[Editorial] Why The Tamron 24-70mm Matters

[Editorial] Why The Tamron 24-70mm Matters

When we were told that the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC lens was shipping on April 26, I can't understate how stoked Pat, Lee and myself were. Since we read the press release, we have been itching to get our hands on one. Why? Because this lens fills a void we have been aching for since DSLRs started shooting quality video.

So why does the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC matter?

Jaron Schneider: Of all the lens choices available, for many the 24-70mm is far and away the most versatile, desirable, all around top pick workhorse lens you can buy. In fact, Fstoppers voted it the clear winner among the popular lenses currently available if they had to pick one lens and one lens only for the rest of their lives- an astounding 44.29% of those polled (a pool of 3,281 readers). When there are seven options and a vast range of styles and subject matter to photograph, 44% is huge.

As big as this percentage is, these results are not surprising at all. It is great for just about any style and can make the jump among the different types of photography seamlessly. The lens also makes some great video- if you have a tripod or great steady cam rig. Up until now there has not been a model of the 24-70mm available from any manufacturer that offers some sort of vibration reduction, or as Tamron calls it, Vibration Compensation. Vibration Compensation makes all the difference, especially if you're like me and your love for all things photography courses through your veins with such immeasurable pressure that it makes your hands shake uncontrollably. I can shoot hand-held with Tamron Vibration Compensation without a problem, as is evidenced by the moving videography in our FS Original with Blair Bunting and the Lamborghini Aventador.

As you can see in the chart below, there are four major players in the 24-70mm f/2.8 battle (click to see larger).

Side by side, the lenses are nearly identical. The main differences come in with price point and vibration reduction. Notice how only one lens has any sort of vibration reduction/compensation: Tamron. When I see this lens, I see something I desperately need and have been craving.

Lee Morris: When it comes to video, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC is my favorite lens. Why? The Vibration Compensation that this lens has is the best that I have ever used in any lens. Most of the Fstoppers Original videos that we shoot require that I film without a tripod, and that means I am hand holding the camera 90% of the time. The VC on this lens can actually make my hand held shots look like my camera is on a tripod. With the "rolling shutter" issue, steady shots with DSLRs make the production value much higher.

The downside to this lens is that it is a DX lens so it will not work with the new full frame Nikon D800 or D4 or Canon's 5D MKIII. I have no clue why Canon and Nikon have been so slow to release a full frame 24-70mm with IS or VR, but those lenses still do not exist.

When I heard that Tamron was finally creating a full frame equivalent (the 24-70mm f/2.8 VC) I got extremely excited. The lens isn't cheap at $1300, but I see that as a good thing. I know that if Tamron is going to sell a lens for $1300 the build quality and sharpness will reflect the high price. If the optics of this lens can compare to my Nikon 24-70mm and the VC is even close to my Tamron 17-50mm, the new Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC will probably never leave my Nikon D800 Body.

Patrick Hall: As a wedding photographer and for filming Fstoppers Originals, I really need a fast lens that can work in low light both on and off the tripod. Since Nikon does not produce a standard 2.8 lens with VR, I wound up using the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC and found that Tamron's Vibration Compensation might actually be the most effective lens stabilization of any lens I've used. It really makes switching from stills to video a snap, and if the new 24-70 works as well as the 17-50mm then I will definitely have one on my full frame DSLRs.

So you can see, the core of why we want this lens is because we love the 17-50mm so much. We have immense faith in Tamron's Vibration Compensation. We're gonna have to sit tight and sweat things out for a few days while we wait for our review copy to arrive. Look for our full, comprehensive review of the upcoming Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD lens in the coming weeks. Until then, let us know: are you as excited as we are?

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"The downside to this lens is that it is a DX lens so it will not work with the new full frame Nikon D800 or D4 or Canon’s 5D MKIII"
"I will definitely have one on my full frame DSLRs"


Read the paragraph before.

Thomas Langley's picture

 He's discussing his 17-50 at that point

Oliver, Lee is referring to the 17-50mm. The downside to that lens is that he can't use it on his full frame cameras. The new 24-70mm is designed for use with full frame cameras, eliminating that downside.

I think he was talking about the 17-55mm tamron being DX and if the 24-70mm is full frame with similar VC then it would never leave his full frame DSLR's

 u dont no what ur talking about !

Gina's picture

 You all don't know how to read!


Luke Sitter's picture

i think he meant the 17-50 is a DX lens.

well we hvae to wait to see the results and especially when it will be competing again Nikon 24-70 2.8, which is an "Incredible Lens" in terms of image quality, sharpness and overall performance in low light situation.   But you never know.. so will have to wait and test .....Guru.

Patrick Hall's picture

 Yeah I'm not sure any lens will beat the Nikkor 24-70 in terms of sharpness...but if you shoot video at all the VR/VC is CRUCIAL!   If you think we are really excited about this new Tamron lens, wait until you hear our reaction if Nikon ever adds VR to either the 17-55 or 24-70!

