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Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD SP (Model A007)

 
Lens Reviews / Tamron Lenses i Lab tested
24-70mm $1,299
average price
image of Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD SP (Model A007)

SLRgear Review
February 8, 2016
by Andrew Alexander

The Tamron 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 Di VC USD has been out for a few years now, but it has been often requested for a lens review that we asked our friends at LensRentals.com if they wouldn't mind sending us a copy to test.

The Tamron 24-70mm was unique among its contemporaries for a long time, in that it was the only lens in its class to offer image stabilization. In 2015, Nikon finally released a VR-enabled 24-70mm f/2.8 lens of its own. While its telephoto range would not seem to justify image stabilization - just 70mm - Tamron's Vibration Control (VC) IS system is useful, and as you'll see in our test results, quite effective.

The Tamron 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 Di VC USD is available in Nikon and Canon lens mounts. It is a full-frame compatible lens, meaning it will work on both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, on which it will provide an equivalent field of view of 36-105mm (Nikon) or 38-112mm (Canon).

The lens ships with a petal-shaped lens hood, takes 82mm filters, and is available now for around $1,200.

Sharpness
The Tamron 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 offers good, but not great results for sharpness, especially when used wide open at ƒ/2.8. When stopped down, image sharpness improves significantly.

When used on a sub-frame camera body like the Nikon D7000 or Canon T5i, the camera's sensor doesn't "see" the problematic edges of the lens, focusing instead on the better central region. Consequently we see good results at ƒ/2.8 (especially at 24mm), better results at ƒ/4 (between 24mm and 50mm) and best results at ƒ/5.6. In fact, at 50mm and ƒ/5.6, images are tack-sharp across the frame.

On our full-frame D800e test camera, we see the flaws in this lens; at ƒ/2.8, you will note some very present corner softness, especially at the 50mm setting. If you're looking for a lens which produces subject isolation in the center of the frame by blurring out the sides of the image, you are in business here, but if you want edge-to-edge sharpness in your images, you're going to have to stop down.

Stopping down the aperture to ƒ/4 improves image sharpness on the D800e only slightly; you really need to stop down to at least ƒ/5.6, where we note a dramatic improvement in corner-to-corner image sharpness. Stopping down further to ƒ/8 produces a slight improvement, but no further gains are possible by stopping down to ƒ/11 due to diffraction limiting.

Image sharpness is good all the way through to ƒ/16, though you might want to avoid ƒ/22 due to diffraction limiting; we note a generalized softness across the frame.

Chromatic Aberration
The Tamron 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 generally handles chromatic aberration quite well, though at wider focal lengths CA becomes more evident as the lens is stopped down, showing up as light magenta-cyan fringing in the corners in areas of high contrast.

Shading (''Vignetting'')
Corner shading is negligible when the lens is mounted on a sub-frame camera like the D7000. On the full-frame D800e however, we note significant corner shading - specifically at the 24mm focal length setting. At ƒ/2.8 and 24mm we note corners which are over a full stop darker than the center; other focal lengths are more forgiving, but corner shading will always be a factor if you shoot full-frame with this lens.

Distortion
As you might expect, a lens which provides both wide-angle and telephoto capabilities produces some distortion; it is somewhat pronounced with the Tamron 24-70mm ƒ/2.8. At the wide end at 24mm, mounted on the full-frame D800e, we are seeing +1% barrel distortion in the corners. There's a useful area of near-zero distortion around the 35mm mark, but as you zoom in towards 70mm we see pincushion distortion, getting to its most significant at the longest length of the lens, -0.5% at 70mm.

Autofocus Operation
Autofocus is conducted electronically, without the use of a mechanical screw. It takes less than one second to focus from infinity to closest focus, and it's very quiet as it does so. The front element doesn't rotate during focus operations, making the use of a polarizing filter that much easier.

Macro
The Tamron 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 provides adequate results for macro - just 0.2x magnification, but it does benefit from a minimum close-focusing distance of 15 inches.

