This is an in-depth review of the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD – world’s first image stabilized standard zoom lens for 35mm sensor cameras that was released in April of 2012. I have been shooting with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G for a while and although I love it for its super fast and accurate autofocus and durability, it has its share of problems. It is huge and heavy, has rather poor corner performance at fast apertures and suffers from field curvature issues (where sharpness is not uniform across the frame). In addition, it lacks image stabilization, which I am a huge fan of. So when I found out that Tamron released a professional 24-70mm f/2.8 lens with image stabilization, I knew I wanted to test it out and compare it head to head to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G.
In this review, I will talk about my month-long experience with the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD lens, provide detailed information on its characteristics along with image samples, as well as some optical measurements and comparisons to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens.
1) Lens Overview
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 is a versatile professional lens designed for many different kinds of photography needs – from wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, to portraits and events. Built with low-light photography in mind, the lens features a constant aperture of f/2.8, fast autofocus and built-in image stabilization (which Tamron markets as “VC” or “Vibration Compensation”). The latter is what no other manufacturers today, including Nikon and Canon, can pride themselves with – the Tamron 24-70mm is world’s first and currently only “standard zoom” lens with image stabilization (as of August 2012). Featuring 17 lens elements in 12 groups, 3 of which are aspherical and 3 with low-dispersion qualities, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 has a more complex design than the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, which has 15 lens elements in 11 groups. With a barrel diameter of 3.5 inches and weighing a total of 825 grams, it is by no means a small or lightweight lens. It incorporates Tamron’s Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) motor, which provides both fast and ultra-quiet autofocus.
With a focal length of 24-70mm (which is not its actual focal length, as pointed out in the “Lens Handling” section below), which is equivalent to roughly 36-105mm, it is designed to be used more on full-frame (FX) than cropped-sensor (DX) cameras. 36mm just might feel a little “too long” on the wide end on cropped-sensor cameras for general photography needs. Unlike most professional lenses that can take 77mm filters, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 has a larger 82mm filter diameter, which means that it would require purchasing additional larger filters if you are planning to use filters on it. Due to the massive size of the front element, it would be impossible to use a 77mm filter with adapter rings.
In terms of optical performance, as you will see below in the Sharpness section, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 delivers very good results. It starts out strong wide open at 24mm and weakens towards 70mm. On the flip side, the lens suffers from pronounced vignetting, has an onion-shaped bokeh and has field curvature issues at longer focal lengths.
2) Lens Specifications
- Fast, wide-angle to medium telephoto zoom lens with a constant aperture of f/2.8.
- Three glass-molded aspherical lenses and one hybrid aspherical lens to control chromatic aberrations while enhancing sharpness and contrast.
- Three low-dispersion (LD) lens elements for increased sharpness.
- Two extra-refractive index (XR) lens elements for reduced aberrations and better imaging performance.
- Tamron’s Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) provides near-silent high-speed auto focus with superb accuracy.
- AF/MF focus mode switch allows changing between manual and auto focus operation.
- Rugged construction with professional-grade dust and moisture resistance.
- Mount Type: Nikon F-Bayonet (also available for Canon and Sony mounts)
- Focal Length Range: 24-70mm
- Maximum Aperture: 2.8
- Minimum Aperture: 22
- Angle of View (DX-format): 60°20’ －22°33’
- Angle of View (FX-format): 84°04’ －34°21’
- Lens (Elements): 17
- Lens (Groups): 12
- Compatible Format(s): FX, DX
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Distance Information: Yes
- LD Glass Elements: 3
- Aspherical Elements: 3
- Hybrid Aspherical Elements: 1
- Autofocus: Yes
- USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive): Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 0.38m
- Focus Mode: AF/MF
- Filter Size: 82mm
- Accepts Filter Type: Screw-on
- Length: 108.5mm (4.3 in)
- Full Length: 116.9mm (4.6 in)
- Diameter: 88.2mm (3.5 in)
- Weight (Approx.): 29.1 oz. (825g)
- Lens Hood: Flower-shaped HA007 lens hood
Detailed specifications for the lens, along with MTF charts and other useful data can be found in our lens database.