If the review is good then this is going to be my next investment.  Been waiting for a good lens like this.  

"If the optics of this lens can compare to my Nikon 24-70mm" is a really BIG IF.

I think it is a full-frame lens

Product Highlights
Wide-Angle 24-70mm Full-Frame Zoom Lens
Built-In Image Stabilization
Ultrasonic Silent Drive for Silent AF
LD, Aspherical Elements for Sharp Images
Moisture-Resistant Construction
Compact (3.5x4.6") & Lightweight (29oz)

Tobias Solem's picture

The winner here is Sigma imo - works perfect on FX and is cheaper (and in some aspects better) than the Canon and Nikon lenses. But for anyone with a DX-camera I suppose this is adequate.

Nicholas's picture

When I upgrade to full frame, there is no question that this VC Tamron lens will be in my kit. I have a feeling that Tamron knows how important the sharpness needs to be if they are to have a chance in competing against Nikon, Canon, or for that matter, the excellent optics of Sigma. I'm very excited. Awesome coverage fstoppers.

I'm a huge fan of the Tamron and Sigma lines, however at $1300 as opposed to Canon's at just $300 more? It's not worth it. Price needs to drop and then it will be an extremely viable option. 

The price point tells us that this lens is going to have the quality we all need. It costs more to make a great product. At least that's the hope.

That's just what Marketing would want you to believe.

Maks Dikarev's picture

I think you missed something - the Canon 24-70 mk II is $1000 more, not 300.  So in that respect - the Tamron is definitely a good deal. 

Patrick Hall's picture

For Nikon users, this lens is is about $600 less than the Nikkor version AND it has Stabilization for video which is really important if you are handholding video.  

But what about the optics, build quality, and AF-speed/accuracy?  I look forward to the reviews as I've heard good things about the VC and USD but I've had bad experience with Tamron AF and build quality.  I cannot wait for the reviews to come out!

Patrick Hall's picture

we should have one in our hands today or tomorrow :)  We will let everyone know our thoughts

this is great news! now Nikon and Canon will have to come out with a VR/IS versions!

Ken Yee's picture

ephotozine put up the first review I've seen on this and it looks disappointing to me :-P
2.5 stops of vignetting when used wide open.  Are they kidding?  With the giant 82mm front element, they still can't get vignetting under control?? :-P

The earlier version (before VC) outclassed the Nikkor in most tests, especially of the double-blind (tester) print variety. And it was only $500. I'm surprised that this one costs as much more than the old one as it does, as most Tamrons are only a couple hundred more for VC. 

What most people don't realize is that Tamron makes many of the lenses you see with other badges (such as Nikon and Canon, and most notably Sony). Tamron is contractually limited in how much they can tell us about that (no specific models, for instance), but the fact that they make lenses branded as an OEM lens is quite publicly known. (Sony holds a sizable interest in Tamron, by the way.) 

Shoot Smarter (and Will Crockett specifically) has always rated Tamron lenses particularly high, especially their f/2.8 zooms. In fact they said that Tamron is the only manufacturer of f/2.8 zooms that actually held a consistent f/2.8 all the way through the range. 

The Tamron exec I spoke with a couple years ago had a huge grin on his face when he described the joy he gets when people compare the Tamron lenses with other Tamron lenses with a different label. He seemed absolutely tickled that people get so caught up in debating which was better and how many times people get stuck on the "you can't beat the [Canon/Nikon] for image quality" mindset and end up paying substantially more for a lens from the same actual manufacturer. It's just dogma. And Tamron makes as much money either way. Anyway, he couldn't tell me which lenses were being debated, but he made it clear that they were professional grade. 

I love Tamron lenses. Their 70-200 is hard to beat, especially on my Pentax where every lens is stabilized. I wish they made more primes, though. But that same exec expressed to me the difference between Sigma and Tamron: Sigma makes a HUGE array of lenses and sells some of each. Tamron makes fewer models and sells a lot more of each. And Tamron is many times larger as a company. Both perfectly good, viable business models. Just different. (He wasn't expressing any animosity towards Sigma; he was just explaining why Sigma makes a lot of primes and Tamron doesn't.) 

All of that Tamron praise aside (though still in that context), this Editorial feels a lot like a paid advertisement. :-D 

Patrick Hall's picture

That first generation 17-50 2.8 lens was my first lens I ever bought...I remember shooting it side by side with the Nikkor 17-55 2.8 and you are right, the differences in IQ were tiny if any.  I still use that lens to this day for my weddings

The main difference between those two is the materials: the Nikon is metal and the Tamron is plastic. That makes the Tamron feel cheaper but it's lighter and more compact and plastic doesn't expand and contract as much with changes in temperature, which may be directly responsible for the higher image quality in some situations.

plus plastic is always getting better and better and after few years (5-10 maybe) we wont see any lenses made out of metal.  They will all be made out of plastic that is much lighter than metal and have the same strength.  Same i think with the cameras.  Plus its much cheaper.