A 24-70 is one of the most used lenses on a full-frame camera. There are plenty of choices for Nikon like the Nikkor 24-70 F2.8, Nikkor 24-70 F2.8 VR, Sigma 24-70 F2.8 and of course the Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC. After some research (like I did when I chose an ultra-wide zoom lens) I have chosen the Tamron. The reasons were the image quality (similar to the Nikkors, much better than the Sigma), the vibration compensation (VC) (the new Nikkor comes also with VC (they call it VR), but at a much higher price), the price and the 5-year-warranty. Moreover, the lens didn’t disappoint me in the past on my Nikon D600 nor now on the Nikon D750.
The Tamron SP 24-70 was the second lens of the “new” SP line with VC and Ultrasonic Silent Drive Focus (USD) and the first 24-70 F2.8 with VC on the market.
Type: Zoom Lens suitable for Full Frame Cameras
Range: 24-70 mm
Aperture: F2.8 to F22, Aperture Blades: 9
Autofocus: Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD), minimum focus distance of 0.38m
Extras: Image Stabilization (VC), XR (Extra Refractive Index) Glass, LD (Low Dispersion) Elements, Moisture resistant
Filter Size: 82 mm
Lens Hood: Petal type, plastic
The lens has a plastic tube and metal mount. It feels very solid, nothing is rattling or loose. The rubber rings for zoom and focus are smooth to turn and also very grippy. The autofocus mode and vibration compensation are difficult to switch so the chances to switch them accidently are very low. The distance scale window is good to read. It has also the little rubber lip around the mount to prevent moisture from getting into the cam between mount and the bayonet of the camera.
With a weight of 825 grams the lens is not front heavy on the Nikon D750. The petal type lens hood is made of plastic and does its job as expected. The filter thread has a diagonal of 82 mm and as the front element is not turning it’s no problem to use polarization filters. I use the lens sometimes with a Hoya ND64X filter and until now I had no problems at all.
Color Rendering: The colors are neutral to warm and the contrast is good.
Sharpness: At F 2.8 the sharpness in the center of the image is very good. Edges are slightly soft and could be better. Stopping down the sharpness the center is perfect and in the corners it improves very much. You get the best results from F5.6 to F11. At F2.8 bokeh shots the corner sharpness isn’t important anyway.
Bokeh: I personally find the Bokeh overall very pleasing and smooth. But in some situations it tends to onion-rings in light circle bokeh as you can see in the sample here.
Flares, Ghosting: Slightly to none visible, very well under control.
C/A: The lens does a very good job in avoiding C/A, they are barely to none visible.
Distortion: There is a little amount of distortion. You need to correct them in post processing when it comes to critical photoshoots like architecture.
Vignetting: The vignetting at F2.8 is clearly visible. It gets better when you stop down but never disappears completely.
Some of these points may sounds critical, but the overall image quality is really very good. The lens produces sharp to very sharp images (at 2.8 with slight soft edges) with very nice colors and contrast. You will find these issues more or less on every F2.8 standard zoom lens. The Tamron does a very good job.
The Tamron SP 24-70 VC USD was the first full frame standard lens with image stabilization on the market back in 2012. Only the recently announced Nikkor 24-70 VR provides also image compensation on a Nikon DSLR, but the price is much higher. The VC is very useful and effective, especially at the longer end of the zoom range.
But in my opinion the VC needs a bit of practice. I get the best results when pushing the button approx. 1 sec after the VC kicks in. If you wait longer the VC may overcompensate and your shots may get a bit blurred.
Here you can see an example. Both pictures were taken at 70 mm, 1/10 of a sec, F8, ISO 100.
VC ON – on the left side, VC OFF – on the right side.
The USD does a very good job. The lens focuses silently, quickly and precisely. My lens also has no front- or back focus issue.
The Tamron SP 24-70 VC USD is a very good performer. Shooting with the lens is very pleasing and I had a lot of fun with it until now. As described above the overall image quality is very good and very similar if not better than the Nikkor 24-70 F2.8. The VC is a big plus compared to the Nikkor (the new VR version is not considered due to the price). In my opinion, if you are looking for a lens of this type, just buy it (except you insist on buying only Nikkor lenses for your Nikon body). The 5-year-warrenty is also a nice bonus (in US it’s even 6 years IIRC).
Sample Images (Full Size)
You can find some full size samples in my Flickr album here!