Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens Review
The mid-range fast zoom is probably my most used lens that I work with so I always have two of them when ever I work, so if one breaks, I have a back up. Being a music photographer means I go through a lot of gear, the sound and vibration coming from the stage destroys equipment equipment very quickly and during 2015, both my mid-range zoom lens broken down. My Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S focus motor broke and my backup Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 lens feel apart. So I had to buy a replacement quickly. For me it was an easy decision on what lens to buy. I saw that the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens been released recently and I read many positive reviews on the lens and with its VC built into the lens, I knew it was something that I wanted to have in my bag.
Now I will ruin the rest of the review by saying that this lens is simply one of my most used lenses and it is my go-to lens when carrying around my camera at shows. The focal range is great, the VR is really good and it feels well built. Not well built like the Nikon Beast(Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S) but still feels nice and solid in your hands. The lens has so many good things going for it that I am scared that I will sound like a fanboy in this review.
If you have bought any Tamron lens recently, most of their boxes look the same and the packing is pretty standard stuff, nothing like Fuji lens that I have been buying lately. The lens is well protected in cardboard and comes with the standard lens hood and instruction manual. Nothing special but who really cares about the boxes that lens come in. What most people really care about is the lens.
The lens consists of 17 elements, in 12 groups, has 9 aperture blades and weighs about 845g. The body of the lens is made up of plastic(All modern lens are made from plastic except for Leica and some Fuji and Pentax lens) but it feels good in the hand. It has some heft to it and the rubber rings on the lens make it easy to grab a hold of. I often change lens very fast at work and usually in the dark but I never feel like the lens will slip out of my hands.
The back of the lens has a metal lens mount and a rubber gasket to provide the weather sealing. The weather sealing is a huge deal for this lens in my opinion. I have used the previous Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 lens for many years and I loved that lens but I was very reluctant to use the lens in wet weather. The build quality of this lens really does feel very good, a huge step up from the older Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8. The older Tamron lens was a beast in toughness, it had survived a lot of bumps over the years and always kept working, and the new Tamron lens feels even tougher, so I had very high hopes for the lens the first time I held it in my hands.
A few weeks after buying this lens, I put the lens onto one of my old Nikon film cameras to test it out. The autofocus did not really work on the old film camera but I was not bothered by it. So far none of the Tamon lens auto-focus well on the old film cameras. While I was shooting outside, I took a shot and then put my camera down to my side and I expect to feel the camera pull down onto my blackrapid strap but instead I felt nothing and heard a sickening crash of plastic hitting concrete and saw bits of black plastic all around the camera. At first, I thought it was the lens that broke, but it was the Nikon N90s that was damaged. The Nikon N90 is built like a brick. I always thought that I could kill an elephant with the camera, so the fact that the camera broke and not the Tamron lens, tells me this lens can take a real beating. The only damage to the lens was the lens hood, it got a little scratched up in the fall. But that left me with a serious problem with the lens, I had not taken any product photos of the lens yet, so I had to outsource all the product photos in this review to another photographer. On a side note, I learned to check my blackrapid straps now, as I have seen that they can wear out easily and break.
The lens has to plastic buttons on the one side, which is for auto-focus and VC. The switched feel ok, but I wish they were a little stiffer. I have had the lens VC switched push to the off position a few times in my bag already. On the other side of the lens is a lock button to lock the lens when it is in 24mm zoom range.
You absolutely need to use the lock button as the lens does creep while you walk around with the lens. Strangely enough, the lock button feels great, much stiffer than the two other buttons on the lens. I use the lock button all the time on the lens when I walk around with it.
When the lens is mounted on my cameras, it feels very well balanced. I really like this. It does not matter if the lens was on my big D3S or on my small APS-C camera. The lens always felt well balanced and that is a sure sign that this lens was well designed.
So let’s start with the obvious part, the focusing. I think this lens focuses well. I seldom have missed shots with the lens, it does not hunt for focus, even in the dark and it is quick to lock onto the focus points. I have never lost a shot because this lens focused too slowly. It focuses much faster than the Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S and makes the old Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 lens feel like a manual focus lens being focused by a 90-year-old man. I have absolutely no gripes about the focus speed or accuracy of this lens. The Tamron’s Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor is quiet. Really quiet, so this is good for anyone shooting in a quiet location. One benefit of this focusing motor is the ability to offer full-time manual focus override without having to disengage the lens motor. I have used this a few times when I felt the focus was grabbing the wrong focus point and back focusing a little. It is a nice feature to have but I doubt I will use it much. I shoot mostly at concerts and music festivals so I really don’t care if a lens is noisy or not, but this lens is great if you work in a place where you need to be quiet.
