Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 SP

 
Lens Reviews / Tamron Lenses i Not yet tested
15-30mm $1,199
average price
image of Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 SP

Updates:
12/21/2018: Field Test & Gallery Images added

 

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Field Test

Tamron's new 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens is a wide-angle winner

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 12/21/2018

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
17mm, f/8, 3.2s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

In 2014, Tamron introduced the first constant-aperture full-frame ultra-wide angle zoom lens to feature built-in image stabilization. Although I never used the lens, many photographers found it to deliver impressive performance and versatility. Fast forward to today and there is a revised version, with an improved design and new technologies, the 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2.

Like its predecessor, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 ultra-wide angle zoom lens is quite large and heavy, but reasonably priced. It is not a lightweight wide-angle zoom like Tamron's 17-35mm f/2.8-4 lens, but it does offer a wider focal length and a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range. Very similar in spirit to a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, the 15-30mm f/2.8 has a bit more zoom in exchange for slightly less maximum field of view. Let's take a closer look at the design, features and performance of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens.

Key Features and Specs

  • Full-frame wide-angle zoom lens
  • Fast constant f/2.8 aperture
  • Weighs 2.42 pounds (1,100 grams)
  • 18 elements in 13 groups
  • Includes 3 Low Dispersion elements, 2 glass-molded aspherical elements and 1 eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical element
  • Up to 4.5 stops of shake reduction via Vibration Compensation
  • Dual Micro-Processing Units for VC and autofocus
  • Newly-developed Ultrasonic Silent Drive for quick and quiet autofocus
  • Integrated rear filter holder on the Canon version for drop-in gel filters
  • Compatible with Tamron TAP-in Console
  • $1,299 USD in Canon and Nikon mounts

Lens Design and Handling

The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens is no lightweight. It is a fairly large and heavy lens, but it feels nice in the hands and balances well with a large full-frame DSLR, such as the Canon 5DS R I used to test the lens. In total, the 15-30mm G2 weighs just over 2.4 pounds (1,100 grams) and is over 5.6 inches (142.5 millimeters) long in the Nikon mount variant and 5.7 inches (145mm) in the Canon version. Both versions have a maximum diameter of 3.87 inches (98.4mm).

Fujinon GF 250mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Review -- Product Image

The lens has a bulbous front element, which moves back and forth slightly when changing the focal length. The design of the lens presents a challenge for front filters, including a lack of a screw-in mount. The Canon version does have a rear filter slot for drop-in filters. The lens has a built-in petal-shaped lens hood, which does a good job of preventing lens flare in most situations, and includes a slide-on lens cap.

With moisture-resistant construction, including numerous seals and a gasket around the lens mount, the 15-30mm f/2.8 is built for shooting in adverse conditions. During my time with the lens, it handled moisture and cold conditions well and the front element, which is coated with fluorine, was easy to dry and clean.

Fujinon GF 250mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Review -- Product Image

Regarding the feel of the lens, the zoom ring is quite wide and has a nice ridged rubber surface. The zoom ring rotates with a decent amount of resistance and includes focal length markings at 15mm, 18mm, 20mm, 24mm and 30mm. The thinner focus ring is between the zoom ring and the camera body and also has a gripped surface. The focus ring rotates with good resistance, too, and the lens has a built-in focus scale with feet and meter markings. On the left side of the lens are two switches, one for focus (AF versus MF) and the other for VC (on versus off).

Overall, the lens feels rugged and well-built. The inability to use a screw-on front filter is unfortunate, but this is typical of a fast ultra-wide angle zoom lens.

Fujinon GF 250mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Review -- Product Image

Image Quality

The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens features 18 elements across 13 groups. It offers Tamron's latest in optical technologies, including three low dispersion elements, a pair of glass-molded aspherical elements and one eXpanded Glass Molded (XGM) element. Further, the lens has Tamron's new AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) coating on large, curved elements and eBAND and BBAR coatings on other elements to suppress ghosting and lens flare while improving contrast and color. The design and special features combine to produce very good image quality throughout the focal length range, even when shooting wide open.

Note: For the sharpness test images below, I worked with raw files converted in Adobe Camera Raw. I applied chromatic aberration correction and minor shadows/highlights adjustments. Otherwise, ACR adjustments were at default settings. You can see the original raw and JPEG files in the Gallery.

