[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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Previous comments

Is it me or the tamron has some Distortion when in 24mm??

This is why I'm such a fan of Lee, Patrick and this site in general. 

Who really needs a review to be anymore than what this just laid out in just a few short minutes.  Here's the lens, here's what it costs, here is what it competes against.  Here is where it's better, here is where it's worse.  Decide if it's a good fit for the money for you and move on.... period..  Who needs MTF charts, countless analysis, etc. 

Thank you Lee & Patrick for always being up fair but at the same time not affraid to pull out and take a punch at a product if it deserves it.  I can always trust you guys will tell it like it is and keeping it real (over used phrase but hey, it fits)

Great review and though I own the 24-70 for Nikon.  If I ever need that focal length to shoot video, I know what lens I'm going to buy.

Thanks as always.....

PS:  What did you use to record the video for this review?  Video quality appeared exceptionaly high to me. D4?

DnN Photography's picture

I love brick wall shots!

I must be very confused then because if you tested it against a non IS (VC) Canon version, I don't understand why the Nikkor couldn't be added in the test, both of you have it lol

Thamar's picture

Nice!! Thank you!

Jaafar Benabdallah's picture

@Ghislain : because you can't compare lenses on different cameras. The 5d mark  III and the D800 have different sensors (in terms of resolution and technology) and they also differ in their signal processing algorithms. You still have to wait for a nikon mount Tamron 24-70 VC (not yet out) to do a fair comparison with the Nikon 24-70.

yeah brain freeze... I get it, they didn't receive the Tamron for Nikon yet... which makes perfect sense... DOH.... :)

Thanks for the review. Great Job Lee!!!!

Nice review. Thanks.
Sorry to drift OT here, but I'm strugling to get audio quality like yours.
How did you record the audio for this clip?
I always have a lot of noise even when using a good external mic to the Canon 5Dmk2.
Did you record this in camera or on an external device?
If in camera, what are you setting? Auto level? Manual...at what level?

Doesn't the 5d mark iii correct for vignetting with Canon lenses automatically?  I'm only asking because I was comparing the hi-res crops over at the-digital-picture.com and over there the Tamron seemingly has better control of vignetting.  Just wondering if this could affect the outcome of the review a little.

If anyone is interested, I also
compared the Tamron VC to the Canon after I saw Lee's video. I also
reviewed the Sigma as well for good measure.
Thanks again to Lee for letting me know about the Tamron lens!

I just received my copy of the Nikon version, seems fairly similar to the Nikon 24-70 but a little wider with more barrel distortion at 28 and slightly more vignetting.  Very sharp with and without VC.  It definitely helps video stability.  Stills at 1/20 are way sharper with VC. 
My question/issue is that I noticed that when zoomed to 70 with the barrel extended, if you look at the end that attaches to the camera, a lot of circuitry is exposed around the optics.  Could any dust, debris, etc. fall out of this area and into the sensor of my new D4 during heavy use?  All my Nikon lenses are sealed where they attach to the camera.

I owned the VC 17-50 Tamron and liked it alot for video and photo's. I used it on my 7D. I since sold my 7D and 17-50 VC. I am now getting the new FF 6D when it comes out. This new VC 24-70 looks awesome! THANK YOU!!

the 6D...?  i pitty you....

Andrew Chavis's picture

I wouldn't trade in a 7d toward a 6d. You lose out so much functionality. Regardless I'm not going to judge your choice in camera. I've had a 7d for a while now and love it.


Lorenzo P's picture

Great Review Lee keep em coming!! 

I just got the Tamron 24-70 VC because it
sounded very interesting for video filming and wrote a quick review vs. my Canon 24-70, with special regard to bokeh testing, if anyone is
I included example pictures of Tamron's highlight bokeh with image stabilizer and without image stabilizer compared to the one of the Canon lens.


your recommendation please Tamron or Canon?

This is the kind of review I've been searching for. Back to back samples! Thank you for the review, I found it very helpful!

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.

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.

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?

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

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.