Build Quality and Handling
Tamron's new lens design format uses a very modern type face, and a stippled black matte finish. The lens mount is metal; the filter ring is plastic, and there are weather seals integrated into the lens design. The lens offers a windowed distance scale, marked in feet and meters. The lens features full-time manual focus override: that is to say, you can autofocus and turn the focusing ring to adjust focus manually at any time. There are two switches on this lens: one to enable/disable autofocus, and the other to enable/disable the Vibration Control (VC) system. The lens aperture is designed with nine curved diaphragm blades.

Tamron has elected to swap the position of the zoom and focus rings: whereas most other manufacturer's zoom rings come first, and the focus ring further away from the body, it's the opposite for this Tamron. Also, if it matters to you, the manual focus ring direction echoes Nikon lenses, rather than Canon. The focusing ring is about 3/8" wide and is rubber-coated, with deep rubber ribs. Since the lens now uses an electrical focusing system there are no hard stops on either end of the focus throw, and the ring will turn forever in either direction. The lens can focus past infinity.

The zoom ring is about 1 1/4" wide with a ribbed, rubber coating. The ring takes about 80 degrees to turn through the entire zoom range. The lens doesn't use an internal zoom design, so there is lens extension as the lens zooms out to 70mm: the lens will extend by 1 1/4". We didn't notice any lens creep at all, however the lens includes a zoom lock switch just in case. However, this switch is really designed just to keep the lens retracted for transport, such as while hanging from your neck or in a bag rather than keeping the lens locked at a certain focal length while in-use.

The lens features Tamron's Vibration Control (VC) image stabilization system, and as we've mentioned, it's of the few full-frame 24-70mm lenses to do so. It provides around three stops of hand-holding improvement, and it's worth looking at our IS Test tab for greater detail.

The lens ships with the HA007 lens hood, a petal-shaped hood that's ribbed on the interior to reduce flare. The lens uses a bayonet mount and can be reversed for storage.

Alternatives

Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L II USM ~$1,800
Canon's offering in this category is unquestionably sharper than the Tamron, but it achieves this perhaps by not offering image stabilization. It's also significantly more expensive, but then it's some of Canon's finest L-series glass.

Nikon 24-70mm ƒ/2.8E ED VR AF-S ~$2,400
At last, the Tamron 24-70mm VC lens has a rival, at least for Nikon shooters! Introduced in August 2015, we've yet to review this lens (as of this review), but it looks to be a very promising lens for Nikon users. The major downside is price; at around $2,400 is significantly more expensive than both the Tamron and the non-VR Nikon option.

Nikon 24-70mm ƒ/2.8G IF-ED AF-S ~$1,800
Similar to the Canon option, Nikon's 24-70mm is sharper than the Tamron, but again, does not offer VR image stabilization. It's also more expensive.

Sigma 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG HSM ~$1,100
Sigma's 24-70mm does not feature image stabilization, but it is on the same level of sharpness as the Tamron - that is to say, wildly inconsistent. It offers some wonderful corner softness when used wide open on a full-frame body, and like the Tamron, must be stopped down considerably to get edge-to-edge image sharpness.

Conclusion

Tamron took a bold step in providing a lens with image stabilization in this category - perhaps sacrificing image sharpness to provide the hand-holding convenience. The question for the prospective shooter of this lens would be, do you value image sharpness at ƒ/2.8 over image stabilization, or vice versa? It's a good lens at this aperture, but not great - for that level of performance, you need to step up to the Canon or Nikon versions, and do without image stabilization.

Product Photos

Sample Photos

The VFA target should give you a good idea of sharpness in the center and corners, as well as some idea of the extent of barrel or pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration, while the Still Life subject may help in judging contrast and color. We shoot both images using the default JPEG settings and manual white balance of our test bodies, so the images should be quite consistent from lens to lens.

