Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Review

4.5
September 6, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a fast standard zoom lens for Nikon and Canon full-frame DSLR shooters. Crucially offering built-in image stabilisation, something that the Big Two don't offer, the Tamron 24-70mm is also weather-sealed and cheaper. Read our Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD review to find out if it's the best standard zoom for full-frame users.

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a fast standard zoom lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras. It features a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the range, Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet AF operation, and a splashproof construction. The optical formula comprises 17 lens elements in 12 groups, including three low-dispersion, two high-refractive-index and three glass-moulded aspherical elements as well as a hybrid aspherical element; and an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades. The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens officially retails for £1099 / $1299.

Ease of Use

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, isometric view

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, isometric view

For such a fast standard zoom lens, the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is predictably quite big and bulky, measuring almost 11cms in length and wighing in at 825g. While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body, it won't balance very well (and the focal length will also change) - as demonstrated by the images above, it's a much better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the 5D Mark III, where it feels much more well-balanced.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Build quality is very good, despite Tamron traditionally offering lenses at the cheaper end of the market. The more premium-priced Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD feels solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the filter thread appear to be made from plastic.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDFront of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDRear of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, set to 24mm

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDFront of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD len, extended to 70mm

The zoom ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. As with other Tamron zooms, the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD has a Lock switch which locks the lens at 24mm and prevents the lens barrel from extending during transportation, not that we had any issues with this during testing. The lens extends by about an extra 4.5cm when fully zoomed out to 70mm.

The focusing ring is much narrower, making it difficult to locate in a rush. There's a distance scale that runs from the closest distance of 38cm to infinity, but no depth of field scale. AN AF/MF switch on the side of the lens makes it easy to switch between the two focusing systems.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDFront of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens

 

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDRear of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDFront of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, isometric view

The final control is the VC On / Off switch, which turns the lens' built-in Vibration Compensation on and off. This is a big selling point for the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, as neither the Canon or Nikon equivalents offer image stabilisation. In practice we found it offered around 3 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependant upon your own particular hand-holding technique, making it easier to use the lens in low-light.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDRear of the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, isometric view

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens, in-hand

The lens is supplied with lens caps and a flower-shaped lens hood - there's no bag included. The filter size is 82mm.

Auto-focus

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD features a USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) that allows near-silent auto-focusing. Importantly, this solution allows instant manual override even when the focus mode switch is in the AF position. Focusing is fully internal, meaning the length of the lens always remains constant. In use, we found the focusing to be indeed very quiet, and pretty fast - but definitely not instantaneous - with the lens mounted to a Canon EOS 5D Mk III body.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens - the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

Flare

Flare is a typical problem with wide-angle lenses, so we were curious to find out how the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD fared in this respect. As this example shows the lens is effective in preventing veiling flare, but it cannot fully eliminate unwanted reflections when shooting against strong backlight.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

Light Fall-off

With the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD wide open at f/2.8, you can see some very noticeable light fall-off in the corners. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

Vibration Compensation

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD's vibration compensation system offers around 3 f-stops of compensation - we'd recommend leaving it turned on all the time, except when mounted on a tripod.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
   
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

Macro

The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 38cm from the film/sensor plane. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Close-up performance

Bokeh Examples

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. One of the reason to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background, which is normally very hard to do with an ultrawide lens. Tamron was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
   
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, lens, 24mm, zoom, f2.8, standard, 35mm, 50mm, image stabilisation, vibration compensation, anti-shake, 70mm, tamron, 24-70mm, vc, 24-70, Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD

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