Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G
By now, you are probably dying to see how the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 fares against the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G lens in sharpness. Let’s take a look at the below charts, comparing performance at similar focal lengths. We will start out at the widest setting of 15mm and 14mm on both lenses:
The performance pattern of both lenses is a bit different – the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC starts out stronger at f/2.8 and reaches excellent sharpness levels by f/5.6, while the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is a bit weaker wide open, particularly in the corners. However, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G outperforms the Tamron at f/5.6, where it reaches superb sharpness throughout the frame. Next up is 18mm:
Once again, we see that the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC outperforms its Nikon counterpart at maximum aperture, whether looking at the center frame or in the corners. The difference in corner performance is pretty obvious here, with the Tamron looking noticeably better. The same thing happens at f/4 – the Tamron looks a bit better all around. However, once stopped down to f/5.6, the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G again outperforms the Tamron in the center, delivering crisper details. But this only applies to center performance – mid-frame and the corners look quite similar on both.
Lastly, let’s take a look at 24mm:
With both lenses performing worse at 24mm, it is interesting to see how the two compare. From the above charts, we can see that the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G starts out much worse at f/2.8 and f/4, but once stopped down to f/5.6, it is still a stellar performer. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 also shows better overall corner performance at all apertures.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G Summary
From the comparisons above, we can see that both lenses have their strengths and weaknesses, so it all depends on what you use these lenses for. For astrophotography, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 is a clear winner – its sharpness at f/2.8 is impressive at all focal lengths, looking better than what the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G has to offer. If you primarily work at smaller apertures like f/5.6-f/8, the Nikon shows better overall results, particularly in the center of the frame. But overall, there is no clear winner here – both lenses perform admirably at comparable focal lengths. This is great news for the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC, because such impressive performance comes with a few nice bonuses, like image stabilization and a $700 less price tag. Based on this, the Tamron offers much higher value in my opinion.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR
Let’s take a look at how the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC compares to Nikon’s enthusiast-level 16-35mm f/4G VR, which also features image stabilization. Here are both lenses at their widest focal lengths of 15mm and 16mm:
Wide open, there is a pretty clear difference in performance between the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR, with the former showing clearly better performance throughout the frame. Stopped down to f/5.6, however, the difference in center and mid-frame performance diminishes greatly, but the 16-35mm still cannot reach the resolving power of the 15-30mm in the corners. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR needs to be stopped down to f/8 to get better corner performance. In addition, the 16-35mm f/4G VR exhibits very heavy distortion, measuring a whopping 5.89% in barrel distortion, compared to 3.49% on the Tamron, along with noticeably higher levels of lateral chromatic aberration.
Here is a comparison at 24mm:
While the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR is very sharp in the center, we can see a pretty big difference in mid-frame and corner performance here, where Nikon shows quite poor performance when compared to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR matches the center performance of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC at f/5.6, but it still cannot match the latter in mid-frame and corner performance. However, stopped down to f/8, both lenses look about the same in terms of sharpness.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC vs Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR Summary
Based on the above charts, it is pretty clear that the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR cannot match the performance of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC at large apertures. So if you are looking for a lens that performs really well wide open, the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is a much better choice than the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR. However, stopped down to f/8, there is little difference between these lenses, so if you always work in a small aperture range, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR could be a great alternative. But keep in mind that you would be sacrificing 1 mm of focal length coverage, which translates to substantial 7° difference in angle of view (114° vs 107°), while gaining another 5mm of focal length on the long end. Again, it all depends on what you shoot. For most landscape photographers, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G VR would probably still make more sense overall, primarily because it can accept normal screw-on filters and filter holders, and it weighs almost half of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC. But if you want the best overall lens (taking into account all of the previously-mentioned advantages), the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC is really hard to beat, especially at its current MSRP price point, which is less than what Nikon wants you to pay for its 16-35mm f/4G VR. Because of this, I would personally favor the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC over all other ultra-wide angle zoom lens choices for the Nikon F mount out there, including Nikon’s 14-24mm and 16-35mm lenses…
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