Monday, 8 October 2012

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC USD Full Frame review

The Tamron 24-70mm VC lens is my latest addition to my camera bag and is currently taking the place of its older brother the Tamron 28-75mm.

It may sound crazy buying a lens which is almost the same as a lens I already have and also spending £900 for a lens which didnt really need upgraded. (now around 820pounds)

Let me first explain that the Tamron 28-75mm is a fantastic lens and for its price, I don't think anything can beat it.
It is still for sale for under £350 (as of October 2012) here is a link

That lens is fantastically sharp in the centre, it focal range is great and its macro ability is very impressive.
In the studio it rocks, and it has been my go to lens for weddings. Its f/2.8 is bright appreciated and its aperture ring has been great so that with just a cheap adapter I have been able to use the Nikon version on my Canon cameras for video work.
When shooting weddings i always take a bag full of other lenses but 95% of the time I end up just using the Tamron 28-75, it stays on the camera the whole time, and maybe my backup camera will have a wider lens for more landscape shots.

So why the hell upgrade then?

Good question,  and further more why not upgrade to the Nikon 24-70, surely that should be better?

Maybe so, but lets find out what is good about this lens and how it stacks up against its competitors

First thing to figure out is its PRICE

The Tamron 24-70vc lens is currently available from Amazon for around £820, if you go to any highstreet shop such as Jessops or Calumet you will find it is more around the £1099

Compare that to the rivals
The Nikon 24-70 is £1199 (now up to 1250)
Canon 24-70 mark2 is £2299 (now down to 1800)
Sigma 24-70 is £690(now around 599)
Old Tamron 28-75 is £350

So that makes this lens almost 3x more expensive than its older brother, a significant £300 less than the Nikon alternative and less than half the price of the Canon and 50% more than the Sigma….
So right in the middle, or another way to look at it, it is being attacked from both sides of the price bracket.

The biggest thing that swayed my hand over the 'add to basket' button is the special thing that this lens has that none of the other manufacturers have bothered to put into their equivalents.

Vibration Compensation

Tamron is the first company to equip their 24-70 lens with a form of vibration reduction. (Tamron call it vibration compensation VC, Canon call it Image stabilisation IS, Sigma call it Optical Stabilisation OS and Tokina….dont bother.)

Now on the side of the lens there is a new button saying VC on or off.  
Why has no other company put in VC into their standard zoom lens? No idea!  Nikon have stabilized most stuff from their cheep kit lenses of 18-55vr to their wide angle if 16-35vr all the way to their 600mm vr, Canon also has very cheep IS versions in ef-s format and its more expensive 17-55 f2.8is  lens. And its new £2299 24-70mm does not have IS.
When investigating the ability of this VC you discover that Tamron doesnt exactly say how much compensation it gives. 
VC or its derivitives are measured in Stops, usually exposure time stops.
What that means is that, normally it is assumed that one should never go longer in exposure time than the length of their lens in mm.  I.e. If you have a 50mm lens, if shooting handheld, it is highly likely that you will have blurry photos if you shoot with any exposure slower than 1/50th of a second. 
A one stop advantage would mean that you can comfortably shoot at 1/25th of a second and not be noticing blur.
a 2 stop advantage would mean you should be able to shoot at 1/15th of a second.
Some companies come out with radical claims of 4stop advantages but no matter how much I want to believe that, I just cant as in some cases that would mean having a shutter open for up to half a second and even if there is no up and down, or right to left movement, there is rotation and forward tracking which will affect the image.
SO first thing is to test out this VR and see how much of an effect it has.

Here is a photo taken while in my car at traffic lights, It is just a quick snap shot. The car is running so there is vibration from that and I am not really paying attention to where i am shooting, more just shoving the camera out of the window.

Photo taken at 70mm

The first shot was at f/9 and that gave me an exposure of 1/320th of a second. As you can see below, everything is sharp, check out the crop below

 The second shot was at f/16 and this gave me an exposure of 1/30th of a second. I have slightly altered the exposure in post so that they look close to the same illuminosity. but as you can see below, it is still surprisingly sharp, in fact it could be argued that the drop in sharpness is more due to the f/16 defraction rather than vibration!

