Review: Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon EF Mount)

The Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 incorporates a number of enhancements to the company’s already excellent flagship ultra-wide angle zoom lens

When Tamron released the original version of their SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD high-speed ultra-wide angle zoom back in 2015, we praised it for its sharpness, color rendition, and versatility, but felt that there were some areas that Tamron could improve on. Enter the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2, Tamron’s 2nd generation refresh of the same lens that we had reviewed some four years ago which incorporates a number of improvements upon the well-received original. A pair of MPUs (Micro-Processing Unit) along with a VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism resides within the SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2 and work in tandem to ensure snappy autofocus performance while maintaining image stabilization.

According to Tamron, the 2nd generation lens also features an optics design that incorporates an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element along with multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements to minimize distortions and lateral chromatic aberrations that tend to appear when shooting with wide angle glass. Tamron’s improved the already durable Fluorine Coating on the front element while introducing a number of additional coatings to help improve the optical quality of the updated lens, including the newly developed AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) Coating that’s designed to dramatically reduce flaring and ghosting. the eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings which help maintain clarity and sharpness especially towards the periphery of your frame.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fast maximum aperture of f2.8
  • Durable construction
  • Ultra-wide focal length range suitable for everything from Architecture, Real Estate, Landscape, Street, and Travel Photography
  • Includes vibration compensation, Tamron’s name for their optical stabilization tech
  • Moisture-resistant construction
  • Canon version includes an integrated filter holder on the lens mount side

Cons

  • Considerably heavy
  • Chunky in size
  • Noticeable distortion (although correctible in post)
  • Traditional filters aren’t supported, the front of the lens lacks filter threads and the front element is also convex and protrudes significantly

 

Gear Used

We tested the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD (Model A041) lens with the Canon EOS R and Sony A7RIII paired with a Metabones Mark V Canon EF Mount to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD (Model A041) taken from Tamron’s official product page.

Model A041
Focal Length 15‐30mm
Maximum Aperture F/2.8
Angle of View (diagonal) 110°32′ – 71°35′ (for full-frame DSLR cameras)
85°52′ – 49°54′ (for APS-C format DSLR cameras)
Optical Construction 18 elements in 13 groups
Minimum Object Distance 0.28m (11 in) Full zoom range
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:5 (f=30mm)
Filter Size N/A*
Maximum Diameter φ98.4mm
Length** for Canon 145mm (5.7 in)
for Nikon 142.5mm (5.6 in)
Weight for Canon 1,110g (39.2 oz)
for Nikon 1,100g (38.8 oz)
Aperture Blades 9 (circular diaphragm)***
Minimum Aperture f22
Image Stabilization Performance 4.5 stops (TELE) (CIPA Standards Compliant); For Canon: EOS-5D MKIII is used / For Nikon: D810 is used
Standard Accessories Integrated flower-shaped hood, Lens caps (push-on front, rear)
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon
Specifications, appearance, functionality, etc. are subject to change without prior notice.
* A rear filter holder is available for Canon mount.
** Length is the distance from the front tip of the lens to the lens mount face.
*** The circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture.

 

Ergonomics

Here’s the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 mounted to a Sony A7RIII via a Metabones Mark V Canon EF Mount to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter. When the lens is adapted to a mirrorless camera, you’ll see how it just becomes a bigger option.

The front of the lens features a petal-style lens hood that is built into the outer barrel of the lens. A large, rubber ridged Zoom Ring is situated directly behind the lens hood, followed by the smaller, also rubber ridged Manual Focus Ring, as well as a Distance Scale. The Zoom Ring offers an adequate amount of resistance when turning, allowing you to zoom the lens in and out precisely and deliberately while minimizing any accidental focal length adjustments due to accidental contact with the ring. On the other hand, the Manual Focus Ring offers much less resistance when turning, allowing you to quickly dial in your focus should you choose to take over focusing duties manually.

You can toggle between Autofocus and Manual Focus modes as well as switching the Vibration Compensation on or off using the toggle switches found on the side of the lens. These are all there are in terms of controls for the lens.

Here’s a closer look at the Distance Scale, which goes from the minimum focusing distance of 0.28m (11″) all the way to infinity.

