Photography Reviews

TAMRON 24–70MM F/2.8 Di VC USD LENS REVIEW

Tamron_2470_a007 image Tamron has been producing quality lenses for many years and the new 24–70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD is no exception. Tamron’s initial press release was enough to whet the appetite of potential buyers. The 24-70mm focal range is very popular with many photographers and, matched with a fast f/2.8 aperture, it covers a wide range of user scenarios.

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The lens is aimed at professional photographers who require excellent results. It’s also beneficial for beginners and intermediate users, due to its excellent handling and special features. The 24–70mm is suitable for photographers shooting wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, portraits and family, corporate and other events. Many of them eagerly awaited this SP, or super-performance, lens, which was introduced during April 2012.

Full-frame and APS-C-sensor cameras are fully compatible with this new lens, which has digitally-integrated optics (Di). The Tamron 24–70mm comes in separate models with Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts.

The Body

The new Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8 lens is quite chunky in comparison to its rivals, but this is not such a problem, as the weight is reasonable at 29 oz. (825g). The barrel is made of high-grade plastic, which shouldn’t deter purchasers, as it is a very well constructed unit, robust and sturdy. Another advantage of plastic components is prolonged life and performance, since metal can and will expand and contract. The balance is superb when mounted to a camera body, so the lens’ weight is never an issue.

The zoom ring and focus ring are in a non-standard layout, with the zoom as the outer ring and the manual focus near the mount. Both are easy to use and a good size, however, and turn smoothly. In some low-light situations the white distance scale can be difficult to view. The zoom ring is rubberized, which is well made and damped enough to prevent lens creeping. Transporting this Tamron lens is not a problem, as a lock button will prevent the lens from moving.

Accommodating the vibration compensation system is the main reason for the lens’ size; and this is also reflected in the filter size, which is a large 82mm. They can be screwed directly to the lens. Standard size filter users will need to invest in new filters, as an adaptor will be hard, if not impossible, to find. Filter holder system owners should be able to find an adapter to fit 82mm.

The people at Tamron obviously gave the design of the lens considerable thought, making it more water resistant. The inclusion of a rubber gasket seal around the metal lens mount will help to prevent the ingress of water, dust and foreign bodies. I would always advocate a mount protector on the lens, especially when transporting.

The Tamron 24–70mm comes with a sturdy lens hood, which snaps on and off and will help to reduce flare. During transportation, the hood can be reversed with no effect to overall carry space in your equipment bag. Part number for reference is HA007.

Vibration Compensation Technology

This lens features Tamron’s Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, which makes the camera more stable and easy to use, helping to reduce dreaded camera shake. Reducing the size of the glass elements made it possible to include vibration compensation technology. More importantly, VC allows the photographer to select slower shutter speeds in low-light conditions. With due care and attention, handheld shots with shutter speeds of approximately 1/10 sec at 70mm are possible. They should be crisp, clear and sharp, which is no mean feat, considering that that is two to three stops slower than the usual rule for handheld shots.

Older Canon and newer Nikon cameras are not equipped with vibration compensation. Sony DSLRs have built-in VC capabilities, so the Tamron 24–70mm with a Sony A-mount does not include Tamron’s VC technology.

A benefit of VC that is often overlooked is that it makes photography a more accessible hobby for the disabled. They may have difficulty holding a lens steady at any shutter speed, so vibration compensation allows them to produce equally creative and sharp photos.

Focusing Capabilities

The equivalent Nikon and Canon fast 24–70mm lenses may just have the edge on the Tamron, in terms of focusing speeds, but the Tamron is quick and accurate and not far behind.

Manual focus is a pleasure, as the well-damped focus ring enables quite fine increments of focus to be selected. Often, these rings are stiff or difficult to turn until “broken in,” so another notch on the Tamron belt.

The minimum focus distance is 15 inches (38cm) and focusing can be achieved in auto or manual modes.

The lens also incorporates an ultrasonic focus motor, enabling the user to fast focus. The motor’s virtual silence could be very useful during video recording. Full manual focus override is available.

Optical Performance

When shooting in low light and at low shutter speeds, the new Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8 lens excels, outperforming its rivals at smaller focal lengths and only starting to show fall-off at the larger end of the range. Some illumination fall-off as well as a drop in contrast occurs at the corners on maximum aperture.

Overall clarity is very good and stopping down improves performance across the range. It seems that its optimum apertures are f/5.6 and f/8, providing near perfect pictures and blowing its rivals away at the same apertures.

It performs well with or without the accompanying lens hood and suffers minimum barrel distortion. Some vignette is present at 24mm wide open, but increase the focal length and move to a narrower aperture and the problem is substantially eliminated. Vignetting can also be addressed with various photo software packages and applications.

Operational Cautions

Due to the nature of the size and design of the Tamron 24-70 lens, a good tip when changing the lens in the field or workplace is to zoom to 24mm, which will allow for easier switching of lenses.

When zoomed to 70mm, the rear elements move deep into the lens and many internal surfaces are exposed at the mount. With no protection, this would be a quick way of damaging or letting dust and foreign bodies, etc. into your lens.

Tamron also recommends switching Vibration Compensation to the off position when mounting the lens to a tripod, as some picture may not be rendered correctly.

Summary

The Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD zoom lens is a sure-fire winner. Its pricing, build quality and superb vibration compensation system make it a great purchase. It is suitable for professionals and amateurs and stands with its rivals and, in many cases, outperforming them.

The Tamron 24–70mm, while far from perfect, as with every other lens in existence, has much to offer. It has no obvious flaws and vibration compensation is cleverly incorporated. Its rings are a good design and easy to use. The body is chunky, but not too heavy, plus it’s very sturdy. Overall, this Tamron lens is a very good piece of equipment offering excellent results.

Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Zoom Lens Technical Specifications

Lens Mounts: Canon EF, Canon EF-S, Nikon AF and Sony A

Focal length: 24–70mm

Angle of view: 34.21º–84.04º

Max Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Aperture: f/22

Filter size: 82mm (screw type)

Internal Focus: Yes

Minimum Focus: 15 inches (38cm)

Stabilized: Yes (VC, or Vibration Compensation)

Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups

LD Glass Elements: 3

Aspherical Elements: 3

Hybrid Aspherical Elements: 1

Diaphragm Blades: 9

Compatible formats: FX, DX, FX IN, DX Crop mode, 35mm film

Distance Information: Yes

Auto Focus: Yes

Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD): Yes

Focus Mode: Auto and Manual

Dimensions: Diameter, 3.5 inches (88.2mm); length, 4.3 inches (108.5mm); full length, 4.6 inches (116.9mm)

Weight: 29.1 oz. (825g)

Box contents: Flower-shaped lens hood (HA007), front and rear lens caps

Warranty: 6 years

Pricing Comparison

Direct competitors are the Nikon AFS NIKKOR 24–70mm f/2.8G ED and Canon EF 24–70mm f/2.8L II USM, which cost approximately $1,900 and $2,300, respectively.

The Tamron 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD zoom lens is available from Amazon with either Canon or Nikon mount at Amazon $1,299.00

Photo Tamron USA, Inc. Copyright (c) 2012

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