Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Review
Tamron was first. Many of us had long-wanted a 24-70mm lens with both an f/2.8 aperture and image stabilization, but until the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens was introduced in 2012, we had to choose one or the other. Since that lens was introduced, other manufacturers have slowly been providing us their own versions of this awesome combination. Following Nikon, the latest-prior version of this lens model was the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens, which, with Sigma’s reputation for the Art series lenses, quickly became a highly-anticipated model. Sigma announced that lens and roughly only 5 weeks later, Tamron announced their second version, bringing the “G2” treatment to this highly desired lens model.
How does the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC G2 Lens perform? That’s what I wanted to know and here is what I learned.
Focal Length Range
Although a specific focal length range is seldom a distinguisher between brands and models, focal length range remains a primary lens selection attribute. Focal length is especially important in that it drives focus distance choices, which in turn determine perspective for the desired composition.
The 24-70mm focal length range, considered “normal” and covering angles of view ranging from wide angle through short telephoto, is an ideal choice for a general purpose lens. Practically all kits can make use of a lens covering this range and the uses for the lens are essentially endless.
A 24-70mm lens is an essential part of many landscape and cityscape photography kits. At the 24mm end, this lens provides a very wide angle of view, able to simply take in a vast scene and/or to show a strong perspective, creating a sense of presence in an image. At the same time, 24mm is not so wide that composition becomes overly challenging.
Using the 70mm end of the focal length range, smaller portions of a scene can be isolated. Distant mountains will appear larger in proportion to closer elements and closer details can be focused on.
A 24-70mm lens is practically a requirement in a wedding photographer’s kit and an f/2.8 version of this lens often becomes the most-used option in such a kit. At 24mm, environmental portraits that include the venue can be captured and by 70mm, people can be framed tight enough for head and shoulder portraits while retaining pleasing perspective (including normal-sized noses). This lens will work well for photographing a wide variety of events, from parents capturing informal birthday parties at home to photojournalists covering formal galas at large venues.
Architecture photographers are typically looking for linear-distortion-free lenses to keep their buildings and walls straight and though prime lenses are often utilized for this purpose, zoom lenses nearly always have near-distortion-free focal lengths ideal for such work. Selecting the lowest distortion focal length (in the low 30s) takes care of the distortion problem (and removal during post processing is always an option at other focal lengths).
Sports photographers able to get close to their subjects (such as basketball shot from over or under the net) or wanting to capture a wider/environmental view of their events appreciate this focal length range. This focal length range especially complements a 70-200mm lens for sports uses.
Fashion, portraiture, weddings, parties, events, documentary, lifestyle, travel, sports, architecture, land/city/nightscapes, around-the-house needs, general studio applications including product photography and much more. I’m just getting the list of uses for this lens started and the range of video uses for this lens is as broad as for stills.
Framing narrower on ASP-C (1.6x) cameras (full frame 36-105mm equivalent angle of view), the 24-70mm lens’ uses shift away from wide angle landscapes/cityscapes/nightscapes and environmental portraits toward portraiture including more tightly-framed portraits. Most of the uses for this lens on an APS-C camera remain the same otherwise.
Here is an example of what this focal length range looks like:
For a variety of other examples, visit the many other 24-70mm lens reviews on the site.
I seldom leave home without having this focal length range covered and such a lens is quite often mounted for around-the-home photography.
With a few exceptions, f/2.8 is the widest aperture available in a zoom lens and majority of those exceptions cover only the smaller APS-C image circle. And, as of review time, none of the wider-than f/2.8 full frame options reach beyond 35mm. So, the f/2.8 aperture made available over the entire 24-70mm focal length range is, for the most part, the best-available. This is a bright lens, significantly brighter than the lenses included in camera kits, significantly increasing its versatility by comparison.
A big advantage of a wide aperture is the amount of light transmitted to the imaging sensor, allowing for lower ISO settings and allowing for shutter speeds capable of stopping both camera and subject motion blur in low light. I typically recommend f/2.8 as the minimum aperture opening for indoor sports such as basketball. Also, lenses with an opening wider than a specific aperture (usually f/2.8) enable the higher precision AF capabilities (most often the center AF point) in some cameras and present a brighter viewfinder image than narrower aperture alternatives.