At 15mm

At 15mm, the center sharpness is very good. In fact, unless you are viewing the image at 100 percent or beyond, or looking very closely at a large print, there's very little to differentiate an image shot at f/2.8 from an image shot stopped down. The wide-open sharpness performance in the center of the frame is superb. However, there is a lot of vignetting at f/2.8 and some at f/4, an issue which is alleviated by stopping down to f/5.6 and beyond. Plus, you do gain some sharpness in the corners as you stop down. I think that diffraction is tolerable at f/11, but unless I really needed more depth of field and couldn't focus stack, I wouldn't shoot at f/16 or f/22.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/2.8, 1/4000s, ISO 100.
Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/2.8, 1/4000s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.

In this particular test scene, which I chose for a few reasons including the sun being just out of the frame to the right, there is some visible lens flare despite the good lens hood design. Considering that the sun was essentially pointing at the lens, I was expecting more flare actually, but Tamron's optical coatings really do a good job. As the lens is stopped down, the flare changes a bit, in some cases getting larger, but in the 100 percent crop above, you can see two very small green dots on the right edge.

At 24mm

24mm is the longest focal length marked on the 15-30mm lens that is not 30mm, so I opted to use it for mid-range testing. As is often the case with zoom lenses, the lens performs very well in between its two extremes (although, in this case, the Tamron performs really well at the extreme focal lengths, too). Sharpness is excellent in the center and good in the corners at f/2.8, although vignetting is still noticeable. There is a bit of flare as well, but overall, the 15-30mm G2 does very well at 24mm.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
24mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 100.
Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
24mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
24mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.

At 30mm

At 30mm, the vignetting is lessened when shooting wide open and sharpness remains good. The lens flare issue is eliminated as the front element retracts a bit at 30mm and is therefore better protected by the built-in lens hood. I think that corners might be a little bit softer at 30mm when shooting wide open, but it's a negligible difference and if you are concerned with optimal sharpness across the frame, you will likely be at f/5.6-11 anyway.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
30mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 100.
Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
30mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
30mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. Sharpness test image. Click here for the RAW file.

Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations are controlled quite well by the 15-30mm lens. There are some slight issues when dealing with particularly challenging scenarios, especially with purple fringing, although there is some magenta and green chromatic aberration as well. However, it's very easily corrected in raw images. Below, you can see the full scene and two crops, the first is a raw image without chromatic aberration correction and the second is a crop from an image corrected using Adobe Camera Raw's simple one-click chromatic aberration correction.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
20mm, f/8, 1/40s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
20mm, f/8, 1/40s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from processed raw file without CA corrections applied. This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
20mm, f/8, 1/40s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from processed raw file with CA corrections applied. This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
As you can see, the aberrations are easily corrected during post-processing.

Regarding comatic aberration, for a fast zoom lens, it's handled reasonably well. Comatic aberration when shooting night sky shots is generally visible in the corners and makes stars appear non-circular and sometimes very blob-like, with ugly points sticking out in different directions. In the case of the 15-30mm lens at 15mm and f/2.8, the stars look okay, and the primary reason they aren't circular is because the shutter speed was not quite fast enough for tack-sharp stars when viewed at 100 percent, although they will look fine in a print viewed from a normal distance. I would not hesitate to use the 15-30mm f/2.8 lens for night sky photography; I think it's a fine lens for that type of photography, particularly when vignetting is corrected for during post-processing.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/2.8, 13s, ISO 1600.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/2.8, 13s, ISO 1600.
100 percent corner crop. This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
This crop from a corner of the frame shows that the 15-30mm f/2.8 does an okay job of keeping stars generally circular. While there is some motion blur here at 13 seconds, the important takeaway is that the lens is not applying distracting shapes to the stars. With night sky images, it's always a balancing act between a fast shutter speed and a high ISO, but when a lens can perform well wide open, like the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 does, that helps a lot.

Overall

The Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens performs very well throughout its focal length, even when shooting at f/2.8. There are only minor issues with optical performance, including some vignetting, ranging from minor to moderate, at f/2.8-4 throughout the entire range and some somewhat soft corners at f/2.8, particularly at longer focal lengths. Distortion is generally well controlled and like vignetting, it is not difficult to fix during post-processing if it becomes an issue in a particular shooting scenario. With its good Vibration Compensation technology and impressive optical performance, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens makes it easy to capture crisp images in many different situations.

