Sunday, November 24, 2019

Comparative performance of Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD / Model A007N

I purchased this lens recently, but am planning to send it back.  Experience is below for anyone considering this lens, or wondering if their copy is good or bad.

Note: this post does not review the "G2" model of this lens.

First informal tests showed up a possible issue.

  • Handheld,  1/1000s or higher, high ISO.
  • No, the sign is not straight. Who cares, look at the results!

0 - Uncropped example shot









Yes, I know DOF plays a part.  But still obviously a possible issue.

So, on to more rigorous testing, below.

Note: I am aware it is not fair to compare a zoom against primes, a zoom at max zoom vs. a zoom at min zoom.  However, these are the lenses I had available.   All lenses were shot wide open to make the tests as fair as possible.

All at ISO 100, tripod, 5s self-timer delay, Nikon SB-24 flash, lens VR off, lens was refocused for every shot.

Test rig

Zoom vs. Zoom:  Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8 vs Nikon 70-200 @ 70mm, f/2.8:

Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Similar focal lengths: Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8 vs Nikon 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8:
Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

Third-party vs. Third-party:  Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8 vs Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro @ f/2.8:

Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, f/2.8

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro @ f/2.8
 It's obvious the Tamron is far worse than any of the other lenses.  Not what I would expect for this class of lens.

To be fair, I would not expect the Tamron to equal the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 (which is legendary), the Nikon 50mm (also legendary) or the macro prime.  But for my money, since Tamron touts this as a premium lens, it should be better than this.

Tamron @ 70mm at different apertures (target ~ 80 cm away):

f/2.8 - Poor

f/4.0 - Mediocre

f/5.6 - Excellent, tack sharp detail

OK, so the lens is capable of good performance - just look at that lovely detail at f/5.6.  So it's unlikely to be damaged or defective.  It just has crap performance below f/5.0 or so.

Again, I'm not expecting a third-party zoom to be as good as a prime, or a Nikon zoom.  But the whole Tamron value proposition is to get 80% of the performance  for 50% of the cost. This lens doesn't live up to that.

Also, the whole point of buying a fast zoom is to shoot it fast.  You can't tell me "just" to shoot it at f/5.0 or lower.  What, the athletes are going to slow down because I ask them to?

I tested the lens for front/back focus but could not discern any differences at f/2.8, even at max adjustment in a Nikon D7200,  owing to the poor image quality.  I don't think this lens is compatible with a Tamron TAP-In dock, and it's unclear if any focus adjustment will correct this anyway.

Being a G1, my Tamron was used and so perhaps was not in the best shape.  However, if you're planning to buy one, you may want to test it first.

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