Review: Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon EF)

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 is an entry point into one of the most popular telephoto zoom lens options out there–and it’s actually a damned fantastic one. Tamron has always created lenses that are high quality, affordable, and built pretty well.But with the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2, they’re seriously taking the cake here. This lens offers weather sealing, the same top notch image quality that they’ve been pushing with the new SP lineup of lenses, and image stabilization to boot. So if you’re a portrait photographer, we’re already well aware that you’ve been eyeing a 70-200mm f2.8 lens of some sort.

And if you’re looking for an affordable option, then this is it.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Good for skin tones
  • Delivers lens flare nicely
  • Sharp output
  • Fast autofocus capabilities
  • Weather sealing
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Image stabilization built in

Cons

  • While I like the lens flare, others may complain about it.

Gear Used

We tested the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 with the Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Lion flash, Roundflash dish, Canon 6D and the Canon 6D Mk II.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Tamron listing page.

Specifications

Model A025
Focal Length 70-200mm
Maximum Aperture F/2.8
Angle of View (diagonal) 34°21′ – 12°21′
(for full-frame format)
22°33′ – 7°59′
(for APS-C format)
Optical Construction 23 elements in 17 groups
Minimum Object Distance 0.95m (37.4 in)
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:6.1
Filter Size φ77mm
Maximum Diameter φ88mm
Length* 193.8mm (7.6 in) Canon
191.3mm (7.5 in) Nikon
Weight** 1,500g (52.9 oz) Canon
1,485g (52.4 oz) Nikon
Aperture Blades 9 (circular diaphragm)***
Minimum Aperture F/22
Image Stabilization Performance 5 Stops (CIPA Standards Compliant)
Using in VC MODE 3
For Canon: EOS-5D MKIII is used
For Nikon: D810 is used
Standard Accessories Lens hood, Lens caps, Lens pouch
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon

Ergonomics

Taken from our first impressions post

As far as the ergonomics go, the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 is about what you expect from a 70-200mm lens. It has some good weight and heft to it (though it is still lighter than the previous model), and it fits well in the hand. A nice improvement for those who use Arca-Swiss compatible accessories is the compatible tripod plate on the collar. This eliminates the need for a separate plate (unless you happen to use a system that isn’t Arca compatible).

The zoom ring on the lens is smooth with a good amount of resistance, and you won’t find yourself zooming too easily nor struggling to zoom in an action scenario–it’s just right.

Build Quality

One of the impressive things to consider about the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 is that it is fully weather sealed. In fact, at the lens mount you’ll find a nice rubber gasket to keep out the extra dust and moisture. During our review period we shot with this lens in a rainshower and it performed just fine.

Granted, this was only a moderate rain shower and it was at something around 6,000 feet above sea level. Otherwise though, I didn’t see any major faults with the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2’s build quality.

Ease of Use

The only controls on the lens that you may really want to pay attention to are these three. One is for AF/MF, another is for the vibration compensation an the other is the type of mode it’s on. Otherwise, there is also the focus limiter. In situations where I’ve been photographing landscapes, it’s sometimes best to just put the lens in manual focus and set it to infinity. Otherwise, you’re not really going to bother with it. Just be sure to check the settings on the lens before working with it.

With that said, also note that the lens zooms internally like many others.

Autofocus

The wide majority of my tests were done shooting portraits and landscapes with this lens. For those types of photographers, you’ll have no real issues using the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2. When it comes to photojournalistic uses though, I generally found it easier to use the center focusing point on the Canon 6D and 6D Mk II and then recompose. The latter has better autofocusing though; but again it was just easier when trying to shoot in the heat of the moment.

Focusing with the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 is speedy and accurate in situations where your subject is stagnant. But even so, when you’re shooting with newer cameras and this lens, you can simply stop it down a bit to get your subject in focus.

Image Quality

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 has absolutely fantastic image quality to it. It isn’t as saturated as the 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I love it. Portrait and landscape photographers alike are simply going to love it. When it comes to the image quality there isn’t really a major reason to complain about any parameter though I suspect that some folks may not like the lens flare. Personally speaking, I think that it delivers a bit of extra character that is missing from so many lenses.

Bokeh

The bokeh here is absolutely gorgeous. The best bokeh comes while focusing close on your subject at f2.8 and 200mm. For headshots and portraits, you’re never going to have an issue trying to separate your subject from the background. Where other lens options on the market try to really provide extra micro-contrast, the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 simply does it organically.

Chromatic Aberration

Some folks may not like the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2’s lens flare, but I do. Otherwise, I didn’t see any sort of major aberration issues in my images. Even if I did, I could fix it easily in Capture One.

Moving on…

Color Rendition

When I really, really like with the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 is skin tones. Certain colors such as greens are pretty saturated but skin tones aren’t much so. In fact, they’re just simple beautiful. Further, I really wish that the 85mm f1.8 offered tones this muted. It’s the difference between Portra and Ektar here pretty much.

Sharpness

The best sharpness from the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 comes when flash output is added to the scene. And overall it’s pretty darned sharp. When looking at the scene as a whole, I’d have a tough time figuring out how it differentiates from Canon, Nikon and Sony’s options on the DSLR market.

Extra Sample Images

Conclusions

Likes

  • Image Quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Price point

Dislikes

  • I think that it’s about time that lenses like this become lighter and smaller if at all possible. For years it was said that we couldn’t make a 105mm f1.4 lens and a number of other things, but companies have made it possible over the years.

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 is honestly a fantastic option for many photographers out there. Portrait and landscape photographers will appreciate the great image quality and versatility that it allows. Photojournalists and wedding photographers will seriously love the autofocus speed and accuracy that it can deliver. And most of all, it’s really not badly priced for what it’s offering.

The Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 receives five out of five stars. Want one? Amazon has them for around $1,299.