Shooting Experience

When using an ultra-wide angle zoom lens, I have numerous considerations with respect to the overall shooting experience. My primary concern is image quality across the frame throughout the focal length range. In the case of the 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens, it performs really well, especially when stopped down. An area where the lens falls short, however, is that it doesn't allow for easy use of front filters. There's always a workaround for people willing to modify lenses and/or filter holders, but I place considerable value on being able to simply screw in a circular polarizer and easily use neutral density filters. The Canon version does have a rear drop-in gel filter mount, which is nice, but the Nikon version lacks this feature.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
30mm, f/8, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

Additional considerations include build quality and overall handling. While the 15-30mm f/2.8 is pretty large and heavy -- although not noticeably heavier than other similar zoom lenses -- it has very nice build quality and handles well. The zoom and focus rings feel great, and the lens has weather resistance. Autofocus is quick, and the lens can focus down to a pretty close distance, so that's very nice as well. Add in capable Vibration Compensation, something you won't find on any 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom from other manufacturers, and the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC G2 offers a lot to like. It's a really nice lens that provides a very good shooting experience.

Focusing

The 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens features a USD (ultrasonic silent drive) motor and includes dual micro-processing units to drive its autofocus – and vibration compensation. The end result is quick and quiet autofocus performance. In addition to having impressive autofocus performance, the lens can also focus quite closely. Throughout the entire zoom range, the close focus distance is 11 inches (0.28 meters).

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/2.8, 6s, ISO 1600.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file. As mentioned earlier, the lens has a focus scale, which makes manual focusing easier out in the field, especially for finding infinity focus for shooting the night sky.

Shots from the Field

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
21mm, f/8, 2.5s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
21mm, f/13, 0.4s, ISO 100.
Click here for the RAW file.
Without an easy way to use my filters, I often had to stop the lens down a fair bit to get slow enough shutter speeds for photographing moving water. Fortunately, the lens is still quite sharp at f/13, although diffraction is evident when closely inspecting the image.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
16mm, f/8, 1/15s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
16mm, f/8, 1/15s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
16mm, f/8, 1/15s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
As mentioned earlier, there is some loss of corner sharpness with the 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens, although it's not bad for an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
24mm, f/8, 4s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/8, 1/25s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
Even at 15mm, the 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens does a good job of handling distortion. For such a wide field of view, the image looks quite natural. There is a little bit of warping near the very edge of the frame, but I don't find it to be distracting.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
27mm, f/8, 1.3s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
27mm, f/8, 1.3s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop. This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.
 
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/11, 0.3s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Field Test Summary

An excellent, fast, ultra-wide zoom for full-frame Canon and Nikon cameras

What I liked:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Impressive image quality throughout the focal length range
  • Quick autofocus performance
  • Good handling of various aberrations
  • Built-in image stabilization

What I didn't like:

  • Pretty large and heavy
  • A fair bit of vignetting when shooting wide open
  • No easy way to use front filters

For just under $1,300 USD, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens is a really nice, fast, wide-angle zoom option for Canon and Nikon owners. The full-frame lens offers something competitors don't, image stabilization, while delivering good to very good image quality throughout its focal length range. The autofocus is quick and reliable, and the build quality is pro-level. The few complaints I have about the 15-30mm lens, such as its large size and lack of front filter threads, are not unique to this particular ultra-wide lens. Competitive pricing and great all-around performance make the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2 lens a winner.

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
15mm, f/16, 0.6s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click here for the RAW file.

 

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC G2 Gallery Images

 

• • •

 

Product Overview

(From Tamron lens literature) Tamron announces the launch of a new high-speed ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, the SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041), for full-frame DSLR cameras. The new model will be available in Nikon mount on September 21st and in Canon mount October 12th at a suggested retail price of $1299.

With a well-established reputation for ultra-high-quality wideangle zoom lenses with its Model A012, Tamron carries on the tradition of high optical performance with the new SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041). By incorporating an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element, as well as multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements, the distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations so common in wideangle shooting have been greatly minimized. Furthermore, a newly developed AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) Coating has been applied to reduce ghosting and flare more thoroughly than ever before. The optical performance in this high-speed F/2.8 ultra-wideangle zoom lens is outstanding. In addition, the built-in Dual MPU (Micro-Processing Unit) enables vastly improved AF speed and precision and image stabilization. This is a next-generation super high-quality, high-speed ultra-wideangle zoom lens with first-rate optics and a wide range of features that serve to revitalize the user's shooting experience. With the release of this model, three of Tamron's high-speed F/2.8 zoom lens with VC (Vibration Compensation) are now G2 (Generation 2).

Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041) Product Image

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

1. Super high-quality high-speed ultra-wideangle zoom lens
The Model A041 is an F/2.8 ultra-wideangle lens with a focal length starting at 15mm that offers high resolution even in the peripheral area of the image. By incorporating an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element and multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements to curtail distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations, Tamron has achieved a degree of resolution throughout the range that is just as good as a fixed focal length lens.