A disadvantage of a wide aperture is the increased physical size of the lens elements that are accompanied with a larger size, heavier weight and a higher cost.
Another big wide aperture advantage is the shallow depth of field available at the widest aperture, enabling distracting background details to be rendered out of focus if desired, isolating the subject through the use of shallow depth of field. The example above was created at this lens’ minimum focus distance, 70mm and f/2.8, illustrating the maximum amount of background blur this lens is capable of.
Having a wide aperture is a great advantage for any lens, increasing its usefulness in low light, but VC (Vibration Compensation) significantly increases its versatility, improves its usability and, in many situations, greatly improves the image quality it delivers.
As already discussed, the prior version of this lens (we’ll call it the G1) also had VC. Featuring dual MPUs (micro-processing units), the G2 is now able to dedicate one MPU solely to vibration compensation, providing a more-consistently powerful compensation effect. The G2 is rated for an incredible 5-stops (CIPA) of assistance, theoretically making the new lens handholdable in 1/2 as much light as its predecessor.
In practice, under ideal conditions, using an ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R (higher resolution means a camera must be steadier to avoid blur), most of my 24mm images were sharp at 1/4 second exposures. The keeper rate was still over 50% at .3 seconds with blurred results becoming far more probable at longer exposures.
At 70mm, essentially all images were sharp at 1/6 second exposures with a noticeable drop-off in sharpness rate seen at 1/4 second. At exposures longer than 1/4 second, most images were more blurred than I find acceptable for most uses. Curiously, nearly all of my .4 second test results were sharp along with some .5 second images. Either I was really on my game during that set, or there is a sweet spot in the system.
Photographing outside, perhaps in the wind or with unstable footing? Expect to need faster exposures than those I am reporting. But, also expect a similar amount of assistance from VC as it is still similarly and significantly compensating for shake.
While VC is great for reducing camera shake in images, it is also very helpful for critically framing a scene. Having the viewfinder view stabilized permits the shutter release to be timed with the ideal composition.
In this system, the image in viewfinder remains very stable when VC starts. A light sound is heard when VC is activated and again when it is deactivated, but it is hard to hear the light whirring and clicking when VC is active unless one’s ear is immediately next to the lens. Drifting of the subject framing while VC is active is not a problem and I do not find myself fighting against VC while recomposing or following a subject.
Handheld video recording is nicely assisted by VC. VC also provides a still subject to the camera’s AF system, permitting it to do its job better.
With the optional accessory Tamron TAP-in Console (more about this later), you can customize the configuration of VC. Options include Standard (default, balanced), Viewfinder image-stabilization priority (stabilization of viewfinder image is prioritized) or Capturing image-stabilization (stabilization of captured photograph is prioritized).
Before moving into the image quality analysis for this lens, let’s stop in at Tamron’s marketing department to set our expectations especially high:
“The use of new specialized, high quality glass materials that offer greater optical transmittance are used in the new model A032 to ensure superior color reproduction and even greater sharpness. The A032 lens comprises 17 glass elements in 12 groups, including: 2 XR (Extra Refractive Index) glass elements to counteract optical aberrations; 3 LD (Low Dispersion) elements to minimize axial chromatic aberrations that can occur with telephoto [lenses], as well as transverse chromatic aberrations that can be an issue with wide-angle; 3 GM (glass-molded aspherical) elements; and 1 hybrid aspherical lens element that effectively neutralizes spherical aberrations and distortions to create superior image quality. Thanks to a combination of these special glass materials, the A032 achieves previously unseen levels of accurate color reproduction and depictive performance.”
Also: “The new A032 features Tamron’s original eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating, a technology that combines an extremely-low-refractive-index nano-structured layer with conventional multiple-layer coating techniques to provide superior anti-reflection performance. The optimal application of this eBAND Coating in combination with Tamron’s BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating successfully and substantially curbs the ghosting and flare that can occur when photographing backlit subjects.”
Surely you are pumped now. But, we need to keep perspectives grounded with the understanding that the 24-70 G2 uses the same optical design as the G1.
