Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 VR vs Sigma Art vs Tamron G2

Although everyone has a different "favorite" lens, the 24-70mm 2.8 lens usually ends up being used the most. It's standard zoom range and fast 2.8 aperture makes it usable for almost any type of photography. Today, I'm comparing the three most popular 24-70mm lenses to determine which one is best. 

For this test, we used the brand new Nikon D850 and we outfitted it with 24-70mm 2.8 lenses by Nikon, Sigma, and Tamron. In the past, third party lenses weren't even close in build quality or image quality when compared to a Nikon or Canon equivalent, but I'm happy to say that both Sigma and Tamron has really improved their lenses in the last few years while keeping their prices extremely competitive. 

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR

Price: $2200

What I Liked

  • Great build quality
  • The most comfortable to use
  • The sharpest of the three lenses at 2.8
  • Very impressive VR (image stabilization)

What I Didn't Like

  • Nikon's lens design hasn't changed in years and is beginning to feel dated
  • The lens is abnormally long for its zoom range
  • Its zoom range appears to actually be around 28-80mm
  • It's extremely expensive


Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2

Price: $1200

What I Liked

  • Tamron's new lens design looks fantastic and the materials are significantly improved
  • The zoom ring was loose enough to use for hours without wrist pain
  • VC (vibration compensation) is fantastic
  • The lens was the sharpest of the three at f8

What I Didn't Like

  • The lens didn't feel quite as well built as the other two
  • The zoom ring wasn't quite as smooth throughout the full rotation as the other two
  • The lens wasn't quite as sharp at 2.8 on the edges as the Nikon

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens

Price: $1300

What I Liked

  • The materials, design, and build quality of this lens was my favorite of the three

What I Didn't Like

  • The zoom ring, although very smooth, was also extremely tight causing wrist pain
  • The zoom ring is too close to the focus ring 
  • This lens was the least sharp of the three
  • The OS (optical stabilization) is basically useless

Conclusion

If all three of these lenses were the exact same price, I would probably choose the Nikon but it's basically double the price of the competitors. The Sigma lens was certainly my favorite to look at but it couldn't quite keep up with the Nikon or Tamron when it came to ergonomics, image quality, and stabilization. For the past few years, I've owned the previous Nikon 24-70mm lens without VR and the previous Tamron 24-70mm with VC and I exclusively used the Tamron. Literally, my only gripe with the old Tamron lens was that it was ugly and it felt cheap. I'm happy to say that Tamron has fixed both of those issues and they have produced a lens that I think looks much better than the Nikon version and is actually on par with it functionally. It's always exciting with these comparisons when there is a clear winner and for me, the Tamron 24-70mm g2 for just $1200, is the obvious choice. 

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38 Comments

Nicholas Chopp's picture

Concur entirely. We recently upgraded our Tamron 24-70 to the g2, and couldn't be happier. AF is way snappier, the bokeh is slightly more round, and the aesthetics/build quality are significantly better.

William Howell's picture

Hey wouldn’t the Nikon have the better build quality, because of being internally focused? Are any of the lenses made in Japan?

Each of these lenses have internal focus. Didn’t go down the rabbit hole of where they were made.

He probably meant internal zoom...

William Howell's picture

Yeah, that’s what I meant.

William Howell's picture

Oops, I meant internally zoomed. Does that have an impact on build quality? And I was wondering about country of manufacturing, because it seems that Nikon is not making that much product in Japan anymore, but I believe Sigma manufactures a good portion of their stuff in Japan.

Perhaps there is more to it than I understand but someone brought up a great point about the Nikon being more robust because the lens hood is not attached to the part of the lens that moves so when you bang it it on something, you won't damage internals as easily.

William Howell's picture

Well your article spurred me to research this newer Nikon lens and it seems to be quite controversial, most writing that it is not as good as the previous version, do you think this true?
I have a Sigma 24-70mm, my first good lens really, that I bought about ten years ago and it still seems pretty sharp. But like you said in the video, some photographers seem to look down on third party lenses, not me though because of the picture quality from the “old” Sigma, it’s sharp to my eye. Good article.

Any photographer that looks down on the Sigma of today is simply ignorant.

Everything I have read says that the new Nikon version isn't as sharp as the older one. For me, I'd rather have VR and a slightly softer lens but luckily it's not the only option.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything but the new lens is a little less sharp in the center but more so in the corners. Kinda sucks for portraiture but better for landscape, etc.

