Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Standard Zoom IS Lens Review Roundup2012-10-29 08:54
10/28/2012: Add review by PhotographyLife.
9/4/2012: Add review by CameraLabs.
7/31/2012: Add review by pdn.
5/20/2012: Add review by PR.
5/31/2012: Add review by PhotoZone.
On February 6 2012, Tamron announced a 24-70mm f/2.8 standard zoom lens that has image stabilization built into it. The new lens has a silent drive AF that should put into the conversation with Sigma's 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, as well as an alternative to the Canon and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses.
This lens uses specialized high-grade glass in the 3 LD elements, 3 Glass Molded Aspherical Lenses, 1 Hybrid Aspherical Lens and 2 XR (Extra Refractive Index) glasses. This lens is available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts, with the Canon model becoming available first. The Sony compatible model will lack Vibration compensation, as this functionality is already built into Sony DSLR and SLT bodies. As this lens is a 'Di' optic, it is compatible with both full frame and crop sensor camera bodies. Here's the lens technical specifications:
- Model: A007
- Focal length: 24-70mm
- Maximum aperture: F/2.8
- Angle of view (diagonal): 84° 04'-34° 21' (for full frame 35mm format cameras), 60° 20'-22° 33' (for APS-C format cameras)
- Lens construction: 17 elements in 12 groups
- Minimum focus distance: 0.38m (15.0 in)
- Maximum magnification ratio: 1:5 (at f=70mm: MFD 0.38m)
- Filter size: Φ82mm
- Length: 108.5mm (4.3 in)*
- Entire Length: 116.9mm (4.6 in)*
- Diameter: Φ88.2mm (3.5 in)
- Weight: 825g * (29.1 oz)
- No. of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm)
- Minimum aperture: F/22
- Standard accessories: Flower-shaped lens hood
- Compatible mounts: Canon, Nikon, Sony
* Length, entire length and weight values given are for the Nikon mount.
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Standard Zoom Lens is currently selling at around $1,299, via Amazon.com. Here's the lens review roundup:
PhotographyLife, gave a rating of 4/5: "Being the first image-stabilized Full Frame standard zoom lens in the world, the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD has been receiving quite a bit of attention from the photography community ever since it was announced in April of 2012. Lack of image stabilization has been one of the major drawbacks of 24-70mm lenses for Nikon and Canon mounts for a while now and many photographers and especially videographers, have been desperately waiting for such a lens. Given the fact that Canon released a Mark II version of the Canon 24-70mm earlier this year without image stabilization, we might not see stabilized 24-70mm lenses from the big brands for a while now. While having image stabilization is certainly a huge bonus, it is only one of the criterion for choosing lenses. The lens also has to perform well optically and that's where the Tamron 24-70mm has its strengths and weaknesses. As seen in the "Sharpness Test" and "Lens Comparisons" pages, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 shows excellent performance at 24mm, surpassing the Nikon 24-70mm in mid-frame and corner performance (mostly due to the donut-shaped field curvature the Nikon 24-70mm exhibits). In addition, the lens shows less ghosting, distortion and chromatic aberration issues than the Nikon 24-70mm at pretty much all focal lengths. However, the sharpness of the Tamron 24-70mm quickly deteriorates as the lens is zoomed in, so the Nikon 24-70mm pretty much takes over at all focal lengths starting from 35mm. Still, the Tamron yields good sharpness across the frame, especially when compared to lower cost lenses like the Nikon 24-85mm VR.