In addition, the MTF charts for the two lenses appear identical.
Putting the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens to the test … the wide-open aperture center-of-the-frame results at f/2.8 are very sharp at 24mm and 35mm. By 50mm, a slight degradation is seen and at 70mm, center-of-the-frame results are somewhat soft at f/2.8. In the wider half of the range, stopping down to f/4 makes little difference in center-of-the-frame sharpness and really, none is needed. In the longer half of the range, especially at 70mm, stopping down to f/4 brings a very significant improvement in image sharpness. This lens is very sharp in the center and mid-portions of the image circle at f/4 with little improvement seen at f/5.6 aside from the mid-frame areas showing slight further improvement at 70mm.
Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a pair of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crops examples. These images were captured using an ultra-high resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R with RAW files processed in DPP (Digital Photo Professional) using the Standard Picture Style and sharpness set to only “1” (0-10 scale).
As expected, the 24mm and 35mm examples look very impressive even at f/2.8 and the 50mm and 70mm look better at f/4. What you might also notice in the 50mm and 70mm examples is that this lens has some focus shift rearward at narrower apertures.
Here is an example showing this issue at 70mm:
At the longer focal lengths, the desired plane of focus remains similar in sharpness at narrower apertures as it does at f/2.8 (though positive is that it does not go out of focus), but the foreground does not show sharpness improvement until covered by the depth of field increase at f/8.
Corner performance, especially on a lens of this class, generally trails center-of-the-frame performance. At f/2.8, the Tamron 24-70 VC G2’s corners are somewhat soft at 24mm and they are rather soft over the mid and longer focal lengths. Corners are much improved at f/4 and the most improvement is seen over the range where it is needed most. At f/5.6, corners look very nice over the entire focal length range and improvements at f/8 are difficult to notice outside of the extreme corners which do show some final sharpening taking place at f/8.
For a look at the worst-case scenarios, here are extreme upper-left corner crops from the 50 MP EOS 5Ds R. These examples were manually-focused in the corner of the frame.
Overall, landscape photographers, perhaps the group that most-values corner image sharpness, will be very pleased with the results this lens produces at f/8 (though this 35mm example isn’t amazing), an aperture generally desired for depth of field purposes. When using the f/2.8 aperture, it is likely that photographers find themselves not caring so much about the corner performance (not always, but less often). So, this lens will likely be found adequate for the needs of most in this respect.
Note that we tested two copies of this lens. The results from both (from 3 cameras) are available in the site’s image quality tool. Upon reviewing the results from the first lens (included as sample 2), I opted to bring another lens in for testing. The second copy did perform modestly better, showing better symmetry at some focal lengths.
Full frame lenses always show peripheral shading when used at their widest apertures on full frame cameras and this one is no different. The amount of shading ranges modestly by focal length with the strongest shading present at 24mm. Expect corners to be darkened by just over 2.5 stops at 24mm f/2.8 and by about 2 stops over the balance of the focal length range. These amounts are not unusual, but they are generally noticeable. About 1 stop of shading is removed at f/4 and at f/5.6 and narrower apertures, remaining vignetting ranges from 1.5 stops at 24mm down to .5 stops at 70mm
Peripheral shading is unlikely to be noticed in images captured with this lens on APS-C sensor format cameras regardless of the aperture and focal length used.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists.
Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) is an imperfection I readily notice. This shows as different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists. While lateral CA is usually easily corrected with software by radially shifting the colors to coincide, it is of course better to not have it in the first place. And, since Tamron does not manufacture cameras, it is extremely unlikely that camera manufacturers will load the required lens profile in their cameras. That means lateral CA correction is not available for JPG format image capture and that this CA will be recorded in videos.
Rare is a zoom lens that has no lateral CA, so let’s look at a worst-case example (100% crops from extreme corners of ultra-high resolution 5Ds R frames). The top left corner is shown.
There should be only black and white colors in these images and the additional colors are showing lateral CA. So, a moderate amount of lateral CA is present at 24mm and 35mm, a lessor amount shows at 50mm with the colors reversing and showing stronger again by 70mm.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration, but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
The bracelets in the above samples are silver in color, so color variations should not exist and while there are some color differences between the foreground and background seen here, including some slight purple fringing, the issues are relatively minor.