As appropriate, we shoot these with both full-frame and sub-frame bodies, at a range of focal lengths, and at both maximum aperture and ƒ/8. For the ''VFA'' target (the viewfinder accuracy target from Imaging Resource), we also provide sample crops from the center and upper-left corner of each shot, so you can quickly get a sense of relative sharpness, without having to download and inspect the full-res images. To avoid space limitations with the layout of our review pages, indexes to the test shots launch in separate windows.

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD SP (Model A007) User Reviews

8.5/10 average of 6 reviews Build Quality 8.3/10 Image Quality 8.3/10
Write your own review! link will open to SLRgear.com
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    Simply Better than the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and much less expensive. Better center sharpness, better corner sharpness, better resistance to flare, better micro-contrast, better color, and of course it has VC as a bonus!
    Image quality unacceptable in corners, needs to be better. I need better image quality, even if I have to pay more to get it. Bokeh can be objectionable in some situations.

    I saw this lens reviewed and advertised and it seems to be the only alternative to the Nikon 24-70 f 2.8. I really want/need VC (VR), but I doubted that the Tamron optical quality would be acceptable. Up till now, I have only bought Canon or Nikon lenses (not including my view camera lenses).

    I ordered 2 copies of the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and also 2 copies of the new Tamron 24-70 f2.8 VC, all from B&H (they are always great).
    I tested all 4 lenses scientifically and rigorously. Studio shooting with flash, architectural, landcapes @ infinity. One of the Tamrons was the clear winner. The other copy of the Tamron and both copies of the Nikon were unacceptable for my work. None of the lenses give truly sharp corners at any aperture or focal length. But the one Tamron was close enough to get by (I hate just "getting by") (f11 is the only aperture that gives tolerable results at all focal lengths on the best Tamron).

    Anyway, the better of the two Tamrons clearly beat out both copies of the Nikon. Better center sharpness, better corner sharpness, better resistance to flare, better micro-contrast, better color, and of course it has VC as a bonus! The Nikon does focus a little faster, especially in low light, but in my studio people focus tests, I got more hits with the Tamron than with the Nikon. And of course the Tamron is about $1300 and the Nikon closer to $2000.
    I would be GLAD to pay $2000, or even more, for an excellent lens. Nikon needs FAR better quality control - they should be ashamed.

    Get the Tamron. It is not perfect, but is the best option available.
    But whatever lens(es) you get, be sure to order at least 2-3 copies and test rigorously (if you care at all about image quality), as there can be huge variation from one copy to the next.

    http://www.hitsticker.com | http://www.printradiant.com | http://www.adstateagent.com

    reviewed January 5th, 2016 (purchased for $1,300)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (2 reviews)
    acurate focus; image stabilisation; f2.8 ; ideal zoomrange for walk and shoot
    weight

    no real minuspoints
    works as you expects
    the VC in this zoomrangeis rather exceptional
    low light no problem, and with high iso even better
    now the perfect camera with great dynamic range to find

    reviewed August 22nd, 2014 (purchased for $900)
  • 9 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    very high light gathering capability due to image stabilization
    auto focus not as fast as canon, weighs more than it looks

    Been using this lens with Canon 5D Mark 3 for about 6 months now. I have several other Canon stabilized L series zooms, but this lens is the one that comes with me the most when the shooting situations are the most unpredictable. It is a fast lens with the F2.8 spec, but with the image stabilization and F2.8 aperture, I am getting tack sharp pictures over 95% of the time with 1/10 sec exposure in candle light situations. I am amazed at the light gathering capability this combination offers. I can take pictures in street light conditions with ISO 100 and get amazing results. The demand is expected to be high for a long time and price is likely to be list price. Tamron has a ground breaking product and a solid cash cow on its hands. I am concerned of the price erosion of the Canon lenses I own now if Tamron continues on this path. Maybe a F1.8 lens with image stabilization is next ?

    reviewed September 9th, 2013 (purchased for $1,299)
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    SHARP, Stabilized, Superior Value
    none

    I can't believe that SLRGear has not yet tested this amazing lens. I bought one for my D600 after seeing the test results at DxOMark, where this lens scored exactly the same as Nikon's own 24-70/2.8 (which is NOT stabilized, by the way). It matches the Nikon glass in every way, AND it is stabilized, AND it costs many hundreds less. It's fast, quiet, and SHARP! I don't know why anyone would pay more for the Nikon lens when you can have equal optical quality and stabilization for a lower cost.

