In December 2020, Tamron announced an exciting new lens: the 17-70mm f/2.8 for Sony.
The Tamron 17-70mm is small, lightweight, and designed for APS-C cameras – plus, it offers two excellent features often lacking on Tamron lenses.
But how does it function in the real world? And is it worth the $799 price tag?
Let’s find out in this hands-on Tamron 17-70mm for Sony review!
Tamron 17-70mm for Sony: overview
A 24-105mm lens offers one of the most popular focal length ranges available, thanks to its wide-to-telephoto reach. It’s a versatile pick used by casual and professional photographers alike.
And the 17-70mm is Tamron’s version of this lens because its focal length translates to 25.5-105mm on an APS-C body.
The Tamron 17-70mm is made for Sony APS-C (crop-sensor) cameras, so it’s ideal when combined with the popular Sony a6000 (or any of its recent variations). The lens can also be used on Sony full-frame cameras like the Sony a7S III – as long as the APS-C mode is selected.
Constant fast aperture
The 17-70mm f/2.8 for Sony is Tamron’s first fast-aperture zoom lens for APS-C cameras.
The lens maintains a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the entire zoom range, while other APS-C Tamron zooms use variable apertures (i.e., apertures that shift as you zoom).
A constant aperture, especially a fast f/2.8 aperture, makes the 17-70mm great for shooting in low light. And at f/2.8, you can capture shots with creamy bokeh, like this one here:
The 17-70mm also comes with Tamron’s image stabilization (Tamron calls this VC, or Vibration Compensation) to reduce camera shake.
Note that VC is often missing on Tamron lenses, especially those with constant apertures, so it’s certainly a welcome bonus on the 17-70mm.
Lenses with VC make it easier to shoot handheld photos and videos, especially at slow shutter speeds. That’s how I was able to pull off this handheld long exposure:
(Speaking of video: the 17-70 is a great video lens, thanks to the flexible zoom range, constant aperture, and inclusion of VC!)
Build and handling
If you’ve tried any recent Tamron lenses, the 17-70mm will look and feel very similar.
The lens is made mostly of plastic, which helps keep the weight down (it comes in at 1.2 lb/525 g), though you also get rubber zoom and focus rings.
The lens physically extends and retracts when the zoom ring is twisted. With dimensions of 2.9 x 4.7 in (74.6 x 119.3 mm), the lens can feel a bit large and off-balance when attached to a smaller camera like the Sony a6000. It definitely feels more balanced when used with a Sony full-frame camera.
The Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 for Sony is moisture resistant and also has a front element with a fluorine coating to protect it from smudging.
And speaking of the front element, the lens has a filter size of 67 mm, common among Tamron’s recent lenses.
I used the Tamron 17-70mm in outdoor hiking and indoor restaurant settings, and the autofocus worked well for photos and videos.
The lens has quiet focusing thanks to an RXD stepping motor. This works wonderfully with Sony mirrorless cameras, which still offer the best autofocus on the market.
It’s easy to switch to full manual focus simply by twisting the focus ring. Also, with a minimum focusing distance of 7.5 in (19 cm), the lens has decent macro capabilities (and close-up shots look great with that gorgeous f/2.8 bokeh).
Constant-aperture lenses tend to produce sharp, crisp images. You pay for it, though, because constant-aperture lenses – especially zoom lenses – don’t come cheap.
But while the Tamron 17-70mm is priced well under $1000, image quality is tack sharp across the entire focal length range, even at f/2.8. If Tamron can make more lenses like this at similar price points, they’ll win over many photographers and videographers.
At times, the 17-70mm does produce chromatic aberration and excessive vignetting, especially when shooting scenes with high contrast. Luckily, these are problems that can easily be solved in most photo editing programs, including Lightroom or Photoshop.
Tamron 17-70mm alternatives
There are no true competitors to the Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8, at least not at its price point. When looking at similar lenses, the price goes up dramatically – or you sacrifice certain features.
Sony lens choices
The closest Sony competitor is the Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 (24-82.5mm on APS-C cameras), which offers the constant f/2.8 aperture but is 15mm short on the telephoto side. The 16-55 also lacks image stabilization and will set you back $1,300.
The Sony E 18-105mm f/4 is a more affordable choice, coming in at around $600. This APS-C zoom lens offers a wider focal range than the Tamron plus image stabilization. However, the constant aperture is f/4, which is a lot slower than the Tamron’s f/2.8.
Who should buy the Tamron 17-70mm for Sony?
Considering the price and features of this lens, the Tamron 17-70mm is suitable for both professional photographers and videomakers alike, especially for those on a budget.
The lens’s features are typically found on glass that costs twice as much, including the constant f/2.8 aperture and the Vibration Compensation. It also offers remarkably sharp image quality considering its cost.
And given the relatively accessible price, the Tamron 17-70mm is also appropriate for beginner or amateur photographers and videomakers looking to increase their skills.
Using a constant f/2.8 aperture is a treat, and this lens will help budding photographers take better images in low light with nice, creamy bokeh.
So grab the Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 for Sony right here!
Now over to you:
What do you think about the Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8? What do you like about it? What do you dislike? Will you consider buying it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!