A key disadvantage of the Tamron 24-70mm is its ugly onion-shaped bokeh, an example of which you can see on the first page of the review. The Tamron 24-70mm is great for low-light situations with quick AF and image stabilization, but you have to be able to live with the way it renders the background highlights. Also, sample variation can be an issue. While my sample was pretty strong optically, it had an issue when changing aperture from f/2.8 to f/4, as evidenced from the same bokeh comparison. While third party lens manufacturers have gotten much better with their QA processes during the last few years, I still find them to have much more sample variation than Nikon and Canon. I have seen a number of cases, where identical lenses would perform completely differently in the same lab conditions. Overall though, considering all advantages and disadvantages of the Tamron 24-70mm and the fact that it is $600 cheaper than the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, I consider it a great buy. Tamron did a good job in designing this lens and as I have pointed out a number of times, image stabilization is certainly a big plus when comparing it to the much more expensive Nikon and Canon (Mark II) counterparts."... [Source]
CameraLabs, gave a rating of 3/5: "The Tamron 24-70/2.8 VC delivers a pretty good overall performance - only the FX-corners disappoint especially at 35mm. On an unforgiving 36MP full-frame body you need to stop down to f5.6 to lift FX-corner performance to near good levels. Use it on a 12-16MP full frame/FX-body and you might be more satisfied with border/corner performance. Nonetheless the lens is a worthy (not to mention cheaper) alternative to the original manufacturers' offerings. On a DX-body it mostly delivers good to very good performance, even reaching excellent levels in the center (at 50-70mm from f4 onwards). But there's one thing that definitely sets it apart from the competition: The first image stabilization ever in such a lens! That alone would be worth a recommendation. Canon and Nikon need to rethink their designs and see whether they could equip their professional work-horse zooms with image-stabilization too - or offer bodies with built-in sensor-based stabilization.
Tamron's VC extends the useful range for their 24-70/2.8 lens 2-3 stops further into low-light shooting or simply help you avoid shake that could ruin an otherwise perfectly sharp shot - especially on sensors above 20MP (be it APS-C/DX or full-frame/FX). And this in a package that is much cheaper than a lens from Nikon or Canon. On the other hand there's an even cheaper alternative - at least for Nikon shooters: The new AF-S 24-85/3.5-4.5G VR. It has 2/3 to 4/3 of a stop slower maximum aperture but 20% more reach on the long end. And it performed quite convincingly, as you can read in my Nikon AF-S 24-85/3.5-4.5G VR review, and earned a Recommended rating. So there's no doubt that the Tamron earns a Recommended rating. But whether this should be upgrade to "Highly Recommended" will only become clear after my up-and-coming Nikon AF-S 24-70/2.8G review and my final 24-xx shootout."... [Source]
pdn: "Regarding image quality, let me first say that the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 is a high resolving lens. As mentioned earlier, I used it with a Canon 5D Mark III, a camera I'm more and more impressed with the more I use it. In particular, the 5D III's 22.3-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor does a great job of capturing crisp images even at high ISOs in low light. With the Tamron lens attached, I captured spectacular amounts of detail in my test shots. At 24mm, the centers of my images were extremely sharp though there was some fall-off in sharpness towards the corners. This was disappointing in comparison to the Canon 24-70mm lens but it still beat my results from the Sigma 24-70mm, which suffered from noticeable corner softening at 24mm. The Tamron lens was sharpest at f/8 at 50mm, which is where you'll pull the most resolution out of the camera. (When zooming in to 200 percent on images shot with the 5D Mark III, I saw details that I did not know were there.) Most photographers will probably lean heavily on the lens's maximum f/2.8 aperture and the rounded, 9-diaphragm blades produced very nice, natural-looking bokeh at this f-stop. Portrait photographers will definitely appreciate this. I experienced very few chromatic aberrations even at 24mm when shot wide open. This is likely the result of the lens using three LD elements to prevent fringing. All in all, it's a high-quality product that also utilizes three glass molded aspherical lenses, one hybrid aspherical lens and two XR (Extra Refractive Index) glasses.
