Field Test and Thoughts: Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens

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Ask any experienced photographer what his or her all around go-to lens is, and odds are high that the response will be the 24-70mm f/2.8. Not only does it cover a useful range, but the fast aperture makes it ideal for shooting in low lighting conditions when you don’t have a prime lens handy. The long-standing problem with this lens? It is notoriously pricey. Enter the new Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 lens!

Tamron 24-70mm

Along with Sigma, Tamron has been upping its lens game recently by offering high-quality budget versions of popular lenses. In fact, the original Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (Model A007) was first announced in February 2012 and has been on the market for awhile. This year, a highly anticipated second version was released. Here’s what the specs are and what I think after comparing it to my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II.

Tamron 24-70mm

The Specs

The official name of this lens is a mouthful: Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A032). Let’s dissect some of that terminology.

SP is Tamron’s version of high-end lenses, similar to the Sigma Art series. The Tamron SP 24-70mm joins a handful of mostly prime lenses with this designation. Di stands for Digitally integrated, meaning the lens will perform well on full-frame and APS-C format cameras. VC refers to Vibration Control, which Tamron says is much improved in this new lens, offering around 5-stops of compensation, a big boost over its predecessor. USD stands for Ultrasonic Silent Drive, which is reasonably quiet. Finally, G2 is short for Generation 2; this, along with the model number, differentiates this lens from the original.

This lens is available in both Canon and Nikon DSLR mounts.

Tamron 24-70mm

Price

First of all, let’s talk about price. The original Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 was announced in 2012 with a price of $1,300. Somehow, version II came out several years later with the even lower price of $1,199.00. Compare that to the current prices of the Canon ($1,699)and Nikon ($2,397) versions. Price-wise, it even beats out the Sigma version ($1,299). While Tamron’s version is still pricey, it’s the least expensive option on the market. That’s good news for photographers on a budget.

Lens Hood

This feature was so good it deserves its own heading.

Like most lenses, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 comes with a lens hood. Unlike most other lenses, the hood is solidly built and snaps into place very tightly. Once the hood is on, there’s almost no way that it will accidentally fall off as it inevitably does when shooting with other lenses.

Tamron 24-70mm

Build Quality

Following in the tradition of other Tamron SP lenses, the 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 is very solidly built. Its outer barrel is made mostly of metal instead of plastic and has moisture resistant construction. As a trade-off for the lens’ solid build, it is pretty big and bulky at nearly 11 cm (4.3″) long and 900 grams (approx. 2 lbs) in weight. That’s 75 grams (2.6 oz) heavier than the original! As a result, this lens might be tough to balance on small, lightweight camera bodies. During this test, the lens was paired with a Canon 5D Mark III, where it felt reasonably well-balanced.

Lens Switches

There are several switches located on the sides of the lens. One is an AF/MF switch making it easy to go from Autofocus to Manual focus. Nearby is the Vibration Control (VC) switch. Whether you choose to turn VC on or off depending on what you’re shooting, but it definitely helps with handheld shots.

The final switch is unique to Tamron zoom lenses: a Lock switch that holds the lens at 24mm, preventing it from extending. I have this unintended lens extension problem (it’s called zoom creep) with my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II (probably from prolonged use) and would love to see this feature on every zoom lens.

Tamron 24-70mm

Image Quality

Tamron’s SP lenses come with a special coating that significantly reduces ghosting or lens flare. In the case of the 24-70mm f/2.8, there was little evidence of flare when shooting into the sun or into bright light.

Tamron 24-70mm

When shooting wide open at f/2.8, there’s noticeable light fall-off in the corners of the image. It’s hard to get rid of the vignette without using an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller.

Tamron 24-70mm

Shot wide open at f/2.8, there is a noticeable edge vignette on the corners of the image.

Tamron 24-70mm

Shot at f/11. Little to no vignette.

Image sharpness was comparable to what you would get from a 24-70mm f/2.8 of another brand. Shooting handheld wide open at low shutter speeds produced a reasonably sharp image with the Vibration Compensation activated.

Tamron 24-70mm

Shot handheld at 1/15th shutter speed and f/2.8.

Below, the lens was used in a controlled studio environment with off-camera flash, thus reducing camera shake and noise. The resulting images are sharp with nice coloring.

