Customer Review

256 of 271 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CANON KILLER for FULL FRAME cameras !, May 8, 2012
This review is from: Tamron SP 24-70mm Di VC USD Canon Mount AFA007C-700 (Model A007E) (Electronics)
I need to preface this review with an announcement from Canon that they are releasing three new lenses around summer 2012: An improved Mark II version of their popular EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, and image stabilized versions of their 24mm and 28mm f/2.8 lenses. Canon users were scratching their heads: Why an update to the venerable 24-70mm f/2.8 with NO image stabilization, while at the same time adding IS to the 24 and 28mm primes?? The new EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is set to retail at $2,299, a whopping $1,000 over the Mark I... with no IS... it just doesn't make any sense, especially when Canon has had an IS equivalent for APS-C cameras out for six years already: the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM.

Now comes this Tamron SP 24-70mm Di VC USD lens (available for Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts), already shipping in late April 2012 for $1000 less than the upcoming Canon non-IS version. Tamron is really stealing Canon's thunder with this lens! The VC stands for Vibration Compensation, Tamron's version of image stabilization. I was able to pick up a copy the first week it was out, and after running it through its paces with the amazing 5D Mark III, I have to say I am VERY happy with it.

Right off the bat everyone's main concern is going to be the sharpness vs. the grand old Canon "L" version. Put those concerns aside, this lens has excellent sharpness at most focal lengths wide open, with just a bit of softness and light falloff in the corners. Stop it down just one stop to f/4 and sharpness / contrast improves quite nicely in the corners, with superb image quality across the whole frame from f/5.6 through f/11. I said "most" focal lengths because this lens excels at the wide-to-normal range, performing the best from 24mm through about 50mm (35mm is outstanding). At the 70mm end it's a little softer wide open, but again, stopped down just a bit it achieves excellent image quality. Overall, this lens beats the Canon Mark I for sharpness and while it may not be QUITE as sharp as the Mark II due out in July, the VC means you will often get cleaner shots.

I have long been searching for a wide and fast full frame zoom that is sharp enough to complement Canon's phenomenal 70-200mm f/4 IS lens. That lens is the sharpest zoom lens I have ever used (the Mark II f/2.8 version is super sharp too, but also twice as heavy and pricey). Using the 70-200 f/4 spoils you; most reviewers are astonished and it's often been said that it is as sharp as or sharper than most primes throughout its entire range. In my search for a wide-to-normal zoom to complement that lens, I tried the original Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L and the 24-105 f/4 L. Both are workhorse lenses, but neither one satisfied me. I sold them, and I have stuck with primes for wide and normal shots.

Finally, this Tamron hits the mark. It's sharper than either Canon zoom, AND it has excellent image stabilization. The "VC" is VERY quiet, you hardly know it's there, but it's very effective. In tests I have been able to hand-hold down to 1/10 second with consistent "no shake" results at 70mm, and an amazing 1/4 second at the wider focal lengths. Of course you need a subject that doesn't move at these shutter speeds; VC cannot freeze action.

Build quality is really nice; I'm not qualified to speak to the water resistance of this lens but it's a very solid piece of craftsmanship. It's heavy, 825 grams, versus 950g for the original Canon and 805g for the new Canon Mark II. A mere 20 grams heavier with the VC and $1000 less than the upcoming Mark II... there is a theme developing here. While it's a great street photography / walkabout lens, the shear weight and size means it's not inconspicuous -- but then it's no larger than any other full-frame zoom in this class.

While some have complained about the bokeh - "onion layers", I rarely see it. In fact I had to try really hard just to find a situation in which this artifact even occurred, and when it did, I neither found it particularly objectionable or even noticeable unless zoomed in to 100%. This artifact is actually quite common in a lot of zoom lenses and this is really just a case of some "bokeh fanatics" jumping to conclusions and setting off a rumor that there's a problem. I'm here to tell you there is NO problem; the bokeh at 50-70mm is FINE--nice and smooth. And you should really be buying this lens for the wider focal lengths at which it excels, where you'll do landscape shots and your main objective is sharpness, not bokeh. "Bokeh-obsession" is a common pitfall of photo geeks, so don't miss the forest for the trees. This lens DELIVERS.

