Tamron 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD Review
The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD is a new f/4 telephoto zoom lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras.
This compact, lightweight lens features a constant aperture of f/4 throughout the zoom range, Vibration Compensation (VC) technology which reduces camera shake by up to 4 stops, a short minimum focus distance of 0.95m and class-leading magnification ratio of 1:3.1, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet and fast AF operation, a fluorine coating on the front lens element, and a moisture-sealed construction. The optical formula comprises 20 lens elements in 14 groups, and it employs an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades.
The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD lens officially retails for £699 / $799 in the UK and USA respectively. An optional tripod collar is also available which features an Arca-type compatible foot.
Ease of Use
The Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD is comparatively compact and light for a 70-200mm lens, measuring 17.5cms in length and weighing 860g, which is about half the weight of Tamron's 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. This is one of the principal reasons for choosing an f/4 lens over an f/2.8 one.
Subsequently this lens is well suited to both a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R, which we used for testing the lens, and a smaller APS-C body like the EOS 80D, where you'll benefit from an extended telephoto reach of 112-336mm thanks to the 1.6x crop factor.
Build quality is very good. The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD feels solid enough in your hand, with the outer barrel made from metal rather than from plastic. The matt finish does pick up dirty marks, though, which can be difficult to clean off. The lens is designed in Japan and made in the Phillipines.
The zoom ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD doesn't extend at any point when you zoom out from 70mm and the filter ring doesn't rotate, good news for filter users.
The focusing ring is slightly narrower, but still generously sized. 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.
The Tamron 70-210mm f4 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 very quiet and satsifyingly fast with the lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R body.
The final control is the VC On / Off switch, which turns the lens' built-in Vibration Compensation on and off. 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.
The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD benefits from a moisture-resistant construction with seals located at the lens mount area and other critical locations, 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, a large flower-shaped lens hood, and a soft bag. The filter size is 67mm.
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.
The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD offers a classic focal range for full-frame DSLR owners.
Light Fall-off and Distortion
With the Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD wide open at f/4, you can see some 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/8 or smaller.
Vignetting at 70mm
Vignetting at 210mm
The Tamron 70-210mm f4 Di VC USD is not a macro lens, but it does boast the best magnification and closest focusing distance among 70-200mm F/4 interchangeable lenses for full-frame DSLR cameras. The close-focus point is at 0.95cm from the film/sensor plane and the magnification ratio is 1:3.1. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 210mm to aid magnification.
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 telephoto 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.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.