    Here's a buying tip: Tamron is currently running a $100 rebate on this lens (at the time of this review). If you buy from Rakuten (formerly known as Buy.com) during one of their "cash back" sales, you could save an additional $130 to $250 (depending on the sale). My net cost on this lens was only $970 doing it this way.

    reviewed August 14th, 2013 (purchased for $1,200)
  • 7 out of 10 points and recommended by (7 reviews)
    Simply Better than the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and much less expensive. Better center sharpness, better corner sharpness, better resistance to flare, better micro-contrast, better color, and of course it has VC as a bonus!
    Image quality unacceptable in corners, needs to be better. I need better image quality, even if I have to pay more to get it. Bokeh can be objectionable in some situations.

    I saw this lens reviewed and advertised and it seems to be the only alternative to the Nikon 24-70 f 2.8. I really want/need VC (VR), but I doubted that the Tamron optical quality would be acceptable. Up till now, I have only bought Canon or Nikon lenses (not including my view camera lenses).

    I ordered 2 copies of the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and also 2 copies of the new Tamron 24-70 f2.8 VC, all from B&H (they are always great).
    I tested all 4 lenses scientifically and rigorously. Studio shooting with flash, architectural, landcapes @ infinity. One of the Tamrons was the clear winner. The other copy of the Tamron and both copies of the Nikon were unacceptable for my work. None of the lenses give truly sharp corners at any aperture or focal length. But the one Tamron was close enough to get by (I hate just "getting by") (f11 is the only aperture that gives tolerable results at all focal lengths on the best Tamron).

    Anyway, the better of the two Tamrons clearly beat out both copies of the Nikon. Better center sharpness, better corner sharpness, better resistance to flare, better micro-contrast, better color, and of course it has VC as a bonus! The Nikon does focus a little faster, especially in low light, but in my studio people focus tests, I got more hits with the Tamron than with the Nikon. And of course the Tamron is about $1300 and the Nikon closer to $2000.
    I would be GLAD to pay $2000, or even more, for an EXCELLENT lens. Nikon needs FAR better quality control - they should be ashamed.

    Get the Tamron. It is not perfect, but is the best option available.
    But whatever lens(es) you get, be sure to order at least 2-3 copies and test rigorously (if you care at all about image quality), as there can be huge variation from one copy to the next.

    reviewed January 24th, 2013 (purchased for $1,300)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (1 reviews)
    precise focus. well built. vibration compensation. sharp. excellent bokeh
    non I am aware of.

    I had a chance to test this lens on my 5d m2. I compared it with the canon 24-70 ver 2.
    Autofocus: Canon is twice as fast(probably because there was more light in the Canon's stand) but it's not precise. The Tamron nails the focus every time.
    Build quality: They both feel well built, although i suspect he Canon should be better built. I like the feeling of the Tamron better.
    Bokeh: Amazing! I don't know why some people complain about it. This one had no problems at all. The Canon bokeh was more like Gaussian blur...
    VC: The Tamron is the only 24-70mm with VC.
    Zoom and focus rings: Soft and accurate. Both lenses have full time AF overdrive.
    Optics: Very sharp. The Canon is 1/3 sharper and has better resolving power. I wouldn't use these as portrait lenses. They are TOO sharp(with Canon having the lead). Not recommended for people with skin other than perfect.
    Price: 1200$ VS 2400$+ Absolute bargain!
    I have this lens on pre-order. Arriving in 1 week. I will make a better review then.

    reviewed May 31st, 2012