Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Review

March 27, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 is a second-generation telephoto zoom lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLR cameras. This compact lens features a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the range, improved Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, a shorter minimum focus distance of 0.95m, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet and fast AF operation, and a moisture-sealed construction. The optical formula comprises 23 lens elements in 17 groups, including one XLD (Extra Low Dispersion) glass and five LD (Low Dispersion) elements, and an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades. The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 G2 lens officially retails for £1349.99 / $1299 in the UK and USA respectively.

Ease of Use

For such a fast telephoto zoom lens, the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 is predictably quite big and bulky, measuring almost 20cms in length and wighing in at around 1.5Kg with the detachable tripod mount attached. 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 Canon EOS 5DS R, where it feels better balanced.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Build quality is excellent, following in the foosteps of other recent "SP" branded lenses that we've reviewed. The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 feels very solid in your hand, with the outer barrel now made from metal rather than from plastic.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Side of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Side of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens

The zoom ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. The lens doesn't extend at any point when you zoom out from 70mm and the filter ring doesn't rotate, good news for filter users.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Front of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens

The focusing ring is much narrower, making it difficult to locate in a rush, but it is well damped. There's a distance scale that runs from the closest distance of 0.95m 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. There's also a focus limiter switch which has 2 settings - full (0.95m-infinity) and 3m-infinity.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Rear of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens

 

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Side of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Side of the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens

The final controls are the VC On / Off switch, which turns the lens' built-in Vibration Compensation on and off, and the VC Mode switch, which selects between the 3 different modes. Mode 1 balances between stabilizing the viewfinder image and the capture image, mode 2 is exclusively used for panning, while mode 3 stabilizes the captured image rather than the viewfinder image. In practice we found the system reliably offered around 4 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependant upon your own particular hand-holding technique, making it much easier to use the lens in low-light conditions.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens in-hand

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens fitted with the supplied lens hood and detachable tripod mount

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 benefits from a moisture-resistant construction which helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the lens, although we'd hesitate to use it in the rain for a prolonged period.

The lens is supplied with lens caps and a very large flower-shaped lens hood, and a soft bag is also included. The filter size is 77mm.

Auto-focus

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 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 very quiet and satsifyingly fast with the lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R 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 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2

Focal Range

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 offers a classic focal range for full-frame DSLR owners.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G270mm

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2200mm

Light Fall-off and Distortion

With the Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 wide open at f/2.8, you can see some very noticeable light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the zoom range. 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 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Vignetting at 70mm

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Vignetting at 200mm

Macro

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 0.95cm from the film/sensor plane and the magnification ratio is 1:6.1. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 200mm to aid magnification, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2Close-up performance

Bokeh

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. 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 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
   
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, lens, zoom, f2.8, telephoto, 200mm, image stabilisation, 70mm, tamron, anti-shake, vibration compensation, 100mm, 70-200mm, vc, tele, 135mm, 70-200, Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2