Even with the sun in the corner of the frame and a narrow aperture in use, this lens produces only very minor flare effects.
Coma is generally recognized by sharp contrast towards the center of an image and long, soft contrast transition toward the image periphery. Coma becomes quite visible mid-frame and in the corners of images captured at wide apertures and significantly resolves when the lens is stopped down. Astigmatism is another lens image quality attribute that is apparent in the corners and the pin-point stars in the night sky are a subject that makes these aberrations, along with some others, easily recognizable to me. The images below are 100% crops taken from near the corners of 5Ds R images. The best-performing of the top two corners (there are slight differences) were selected with the first two taken from the top left and the second two from the top right.
Relatively speaking, the results at 24mm are not bad and the results at 35mm are not good (reflecting the outdoor corner sharpness example shared earlier). The 50mm and 70mm results fall closer to the 24mm results.
This lens has barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into negligible distortion and on into pincushion distortion at the long end and that statement also describes all of the other 24-70mm lenses as well. The amount of distortion is moderate at 24mm. By 35mm, very slight pincushion distortion is setting in and this distortion slowly strengthens until becoming modest at 70mm.
Geometric distortion makes framing a scene with straight horizontal lines, such as the ocean, challenging as there are no lines parallel to the edges of the viewfinder or viewfinder gridlines. Cameras with electronic levels have a big advantage in overcoming this issue. Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing software titles and distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens in the first place.
Bokeh, or the quality of the background blur, is a lens attribute photographers are often concerned about. It is also one of the hardest to evaluate, in part because the blurred appearance can vary greatly from background to background. Here are some (mostly) f/8 examples of out-of-focus specular highlights (mostly) to look at:
I included an f/2.8 example here to primarily show the roundness of a wide-open aperture. Stopped down, the aperture blades (9 of them) have much more of an effect on the results, though the effects remain reasonably round in this case. These results are all showing background blur (vs. foreground) except at 50mm where I included both. Foreground and background blur does not always appear the same with the background blur usually being my slight preference. In this case, the foreground blur at the longer focal lengths includes a very interesting beaded effect just inside the perimeter. The bright border with a darker ring just inside is typical and the smoothness of the blur is OK, showing some mottled-ness. The last 70mm example shows a tree turned into a smooth blur.
A 9-blade aperture stopped down significantly creates 18-point stars from point light sources and the effect created by this lens appears nice. Here is an example:
Does the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens perform better optically than its predecessor, as marketing would have us believe? Probably not. Performance similar to the prior lens is more likely what you will find reality to be. Still, that performance is decent and competitive. I’ll provide more-detailed comparisons later in the review, but this lens model will surely be the selected general purpose option for some.
As indicated by the “USD” acronym in its name, the 24-70mm f/2.8 VC Lens, along with many of its recently introduced siblings, uses Tamron’s very nice Ultrasonic Drive for autofocusing. This implementation of USD is quiet in operation, with only a light “shhhh” heard in quiet environments. The focus speed is decent and fine-tuning adjustments made after the initial near-in-focus state has been achieved are infrequent, at least when the subject has a decent amount of contrast.
That focusing is internal and that FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is provided are both positive features of this lens.
Focus accuracy is of course quite important and this lens is also a decent performer in this regard, delivering roughly 90-95% of images in-focus when using the center AF point. Peripheral AF point performance did not fare as well, with this lens exhibiting noticeable front-focusing from both EOS 5Ds R models it was tested with. I expect to be able to determine if this issue is isolated to this specific lens or if this is a common attribute of this lens model (if you own this lens, test it and let us know what you find). I will note that it is not unusual for third party lenses to show better AF accuracy using the center AF point.
