lighter, this isn’t the case. Overall the lens is well built and it certainly doesn’t feel cheap or unreliable.
Obviously, one of the most important features of this lens is the image stabilization system. Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation) is actually very effective in real life use and it allows you to shoot at shutter speeds up to four times slower than with it turned off. It’s a feature none of the other lenses in this class have and this makes it highly attractive for photographers who shoot in low light or who shoot video.
Third party lenses often have slower autofocus systems than “premium” lenses. Fortunately, this is not the case. The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD has a ring-type ultrasonic motor for AF, pretty much the standard stuff you see in this type of lens. It’s not as fast as Canon’s version, and that’s something to be expected, but by no means are there huge differences. Focusing is also very silent so you won’t have trouble attracting unwanted looks.
When it comes down to what counts most in a lens, the Tamron performs unexpectedly well. The image quality is superb and for the first time a third party pro standard zoom has found its place along with the big names of the branch. The images are impressively sharp, the color rendition is very good and although the distortion is a little high at wide angle, it’s nothing you can’t easily fix.
Overall, this is a very impressive lens that costs only 2/3 of what a Canon, Nikon or Sony does. We highly recommend it for both professionals and advanced amateurs.