If you can get over whatever reservations you might have about third-party lenses, the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is definitely worth a look. It's a well-crafted, professional-grade lens in a very popular zoom length/aperture that could very easily become the new optical workhorse in your camera bag. Plus, the Tamron 24-70mm costs significantly less than Canon's comparable lens and you get Vibration Compensation thrown in to boot. Sounds like a bargain to us."... [Source]
PhotoZone, gave an optical quality rating of 3.5/5: "I reckon that the Tamron designers had some fun during the design of the lens. Unlike with the Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 SP XR they were not so much restricted by pricing concerns and the positive effect on the results is obvious - the Tamron AF 24-70mm f/2.8 SP Di USD VC is an impressive lens. It is capable of delivering very sharp results at medium aperture settings and at max. aperture the center quality is more than decent. Lateral CAs are very low which contributes to the high sharpness perception. The vignetting is very pronounced at f/2.8 but this is actually quite normal in this (full format) lens class. You should either care about this during post processing or by stopping down to f/5.6. Distortions are primarily an issue at 24mm. They are a bit higher than average here but not a significant problem anymore from 35mm onward. The quality of the bokeh is somewhat mixed. It is quite smooth in the background but the foreground as well as bokeh highlights can be nervous. Bokeh fringing is not an issue to worry about. So far we were mostly unimpressed by the build quality of most Tamron lenses. However, we are happy to report that things have improved with the Tamron AF 24-70mm f/2.8 SP Di USD VC. The lens barrel is mostly made of plastics but it is of high quality and it is tightly assembled. The new weather sealing is very welcome, of course. Same goes for the very fast and silent USD (ultrasonic AF drive). The Tamron lens has one unique selling point: it is the first fast standard zoom lens to feature an image stabilizer and based on what we have experienced during the field trip we would rate it with a 3 f-stops efficiency. Your mileage may vary here a bit into the one or the other direction depending on your shake characteristic.
The Tamron AF 24-70mm f/2.8 SP Di USD VC is not a perfect lens - none really is - but regarding the sum of its qualities it is obviously the best standard zoom for Canon EOS at this stage - at least till the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L II enters the scenes. However, in any case it will be very hard to beat from a price perspective!"... [Source]
PhotoReview Australia, gave a rating of 9/10: "Our shooting tests were carried out with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II body, which was a good match with the lens. Autofocusing was fast, quiet and accurate and the f/2.8maximum aperture provided full scope for the high sensitivity of the camera's AF point array. Imatest showed the lens to be capable of matching the performance of the 5D III's sensor. Interestingly, the Tamron lens delivered slightly higher centre resolution than the Canon 24-70mm lens we tested recently although the Canon lens provided a bit better edge resolution. The highest resolutions were recorded at f/5.6 for all focal lengths, with the 35mm focal length performing best. At 24mm, resolution was lower than for the other focal lengths, and the peak performance occurred around f/4. Edge softening was greater than we found with the Canon 24-70mm lens. Lateral chromatic aberration was mostly negligible, although it ventured into the 'low' band at some focal length and aperture settings. In the graph of our Imatest results below, the red line marks the boundary between 'negligible' and 'low' CA, while the green line separates 'low' and 'moderate' CA. Vignetting was quite obvious at the widest aperture settings and didn't vanish until the lens was stopped down to around f/4. This issue may not concern many potential purchasers as it seldom shows up in normal photography unless there's a fair amount of blue sky (or similarly even tone) in the shot.