I was asked about the AF testing performed, so I’ll share that answer with you here: AF testing was very deliberate. A pair of EOS 5Ds R bodies were used for the testing. The cameras were tripod-mounted and a variety of subjects were used, all having an unmistakably large flat surface with noticeable contrast for the camera to lock focus on (fabric is one example). Mirror lockup and the self timer were used to insure that camera motion was not a factor. The test image count for this lens was approaching 800, each image taken with the lens initially defocused just enough for re-focusing to be required. Lighting conditions ranged from direct sunlight to tungsten light indoors at night. I know, at this point AF testing is sounding really exciting and you are all raising your hands to volunteer to help me with the next test!
Of interest to some is that subjects change size a noticeable amount during focus distance adjustment. Photographers using focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus and anyone very-critically framing a scene will want to be aware of this common issue.
Focus distance settings are displayed inside a small window and available at a glance. Typical for a lens in this class is that DOF marks are not provided.
While non-cinema lenses are generally not parfocal and this attribute can be individual lens-specific, the review lens appears very close to parfocal. Focus at 70mm and subjects remain in focus during a full extent zoom. You should test this attribute in your own lens before trusting this feature for production work, but … this is one of the best-performing lenses I’ve used in this regard.
The manual focus ring is very smooth with a nice amount of dampening. The 110° of focus ring rotation is ideal for precision work at 24mm with adjustments happening slightly fast at 70mm. Annoying is that one tested copy of this lens (out of 5 compared between myself and another individual) had an issue with the framing shifting somewhat left or right when the rotation direction was reversed. The focus ring being positioned to the rear of the zoom ring is not my favorite design, though the narrow ring with tactilely-obvious rubber ribbing is easy to find and distinguish, yet small enough to not get in the way a big amount.
With a 15.0″ (381mm) minimum focus distance (MFD), this lens generates a 0.20x maximum magnification (MM). While that is a decent and very-useful spec overall, it lands this lens at the bottom of the list within its class, the same as with its predecessor.
ModelMFDMM Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens15.0″(380mm)0.21x Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens15.0″(380mm)0.28x Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens14.4″(366mm)0.27x Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens14.6″(370mm)0.21x Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens15.0″(380mm)0.24x Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens15.0″(381mm)0.20x Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens15.0″(380mm)0.20x Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens15.0″(380mm)0.21x
At minimum focus distance, an about-6.5″ (165mm) subject fills the width of a full frame viewfinder. The mums in the following maximum magnification example image are each about 1.3″ (33mm) in diameter.
To reduce the MFD and thereby increase the MM, mount an extension tube behind this lens. Infinity and long distance focusing are sacrificed with an ET in use, but the minimum focus distance is very significantly shortened, increasing the maximum magnification significantly.
This lens is not compatible with Tamron’s teleconverters.
Build Quality & Features
This is the third Tamron “G2” lens I’ve reviewed – the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens was the first and the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens followed. The modernized design these lenses share is much-welcomed. From the streamlined shape to the multiple shades of matte black finish and modern font used for the markings, these lenses look great and feel at least as nice in hand.
Shown below is Tamron’s original 24-70mm f/2.8 VC lens to the left of the G2 version.
If you take away the styling differences, the two lenses appear quite similar.
Consistent with the other G2 lenses is the metal construction, including the barrel exterior.
As normal for lenses of this class, the Tamron 24-70 G2 extends with focal length change. More specifically, this lens extends by 1.22″ (30.9mm) at the 70mm mark. Even at full extension, the 24-70 VC G2 lens is solid with no play. A lock switch is provided to hold the lens at the fully retracted position, though gravity-induced extension was not an issue with the (new) lenses I used.
Normal for the G2 lenses introduced to date is that the zoom rings rotate in the Nikon-standard direction, opposite of the Canon standard. Canon shooters will need to acclimate to this directional change as it is not natural for us to turn the other way. Tamron seems more confused about the direction the G2 focus rings should rotate with the 24-70 and 70-200 rotating in the Nikon direction and the 150-600 rotating the opposite direction, similar to Canon lenses. The directional differences can be seen in this visual comparison.
