Review Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD SP (C APS-C)
In May 2012, the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 DI VC USD was introduced as the world's first 24-70 mm with built-in image stabilization (VC; Vibration Compensation). A 24-70 mm f/2.8 with a 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom lens is probably the most sought-after combination in the photo bags of professional reporting photographers. Both the high brightness and the built-in image stabilization come in handy for these photographers. Tamron's SP, 'Special Performance', series is intended for professional photographers, but I'm sure there are many passionate amateurs who also use these lenses. The appellation 'Di' means that this lens is suitable for (Digital) cameras with a full frame sensor. Currently, the Tamron 24-70 mm VC in terms of image stabilization ha competition from the Canon 24-70 mm f/4. Still, the combination of a constant f/2.8 aperture and the built-in image stabilization of this Tamron lens is unique. The list price of the Tamron 24-70 mm with image stabilization is also significantly lower than the 24-70 mm f/2.8 lenses without image stabilization of other brands.
Tamron 24-70 mm 2.8 VC: a multi-purpose lens: On a camera with an APS-C sensor like the Canon 650D, the Tamron 24-70 mm DI VC USD has an angle that varies from standard (equivalent to 36 mm @ full frame) to telephoto (112 mm). In the latter setting, the lens is usable as a good portrait lens. The high brightness also contributes to a beautiful background blur, making portraits extra appealing.
Click on the above image for a larger image crop.
In terms of construction, it's clear that the Tamron 24-70 mm VC is made for a professional audience. This lens is solid and heavy (800 grams) and is extra well-sealed against water and dust. A large part of the weight consists of glass. To keep the weight as low as possible, the lens housing is made out of high-quality plastic. Of course, the lens mount is metal. The lens is about twice as long when you zoom out to 70 mm. A free flower-shaped lens hood is included. The Tamron 24-70 mm lens is equipped with switches for AF/MF selection and for image stabilization/VC ON/OFF.
The auto focus has a ultrasonic motor with a piezo element. Thus you can overrule the AF manually at any time, without first having to flip a switch. The auto focus is fast and quiet. The latter is extra important for the growing group of photographers who use their single-lens reflex camera for filming. The front lens does not rotate when focusing, which is nice when using filters. It's also clear from the auto focus that Tamron has raised the bar for itself over the two cheaper lenses (Tamron 28-75 mm and Tamron 18-270 mm) that we previously reviewed.
The main advantage of built-in image stabilization is that you get sharp images even at slow shutter speeds, by reducing motion blur. Another important advantage of image stabilization, which most photographers don't initially think about, is that you get a quieter viewfinder image when the image stabilization is turned on in low-light situations. That makes accurate framing easier. We tested the image stabilization at a focal length of 70 mm, and image stabilization of the Tamron 24-70 mm is quiet, almost as silent as image stabilization in Nikon lenses. Up to a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second, the sharpness of the images created with and without image stabilization are equal. At slower shutter speeds, we booked a profit of around two stops: a shot made without image stabilization with a shutter speed of 1/25 of a second is as sharp as a shot taken at a shutter speed of 1/3 of a second with image stabilization. With a shutter speed of 1/6 of a second, you can create sharp pictures thanks to the image stabilization even shooting by hand. Those shots are not as sharp as a picture made from tripod, but still sufficiently sharp for many purposes.
In our earlier review of the Tamron 24-70 mm 2.8 VC on a Nikon D800E with a full frame sensor, the sharpness in the corners lagged slightly behind the center sharpness. Because on a camera with an APS-C sensor, you're only using the center, that's not the case here. At aperture 4, the sharpness in the corners is just as high as in the center. That's a very good performance. If you put your practice shots made with the Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 II, the Canon 24-70 mm f/4 IS or the Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8 next to practice shots made with the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 VC, you won't see any difference in sharpness.
Vignetting Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
As with resolution, the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 VC also benefits here from the smaller APS-C sensor. You can rest assured that there is no combination of focal point and aperture where you will find vignetting. Class.
On distortion, the Tamron 24-70 mm 2.8 VC shows the same pattern as all other standard zoom lenses in this zoom range. The distortion ranges from clearly visible barrel-shaped at the shortest focal lengths (under 35 mm) to practically invisible pincushion-shaped distortion at the longest focal length. If you want to correct distortion afterwards, it's simple to do with software. Bear in mind that you don't make your shots too tight then: When correcting for distortion a bit of the image is lost at the edges.
Bokeh Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
The image for the bokeh resembles what we saw earlier in the test of this lens on a camera with a full frame sensor (Nikon D800E). Here, too, you get a – just slightly – less-nice round bokeh, with rings visible, in a pattern like onion rings, in the bokeh. We usually find this phenomenon in lenses with high sharpness.
Flare is generally well controlled. Just as we saw in our review of the Canon 24-70 mm 2.8 II, such a complex lens is never completely free from flare. A bright light source just outside or in frame creates a flared zone with reduced contrast. At smaller apertures in combination with bright backlight, you will sometimes encounter aperture-shaped ghosts. So, in sunny situations use the included flower-shaped lens hood.
Chromatic aberration is virtually absent at all focal lengths. On this point the Tamron 24-70 mm 2.8 gives up nothing to the 24-70 mm f/2.8 lenses from Canon. In our measurements, the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 VC on this point scores even better than the more expensive Canon 24-70 mm f/4 IS. If you blow up pictures made at a focal length of 24 mm to 100% or more, then you can just barely find some. If you use lens correction profiles in Lightroom or Photoshop, and you just check the box "Remove chromatic aberration", then even that disappears.
Conclusie Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD review
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
Not really; more expensive than the also optically excellent Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8
Not really; more expensive than the also optically excellent Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8
With the Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 VC, Tamron has put quite an attractive lens on the market with a suggested retail price of just over 1000 euro. Both the build quality and the image quality are at professional, "second to none" level. The constant high brightness makes it possible to isolate your subject from the background. Thanks to the built-in image stabilization, you can also shoot in the dark without worrying about motion blur. This is a perfect zoom for almost any photographer with an APS-C camera: from reporter to travel photographer to wedding photographer. Compared to the competition, the Tamron is attractively priced. For the photographer with a lower budget, the lighter Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8, without built-in image stabilization, somewhat less robust in terms of construction and with a less fast/silent autofocus, but with equally good image quality is also an attractive option.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.