Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD review

An excellent performer by any standards and especially for a third-party lens

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Our Verdict

Spectacular image quality reinforces the up-market build quality and handling of this f/2.8 lens, making it an unbeatable buy at the price.

For

  • Excellent performance
  • Sheer value for money
  • Fast AF and effective image stabilization

Against

  • Big and heavy (though typical for 70-200mm f/2.8)
  • Large 77mm filter ring

Mount: Canon, Nikon, Sony A Format: Full frame Construction: 23 elements in 17 groups, nine diaphragm blades Closest focus distance: 130cm Filter size: 77mm Autofocus: ultrasonic (ring) Dimensions: 86 x 197mm 1,470g Tested on: Nikon D600

Tamron has launched some excellent Super Performance lenses of late, one of our favourites being the SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. The 70-200mm follows suit, with a truly professional feel. It includes weather seals, fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus and Tamron's proprietary Vibration Compensation optical stabiliser. At least, you get all of this in the Canon or Nikon editions of the lens. The optical stabiliser is omitted from the Sony (A-mount) version of the lens, for which in-camera sensor-shift stabilization may be available.

Like the competing Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8lens, the Tamron is a stop faster than the usual f/4 class of zoom you'd expect in this price bracket. Because of this wide f/2.8 maximum aperture, the Tamron has a typically large front element and a 77mm filter thread, and is quite weighty at 1.47kg – but it does come complete with a tripod mounting foot.

There are only two switches on the lens barrel, one for AF/MF and the other for VC on/off. As usual for ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, full-time manual override is available. There's no separate panning mode for the optical stabiliser, but the system works well for both static and panning shots.

Performance

Autofocus is super-fast. The optical stabiliser gave a useful four-stop benefit in our tests. Sharpness and contrast are excellent throughout the entire zoom range. This holds true even at the widest f/2.8 aperture. In these respects, the Tamron eases ahead of its Sigma rival.

Test results

Sharpness: There's excellent sharpness throughout the entire zoom range, with great consistency across the image frame, even at f/2.8.

Tamron SP 70 200mm f 2 8 Di VC USD resolution

Fringing: The Tamron delivers the outright best scores for colour fringing of all the mid-price telephoto lenses in our latest group test.

Tamron SP 70 200mm f 2 8 Di VC USD chromatic aberration

Distortion: It's another win for the Tamron, with less barrel and pincushion distortion than any of the other 70-200mm lenses on test.

70mm: -0.85
100mm: 0.12
135mm: 0.66
200mm: 1.18

Verdict: Spectacular image quality reinforces the up-market build quality and handling of this f/2.8 lens, making it an unbeatable buy at the price.