Usually, when it comes to buying into a high-quality 70-200mm zoom lens, the first port of call is to check out the camera manufacturer offerings. But for the vast majority of us, price is always a big consideration, which is why the likes of the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 will always be high up on the list.
These third-party lenses don’t just provide great optical quality, but also have equal features to camera manufacturer versions at far more affordable price points. When you’re saving a good thousand dollars on a lens to gain very similar features, this route is definitely worth considering.
This G2 version builds on the success of its predecessor and has addressed the issues which were commonly associated with the previous version. The G2 now has multiple modes for its image stabilization system, can happily accept teleconverters, and has had its optical path revamped. The autofocus system has also been given a once over, which is an important point, as this type of lens is usually used for capturing fast action.
The G2 features a full metal lens barrel, with full weatherproofing to allow the lens to be taken out in all types of conditions. A very solid-feeling magnesium alloy tripod collar has also been added, which is Arca-Swiss compatible to fit a variety of tripods and monopods. For the rest of the external features, the lens features a switch for the image stabilization modes, one for turning on and off stabilization, an AF/MF mode button, and a focus limiter switch. A regular distance scale has also been included in both feet and meters.
Internally, the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 comprises a good deal of glass, consisting of 23 elements arranged in 17 groups, which includes an XLD and five LD elements, with each being treated to eBAND and BBAR coatings. The front element has a fluorine coating to protect against dust particles and the occasional paw print.
As expected for a high-quality 70-200mm zoom lens, the aperture comes in at f/2.8., with the whole package weighing in at a substantial 1.49 kg.
The large focus and zoom rings are very easy to handle, with a ridged surface for easy gripping. The lens also has a full-time manual override when you need to quickly swap between auto and manual focus for the most pinpoint accuracy. Even in manual mode, this lens is very easy to hit focus with, having a good range of motion in the focusing ring.
Where this lens stands tall above the rest is in providing five stops of stabilization with three modes of operation. Mode one covers general use, while mode two is for panning shots and mode three is to stabilize the lens at the point of capture. This feature alone makes the lens extremely versatile in many different lighting conditions. And for the run and gun photographer, the stabilization system results in far more keeper images.
The bokeh on this lens is so easy to achieve thanks to the f/2.8 aperture, making it extremely easy to separate the subject from the background. At f/2.8 the background blur is extremely smooth, with colors transitioning very nicely, making the lens a good solution for portrait work.
In terms of overall sharpness, there are no complaints even when the aperture is wide open at f/2.8. If you want to really nit-pick, the sharpest results across the frame are from f/4. But for the majority of shots, no one will complain about the quality of results at f/2.8. Images are also delivered with a good degree of naturally saturated colors and a touch of extra contrast. This means that when you nail the focus, images only need a touch of post-processing to boost the overall look.
The autofocus system is also extremely rapid, able to lock onto a subject effectively in both single-point and continuous AF. As a lens that is optimized for capturing fast-moving objects, it certainly delivers in this department.
Battle of the Third-Party Lenses
It seems only fair to compare third-party lenses side-by-side and this is probably the reason why you are checking out this article in the first place. One of the most likely comparisons to the Tamron is the mighty Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports, which is also a very plausible alternative to the same as camera brand offerings.
The Sigma is slightly more expensive than the Tamron and it doesn’t offer the same amount of stopped compensation with its stabilization system. However, it does have perks such as an 11-blade diaphragm for extra smooth bokeh.
Just like the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2, the Sigma provides all the professional level features you would expect in this type of zoom lens. The Sigma provides equal amounts of sharpness throughout the aperture range. In reality, each of these lenses will cover everything you need in the 70-200mm lens department. Deciding which one is best is a bit like choosing your favorite child. Each has slight pros and cons to each other, depending on the situation.
|Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2||Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Sports|
|Close Focusing Distance||95cm||1.2m|
|Elements||23 elements/17 groups||24 elements/22 groups|
|Diaphragm||9 rounded||11 rounded|
|Weight||1.49 kg||1.8 kg|
The Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Gets It Done
It’s almost surprising to know that the Tamron can deliver the same results as the 70-200mm lenses by Canon, Nikon, and other brand names, even for those who want a Tamron telephoto zoom on a budget. You won’t be disappointed with the Tamron’s overall features, build quality, or results, and the image stabilization system is one of the best out there.
If we had to dig some negatives about this lens, we could say it does show slight amounts of color fringing at f/2.8 and the buttons on the lens barrel stick up a bit too much. But in every other department, the Tamron is a world-class 70-200mm lens that can deliver in every department for those who need a high-quality solution for fast-action photography.