2. Newly developed AX Coating
The AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) Coating, especially effective for wideangle lenses that tend to let in harmful light from peripheral areas, was developed to control rays that affect image quality. It is a revolutionary new proprietary coating developed in-house by Tamron using specialized deposition technology. The new coating keeps the reflection factor for peripheral areas at the same high level as that for the center area, not only overcoming standard curvature issues, but even overcoming the problems of conventionally produced convex surface with large curvatures for which uniform deposition has always proved difficult to achieve. Furthermore, the Model A041, along with eBand (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating utilizing nanotechnology, and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating, makes effective use of three different types of coatings, thereby enabling unsurpassed curtailment of ghosting and flare and consequently enabling superlative, exceptionally clear image quality edge to edge.

3. High-speed, high-precision AF
Superb AF speed and precision is delivered by equipping the lens with a Dual MPU (Micro-Processing Unit) system and employing an enhanced AF control algorithm to improve performance. The AF drive uses proprietary Tamron technology, USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), enabling high torque, high response, and silent operation. And because it comes with a Full-time Manual Focus override system, manual focus adjustments can be made on the fly.

4. VC promises sharp images for all varieties of shooting
Tamron released the first high-speed F/2.8 ultra-wideangle zoom lens in the world equipped with a VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism, the original Model A012. The new Model A041 has been further improved with a newly developed VC mechanism that surpasses former versions and reaches 4.5 stops, according to CIPA standards. This makes it possible to shoot sharp photos over a wide range of photographic scenes, including indoor and outdoor shots as well as handheld shots at stopped-down aperture settings for landscape photography.

Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041) Product Image

5. Rear filter holder
The Model A041 made for use on Canon (EF-mount) cameras comes with a filter holder as a standard feature that lets you insert gelatin and other sheet filters into the rear side of the lens. This makes photography using filters much easier and simpler by overcoming the problem of the curvature of the front lens elements that made shooting with filters so difficult in the past.

6. Vastly improved highly durable Fluorine Coating
Abrasion resistance capability has been vastly improved on the new Model A041. The front surface of the lens element is coated with a Fluorine Coating based on a newly developed fluorine compound with high water- and oil-repellent properties. The lens surface is easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture, and fingerprints, and enabling your important lenses to be continually protected on a long-term basis.

7. The new design provides greater operability and design consistency
With the new SP design applied, Model A041 shares the same feel of high quality and operability as the other two models in this series, SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A032) and SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A025). Tamron has merged beautiful craftsmanship with intuitive design in this new high-speed ultra-wideangle zoom lens. Even details like the shape of the switch box, distance-scale window, and the precision and stability of the metallic mount reveal a commitment to functionality, as well as design. The result is a next-generation lens that's easy to use yet loaded with cutting-edge technology.

8. Compatible with TAMRON TAP-in Console™, an optional accessory
The new Model A041 is compatible with the TAMRON TAP-in Console, an optional accessory product that provides a USB connection to a personal computer for easy updating of the lens's firmware as well as customization of features including fine adjustments to the focus position of AF and VC control.

Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041) Product Image

9. Moisture-Resistant Construction
Seals are located at the lens mount area and other critical locations to prevent infiltration of moisture and/or rain to provide Moisture-Resistant Construction. This feature affords an additional layer of protection when shooting outdoors under adverse weather conditions.

10. Manufacturing innovation with thorough attention to details based on the rigorous quality standards worthy of the SP series
Tamron has enhanced the SP series lenses to fulfill high-level photographic requirements and provide the pleasure of ownership. While introducing a new exterior design, Tamron reviewed the SP series standards. The new SP series has been developed by setting rigorous standards for design, manufacturing and quality that apply to the optical design and mechanical design as well as such wide-ranging areas as the product's robustness and improvements in a variety of individual functions. This has helped to achieve a more consistently superb optical performance, making it a lens that fulfills the demand for higher image quality that is compatible with the latest high-pixel cameras. To maximize the optical performance of the SP series, Tamron will continue to enhance the accuracy of the component parts of each lens element unit and improve the mechanical precision of the entire lens, thereby achieving a high overall performance.

Specifications, appearance, functionality, etc. are subject to change without prior notice.
* A rear filter holder is available for Canon mount.
** Length is the distance from the front tip of the lens to the lens mount face.
*** The circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture.

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