Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tamron AF 70-200 f/2.8 Di LD (IF)

2014 Update:
I recently bought another copy of this lens, the results of which proved to be better in relation to the previous one. This raises, of course, questions regarding copy variation, but it also means I need to amend my original review. New information in Red. The photos are also new.

There's been quite a few older versions of this lens. I've worked extensively with this newer one, and I still can't make up my mind whether it's worth it or not. Not bad, but not excellent. Excellent image quality, but read on. And in this category, you usually want excellent.

+ fast tele zoom at a competitive price
+ reasonably good excellent image quality in most settings - very good wide-open @200mm
+ nice push-pull MF activation switch...

- ... but it ain't as great as the instant MF override of the AF-S lenses
- image quality not excellent. Autofocus slow and somewhat unreliable (this I had noticed on the first copy too)
- big, not cheap. Used prices have gone down since the VC version came along.

f/4.5 at 110mm. Flawless, pretty much

200mm and f/2.8 - very good, way better than the first copy

Intended Users
Great for:

  • those wanting a better (and faster) tele zoom than a consumer 70-300
  • normal people (=not pros) wanting photos of their kids indoor sports
  • portraits (but there are better options, too)

Not for:
  • walk-around lens (lack of VR means you probably need a monopod)
  • high-resolution scenes (e.g. foliage) fast action. Image quality being fine, the only real issue is the slow and unreliable autofocus
  • anyone satisfied with the Nikkor AF-S 70-300 VR

Final Verdict
Reasonably good Pretty much flawless image quality in most conditions, but in the 70-200 f/2.8 category we expect a bit more. I'd pass on this one. It's simple, really., but the slow autofocus remains an issue. If you have the money, go for the Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8. If you don't, the Nikkor 70-300 VR might be slower, but it's better in every other aspect pretty much and you can live with the autofocus issues, the image quality of this Tamron will satisfy even the most demanding user.


  1. I'd disagree with your final verdict. I know a lot of Nikkor 70-300mm Vr users going to this lens - and not the other way.

  2. Thank you for your comment. The great thing about lenses and options, is that each can select the one best suited to their individual needs. If someone needs f/2.8 at 200mm and can't afford the Nikkor option, the Tamron is great. If we're talking about image quality in the 70-200mm f/5.6 - f/11 range, the 70-300VR is, in my opinion, if not better at least equal with the Tamron - and with the added benefit of VR, which will probably help most people get this image quality.