Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2 Real World Review

Posted May 29th, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink
Tamron 70-200mm

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2

Here’s all you need to know about the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2 lens: It is an excellent lens for a very attractive price.

Seriously, I have never used a Tamron lens this good in my entire career. I’ve owned three Tamrons over the years and have always been disappointed with something about them. My previous Tamron lenses suffered from low image quality, build quality, feel, function, flare, chromatic aberration, color fidelity, or a mix of each. This new 70-200mm G2 lens from Tamron is truly excellent, and that’s coming from a long-time Nikon die-hard.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz about this lens in the photo media, so I felt I had to try it out myself. I purchased my own copy from Adorama.com and have been using it for the last two weeks at school track meets and in my hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington.

The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 is available in Nikon and Canon mounts. For this review, I tested a Nikon mount version and used it predominately on my Nikon D500. It is a full-frame lens and works seamlessly with full-frame and cropped-frame cameras. My Nikon version is fully compatible with cameras like the D5, D750, D810, D7500, D7200, D610, D5600 and so on.

One of the biggest things going for this lens is its relatively low price. At $1,299 it is less than half the cost of the $2,800 Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. For this price differential, you can buy the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 and the new Nikon 200-500mm lens ($1,400) while still having enough money left over for $100 of Starbuck’s lattes. That’s at least a week of coffee for us Washingtonians!

AF Performance

100m

This photo is indicative of the lens’ clarity and AF performance. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

On my Nikon D500, the autofocus performance of the Tamron is truly superb. It is snappy and accurate and among the best-performing autofocus lenses I own. The silent wave motor is truly silent and effortlessly tracks moving subjects, no matter how fast they are moving.

hurdler

Photographing hurdlers was no problem with the Tamron. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

I took the lens to two track meets and shot over 3,500 photos of athletes in motion. Of those images, I estimate only about 150 to 200 shots to be unusable. Half of the unusable shots were my fault for mistakenly twisting the focus ring rather than the zoom ring while shooting.

This AF “hit” performance is a big improvement over all previous Tamron lenses I’ve used and matches up with any of my pro Nikon f/2.8 lenses. Really, I was very impressed.

milers

Getting tack-sharp images of athletes running the mile is no problem with the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

I just finished writing my new book; Nikon Autofocus System 2nd Edition and I wish I had this lens during the writing process. I definitely would have given Tamron a shout out in my lens section of the book as a high performing 3rd party lens.

Vibration Compensation (Image Stabilization) Performance

The VC (vibration compensation) mechanism on this lens is excellent. I’ve found that mode 3 works the best for my hand-held sports and action work, as it is designed to be the most aggressive.

There are three vibration compensation modes:

Mode 1 – This is a basic mode that tries to strike a balance between finder-image stability and vibration compensation performance. This mode isn’t as aggressive as Mode 3, but is a good all-around VC mode for when you want to “see” the VC effect through the viewfinder.

Mode 2 – Panning mode. Use when panning left or right with moving subjects.

Mode 3 – Prioritizes vibration compensation performance, compensating only at the moment the shutter is released. This is the most aggressive setting and Tamron claims it compensates up to 5 stops. I haven’t fully tested it to see if their claims are true, but I have found this mode to be “best” during my testing. When I have more time, I’ll try to hand-hold some 200mm shots at 1/15 second or 1/8 second shutter speeds to see if it is truly possible.

Low light portrait

Photographs in lower light levels are no problem with the excellent vibration compensation settings on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Minimum Focus Distance

The lens focuses down to 3.1 feet (0.95 meter), so at 200mm, it has a 1:6 reproduction ratio. This is definitely sufficient, but doesn’t focus as close as the Nikon (1:4.8) or Canon (1:5) models. If I were using this lens to do macro work, then I’ll add an extension tube to improve its close-focusing capability.

Handling and Ergonomics

Handling is very good and the lens feels solid. The zoom ring is at the front of the lens, so depending on what previous lens you were using, you’ll have to get used to holding the lens at the front of the barrel.

My first two days using the lens was a bit frustrating because I would rotate the focus ring by habit, thinking I was rotating the zoom ring. Not a big deal, but some of you Nikon and Canon shooters will have to spend time learning new muscle memory.

Gig Harbor Bay

Make sure you put your hand on the correct control ring when zooming, otherwise you’ll accidentally rotate the focus ring. Tug boat and sail boat Gig Harbor, Washington. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

Tripod Foot & Lens Collar

Tripod mount

The lens collar and tripod foot are designed with the Arca Swiss standard. This is a very nice touch.

A very nice touch is the tripod foot on the lens collar. It is designed with the Arca Swiss plate architecture built in. That means if you are using a RRS or Kirk or Arca Swiss quick release system, you won’t need to purchase an additional plate.

The lens collar is solid and stable. It is designed so you can quickly and easily remove it from the lens barrel for more comfortable hand-holding.

What Needs Improvement?

Lens barrel switches

There are four switches on the lens barrel of the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Lens barrel switches

I regularly and inadvertently toggle the lens barrel switches on/off while taking the lens in and out of my camera bag. There are four lens barrel switches:

– VC (image stabilization) mode: 1 – 2 – 3.

