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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.