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In my view the Tamron SP 24-70mm with the new VC gets the big tick of approval. Let me tell you why:
To start there are a number of great reviews online already showcasing the many advantages and some disadvantages of the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/28 DI VC USD lens. I wanted my review to be a little bit different. I haven’t really seen many low light photographs from this lens so I decided to pursue some lightning and star photography to show something a little bit different.
As you can see from the above specs the lens has a whopping 82mm filter. Most photographers who have a wide-angle lens will find the filter size to be different from their kits. The only other lens I can think of that uses this size is the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens.
Personally I had an 82mm Hoya Pro1 Digital UV filter lying around so I was able to utilize it for the lightning photos shown below. To be fair on image testing I only used the filter on the lightning photographs due to the wet weather. As a side note if you are using a filter on any good quality lens be sure NOT to purchase the cheapest filter out there. Go for the highest quality otherwise you are only going to degrade the glass quality of the lens. For the majority of my work I use LEE Filters and Hoya Pro1 Digital filters.
Highlight Test – Lightning
The images below were the first photographs I took on the new Tamron lens. After capturing these images and chimping at the LCD screen I was surprised at the sharpness throughout the frame. I couldn’t faulty the lens at all. I would highly recommend this lens for any lightning photographers out there as the weather sealing held up really well and the image sharpness was superb It certainly is the much cheaper option over the Canon lens!
Canon 1D MK IV – 24mm (Tamron 24-70mm) – ISO 50 – 21 seconds – f/5.6 – 3:1 crop
Canon 1D MK IV – 24mm (Tamron 24-70mm) – ISO 50 – 3 seconds – f/5.6
Glass elements of the Tamron 24-70mm f2.8
As you can see in the above diagram the lens is constructed with 17 elements in 12 groups. I found the newly developed lens to have fantastic flare reduction in the highlight areas of the lightning and the LD elements helped reduce colour fringing I had seen of previous cheaper Tamron Lens.
Vibration Compensation (VC)
Expanded VC schematic diagram
On of the many great features of this lens would undoubtably be the Vibration Compensation. The world’s first 24-70mm lens with a stabilizer certainly was useful when I was practicing some shots around the house after my lightning shoot. I think the best demonstration of the VR in action is in the YouTube video by Matt Granger – aka That Nikon Guy. Be sure to subscribe to Matt’s channel. You may recognise Matt from one of my recent videos where he was a judge on the Worldwide Google+ Photographers Competition
Side by Side Comparison
As the second part of my test I wanted to take the Tamron lens out for a star shoot and compare the image quality with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens. The VC was turned off for this test.
As a real world test it wasn’t the best environment to compare the lenses side by side as there wasn’t a controlled environment…but hey its better than nothing. I’ll leave the controlled lab tests to the experts at DXO Labs!
My only frustration on this shoot was setting up both lenses to achieve focus on the stars. In the end I had to turn on live view on the camera, magnify the view to 10x and manually focus on the brightest star because the auto focus would not work. I wish this lens would fit on my Fujifilm X-Pro 1!! I pulled it out and found no problem trying to auto focus on the stars!
The only disadvantage I could find on the Tamron lens was the slight distortion at 24mm. Apart from that I actually found the Tamron Lens to be sharper and provide more detail in the stars.
Canon 1D MK IV – 24mm (Tamron 24-70mm) – ISO 3200 – 13 seconds – f/2.8
Canon 1D MK IV – 24mm (Canon 24-70mm II) – ISO 3200 – 13 seconds – f/2.8
The images below show a cropped view of two sample images so you can see the differences side by side.
Cropped comparison between the Tamron and Canon 24-70mm lenses
Cropped comparison between the Tamron and Canon 24-70mm lenses
Thanks to DxO Labs I have the side by side specification comparison. You can see the main difference between the two lenses is the VC on the Tamron lens. Tamron claim the VC allows you to shoot with an extra 4 stops. The other main difference not shown here is the price and warranty! I won’t post any prices or warranty details as they may differ from country to country. Check with your local store for more information about warranty and price.
By now you are still probably debating if you should get the Tamron lens or the Canon.
Let me get to the point and sum it up for you.
The focus ability on the Tamron in low light wasn’t great but I put that down to the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV. Even the Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens struggled in the same environment.
The overall image quality was fantastic and I couldn’t fault it for the type of photography I was using it for. So my advice for you is – if you are looking for an award-winning lens (EISA Award – Best Product 2012 – 2013) that fits a smaller budget then this is the lens for you. If you have the dollars and don’t mind parting with them then certainly go for the Canon lens but remember the Tamron will take the same quality photos for a fraction of the price. For me this lens has my tick of approval. I would certainly buy this lens over the Canon based on my experience.
Until Next Time – Happy Shooting
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