– VC on/off

– AF/MF

– Focus distance limit: Full or infinity to 3m

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had all four switches turn on or off as I brought the camera out of the bag to take shots. Sometimes it is the AF/MF switch, which turns off autofocus. Just yesterday I accidently turned off the focus distance limit switch. I was shooting a close up of a crab on the beach and couldn’t figure out why the lens wouldn’t focus closer than about 10 feet. I pulled the camera away from my eye, and quickly diagnosed the problem … SWITCH!!!

The switches on Nikon lenses are much lower-profile and therefore don’t get inadvertently moved while using the lens in the real world.

Lens Caps

The lens caps work “fine”, but they are a bit clunky. The front cap works better than the rear. My problem with the rear cap is that it doesn’t mount/dismount as easily or quickly as the Nikon OEM caps.

The Tamron rear lens cap works with my Nikon lenses, but it doesn’t easily snap into place like I’m used to with the Nikon cap. The solution is easy though; I’ve decided to use only Nikon lens caps! I have enough of them, so I’ll be using the Nikon caps from now on.

Yacht narrows bridges

Yacht under Tacoma Narrows bridges, Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Summary

Overall, I give this lens two big thumbs up. I have decided to keep the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 in my camera bag as my primary pro 70-200 lens. I’ll work around the minor issues I detailed above because the cost of the lens is so much lower than the cost of the Nikon. Auto focus performance is among the best I’ve seen and the resulting images are top notch.

Tamron has come a long way and if this lens is any indication of their commitment to excellence, I’d say Nikon and Canon better keep upping their game!

Order Links

Adorama

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon Mount

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Canon Mount

Amazon

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon and Canon Mounts

Additional Sample Photographs

 

Kid pic

Group of kids. Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

track portrait

Portrait of track athlete. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

sprint finish

Women’s 100 meter sprint. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

sprint finish

Women’s 100 meter dash finish. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

 

hurdles

100 meter hurdles race. Nikon D500 and Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2





Which Teleconverter to Buy for Nikon 70-200mm f2.8?

Posted September 6th, 2011 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Great question today from a reader:

QUESTION: Mike thanks for your newsletters.  They are great and very informative for me.  Thanks again

Question:  I have a D700 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED VR II lens and want to bug a teleconverter.  What do you recommend, the 1.4, 1.7 or 2.0?  I would appreciate your advice.

Again, thanks for the help and I hope our paths soon cross again.

George

ANSWER: George,

The TC-14E II is very good with the 70-200 f2.8. I use it with mine all the time. I get excellent results and excellent sharpness.

nikon_tc-14e-ii_400px

TC-17E II is pretty good. You’ll get good results and decent sharpness.

nikon_tc-17eii_400px

TC-20E II is terrible. Don’t buy it. In fact, this model is discontinued.

TC-20E III is great. New optics greatly improve is performance and it is now regarded as a great optic.

nikon_tc-20e-iii_400px

So, which one to buy? That’s hard for me to say since I don’t know your end use. In my case, I bought two TC’s. The 1.4x and the 2.0x. I use them depending on what I’m shooting and how much more reach I need for a photo.





What Aperture is “best” for scenics and landscapes?

Posted December 4th, 2009 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Here's a landscape image that was taken at f/2.8. My goal was to show the foot bridge in relation to the overall garden. F/2.8 allows the bridge to be visually separated from the background. Nikon D700, Nikon 14-24mm, handheld.

Here's a landscape image that was taken at f/2.8. My goal was to show the foot bridge in relation to the overall garden. F/2.8 allows the bridge to be visually separated from the background. Nikon D700, Nikon 14-24mm, handheld.

I’ve had a lot of questions over the last couple of months regarding the “best” aperture to use for scenics and landscapes. Tradition holds that you should use the smallest lens aperture for your scenic and landscape photos. The purpose of using small apertures like f/22 is to maximize your depth. In other words, you want everything from the foreground to the background to appear in sharp focus.

However, there is one important thing to remember about your lens. They are sharpest (i.e. resolve the most information) between an aperture of about f/8 to f/11. When you use smaller apertures such as f/22 or f/32, then the image quality of your lens tends to degrade ever so slightly due to light diffraction. It isn’t a huge amount of degradation, but sometimes it can be enough to make you think twice.

So, what’s a photographer who wants the highest image quality to do? Some photographers say that the depth of field you lose at f/11 is not such a big deal because the sharpness you lose from diffraction at f/22 is worse. My recommendation and my general practice is to shoot landscapes between f/11 and f/16 as a way to get the best of both worlds. Good depth of field with minimal diffraction.

However, try experimenting with other apertures as well. For every rule, there is a photo that shows how/why it can be broken. Take the above photo for example. I shot it at f2.8 with the purpose of bringing more attention to the small foot bridge in the foreground. Although the “best” or “sharpest” image would have been made at f/11 – f/16, I think f2.8 brings a different dimension to the image.





© 2021 Visual Adventures | Site Policies | Web by Works Development