So that first test deffo gives me an idea that this lens with its VC can easily claim a 1 stop advantage.

So lets look more carefully, here I am now shooting inside a fairly poorly lit pub.


70mm f/2.8 1/80th

f/4 1/40th

f/5.6 1/25th

f8  1/13th

f11 1/6th

f13 1/4of a second (pure mush)

So from that little test, i would say that I could get away with f/5.6 1/25th of a second @70mm in this situation which is almost 2 stops advantage

Lets look now at 24mm

f2.8 1/60th

f/4 1/30th

f5 1/20th (I meant to do f5.6 but must have slipped)
I can still read talisker but not very well

f/8  1/8th of a second

f/11 1/4th of a second  this one actually looks better than the 1/8th of a second shot

f/13 1/3rd of a second (mush)

Cool so from the above, it is always best looking from the bottom then upwards, I can still clearly read talisker, highland park etc on the lables, on the f11, 1/4th of a second exposure image.  Nothing that a little bit of sharpening and clarity enhancing wouldnt fix…. in fact here it is, edited
Little bit of exposure fixing, clarity up 100, sharpening up to 80.  WIN!

Right for this next one i shot it at 50mm, 
I am just going to cut to the chase quicker on this one as it is pretty impressive

shot at f8 in a shop, at 1/8th of a second this is the full photo

First crop is with the VC on

Then just turning the VC off! and look what happens!

Lets try that again this time at 70mm

First shot is the full image shot at 70mm f2.8 1/125th of a second

cool car i am sure you will agree

The centre crop on the steering wheel looks like this
Sharp enough

Now settings are changed to f8 and 1/25th of a second
VC Off


Now that image with the VC on looks potentially sharper than the f2/8 shot!

This is actually fun trying to test the vc to the limit, now to go extreme! Dinosaurs!!!

Shot at 24mm f/16 giving a 0.4 of a second exposure (ALMOST HALF A SECOND!)

VC on


70mm at f/16 1/4th of a second

VC off (but still I have to congratulate myself for shooting so well at 70mm handheld for 1/4th of a second)


24mm vs 28mm

I am sure it was Ansel Adams who once said that the best wide angle lens is 2 steps back.  Ie to get a greater field of view just go back the way.  Yes well thats all great when shooting massive landscapes but sometimes there is a space issue,  especially in cities and dealing with architecture.
Sometimes you just cant go any further back.

and really wish you could!

So what is the difference between 24 and 28mm
the old lens was 28mm at its shortest focal length
moving to a 24mm may only sound like 4mm but that works out to 16.7% increase in FOV
The old lens was also a 75mm, which is 5mm more than the new one but that only works out to a 7% increase in reach.  And there are far more occasions where a wider lens would be far more beneficial than a longer one.

Below is a perfect example of a building which I litterly cant get any further away from and be able to shoot. 
this is at 28mm

and this is now at 24mm

Macro Ability

This lens is not able to go as close as its older brother and also being that it is only 70mm compared to the olders 75mm there is deffo less macro ability, 


It is still damn Impressive!!!

Me sitting at a table kim shooting from the other side, at 24mm

now at 70mm f2.8 at 1/60h of a second vc on
below is a crop

This shot is my eye at 70mm f/3.5 at 1/40th of a second vc on
below is a crop 

This shot is at 70mm f/3.5 1/60th of a second vc on
Below is a crop of above


I love flare,

some report have been that this lens suffers really badly from a lot of flare,

so far all i can find is some cool flare but only when pointing the camera like a dumbass with the sun right at the edge or in the lens itsself!

In the end what I can say is that I found it pretty difficult to actually get flare to show up on the images, These shots also largely benefited by the fact I had no protective/uv filter on the front which allways causes more flare. In my opinion as long as you have the lens hood on,  dont worry about flare, and when you do get it, it looks cool.

Chromatic aberrations

Shooting high contrast subjects can cause Chromatic aberrations especially at wider apertures. That is the purple, red or green fringe/halo you get at the edges.
This lens absolutely rocked at controlling these.
So much so that I couldn't see any in the centre or anywhere near the centre, I have to look right to the edge and at super high magnification to be able to see what might be a 1 pixel level of fringing.