Barrel distortion was quite obvious at 24mm, with slight pincushion distortion evident at 70mm. These distortions were uniform across the frame and, therefore, easily corrected with editing software. Because this lens can't focus closer than 38 cm from subjects, it's not suitable for close-up shooting unless subjects are relatively large. The wide maximum aperture, which applies across the focal length range, provides plenty of scope for differential focusing. Bokeh was smooth and very attractive with longer focal length settings. Thanks to its effective hood, the review lens was relatively immune to flare and ghosting, even with a bright light source just outside the field of view. However, image contrast was diminisheda little when wide lens apertures were used. Beyond f/4, full contrast was maintained. The VC stabilisation system provided a steady viewfinder image, which was useful when shooting in low light levels. With care, we were able to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/2 second with the 24mm focal length and 1/25 second for the 70mm focal length."... [Source]
ePhotoZine, gave a rating of 4.5/5: "At maximum aperture and 24mm, sharpness in the centre is already approaching excellent levels and the clarity towards the edges of the frame is good. Stopping down improves performance across the frame and peak clarity is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 where resolution across the frame is outstanding. Zooming to 35mm results in very similar performance at maximum aperture, which centre sharpness approaching excellent levels and good clarity towards the edges. Sharpness towards the edges doesn't improve as quickly when stopped down at 35mm, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/8. Finally, at 70mm, overall sharpness is reduced a little, but clarity in the centre at maximum aperture is still very good. Towards the edges resolution drops down to fair levels at maximum aperture, improving as the lens is stopped down. Again peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where resolution is excellent across the frame. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled throughout the zoom range, thanks to Tamron's use of LD glass in the optical design. Fringing is most prevalent at 24mm and maximum aperture. Fringing of 0.7 pixel widths should pose too many issues, even in images with high contrast edges towards the peripheral areas of the frame. Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very pronounced. At 24mm the corners are 2.9 stops darker than the image centre and at 70mm the corners are 2.5stops darker. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in visually uniform illumination across the frame throughout the zoom range. Distortion is very well controlled throughout the zoom range. At 24mm only 1% barrel distortion is present, which is replaced with 0.02% pincushion distortion at 70mm. If straight lines are paramount, then you'll be pleased to learn that the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, making it relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards. During testing, there were very few issues with flare and ghosting, even when shooting into the light. A petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a reasonable job of protecting the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues. However, there is one small caveat. Contrast is noticeably reduced when shooting at maximum aperture increasing as the lens is stopped down past f/3.5.
At release, this lens will retail for around £999, which is pretty good value for money, given that the lens sports Vibration Compensation, moisture resistant construction and silent focusing with full time manual override. The price is comparable to the current price of Canon's older 24-70mm f/2.8L. Although this older MkI Canon lens is still available, but it lacks the Vibration Compensation feature of the Tamron optic. Canon's newer 24-70mm f/2.8L II costs a whopping £2300 at the time of writing. Nikon's 24-70mm lens comes in around £200 dearer than this Tamron optic at £1200, and just like the Canon MkI 24-70, it lacks optical stabilisation. Sony users have a Carl Zeiss branded 24-70mm f/2.8 as an alternative, which costs around £1460. Third party manufacturer, Sigma, also offer a 24-70mm f/2.8 for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. Although their lens is considerably cheaper at £640, it also lacks the Vibration Compensation of the Tamron optic and doesn't have a weather sealed design either. The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD offers very good optical performance for a reasonable price. The added bonus of Vibration Compensation will appeal to many, especially if your photography tends to require shooting at slower shutter speeds in low light, rather than faster shutter speeds to freeze action. Despite the chunky size, the lens isn't overly heavy and the moisture resistant construction should provide some peace of mind when shooting outdoors in changeable conditions. Those looking for a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom may wish to check out this lens as a suitable alternative to manufacturer's own offerings, especially if the Vibration Compensation is a feature that will help with your particular field of photography."... [Source]
User review by Charlie, gave a rating of 5/5: "I shoot general photography, which includes all sorts of activity, from restaurant outings to gardening. When I bought this lens, I had currently owned the Canon 24-70mm L mark 1, and loved that lens, except it didnt have IS, which is incredibly useful for video and low light. I found that my keeper rates have not changed going to the Tamron (if anything, it improved from great to excellent), but the sharpness had definitely improved at every focal length and aperture. I had to verify that it wasnt my imagination, so I tried a few tests on a tripod, using live view, and indeed the tamron was a tad sharper at every focal length and aperture on my full frame camera. It's not the perfect lens though (I dont believe one exists!), it is the jack of all trades. VC is extremely competent, probably the best in the business. AF is not L fast, but fast enough that I dont miss shots, and even AI Servo works fine. The build quality is on par with the 24-105mm, very very solidly built. The bokeh does have issues(onion and a tad bit busy), but I've found them to be very minor with real world shots, and very easy to clean up. The color rendition is L level. Vignetting is kind of odd on this lens. The drop off is less overall than the mark 1, but where it actually vignettes, it's more pronounced. F2.8 is very sharp, from corner to corner, I have no hesitation shooting it wide open. There was no way I could get the canon 24-70mm Mark 1 to be as sharp as the tamron at F2.8. I was very suprised by that finding, but it is what it is.