Tamron 24-70mm

Food Photography Tamron 24-70

Some users have reported distortion from shots taken at the 24mm focal length. When shooting interiors, I did notice a bit of distortion on the edges, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed in post-processing if you really wanted to.

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

In Conclusion

If you’re on the hunt for a great 24-70mm lens, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 is a great option. It produces great image quality with a solid build, and most importantly, it won’t break the bank.

Do you own a 24-70mm lens? Would you try Tamron’s version? Or do you prefer to stick with your camera’s name brand lenses? Tell us about your experience below.

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Suzi Pratt

is an internationally published Seattle event and food photographer. Her photos appear regularly in Eater and Getty Images. She is also a blogger who teaches others how to run a successful photography business.

  • Alchenick1

    Thanks for this interesting review, this seems to be a great lens due to the lower price compared to rivals. Since you also own the Canon 24-70 L II, can you provide a short comparison between these two lenses? What will I lose and what will I get buying one of the two instead of the other? Thanks again 😉

  • Alisa Tiger

    Looks like and awesome lense wish i had that camera and all the lenses.

  • Alan Jannone

    I bought this lens In October even though I have the latest version of the Nikon 24-70 2.8. I wanted a lighter and smaller lens than the Nikon. I was expecting to take a small hit in quality but I tended to not carry the Nikon due to size/weight. I was immediately blown away by the Tamron. It is tack sharp and I find the color more vibrant. I’m so happy with the Tamron I gave the Nikon to my son. Love this lens. I’ve had no issues with focusing or compatibility with my D810 and D750. I also bought the new Tamron 70-200 after I found out how great this lens was. Highly recommended

  • To me, the main differences between the Tamron and Canon versions comes down to:

    1) Price. There’s a huge difference, with the Canon being more expensive.
    2) Size. Tamron’s version is slightly more bulky and heavy.
    3) Image Quality. I didn’t see much difference between the two. I thought the Canon 24-70 was slightly more responsive when shooting in ultra dark conditions, but not much difference when shooting with good lighting conditions.
    4) If you need CPS or not. I will stick with Canon because of my membership in Canon Pro Services which includes expedited, discounted repairs and maintenance on all of my Canon gear. If I wasn’t in CPS and needed a new 24-70, I’d probably go for Tamron.

  • Bob Dumon

    I have the first generation of Tamron’s Holy Trinity, the 15-30mm f/2.8 v.c., 24-70mm f/2.8 v.c., and 70-200mm f/2.8 v.c. (my favorite of the bunch), and I shoot mainly with a Nikon D810. Also use a Nikon 10-30mm on my D7100 for real estate interiors if/when my D810 isn’t available. Also have a Nikon 28-300mm for walking around and a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 for nature/birds, etc. The image quality from these Tamron lenses is fantastic. While they may have improved things even more on these latest versions, I’m totally satisfied with the images I’m getting from their first versions and have no plans to upgrade to the newer models. Starting out, yes, I’d get the newer versions of course, but I’m happy with what I have. I HIGHLY recommend these Tamron lenses, and only went with the Nikon 200-500mm instead because I’ve seen the results a friend was getting from that lens and decided to go with Nikon for my long telephoto instead of Tamron. I’m sure I would have been happy with the Tamron in that version as well, but…. Can’t go wrong with either….

  • Todd Wallarab

    Lets just say you had the original version of the Tamron 24 70, is there enough difference to upgrade? If my wife is looking…I am just asking for a friend!

  • I haven’t had a chance to test the original, so can’t comment on that.

  • Leslie M. LEYH

    No I wouldn’t spend the money to upgrade as the optics are the same in both versions. The vibration compensation is likely slightly better but in the 24-70 range VC isn’t as huge a deal as in longer lenses. I own the original Tamron 24-70 and find it an excellent lens. The improvements are mainly in lens coatings which may effect lens flare and also in removing the gold Tamron band. Not enough in my opinion to upgrade. If the optics were hugely improved then it would be a different story.

  • Todd Wallarab

    Thank you!

  • Shanmuga Raj

    The G2 24-70 has improved lens elements. The eBAND nano coating is new to G2. Per Tamron it reduces flare and ghosting dramatically. Plus G2 has dual MPU for AF and VC, resulting in faster AF and better VC. Lookup Dustin Abbot’s review for details.

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