It’s not often that a mere mortal like myself get’s to own two of the most exciting lenses from two different manufacturers; Tamron & Canon. Lucky for me there is some sort of planetary alignment that occured and I find myself in possession of these two lenses.
Firstly lets start with the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC since I owned this one first. This was purchased second hand from eBay from a wedding photographer who claims that the focal range didn’t really suit his style and that he prefers to shoot with primes. I was excited when I heard the news about this lens, it’s the only 24-70mm with Image Stabilisation or in this case Vibration Compensation as Tamron calls it.
One of the rare gems in the Tamron range of third party lenses is the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 which I had owned in the Nikon mount, unfortunately for Canon users their version of this lens was slow and noisy to focus compared to the screw drive version of the Nikon mount. Those who have owned the lens have compared it both to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 & Canon 24-70 f/2.8 USM and have claimed that it was genuinely close when it came to image quality. Some even went as far as claiming it to be better. Price wise, you couldn’t fault the old Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 especially in the 2nd hand market which I managed to get for $330 AUD. You would be one of the lucky few if you managed to snare a used Nikon 24-70 or a Canon 24-70mm for under $1200 AUD.
Let’s get back to this new Tamron lens which was launched in Japan in late April of 2012. Surprisingly this lens is not as cheap as everybody thought it would be retailing at approximately $1299 when first announced. Since then it has dropped in price, I paid $960 for mine. Initially I thought it was going to be priced more closely with the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 HSM @ $899 but having owned this lens for a few weeks now and making good use of the excellent Vibration Compensation, it’s definitely worth the couple of hundred dollars. The Tamron is well built and boasts a moisture resistant construction which is ideal for outdoor photography. It is also quite heavy @ 825 grams but lighter than the Canon 24-70mm Mk I. It has a lock to prevent zoom creep but regardless of whether you use the lock or not, the lens does not creep and when extended. It has full time manual focus override and extremely quiet when focusing thanks to the USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive). It comes with two switches on the side of the body, the VC on/off switch and the AF on/off. The lens features an 82mm thread which is a bummer since I now have no choice but to acquire new filters and adapters.
Mounted on my 5D Mark III the lens feels balanced and looks the part. The images shot with this lens at the slowest possible shutter speed when hand held are amazing. I shot a photo of my daughter in her rocker with settings of f/4 at 1/6 of a second hand held with the VC turned on and the image was still sharp. I drink a few cups of coffees a day, hand holding at that shutter speed for me is unheard of.
A couple of days ago, I acquired only my second “L” lens since I took up this hobby – the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 USM Mark II. Any sane person would immediately sell the Tamron to make way for this majestically priced piece of glass but I had my doubts so in the meantime, I’ve decided to hold on to the Tamron for sake of testing & comparisons in real world scenario. So far the results are somewhat surprising.
Tamron vs Canon Image Comparison
Here are a couple of very quick image comparisons between the two lenses at identical settings.
One of the lenses used for this test costs twice as much more than the other, can you tell the difference?
@ 24mm both at f/2.8 (Tripod)
@ 70mm both at f/2.8 (Tripod)
@ 70mm shot at f/2.8 1/20th Secs