When using a zoom lens such as this handheld, I generally prefer to have my hand positioned so that focal length adjustments can be rapidly made. To have my fingertips on this zoom ring requires the focus ring to be in my palm and that means any movement by the left hand after focusing, such as during recomposition, can negatively impact the focus setting. The other issue with the zoom ring position on this lens is that the balance point is just rear of where the palm is naturally positioned for zoom adjustments, meaning that the camera is slightly back-heavy and the right hand needs to pick up some of the balance role. Hold under the zoom ring and the camera is further unbalanced So, this design is not optimal for handheld use, but it is not a huge deal either. When shooting from a tripod or monopod, the ring locations are a non-issue.
On the positive side, the zoom ring is very nicely sized, is covered by sharply-ribbed rubber, is quite smooth and zooms at an ideal rate.
The pair of switches are nicely-positioned (and normally-so) with a good, positive feel.
This is a weather-sealed lens with gasketing illustrated above and the rear mount gasket shown below.
The front element is fluorine-coated to avoid dirt adherence and to make cleaning very easy.
Due to the relatively large lens elements required by their designs, none of the lenses in the 24-70 f/2.8 class would be considered light by most. At the same time, none are terribly heavy and they are quite usable handheld for long periods of time. The 24-70 VC G2 finds itself mid-list in terms of weight.
ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens28.4 oz(805g)3.5 x 4.4″(88.5 x 113mm)82mm2012 Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens21.2 oz(600g)3.3 x 3.7″(83.4 x 93mm)77mm2012 Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens28.1 oz(795g)3.3 x 4.6″(83.5 x 118mm)77mm2016 Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens37.8 oz(1070g)3.5 x 6.1″(88.0 x 154.5mm)82mm2015 Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens31.8 oz(900g)3.3 x 5.2″(83.8 x 132.1mm)77mm2007 Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens23.7 oz(670g)3.3 x 4.1″(84 x 103mm)77mm2010 Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens36.0 oz(1020g)3.5 x 4.2″(88.0 x 107.6mm)82mm2017 Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens31.2 oz(885g)3.5 x 4.3″(88.6 x 109.4mm)82mm2013 Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens31.3 oz(886g)3.4 x 5.4″(87.6 x 136mm)82mm2016 Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens31.9 oz(904g)3.5 x 4.4″(88.4 x 111.8mm)82mm2017 Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens29.1 oz(825g)3.5 x 4.3″(88.2 x 108.5mm)82mm2012 Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens35.2 oz(998g)3.5 x 4.2″(89.6 x 107.5mm)82mm2015
For many more comparisons, review the complete Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens Specifications using the site’s Lens Spec tool.
From a size perspective, most would consider this class of lens to be “mid-sized” and the 24-70 VC G2 also falls into the middle of this class in this regard.
Above, from left to right, positioned by increasing apparent size, are the following lenses:
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens
The same lenses are shown below fully extended with their hoods in place.
Use the site’s product image comparison tool to visually compare the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens to other lenses.
As I mentioned in the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art review, it seems that the lens design guidebook for this era states that if it is a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, it must have 82mm filter threads. That is what the above chart would lead us to believe at least. Ten years ago, many of us were thinking that the 82mm filter size on the then-introduced Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens was huge and that adding this filter size to kits was a nuisance. Since then, at least two dozen additional 82mm-threaded lenses have been introduced and this size, though still rather large, is common and many kits are already aligned with this standard.
Take note that using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter will slightly increase light falloff in frame corners. A slim model such as the B+W XS-Pro is recommended for this lens. UV/clear lens protection filters tend to be slimmer than CP filters and I don’t see the standard ring thickness causing any mechanical vignetting.
Great is that Tamron includes a lens hood with all of their lenses. This hood is modest in size, though it provides a good amount of protection to the lens from both impact and flare-inducing light (at least at the wide end of the range). The hood is of strong molded plastic construction with only a slight amount of flex (which is good for absorbing impact). The interior of the hood is mold-ribbed to avoid reflections. With a push-button design, this hood installs and removes very easily while remaining securely locked in place otherwise.
Tamron includes a drawstring lens pouch in the box. The bottom of the pouch is nicely padded, though the balance of the case should be considered primarily useful for dust and scratch protection (vs. impact protection).