Valters Pelns's picture

I had old G 24-70 from nikon, now I have 2 460.00 euros worth 24-70E.
What I got in change:
Faster and more accurate AF
Better corner sharpness
VR
more vignetting
what I lost in change:
1460 euros
little bit sharper center
some cm in bag.

Interesting fact.
new 24-70 is bigger, but new 70-200 is smaller, so if you buy both, you don't lose any space in bag.

Internally zoomed lens is big deal for me and everyone who uses it in sandy or wet situations.

Spy Black's picture

I don't think the optical formula of the lens was revised. It's the same lens optically if I'm not mistaken. If so then it reminds me of one of Tamron's weakest points, QC. Sample variance can be large. I bought the G1 and it was nasty, but I suspect it was a bad copy and it should be better than what I had. At least I hope so, although someone concurred with image smearing at the edges, especially at 24mm. An older 28-75 f/2.8 Tamron that replaced it doesn't do that.

Of course lens design means something but can be subjective and nobody needs to know your opinion since we can see it for ourselves. I'm not picking on you, I just don't know why any review mentions it.
I can't comment on the rest of the review because I'm biased. Over the years, I've dumped my third party lenses and won't buy another. No need to comment on that, it's not open for discussion. Before anyone asks, I read the article out of simple curiosity.

so the nikon is abnormally long yet the most comfortable to use. maybe that makes that length a good thing then?

Handling is a bit subjective and can depend on the body. I could see it being more comfortable with a D8xx or D4/5 than a D750 or D6xx.

It’s comfortable because the zoom ring is close to the body. It’s length doesn’t make it easier to use and it takes up more space in my bag.

Fritz John Asuro's picture

I still prefer Nikon's design compared to the other barrel extending lenses. (I know Nikon does, but at least it doesn't poke out of the hood).

The optical features seem to be very equal on these modern lenses. So I am wondering why the autofocus speed and accuracy was not adressed at all in this review, an area where these lenses might be distinguished the most. I heard the Nikon ist really fast. What was your experience?

We really should have covered at least speed. I was afraid of the accuracy test because you can always fine tune it in the camera and I didn’t want to go down that endless rabbit hole.

Patrick took a lens with him out of the country but when he comes back I’ll update this post with focus speed.

Scott Stebner's picture

I try to be budget minded with a focus on quality . The kens has been excellent on my D810 and the stabilization is incredible. There is vinetting on the images , but nothing LR can’t fix. It’s definitely not my old Schneider 80, but for the price, it’s incredible.

That is an incredible image. Did you take that with the Tamron 24-70 G2? And what was your lighting setup if you don't mind me asking.

Scott Stebner's picture

Hey Raktim, yup with the 24-70 Tamron G2. GODOX with a double diffused Westcott octabox

Lee, I normally enjoy reading your reviews, however, I found this one fairly lacking in substance or anything really objective. There were no example photos provided possibly due to that these lenses have been compared almost ad nauseum. I feel this review was basically one of aesthetics and which felt better. Yes, the Nikon is the “longest”, but it is also the only lens that is internally zoomed. Also you said it seems like it is more of a 28-80mm, yet all three lenses spec out at 84-34 degree angle of view. Thank you.

I find that test shots are basically worthless for tests like this because you literally would not be able to tell one from the other. Our “test” shots were of the wall and the results are in the video but I figured they didn’t need to be in the post.

David Moore's picture

I had the Sigma for a couple days, was really soft, smeary. Sent it right back. The Tamron wasn't out yet so I got the Canon and am super happy with it. Probably would love the Tamron too.

Lance Bachelder's picture

Nice review! I have the new 45mm and 90mm macro Tamron's and just love them - the performance and design is outstanding. Looking forward to replacing my Canon 24-70 f4 with the Tamron and eventually getting the 70-200.

Nicholas Chopp's picture

We upgraded our Tamron V1 24-70 and 70-200s to the IIs, and are glad we did. The improvements are consistent - faster and more accurate AF, slightly better bokeh, and significantly better build quality/aesthetics.

I have the previous version of the Tamron 24-70. Still a pretty sharp lens, but the VR demonstration in this video certainly got me interested in the G2. Also I'm glad I saw this video. I'm a fan of Sigma Art lenses. And I was debating if I should upgrade to the Sigma A 24-70 or not. Well this video answered my question.

The Nikon has a gold stripe instead of a red stripe.
It looks like the Sigma has a bad switch on the optical stabilization since on and off doesn't make a difference.