In the end, it came down to a hard decision. Having a Canon L series lens is very comforting. You know that you've got the best tool made by the manufacturer. It had better bokeh, but was less sharp. It was built like a brick, and weighed like one too.... It didnt have VC no matter how you looked at it, and I found overall image quality slightly better on the tamron, since bokeh is mostly preferential, sharpness is not. It's not that the L is a poor performer, it's just that I found out that the Tamron is better, so I cant go back, it's no longer a logical decision if I did. I sold my L mark 1 after a few days of shooting and personal tests. Very happy with this lens."... [Source]
Sample Photos from Flickr:
TAMRON DEVELOPS WORLD'S FIRST  FULL-SIZE, HIGH SPEED STANDARD ZOOM WITH BUILT-IN IMAGE STABILIZATION - SP 24-70MM F/2.8 DI VC USD (MODEL A007)
New Super Performance full-frame zoom lens features class-leading resolution and Tamron's proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation)
February 6, 2012, Saitama, Japan - Tamron Co., Ltd. (President & CEO: Morio Ono / Headquarters: Saitama City), a leading manufacturer of optical equipment, announced the development of the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (Model A007), the world's first1 full-size high-speed standard zoom lens equipped with VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), with resolution at the top of its class. The lens will be developed for Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. A release date has not been announced.
1. World's first full-size, high-speed standard zoom with built-in VC (Vibration Compensation). Even when shooting in low-light conditions with a slow shutter speed to render sharpness, Tamron's acclaimed VC allows for stable handheld camera work, to more fully enjoy the benefits of this high-speed zoom lens.
2. Uses specialized high-grade glass in the three LD elements, three Glass Molded Aspherical Lenses, one Hybrid Aspherical Lens and two XR (Extra Refractive Index) glasses, delivering top-of-the-class quality images suited to this high-grade lens. Using a rounded diaphragm, the lens achieves gorgeous blur effects.
3. Features USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) to power a speedy AF drive together with a continuous manual mechanism.
4. This high-speed standard zoom lens has a wide-end focal length of 24mm that expands the photographic area.
5. The lens adopts the new technology including the latest optical design, VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), all in a lighter and more compact package.
6. Moisture-resistant construction helps prevent water from penetrating the lens.
VC (Vibration Compensation)
VC (Vibration Compensation) is Tamron's proprietary image stabilization system. Tamron's VC is a three-coil system, whereby three driving coils activate the shake-compensating VC lens group electromagnetically via three steel balls. The VC lens elements are held in place only by contact with the steel balls, achieving smooth movement with little friction. This provides a stable viewfinder image with excellent tracking performance. And as the VC lens may be moved in parallel using only the motorized control, the mechanical structure has been simplified, enabling the creation of a more compact lens.
New VC system (moving coil method)
Tamron's original VC image stabilization mechanism utilized a moving magnet system whereby a heavy magnet was positioned near the moving VC lens element. In the new VC unit the positions of the magnet and the coil are reversed, because of this the VC optical lens element is attached to the coil. The new VC mechanism employs a moving coil mechanism with a lightweight coil, and the lighter coil reduces the load on the drive system. Thus, the lighter, more compact new VC unit contributes to the lens's overall light weight and compact size.
Because the 24-70 mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a high-speed zoom lens with maximum aperture of F/2.8, its VC system must drive a lens that is larger and heavier than other zooms. Therefore, the shape, size and layout of the drive coils are all designed to obtain sufficient thrust. The result is a full-size, high-speed zoom that provides the same high level of compensation effect.
About the ultrasonic motor
In the ultrasonic motor, a piezoelectric element arranged in a ring formation generates ultrasonic vibrations in a metallic ring stator, and the vibration energy is used to rotate a metallic ring rotor that is attached to the stator. The rotation energy is in turn transferred from the metallic ring rotor to operate the focus lens.