Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC Lens Review: Sacrificing sharpness for stabilization?


posted Monday, February 8, 2016 at 4:39 PM EST


Both Canon and Nikon offer their own 24-70mm f/2.8 full-frame lenses, they have for years, and they are among their most popular lenses. However, there's one thing these two staple lenses do not offer: image stabilization. Tamron has therefore stepped-up to fill this void with their own SP 24-70mm f/2.8 VC lens. While this Tamron is a few years old at this point, it's still the only one of the few full-frame 24-70mm lens with image stabilization, with Nikon debuting a 24-70mm f/2.8 VR lens of its own back in August 2015 . We've received lots of requests for a review of this lens, and our friends at LensRentals happily sent us one to test for you.

Build quality is quite nice, and the lens also features weather sealing, which is handy. Size and heft of the Tamron 24-70mm is similar to the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II, and so it balances nicely on a variety of DSLR body sizes without being too large and heavy.

Getting down to brass tacks, however, the image quality performance is just not to same level as the high-end competing lenses from Canon and Nikon. Center sharpness is fairly good at f/2.8, but there's quite a bit of corner softness, especially on a full-frame camera. Wide-open sharpness, edge-to-edge, is much better from the Canon and Nikon counterparts. Stopping down a ways with the Tamron, however, makes for much sharper images.

70mm, f/2.8, 1/2500s, ISO 100

Image stabilization, on the other hand, is nice and quite effective, making it a good choice for low light shooting and videographers. The big question is, do you pick the lens with stabilization or one with better wide-open sharpness? At around $1,200 it's not the most budget-friendly option, though it will cost you a good-sized chunk less expensive than the Canon and Nikon alternatives.

To see if this is the lens for you, head over to our in-depth Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC lens review, which is complete with all of our standard testing results, graphs and laboratory test images. We also have a sampling of real-world gallery images shot by our head lens technician Rob using the Canon 1Ds Mark III test camera over on our Flickr page.

35mm, f/2.8, 1/2500s, ISO 100, -0.7EV
48mm, f/2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 100

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC Lens ReviewGallery

Correction: We initially described the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC as the only image-stabilized full-frame 24-70mm lens available, however this is no longer the case as Nikon introduced a 24-70mm f/2.8 VR lens back in August 2015. The article and review have been corrected accordingly.