A few weeks ago, Tamron India offered my their 70-200 f2.8 Di VC USD lens for use and review. I managed to use it only for a short duration, but was impressed by its performance, and more importantly bang for the buck. Here is a quick look at what I thought about the lens.
Tamron’s 70-200 f/2.8 VC is a lens from company’s ‘Super performance’ (SP) line-up aimed at serious photographers. It comes with an internal focusing assembly and offers wide open aperture of f2.8 throughout the zoom range. The important performance features include Vibration Compensation(VC) and a silent ultrasonic motor for auto focusing with full-time manual focus. The minimum focus distance is 1.3m.
The lens weighs approximately 1.5kg and feels strong, which is inline with similar lenses from other manufacturers. The filter diameter is 77mm, which is a standard measure for most lenses and allows users to reuse their filters with other lenses. The focusing ring is located closer to the camera body and a thicker zoom ring is located closer to the filter side of the lens. It would have been more convenient if this was in reverse order, since zooming in and out now requires reaching out to the farther end of the lens. This also means that it is impossible to zoom-in or zoom-out when the hood is mounted in reverse. You may miss out some shots if you are trying to shoot in a hurry and do not have the time to mount the hood properly. Both the rings are smooth and easy to operate
From its appearance, the lens seems to have a good weather sealing.
The lens doesn’t come with a switch to adjust focusing range – something that most photographers won’t miss in a lens of this range, since a few tenths of a second delay in AF may not hurt photographers who operate in this zoom range.
It is convenient to have a vibration compensation system that doesn’t require the user to change the axis of compensation between vertical and horizontal, since Tamron claims to detect this automatically.
I tried the vibration compensation at shutter speeds below 1/50 seconds and regularly made sharp images at 200mm. It worked well at 1/40 sec at 200mm even in tricky situations like pointing down to the ground from a high position (remember – you have to hold it at 1.3m height to achieve focus) and vertical compositions. With a stable hand, it should be possible to get sharp images at even slower shutter speeds.
Autofocus is near-instantaneous as one would expect in a lens of this class. When I first used the piece I had received with a 5D Mark II, it seemed to be back focusing. But when I used another 5D Mark II body, it was accurate and trouble-free.
The sharpness of this lens meets all the expectations of a professional photographer and is on-par with lenses of similar range. I have mostly tested it at 200mm where it predictably delivers high quality images. Even at the wide end at f2.8, the few images that I made were appreciably sharp and there was nothing to complain about.
Vignetting is apparent in the images with uniform tone and appears more prominent in wider end than the telephoto end. But this is something that can be easily corrected and not something to be concerned about.
Below are some sample images I created. You can click on them to download full size image. Full size images have exif data embedded.
The second image is shot handheld at 1/40sec, pointing the camera down from a height slightly more than 1.3m.
Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC is a professional quality lens that delivers a good overall image quality and performance on par with other lenses in similar range. The lens scores high, thanks to its competitive pricing that makes it an excellent value for money for pro photographers and serious hobbyists.
Lens image courtesy of Tamron.