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[Review] Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 VC VS Canon 24-70mm

I've been waiting a long time for a 24-70mm full frame lens with stabilization. Tamron was the first to create this lens and we got our hands on a Canon version. In this review we compare the Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 VC to Canon's 24-70mm 2.8. Which is the better lens? The answer to that question is a little more complicated than you might expect.

As expected the Tamron's "VC" (vibration compensation) is fantastic. It may actually be the best stabilization I've ever seen in a lens. If you like hand-holding your camera at lower shutter speeds or shooting video handheld like us, lens stabilization is a must.

When we compared the optics to Canon's 24-70mm (version 1) we got some interesting results. Throughout the whole zoom range the Tamron had serious vignetting issues at 2.8. At F4 and above vignetting was no longer an issue.

In the center of the frame Canon's lens was always slightly sharper and at 24mm the edges were significantly sharper than Tamron's.


As we zoomed in the Tamron outperformed the Canon on the edges. At 2.8 the Tamron still struggled with vignetting but was still significantly sharper.

We were left not having a clear winner. The Canon did perform much better around 24mm but the Tamron was better towards 70mm (if you don't consider the vignette at 2.8) and it comes with stabilization. Only you can decide what lens is right for you. Check out the sample images and download the high res test files and make the decision for yourself.

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57 Comments

Previous comments
Spy Black's picture

Any reason why you weren't using the latest version of the Canon lens? Would it make a difference? I bought a Tamron when I first got my Nikon D600, and it was really ratty wide open at 24 mm, especially at the edges. Utterly smeared images like you see below (notice that sample was at F4! That's a typo on my part for the Nikkor, it was of course at 28mm). Mind you, that's the edge, not the corner, that was really bad! I returned the lens. However it appears as though I may have gotten a bad copy, because after seeing some good shots made with it I decided to test it at PDN yesterday, and the copy there was similar to what you got here. So I may reconsider this lens again.

Owain Shaw Photo's picture

Someone already said it but it's worth repeating, this was a great review because it told you everything you need to know, with real world tests (or a bit of sarcasm about brick walls but one understands they have their uses for testing sharpness) and application.

Eric Cheng's picture

Thanks for the pictures of brick walls to show the sharpness, but how much sharper is the Canon or Nikkor 24-70 over the Tamron for wedding photography (or simply with people) as you mentioned?

Jody Savage's picture

Just got my tamron today usually have all canon so the reviews before ingot it and this one reassure me it was a good choice thanx

LLamaRama's picture

Vignetting is just not an issue, it's so easy to simply remove especially upon importing to your photo library like Lightroom.
I'm a big fan of Tamron, think they are under-rated just because they are not the same brand as the DSLR body. But I think this review is wrong or has the pictures backwards because, my word, the distortion in the images above is like a football on the tamron and the canon shows much sharper at the edges even though you said the tamron does. and every other real life test I've ever seen backs that up to.

Jeff Schlotzhauer's picture

I've used the Tamron 24-70 for about a month now for weddings and have really struggled with the vignetting I get shooting at 2.8 in low light situations. I bought it to replace a 24-105mm f4 lens I used for family portraits and have not been impressed with the edges; and when correcting in post a get a lot of noise. The 24-105 was very soft and did not play nice in low light. Any suggestions for a good Canon lens for family portraits that does well in low light situations (i.e. churches) ? I've considered the Canon 16-35 2.8 but not sure if its a practical lens for my bag at weddings. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Travis Alex's picture

I keep saying it and have been saying it for years now. Sigma and Tamron are killing it. Great value for great lenses.