Tamron TAP-in Console
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens is compatible with the Tamron TAP-in Console. The TAP-in Console is basically a USB dock in the form of a robust lens mount cap with electrical contacts and a USB port that enables the lens to be connected to a computer.
Once the lens is attached to the dock and the dock attached to the computer, the TAP-in Utility checks for a firmware update to itself and the software app then communicates with the lens and checks for any available lens firmware updates. If an update is available, a dialog box is presented, providing the option to update the lens. There have been a number of Tamron lens firmware updates released recently, addressing compatibility and other issues. Having the TAP-in Console makes those updates very fast and easy, especially compared to the alternative of shipping a lens to a service center.
Within the TAP-in Utility app, most will find the first tab, Focus Adjustment, to be the most important. Autofocus adjustments can be made at 4 focal lengths with 3 focus distance adjustments available at each focal length for a total of 12 adjustments available (I made up the adjustment numbers in the example shown above). That is enough adjustability to dial in the calibration of the most difficult camera and lens combinations – and enough to drive perfectionists (nearly) crazy. A focus Limiter tab is provided; however, this lens does not offer the ability to customize the autofocus distance range (the full range is always enabled). The last tab, Miscellaneous, provides control over full time manual focus override and the VC mode.
Price and Value
The purchase of the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens could be justified by various attributes, but price is going to be one of the bigger reasons the Tamron is selected. With good performance at one of the lowest price points in its class, this lens represents a good value.
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens is available in Canon (reviewed) and Nikon mounts. My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third-party lenses. Since Tamron reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer electronics and algorithms, there is always the possibility that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third-party lens. Usually a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update, but this cannot be guaranteed. Compatibility with the Tamron USB Tap-In Console is risk reducing as Tamron can make console-compatible lens firmware updates available for download. Tamron USA’s limited 6-year warranty is class-leading.
The two lenses utilized for this review were online/retail sourced.
Alternatives to the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens
Having just reviewed the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Art Lens, much of this review feels like a do-over and the comparison lenses are identical. But, the lens being compared is not the same, so I’ll revisit the rather-long list. Note that these lenses are very similar in performance and specs, so the comparisons may seem limited for this reason.
A large percentage of those considering purchase of the 24-70mm VC G2 Lens include photographers who currently own the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens (or who are alternatively considering the purchase of it). In the Canon vs. Tamron comparison at f/2.8, we see these two performing similarly in the center at the wider focal lengths. The Canon has a modest edge in the corners at these focal lengths. By 50mm, the Canon’s performance becomes notably better and even includes the center of the frame. The difference in the corners is not as strong at 70mm, but the Canon is still noticeably sharper in the center.
Of course, if you cannot use a tripod and cannot hold the lens stable enough for sharp images, the Tamron’s VC will quickly flip the Canon advantages. The differences are reduced at f/4, but interestingly, the Tamron is the better performer in the mid-range focal lengths at this aperture.
The Canon has less barrel distortion at 24mm. These two lenses are similar in size with the Tamron weighing 3.5 oz (99g) more. The Canon’s rear-positioned zoom ring is a much better design, but for sure you will like the Tamron’s roughly-30%-lower price tag better.
Perhaps the most-direct competitor to the Tamron 24-70mm Art Lens is the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens. In comparison at f/2.8, the Tamron is sharper in the center of the frame than the Sigma, except at 70mm, with the Sigma having the edge in the mid-range periphery. Differences are significantly minimized at f/4.
The Tamron has slightly stronger barrel distortion at 24mm. The Tamron is 4.1 oz (115g) lighter and the Tamron is slightly shorter. The Tamron’s VC (Vibration Control) is rated one stop higher than the Sigma’s OS (5 stops vs. 4) and the Tamron has a modestly lower price tag at review time.
Another third-party lens currently available is the Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens. At f/2.8, the two lenses perform rather similarly with the Tokina being notably sharper in the center-of-the-frame at 70mm. At f/4, as expected, the differences are minimized with the Tokina still being slightly sharper in the center at 70mm and the Tamron taking some of the mid-range periphery contests.
The Tokina has slightly less barrel distortion and weighs slightly less. The Tamron has a considerably more-modern overall design, though the Tokina has the rear-positioned zoom ring I prefer. The Tamron includes VC and the Tokina has a lower price.