So let's see how it stacks up to the three new Canon lenses I mentioned at the top of the review:

EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM $2,299
EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM $849.99
EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM $799.99

Total: almost $3950. And this one lens covers the focal lengths and apertures of ALL THREE of those lenses, WITH image stabilization, not only at 24 and 28mm, but also at 35, 50, 70, and every focal length in between, for about 1/3 the cost of those three combined! And it carries Tamron's six year warranty. That's why I call it the Canon Killer!

P.S. If you are an APS-C shooter (7D, 60D, T3i, etc.), this lens would be equivalent to 38-112mm. But you don't need the full-frame coverage of this lens so you should instead consider the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, or the excellent Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6. Those lenses are considerably lighter and less expensive and they both have image stabilization. APS-C users should really only consider this lens if you are seriously planning on upgrading to full-frame soon.
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 44 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 15, 2012 3:23:07 AM PDT
AG says:
Nice review. I never thought this Tamron could negate the newly announced Canon lenses, but you laid out the case very well. Wonder who makes the decisions at Canon.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 3:52:50 AM PDT
Thanks. I'm not sure who the target market is for the 24mm and 28mm IS lenses. I would have thought that a 50mm IS lens would come first. Or putting IS on the 135, or the 85, which still don't have it. Crazy.

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 8:21:24 AM PDT
AG says:
After you used it for while, let us know what you think of the AF accuracy and speed.

Posted on May 16, 2012 8:53:27 AM PDT
Cinnamon says:
Thank you for the great review! Can you please comment more about the light falloff in the corners, especially wide open at f/2.8? I've read online and seen test shots that show pretty bad vignetting at 2.8, but I was wondering if you could talk about your experiences with it, or possibly even post test shots. If you're shooting full frame, do you think the vignetting is too extreme? Some people say the lens is sharper than the 24-70 Mk I, but that the vignetting is too pronounced - others say the concerns about vignetting are exaggerated.

I would also appreciate it if you could talk more about the AF speed. I have a Canon 24-105L, and have heard people say that this lens auto-focuses just as quickly...but others have said that the AF is too slow. What are your thoughts? Thanks once again for the review!

Posted on May 25, 2012 9:42:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 25, 2012 9:43:35 PM PDT
Six6Sicks says:
This sums it up http://www.sunthingproductions.com/blog/?p=72
Canon 24-70 vs Tamron 24-70.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2012 11:22:29 PM PDT
Absolutely. After another 3 weeks of using the Tamron lens, I am loving it more and more. I don't have the Canon version to compare it to, and I'm glad to see that the tests confirm that it's sharper.

G. Argov,
Light falloff in the extreme corners at 24mm is quite pronounced at f/2.8, and not as bad at 70mm. However in good lighting conditions I always prefer to use the lens at f/5.6 or f/8 where the lens reaches optimum sharpness across the full frame. The VC gives you about 3 extra stops to hand-hold vs. the Canon & so it easily gives you the freedom to do this. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in nearly uniform illumination across the frame throughout the zoom range.

The AF speed is certainly good enough for anything I would use a wide-to-normal lens for; this is not a focal length range for action photography. It's not as snappy as most prime lenses or quite as quick as some Canon "L" zooms but it doesn't hunt in low light either. If the lens is already at or near the focal point, focus is nearly instantaneous; it's a little slower if it has to travel from close to far or vice versa. Like any lens with image stabilization, you want to focus on your subject and then briefly allow the VC to settle before taking the shot.

Posted on Jun 17, 2012 11:09:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2012 11:10:17 PM PDT
A. Wong says:
Just as an added piece of advice, for APS-C users, I would recommend taking a look at the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras or the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 SP XR Di II VC (Vibration Compensation) Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras. I bought both, loved the sharpness of the non-VC version, but ultimately opted to keep the VC copy just to have the versatility of stabilization for some of my slower shots. Both are great (and cheaper) alternatives to the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8

Posted on Nov 22, 2012 8:27:16 AM PST
Michael C says:
Since it appears you received a very early copy of this lens, are you familiar with this issue identified by Roger Cicala at lensrentals.com? The problem seems isolated to very early production runs with serial numbers in the 00xxx range. http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/09/tamron-24-70-f2-8-vc-issue

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2012 12:22:26 AM PST
Michael,
Mine is from the 00xxx range, but I certainly haven't seen the problem described by Roger. But then I baby my equipment.

Posted on May 28, 2013 11:17:38 AM PDT
Mark Twain says:
Good review. I have the lens and agree 100%. It's a beauty.
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