It’s undeniable that Tamron stands out as perhaps the best 3rd party lens maker of our time — especially if you’re a Sony photographer. Today, Tamron is announcing that the new Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 will cost only $1,299 when it launches in October 2023. You’re bound to wonder why they went with this focal length. When we reviewed the previous version, we realized that we truly didn’t miss the extra 20mm. With higher-megapixel cameras available today, you might feel the same about the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2. However, there’s also a chance you might want even more!
I’m going to start this preview of the lens out by stating that this is an incredible lens for anyone that needs to shoot portraits on the regular — and that’s a big part of the necessary understanding. This isn’t a lens necessarily meant for shooting events unless they’re close quarters. With that said, I truly want to see a revival of the Tamron 70-210mm f4 for mirrorless cameras. Looking back at my review of that lens, I get a feeling of fondness for the images that I created with it. And with that said, I wish that Tamron would make something like it with an f2.8 aperture. Though even better might be a 150-300mm f2.8 lens to accompany their excellent 35-150mm f2-2.8. In fact, I’m not sure you’d need the new Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 if you own that lens.
These specifications are taken from the press release. The biggest change is the addition of vibration compensation:
|Focal Length||: 70-180mm|
|Maximum Aperture||: F2.8|
|Angle of View (diagonal)||: 34°21′-13°42’ (for full-frame mirrorless format)|
|Optical Construction||: 20 elements in 15 groups|
|Minimum Object Distance||: 0.3m / 11.8in (WIDE), 0.85m / 33.5in (TELE)|
|Maximum Magnification Ratio||: 1:2.6 (WIDE) / 1:4.7 (TELE)|
|Filter Size||: φ67mm|
|Maximum Diameter||: φ83mm|
|Length*||: 156.5mm (6.2in)|
|Weight||: 855g (30.2oz)|
|Aperture Blades**||: 9 (circular diaphragm)|
|Minimum Aperture||: F22|
|Standard Accessories||: Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps|
|Mount||: Sony E-mount|
* Length is the distance from the front end of the lens to the lens mount face.
** The circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture.
Specifications, appearance, functionality, etc. are subject to change without prior notice.
The Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 lens has a few key updates to it. The biggest one is the addition of a USB port on the side. But ergonomically, otherwise, it’s very similar to the older lens. There’s a zoom ring, a focusing ring, and a switch on the side. Like many of Tamron’s other lenses, it also has the silver ring towards the back.
The new Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 is said to be weather resistant, just like the last one was. We haven’t taken it out into a heavy rainfall yet to test that. But we’re pretty confident that as always, we’ll find Tamron’s lenses to be even more durable than Sony’s cameras.
In the hand, this is a small and lightweight lens. It zooms in and out — and overall there isn’t anything that majorly stands out about it. The texture is pebbled just enough to give you grip — though you’ll mostly likely place your hands around the rubber rings instead. We can’t truly complain about this lens and how it feels.
Ease of Use
For the uninitiated, the Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 has a USB port on the side for updating firmware. That’s a nifty feature that surprises lots of people. But otherwise, this lens is mostly a point and shoot affair. There are custom presets you can set and control on the lens along with a lens lock. This is bound to be one of the most straightforward telephoto zooms you’ll use. New photographers might really like that.
One of the biggest new features is the addition of vibration control for shaky hands.
We tested the new Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 at the Tuxedo Rennaissance Faire and had a whole lot of fun making images with it. We used the Sony a7r III and the Profoto B10 with it. The camera was set to human detection mode for eyes and face. The combo worked well together when taking portraits of people and overall, we didn’t face any glaring problems.
However, these tests were done in ideal lighting with the Live View Setting effect turned off. This is how Sony’s cameras perform at their absolute best when it comes to autofocusing in a variety of situations. This has even been confirmed to us by Sony reps. We have to test it with melanated people of color in low light to truly see how it will perform. That will be done in our full review to come.
Truly, I don’t care about pixel peeping. Nor did the people that I took portraits of! What they totally did care about is that they looked good. And the reason why I say that this lens is so great for portrait photography is because when paired with a 42MP full-frame sensor, you’ll see that it’s just sharp enough to not need major retouching with subjects. I say that this is the case even with a flash being used!
Is the lens sharp! Of course, it is! Is it so sharp that you’ll want to spend loads of time in post-production editing the skin? No way. In fact, we really don’t like sitting for hours retouching images. So if all you want to do is just shoot, then you’re in for a great time.
Here are sample images for you.
So far, I’m really liking the Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 G2 for portrait photography. Though personally, I’m wondering a few other things about it. For example, how is it really standing out from all the other brands out there? Other brands have made very lightweight and small 70-200mm f2.8 lens. While this is even smaller and lighter while having a more affordable price, I still think it might need something else like a faster aperture or something like that.
Stay tuned for our full review to come.