Nikon currently has two direct Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 Art Lens competitors. These are the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens.
In the Nikon VR vs. Tamron Art lens comparison at f/2.8 at the wider focal lengths, I see the Nikon performing better in the periphery and the Tamron turning in slightly better center performance. The two are more equal toward the longer end. At f/4, both lenses are performing well, though I would give the edge to the Tamron if I have to choose.
Noticeable is that the Nikon VR has more lateral CA overall, especially in the mid focal lengths, though the Tamron has more at the long end. The Nikon has slightly stronger geometric distortion, showing more barrel distortion at 24mm and stronger pincushion distortion from 35-70mm. The Nikon is significantly longer than the Tamron and weighs 5.9 oz (165.7g) more. The Tamron provides 110° of focus ring rotation compared to the Nikon’s 65°. The Nikon has the maximum magnification advantage with a 0.28x spec vs. the Tamron’s 0.20x. That two of the Tamron G2 lenses could be purchased for a couple of dollars more than a single Nikon VR, the highest-priced lens being compared here, leaves a mark on this comparison.
We have not tested the non-VR Nikon lens on the Nikon D810 yet, but we do have results from the D3X which are available to nicely compare against Canon 1Ds III results. In this comparison, I’d give the Nikon the edge at f/2.8 throughout the focal length range, though it has more lateral CA with 70mm being an exception in that regard. At f/4, the winner of the comparison is primarily a coin flip with the Tamron having the lateral CA advantage.
The Nikon has less peripheral shading, most-noticeably at the ends of the focal length range, and the Tamron shows fewer flare effects at the wide end. While these two lenses have different geometric distortion profiles, it is challenging to declare either a winner overall. The Tamron provides 110° of focus ring rotation compared to the Nikon’s 72°. Again, the Nikon’s 0.27x maximum magnification spec is considerably advantaged over Tamron’s 0.20x. The Nikon is noticeably longer, though the two lenses are similar in weight. The Nikon uses 77mm filters vs. the Tamron’s 82mm size. The non-VR Nikon option is more-attractively priced than the VR counterpart, but it is still considerably more expensive than the Tamron.
Sony-based systems can make use of the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Art Lens via a Canon EF to Sony E Mount Adapter. The native-mount Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens will be the direct competition for these kits. In the Tamron vs. Sony comparison at f/2.8, the Sony shows itself to be the modestly sharper lens at most focal lengths and it also shows less lateral CA at 70mm. Advantages for either lens are slim at f/4.
The Tamron shows fewer flare effects. The Sony has less distortion at 24mm, but more over most of the balance of the range. The Tamron is notably shorter with the two being nearly equal in weight. The Sony lens has a modestly higher 0.24x maximum magnification spec vs. the Tamron’s 0.20x. The Sony option, without the need for an adapter, would be expected to perform better from AF and frame rate perspectives. The Sony is the considerably-more-expensive option, but the price of the adapter takes a noticeable bite out of that difference.
If you don’t need the f/2.8 aperture, there are a number of f/4 lenses that cover or exceed the 24-70mm focal length range and all are worth considering. All else being equal, a narrower max aperture means smaller size, lighter weight and lower price. In general, expect an f/2.8 lens in this focal length range to be sharper than an f/4 lens at f/4. All predictions are off the table at f/5.6.
Here are some options to consider:
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens
A primary downside to consider when selecting an f/4 lens is that twice as much light is required to stop camera and subject action.
When I reviewed this lens’ predecessor, I stated that it was currently the only full frame-compatible lens available in the 24-70mm focal length range with both an f/2.8 max aperture and Vibration Control. While that statement no longer holds true, this combination remains very attractive.
And although this lens is not inexpensive, it is priced less than most of its competition and it represents a good value. I’d like the zoom ring to be positioned behind the focus ring and for better peripheral AF point accuracy, but with a highly-useful focal length range, low light action stopping capabilities, extreme low light hand-holding capabilities, very good overall image quality and a nice build quality, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2 Lens is a good option for the potentially-most-used lens in the kit.
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