Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD (Nikon) review: An affordable ‘fast’ standard zoom that comes out on top

By Paul Carroll - Monday April 22 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens performance | Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD versus competition | Conclusion

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD vs. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED vs. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX GD HSM: Three ‘fast’ pro standard zooms go head to head

Despite the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 G ED costing nearly 50% more than the Tamron, they are very close for image quality, with the Tamron’s DxOMark Score of 29 just nudging out the Nikon’s 28. Both are way out in front of the cheaper $899 Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM with a DxOMark score of 23.

Although very close in real world terms, lens vignetting and distortion results from the Nikon do just trump the other two, but it’s the Sharpness and Chromatic Aberration results where real differences start to show.

03-vignetting

For vignetting the Nikon 24-70mm displays slightly less corner shading at each end of the zoom and a more consistent performance at all settings but the difference between the 3 lenses isn’t significant in this regard.

04-distorsion

All 3 lenses display a similar level of barrel distortion zoomed out at 24mm but at 70mm the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED suffers less from pin-cushion distortion compared to the third party competition.

The Tamron is marginally the sharpest out of all three lenses overall and it’s very good with the aperture wide open at f/2.8, which is an important setting for a pro standard zoom. At f/2.8 the Tamron offers great edge-to-edge sharpness between 24-35mm, and although there is some drop off in the corners between 50-70mm, it’s well controlled.

Results at f/2.8 between the Tamron and Nikon are similar and look very good in contrast to the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM, which doesn’t offer homogenous sharpness at any focal length with the lens aperture wide open. But stop down to f/5.6 and sharpness is more consistent between the three lenses.

 

05-sharpness

The final notable difference is Chromatic Aberration performance, where the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD puts in a sterling performance compared to the poor results from both the Nikon and Sigma.

 In fact the Nikon performs the worst in this regard with heavy fringing evident at all apertures and focal lengths, except fully zoomed in at 70mm, and while the Sigma offers a small improvement keeping things better controlled between 35mm -70mm, images still suffer heavy corner fringing at 24mm.

In contrast the effect on the Tamron is extremely well controlled at all settings with the exception of 24mm f/2.8 where more minor chromatic aberration is evident, but this pales into insignificance compared to its rivals.

06-chromatic1

 

07-chromatic2