I have kindly been given the new Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 to test and review.
First I would like to thank Melissa from Tamron Australia for allowing me to have a right ol' play with this lens. Also I am in no way affiliated with Tamron. Let's just get that out the way aye hehe.
Let me get the tech stuff out the way, before I go to an in depth hands on review of the lens.
Announced in Feb 2017, it is the second generation model from Tamron, they have redesigned the optics to improve performance and get the lens to focus down to 0.95m. As well as improved image stabilisation and AF speed.
With a price increase over it's predecessor, does the new lens deliver?
Focal Length :70-200mm
Maximum Aperture :F/2.8
Minimum Aperture :F/22
Optical Construction : 23 elements in 17 groups
Minimum Focus :0.95m (37.4in)
Filter Size : 77mm
Weight :Canon 1,500g
Aperture Blades :9 (Circular Diaphragm)
Image Stabilisation : 5 Stops (CIPA Standards Compliant)
Using in VC MODE 3
Accessories : Lens hood, Lens cap, Lens bag, Detachable tripod mount
OK with that out of the way and if you're the type to want to know all the tech stuff then I suggest you visit Tamron and revel in all the mathematical glory.
Now as a Landscape/Architectural Photographer I have tested this lens in these conditions using a Nikon D750 and what strikes me as innovative straight out of the box is the way the tripod collar has been crafted to allow an Arca Swiss mount, meaning if you use a tripod head that is Arca Swiss compatible (and you should be) then you will not have to attach a tripod plate to the base of the collar (yes I have more than one tripod plate but it means that I don't have to worry about them). This has to be the smartest addition to any lens that requires a tripod collar and I can only hope that other manufacturers adopt this feature. Secondly I notice that there is a marking for when you rotate the lens into Portrait orientation, again, such a simple feature that is not seen on Canons' L series version, hmmm?
The Arca Swiss Tripod Collar at work
These two improvements have me sold on the lens already but what can the lens deliver in terms of image quality?
Now the type of photography I generally do, requires manual focusing and I have found the focus ring to be smooth and precise, a definite improvement over the first gen lens, Focus breathing is minimal which aids in manual focusing. One thing I should mention is that it looks like the nodal point of the lens is directly above the tripod collar, as I found when I shot the below Panoramic at 70mm f/8 1/4sec ISO 100, 8 images merged in the portrait position, this image has been edited in Camera Raw and further processed in Photoshop CC2017 in my style of editing.
Panorama 8 images in Portrait Orientation @70mm f/8 1/4sec ISO100
Now fair call to anyone that says "well this isn't what the lens is designed for" and to that I say " what exactly is any lens designed for". Telephoto optics are amazing for Panoramas
100% Crops are sharp as and brutal honesty makes me say that Tamron are delivering some damn sharp lenses (thinking that was the plan as to compete with the Sigma Art Series), ok... So I hear you say what about corner sharpness? Well here's the thing.... STOP!!! pixel peeping for crying out loud... Too many people out there are more worried about the tech crap that can only be seen with proper charts to show any kind of difference. I don't care how good a lens is on paper, if it fails to work when I'm on location, then it fails as a usable lens. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.... Yes it's sharp.
This lens.... It F#@king works!!! I had no problem shooting the above pano in the space of a few seconds, I have shot a similar Pano with the Canon L series 70-200 and in all honesty the Tamron S$#t's all over it.
If your image ain't sharp? Then I have to ask... What are YOU!!! doing wrong?
After an amazing sunrise I took the lens off the tripod to see how the AF and Image stabilisation worked, given that it boasts 5 stops and I don't have the steadiest of hands. There were plenty of Ducks on the lake so a perfect choice to catch some action shots.
Auto Focus is fast, like super fast, I tested by throwing the focus completely out and then focusing on a Duck, to which it had no problem, it didn't hunt for focus, simply snapped to it and then very responsive at different distances. Images were sharp but then I was shooting at over 500th of a second as the ducks were moving.
To test the Stabilisation, I focused on a stationary subject and managed to get a fairly decent shot down at 1/6th of a second to which I am super impressed with given I don't have the steadiest of hands. What does this mean in real world terms? Well for one you ain't going to shoot people at 1/6th and if your subject is moving then freezing will require a fast shutter speed as we all know, what I do like is that I can drop my shutter speed below my focal length and still capture a sharp image.
In terms of weight and handling I must say the lens feels good in the hands, I would prefer the zoom ring and the focus ring to be opposite to what they are, but that is just a personal preference and one I could happily get use too given the other qualities of the lens. The weight is good and well balanced against my camera. Should Sigma release a new 70-200 I fear the weight would be to heavy. As much as I love their Art Series, they are quite hefty
To sum up?
:Arca Swiss Tripod mount
:Vertical Mount Signage
:Sharp as a Tack
:Smooth Manual Focus Ring
:Min. Focus 0.95mm
:5 stop Image stabilization
:Zoom ring in front of the focus ring (something to get use to)
:Small amount of movement at the mount on to the body
This lens delivers everything Tamron tell us it does, it is a lens that I want in my bag (hint hint Tamron) as I shoot mostly on a tripod, the addition of the Arca Swiss tripod collar is simply perfect. If you're in the market for a 70-200 I would seriously consider this model, especially if you shoot Nikon as the price difference is just too good to ignore.
I hope you have enjoyed this review, please feel free to leave any comments and if you wish for me to review any other lenses, then by all means let me know