The autofocus is very accurate, more accurate than with the Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S and definitely much better than the old Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8. Both those lens had the habit of back focusing at times with bright lights behind the subject. With the old Nikon and Tamron, I would get about 10% of the shots out of focus at night when shooting on stage. I would say I am under 3% of my shoots being out of focus now. This is really great. Shooting shows at night, in extremely low light, with bright lights in the background will very quickly show you the pitfalls of a poor designed focusing system on a lens. I would say that out of all my lens that I use for work, this lens may be the best focusing lens that I have now. The only lens that I have that focuses as well as this is the Tamron 15-30 2,8 lens and that has an unfair advantage in that it is so wide.
I am really not interested in shooting charts and comparing them to another lens. I prefer shooting a lens at work and seeing the results I can get. I have shot with this lens now for over one year and this lens is sharp. Maybe not prime lens sharp but it is still really sharp and surpasses both the Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S and Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 lens with its picture quality. I cannot compare it to the Nikon 24-70MM F/2.8 lens as I have never shot it before. The most important thing about this lens sharpness is that it is sharp from corner to corner when shot wide open at f2.8. That is great news for most photographers because many lenses are sharp in the center of the frame but get soft towards the corners, but when shooting in real life, the center of the frame is seldom where the action is happening.
I have shot this lens during the day, at night and it has always delivered for me. The lens handles colors very nicely, and it renders objects nicely as well. The out of focus areas or Bokeh is good but maybe not as buttery smooth, like the kind of bokeh you would get from a nice prime lens, but it gets the job done. I am not a bokeh whore anymore, I used to obsess with it but I stopped caring about it as soon as I realized that paying customers don’t care about it and only photographers care about it. I don’t shoot to impress other photographers, I only care about what my clients think.
The lens can vignette a tiny bit when shot open, but you have to be shooting against a white wall to see this, I have never really seen any vignetting in my shoots unless I crank up the contrast and drop the shadows all the way down. So I would say that vignetting is something you don’t have to worry about with this lens.
Chromatic aberrations are something that drove me a little crazy with the old Tammy lens and it is much better this time around. You can still get some chromatic aberrations when you are shooting in a high contrast situation, but it is fairly well controlled and it has never been a problem for me. Chromatic aberrations are not really a problem when it is not too severe, it only becomes a problem when it is completely out of control and very noticeable, like with the Fujifilm XF 18mm F2 R lens that I have reviewed. Most editing software can handle some chromatic aberrations and the little bit that this lens produces is no problem for Lightroom to handle.
Now the biggest reason why I was interested in this lens was the VR. When this lens came out, it was the first lens to have VR in this focal length. I was getting into my video at the time and I thought this would be a great benefit to me. At shows, I like to shoot with a fast shutter speed so the VR is not really worth much to me, but I still wanted it for video or in the odd occasion that the light is so poor that I have to drop the shutter speed lower to get a shot.
The VR works wonders in video. I have shot a few videos with bands now and the videos came out great even though I was hand holding the camera. The VR system kept the image nice and steady. I was extremely happy with the lens for video.
All the shots in the video that are shot from the left of stage were shot by me hand holding this lens on my Nikon D5200, standing on a plastic chair so I could shoot over the crowd. I am amazed at how well the VR worked as I did not think that I would get usable footage at all as the chair was extremely wobbly.
The last thing that I love about this lens is the weather sealing. I shoot a lot of shows in the rain, and my gear gets covered in water. The weather sealing has been great and I have never gotten any water damage on my camera or lens when shooting in the rain. The last Tamron 28-75 2.8 lens was not weather sealed and I had some water get into my camera with that lens before, so I love that aspect of the lens.
The last aspect that I want to talk about with this lens is flaring. I shoot a lot into bright lights at shows and if a lens can flare, it will flare up in those conditions. This lens handles bright lights very well. The old Tamron and the Nikon used to flare a little on me while I was shooting some shows, but I have not had a big problem with this lens. I have gotten one or two small flares while shooting with this lens but so far I have been lucky in the fact that the flares have added character to the photo. I am not worried about flaring at all with this lens. But if you are looking for a lens to shoot into the sun and create some flares, then this is not the lens for you. I think the coatings on this lens handles flares exceptionally well and I have no complaints about this at all.
So it is that time to write the conclusion for the lens. This is always the difficult part for me. I really really love this lens, in fact, almost all the Tamron lens that I have used at work recently has been excellent, so trying to find a negative for this lens is really hard. The lens is sharper than all my Nikon zoom lens, its price is extremely reasonable especially when you compare it to the new Nikon 24-70 2.8 VR lens that came out recently. It is tough and can take a few bumps. The autofocusing is great. I simply cannot think of any negatives for this lens. So this will be the very first lens that I am going to give a perfect score to simply based on the one single fact, that if I broke this lens, and I needed to replace it, I would buy this lens again.
- Image Quality: 5 out of 5
- Focus speed: 5 out of 5
- Build quality: 5 out of 5
I want to thank Anil Rajappan who accepted my freelance contract and took all the product photos for me on.