For years, most Fujifilm photographers haven’t reached for the company’s zoom lenses. But the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD has come to the system, and it offers professional Fujifilm photographers versatility that the native lenses don’t. On top of fast autofocus, it’s accurate, weather-resistant, and lightweight. Sure, it doesn’t feel like a prime lens. But on the right cameras, it’s pretty incredible.
For this, we’re using:
- Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Fujifilm XH2
- Fujifilm XH2s
- Profoto B10
- Flashpoint R2 Flash
- Westcott 7 foot umbrella
- Capture One Pro
Skin Softening Mode
The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD is a pretty great lens with its sharpness, autofocus accuracy, and overall versatility. It’s the equivalent of around a 25-105mm f2.8 lens. How can you beat that? That makes it one of the only lenses you need for events and portraits. But what helps make this lens even better for the Fujifilm system is the skin softening feature Fujifilm cameras have. When I shot the above photo, Soren’s mom was shocked at how great the skin-softening made both her and her son look. The great thing about this is that the the skin softening is light, but also cuts down on time retouching blemishes. You’ll be really happy with what you get.
Lenses like the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 are modern and sharp. With the XH2’s 40MP X Trans sensor, this can be a lot for some folks, especially when a flash is added. Though strobes provide a lot of beautiful light, they also bring out details we can’t see with the naked eye. That’s where skin softening comes into play.
The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD lets you create wide and narrow portraits with a single lens. You don’t have to change it out; you could truly do an entire gig with just this lens, which is important for portrait photographers of course. What’s more, the distortion is significantly kept down. Capture One didn’t find much to deal with at all, even at the longer end. Any edits we made in the way of crops were for artistic and editorial reasons.
To do this, head into Fujifilm’s menu system and select skin softening. I typically set it to the weak setting, but I’ve encountered situations where the strong setting would help. The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD’s sharpness increases when output from a flash is added to the scene. This way you don’t need to use something like a skin-softening filter on the front of your lens or spend a lot of time retouching in post-production.
Further, the settings apply to the RAW images. That makes us extremely elated. And most of The Phoblographer team are professional Fujifilm photographers too!
Eye and Face Detection
Fujifilm cameras used to have issues with focusing on eyelashes instead of eyes. But when using the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 on cameras with the latest firmware, we haven’t seen that problem. Indeed, the myth of third-party lens issues is gone. Even better, the lens works seamlessly with Fujifilm’s face and eye detection algorithms.
We used this feature primarily when shooting gigs. At both events and portrait sessions, autofocus nailed the shots very consistently. In the AF-S mode, be ready to hammer the shutter if your subject is moving around quite a bit, like with a toddler or something. If your subject is an adult, you won’t have any issues.
This is a breath of fresh air. The Fujifilm system has had a problem with autofocus for a while. So it’s nice that, even now with Tamron lenses, it’s a thing of the past.
Professional Fujifilm photographers shooting portraits will get the best out of this camera and lens combination, though. Family portraits can be done easily at the wider end even when there isn’t a lot of room in the studio or location. With the same lens, individual portraits are easily done. Combined with Fujifilm’s film simulations, the photos are going to look lovely. There’s something romantic about Classic Chrome, Classic Negative, and Nostalgic negative. Mix that romance in with the creativity and versatility that the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD gives and you’ve got a dreamy setup that will leave you satisfied.
We wired the face and eye detection button to one of the top buttons of the XH2s and XH2. Once that’s activated, the camera starts to detect faces in a scene. It will track them until you lock on in the AF-S mode. That makes shooting simple and more or less a set it and forget it type of situation. All you’ll need to do is coach your subject and pose them as needed.
Oh yeah, and it’s fast. I was able to capture moments that I didn’t think were possible with previous Fujifilm cameras and lenses.
Using the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD with AF-C Mode
One of the biggest tests for professional Fujifilm photographers has to do with AF-C modes. Fujifilm’s tracking mode coupled with the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD worked successfully. My two biggest tests for this were an event where there was a combination of low light and lots of people. The lens and camera were able to give me a bunch of keeper shots that the client loved.
Additionally, one of my bigger tests involved photographing a toddler: a subject I rarely photograph. But the lens kept up with Fujifilm’s focusing algorithms. And it was able to constantly deliver clear and sharp photos.
Making Your Best Photos
Here are some general tips on using the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD with the XH2 and XH2s:
- You’ll get the fastest autofocus performance using Boost Mode. This is across the board with all Fujifilm cameras. Turn that on and watch the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD really move swiftly.
- The Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD is weather-resistant, so it can go with you into some rainy situations and continue working.
- Skin softening is needed more on the XH2 than the XH2s because of how dense the megapixels are.
- The XH2 takes the most advantage of the colors the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD can give, because of the higher megapixel count. Seriously, photos here look like they were shot on medium format film.
- Use face and scene detection mode interchangeably. These can help you get through a gig easily.
- As with any lens and camera, the output from a flash really makes the images look sharper and often better by providing light that wasn’t there before.
We hope Fujifilm photographers enjoy shooting with the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD on their Fujifilm cameras. The system hasn’t had zoom lenses we really liked in a while, but this one is exceptional for a lot of reasons.
This piece is presented in partnership with TAMRON. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this post already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a key gem to you.