The New Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Looks Irresistibly Versatile and Valuable

Zoom lenses have either bright apertures, a wide range of focal lengths, or a reasonable price point — but rarely all three. Tamron’s latest Fujifilm X-Mount lens, however, looks to hit all three of those defining features. The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD has the wide aperture of the more common 24-70mm, yet it delivers a 25.5-105mm equivalent for $799. That’s a pretty intriguing set-up considering Fujifilm’s own f2.8 standard zoom is 16-55mm and $1,200.

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Announced on June 15, the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 is the third-party lens company’s second all-in-one zoom for the X-Mount, after the 18-300mm f3.5-6.3. But like the first, Tamron isn’t just bringing a more affordable lens for Fuji shooters — there’s really nothing else quite like it in the current X-Mount line-up. Tamron already has this lens available in the Sony E-Mount — and if the X-Mount is anything like it, it’s going to be hard to resist.

Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Key Features

  • This lens is the first fast aperture optic for crop sensor cameras that delivers a 4.1x zoom ratio. Fujifilm has a 16-55mm, a 50-140mm, and an 8-16mm — previously, Fuji shooters would need to use two lenses or an f4 zoom to get the same focal length range that Tamron is putting into a single optic.
  • The lens is built with 16 elements in 12 groups, including two glass-molded aspherical and one hybrid aspherical element.
  • Stabilization is included — that’s what the VC stands for in the lens name (Vibration Compensation). Tamron says the stabilization also works for video and the system works on both stabilized and non-stabilized bodies.
  • The lens focuses with an RXD stepping motor, which Tamron claims is “remarkably quiet.”
  • For video shooters, the lens works to minimize focus breathing.
  • The lens can focus as close as 7.5 inches away at the wide-angle and 15.4 inches on the long end. That’s a magnification ratio of 1:4.8 to 1:5.2.
  • The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 weighs 8.7 ounces and takes up a 4.7-inch slot in the camera bag. And, it’s weather-sealed.

The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 is Versatile and Bright

The Sony E-Mount version of the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8

I own the Fujifilm 16-80mm f4 — which has the same list price as the new Tamron. I love the versatile zoom range of the 16-80mm. But, while it’s a solid lens, it’s not bright enough for every type of shoot. I need something brighter for wedding receptions.

The new Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 is like mixing the versatility of the Fuji 16-80mm but with the aperture of the Fuji 18-55mm f2.8. That’s a pretty enticing mix, particularly for wedding and event photographers like myself. The range is going to allow wedding photographers to get a wide shot of the bride coming down the aisle, then turn and get an up-close shot of the groom’s reaction — something that happens too quickly for lens swaps. And, at f2.8, it should also be bright enough to go from the ceremony to a dark reception.

Tamron’s second X-Mount lens announcement is a bit more exciting to me than the first because of that f2.8 aperture. The larger the crop factor on the sensor, the more important bright aperture lenses are. One of the many reasons that I recently switched to Fujifilm is the existence of a 50mm f1 lens — it’s bright enough that I don’t even miss my D850 with its 24-70mm f2.8 zoom.

That 70mm, 105mm equivalent, on the long end, will exaggerate the bokeh more than Fujifilm’s own 16-55mm f2.8, which is a 24-84mm equivalent. I can see the long end of this lens working nicely for portraits.  A lens that works for weddings, receptions, and portraits? That’s going to be a big draw for wedding photographers that are just getting started and don’t have the biggest gear budgets.

Add in the $799 price point, and I can easily see new Fuji users picking up the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 instead of a kit lens. Consider the Fujifilm X-T4, for example. The 16-80mm f4 kit adds another $500 to the price. Getting the body only and the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 instead would be $300 higher, but with a much wider aperture and nearly the same reach. In fact, to buy the Fujifilm 16-80mm f4 on its own is the same price point as the Tamron 17-70mm.

To be truly versatile enough to move from dark events to portraits, the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 is going to have to deliver decent autofocus performance. And that’s impossible to judge without actually having my hands on the lens. Another dealbreaker for me would be color — the new Tamron is going to have to still be capable of taking advantage of Fuji’s excellent color science. The Tamron 18-300mm for Fuji X Mount still delivered great color, so I have high hopes that this lens will do the same.

We tested the Sony E-Mount variation of the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 — and gave it five stars and the Editor’s Choice Award. Our only dislike in that review is that it needed to be on another camera system. Well, beginning July 8, that is not going to be a complaint anymore. If the X-Mount delivers the same character, quality, and fast autofocus as the Sony E-Mount version, this lens is going to be a great buy.

If no supply chain issues arise, Tamron expects the new 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC in X-Mount to be available beginning July 8. The list price is set at $799.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.