 

Build Quality

You can tell that the engineers at Tamron put a lot of thought into the design of the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2. The updated ultra-wide angle zoom is sturdily built, feels very robust in hand, and features premium fit and finish overall, though it’s worth noting that the lens is considerable hefty and will take up a sizable chunk of space in your camera bag. You’re going to wish you did that extra set of bicep curls the last time you were at the gym if you plan on shooting with this lens for long periods of time sans tripod. The front lens cap that comes bundled with the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 is of the friction fit variety, which is always a potential cause for concern as it’s very easy to remove it from the lens due to the fact that it lacks any locking mechanism found in most conventional lens caps, but to be fair, Tamron would have to redesign the lens hood in order for a locking front lens cap to work with this lens.

 

Ease of Use

All in all, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2 worked as one would expect an autofocusing zoom lens would. Simply mount the lens onto your camera body, zoom into the appropriate focal length to match the framing you had in mind, focus on your subject, and press the shutter. The inclusion of vibration compensation is certainly a boon when you’re shooting with this weighty ultra-wide angle zoom, helping you maintain a reasonably high hit rate even if you happen to be shooting with this lens singlehanded and without the help of a tripod. Manual adjustments also worked as expected for the photographers out there that prefer to fine-tune the focusing themselves.

 

Autofocus

During our time with the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2, the ultra-wide angle zoom acquired focus quickly and consistently without skipping a beat, even when we were shooting with it in low light situations. As long as your focusing mode and focus point are set appropriately, you’ll be rewarded with an image that’s sure to be in focus.

 

Image Quality

Barring distortion and vignette correction which are to be expected when shooting with ultra-wide angle zoom lenses, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 is one of those lenses that’s perfectly suited for photographers that prefer to do very minimal post-processing, preferring to get as much done in camera as possible.

Bokeh

Thanks to the 9 bladed rounded aperture design of the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2, defocused portions of the frame appear pleasingly smooth which helps objects in focus stand out. You’ll even see the odd bokeh ball every so often if there happen to be light sources within your frame, but certainly not of the same quality as one would expect from lenses of longer focal lengths.

Chromatic Aberration

When shooting with the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2, you are bound to notice some vignetting as well as distortion in your images, but that’s to be expected on an ultra-wide angle zoom, and both issues can be easily remedied during post-production. On rare occasions, we also noticed some slight purple fringing in the images that we shot with the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2, but they were few and far between and can also be easily corrected in post. The integrated lens hood on the G2 does a good job of minimizing flaring during most conditions, but you will inevitably detect some flaring if you happen to be shooting into the sun or other bring light sources, but never to the point of distracting and gives the lens a nice character.

Color Rendition

The Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 produces images with lifelike and saturated colors. Very little if any post-processing is needed when shooting with this lens if accurate colors are what you’re after.

Sharpness

As far as ultra-wide angle zooms go, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 renders some razor sharp images that are sure to please Architecture, Landscape, and Real Estate photographers. In focused areas are sharp throughout the frame with nary any noticeable decrease in sharpness towards the periphery, but you will find the Tamron to give you the sharpest results if you stop the lens down to between f5.6 and f11.

Additional Image Samples

Here are some additional images that we shot with the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images seen within this review have been retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images produced by this lens for yourself.

 

 

Conclusion

Likes

  • Fast maximum aperture
  • Excellent image quality
  • Versatile ultra-wide angle focal range
  • Moisture resistance

Dislikes

  • Not compatible with conventional lens filters
  • Big and heavy

Although US$1,299 is certainly not an inconsequential sum of money, the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 is one of the best bang for your buck when it comes to ultra-wide angle zooms currently available on the market. While Tamron’s original 15-30mm f2.8 was an impressive lens in its own right, the addition of moisture resistance along with enhanced vibration compensation and improved lens coatings are certainly welcomed improvements. We just wish Tamron would put the lens on a diet so that it was less cumbersome to use, but that would probably require that they bend the laws of physics. With that said, we’d still recommend this lens to anyone that’s in the market for a versatile ultra-wide angle zoom lens.

The Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 for Canon EF Mount earns Four out of Five Stars and is available now for a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of US$1,299 over at Amazon

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.