Hands-On Review: Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2
The new Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens is a perfect example of the changes in the photographic market, and how the range of products available today offer photographers choices previously unavailable.

The 24-70mm zoom is a must-have piece of gear, found in nearly every camera bag thanks to the versatility of the focal length range and the wide-open aperture. Traditionally, the pro-level 24-70mm lenses from the manufacturers cost just around $1,800, while Tamron’s offering is closer to $1,000, while still offering pro-level performance and features.

The Tamron 24-70mm has 17 glass elements in 12 groups, two of which are XR and three of which are LD elements, which are designed to reduce optical and chromatic aberrations. A total of four aspherical elements reduce spherical aberrations, while the company’s eBAND coating is said to reduce ghosting and flare.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2

Built-in vibration compensation provides up to five stops of shake reduction, and a dedicated onboard processor handles image stabilization tasks, while another one drives the AF motor. Image stabilization is noticeably smooth and functional.

The Tamron 24-70mm feels and handles like the lenses from the major camera manufacturers, and the build is solid, while remaining easy to operate. We’ve taken the lens to a variety of locales, from the high desert of Oregon to the Hudson River, shooting the lens in many challenging conditions. When I coupled our test unit to a Nikon D850, AF operation was indistinguishable from the Nikon 24-70mm I was also shooting.

Image quality is great on this lens, and it’s hard to tell in side-by-side shots which glass was Nikon’s and which was Tamron’s. Subjects, especially people, are incredibly sharp, even wide open under harsh lighting conditions. Colors, especially red and green, seem to pop in most conditions, though in low-contrast scenes a bit of post-processing sharpening and exposure tweaking would be needed for the best results.

That said, I did manage to get the lens to flare in a few situations where I was stress-testing it with bright, noon-time skies over the river valley below. Whether pointing directly at the sun or with the rays of the sun just visible in the edge of the frame, the lens would flare around the sun and produce rainbow flares on the opposite corner in some, but not all situations

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2

This isn’t atypical of a wide-angle zoom, though some recent lenses I’ve tested from other manufacturers seem to reduce flare with more success, but they do it at a much higher price.

The Tamron 24-70mm, though, is a sharp, fast and affordable lens. It’s versatile enough to go from landscapes to sports to portraits without missing a beat. In the opening image, a portrait of a boxer from photographer Oliver Güth, for example, there’s great detail in the foreground, and the soft defocus of the background creates a beautiful effect. This is typical of the results I saw with this lens.

For photographers looking to get an excellent, high-performance lens without the high price tag usually associated with this level of quality, the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 definitely delivers.

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