 The original shot is this, shot at f/2.8

Going at f2.8 i expect some CA but i was finding it every hard even at the corners. so this crop below is the most i could find (notice it is a little darker than the one below it due to the vignette difference)

Then shot at f5.6 the edge of the shot is a little sharper and a little brighter but I am going to have to go in even further to see the CA

Ok there it is, but to me… i am thinking that is only 1-1.5pixel wide and that is at the very edge of a photo and this is actually very easily removed in Adobe Lightroom.

bingo! click on the image to see it in full resolution.


This lens is looking good at 24mm.  Normally lenses have a good bit of barrel distortion at their widest settings but this shot, i think looks as good as I could have ever expected

I would greatly appreciate that if you were to buy this lens from amazon that you do so by clicking on this link, it helps me get a couple of extra goodypoints with amazon


The Tamron 24-70vc lens is well worth the money! Its low distortion, Its sharp resolution, its Vibration Compensation and its Flare resistance and CA control and weather sealing makes this a lens very very worthy of legend status.

No other company has put VC into their professional "Standard" lens for a full frame.  (ie 24-70 f2.8)
I am sure it is just a matter of time until the likes of Sigma and Nikon follow suit and possibly a lot longer till Canon jumps on the IS bandwagon considering it has only recently announced its £2299 24-70mm f2.8 mark 2.

Good points

  1. Build quality
  2. quite auto focus
  3. Fast auto focus
  4. smoother manual focus and zoom (than older brother)
  5. VC deffo giving me usable results at 1/8th of a second at 24mm and 1/25th of a second at 70mm, If not better 
  6. Cheaper than Canon and Nikon
  7. Just feels good
  8. Distortion is well controlled.
  9. Flare is well controlled
  10. 24mm is appreciated more than the 28mm on its brother.
  11. weather sealing kicks ass out of its older bro and is just as good as the nikon and canon versions
  12. Did I mention it had VC!

Bad Points
  1. Vignetting is still there at f2.8 at most focal lengths
  2. Could still be a bit sharper in the very edges… but not really important
  3. Bit heavier and not as good at macro as older brother lens
  4. Nearly 3 times more expensive than its older brother


  1. Evidently this leans not only allows you to have ONE stop of stability (based on the images) but also renders you unable to hold the camera straight and removes the last vestiges of photographic skill. Excellent.

  2. thats quite sad that you think photographic skill is based on making a photograph straight….

  3. Thanks for taking the time to do this Dom. Any chance you can do a showdown with the Nikon 24-70 and your old 28-75? (and maybe even the Sigma)

  4. I would also be curious about that review Zanzibar.

    ( bwoaa, I really need glasses for the captcha)

  5. I also used a 28-75 from Tamron and it is a very good lens at it's price. But when wide open it was a little on the soft side - at least my copy. Another downsize was the rather slow auto-focus (I had the version with internal af-motor which is slower than the version without build-in motor, I guess).
    Some month ago, I thought it's time to upgrade and I'd to choose between the new Tamron or the 24-70 Nikon. Well, I decided to go with the Nikon (used). Although the used Nikon was still slightly more expensive than then Tamron and has no VC, VR, OS it has one big advantage over the new Tamron. It uses a 77mm filter. I quite often use a Pol-Filter, a grey filter and several Cokin filters with a 77mm mount. The new Tamron has a 82mm mount, so I would have to buy new filters which would cost at least 300€ and this makes the invest more expensive than the used Nikon.
    Conclusion: I'm totally happy with the Nikon. It's way sharper than the Tamron 28-75 and the af is another dimension to the old Tamron.

  6. purchased this lens in nikon mount about a month ago and like dom i cant fault it, for the price it offers everything all the main manufacturers offer +vc..
    the lens is extremely sharp right through the zoom range and i would recommend it to anyone.

  7. What a pity we don't have such blogs in polish. It seems I must master my english to learn things. Maybe this blog will help. Thanks.

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  9. A wery small focusring,but if you have small fingers so.....

  10. Just an update, when you say "No other company has put VC into their professional "Standard" lens for a full frame. (ie 24-70 f2.8)", Nikon's new 24-70 has VC.