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  • *REVIEW* Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC

    Tamron 70-200 Review 1 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    This review isn't going to be remotely technical. You can see all the specifications on the Tamron page (and Red Dot Photo's page!). I'm not that kind of photographer - it doesn't need to constantly be all about the resolution power of this and that, etc. It should just perform well in real life applications.

    Over a period of a week, I photographed and filmed at different locations, with a Canon 5D Mark II and the Sony NEX FS-700.

    Tamron 70-200 2.8 VC BTS by headshotzx, on Flickr

    So my first impressions?

    The lens is a keeper at the price. It's such a steal compared to what Canon's asking for the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS Mark II. I personally own the Mark I version of that lens because, well, I don't shoot with the 70-200 range often nowadays.

    It's sharp enough corner to corner when used on my 5D Mark II. It's autofocus works fine enough for my tracking, on both a 5D mark II and a borrowed 5D Mark III, although I didn't get to shoot sports. It's colour seems a little warm to my eyes, but honestly that's subjective. Could be flattering for portraiture though - unintended flaw-turned-boon, perhaps?

    Tamron 70-200 Review 4 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    It's the same weight as the Canon that I have, and is just a little bit shorter, with and without hood.

    Tamron 70-200 Review 3 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    It comes with centre pinch caps. YAY.

    It comes with a lens collar that can be detached when the lens is attached to a camera. Very, very useful indeed. However, there's one thing about the lens collar I really dislike - and it's something that I've been reading about from online comments too.

    You see, I use my lens collars as sort of a handle for when I move my camera set-up about. Usually there's an arca-swiss tripod plate attached to it to help it more.

    Tamron 70-200 Review 6 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    But for the Tamron, there's absolutely no space for my fingers to slide through... no way to use it as a handle unless you've got ridiculously thin fingers (read: children only). Oh and see that rounded back? Good luck getting arca-swiss lens plates that are anti-twist. You'll scratch the heck out of your tripod collar.

    The thing that puzzles me is that there's no significant length difference from the lens to the bottom of the tripod collar when comparing both tripod collars. But the Tamron has a beefier tripod collar for God knows what reason, and impairs our ability to use it in this manner.

    Moving on...


    Tamron 70-200 Review 5 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Or rather, the lack of buttons.

    There's no distance AF limiter, there's no VC (that's vibration control) direction limiter. So if you're tracking an F1 race car down a track with a fence in-between as the car speeds by, good luck to you. You'll very likely get the fence in focus, or jarring stabilisation as the lens tries to counter your deliberate horizontal movement. Geez. What were you thinking, Tamron?

    Tamron 70-200 Review 2 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    So here's the zoom and focus rings... and compared to the Canon, they're all backwards! Nikon users will love this, the guys that use the rest of the brands won't. It can get annoying, but you'll get used to it after awhile. Oh but one thing I don't like is that the zoom ring is out in front. It makes sense to do that because you'll then be using both your hands to take the weight, but I'd much rather have my left hand underneath the COG like the Canon one does for the zoom ring.

    Tamron 70-200 Review 4 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    And for videographers, here's the kicker - the focus ring sucks. No question about it. Slightly scratchy and undamped, and worst of all, tiny. Just plain tiny. Look at the difference in width in the picture above! It was quite irritating when I tried to use it for pulling focus without a follow focus when I shot my short film. I managed, but didn't like it one bit.

    So it seems like I've been bashing the lens quite a bit huh? Yes, I have, but honestly these are all ergonomic problems (maybe with the button features being a functional issue). The lens is build solid, sharp as a tack from corner to corner, renders colours nice to my eye, renders backgrounds very very smoothly with it's 9 aperture blades, is stabilised, and honestly, for the price, what more can you ask for?

    If you can't afford, or don't want to afford the Canon or Nikon versions of the 70-200 lenses BUT still require f/2.8 and stabilisation, this is a viable option that's not at all one that you would think of as "budget". Trust me, I could knock someone out with this lens.

    Here are some samples for your consideration:

    VIEW IN 1080p HD!!!

    View short film here: Down by the Sea - YouTube

    Filmed & Edited by Tan Zexun
    Special thanks to Red Dot Photo SG, Chia Perq Jon, Isaac Chong
    Location suggested by Peter Wong

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8408 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8411 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8381 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8335 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8186 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8180 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8439 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Tamron-70-200-Samples-8390 by headshotzx, on Flickr

    Hope you like the review Lens goes back to Red Dot Photo in 3... 2... 1...


    I'm gonna miss it.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: *REVIEW* Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC started by Zman View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Archie's Avatar
      Great review! Did you have to use some adapter to connect this lens to your Sony?
    1. Zman's Avatar
      Yes I did, it's the Metabones Smart Adapter II for Canon EF to Sony NEX. It's available direct from Metabones, or from Cathay Photo at a premium for convenience.

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