Canon versus Tamron VC 24-70mm f2.8 lenses

Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Blog | 10 Comments

Canon 17-55mm f2.8 Lens

Canon versus Tamron VC 24-70mm f2.8


Before I went to a full frame camera my favorite lens was the Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS lens.  I think that this lens is one of the best walk around lenses you can have for an APS DSLR.   I had a 1000d (Rebel XS), then 50D, then 7D.   Between the wide aperture and IS I felt that I could take stunning shots over a wide range of light conditions.

But APS was not good enough for me when you can have full frame.  So I saved my money and got the 5DMkII.  Nice camera.   But now I can’t use my favorite lens anymore.   The equivalent full frame lens is the Canon 24-70mm f2.8.


Another great lens but NO IS !!!!   What the heck!  The 5D full frame offers much more data for post processing and and better ISO performance.  If it only had IS…. It would be Great!!.   Yes there is a 24-105 f4 IS.   But many times I want to have a more wide aperture.   I want to have what I had with the 17-55mm f2.8.

Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens

So when Canon Rumors picked up that there was going to be a new 24-70mm   I was sure it was going to be an IS version….but sadly it was just an improved optics version of the old 24-70.   The old lens was already pretty good.

Then the rumor of a Tamron VC 24-70mm or the full name Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens.   The important part of that was the VC (vibration compensation), Tamron’s version of  IS!  Then the official announcement.  I swore that i would wait till the reviews came in…. but I wanted one so much I went ahead and put in a preorder.

I had not received it yet and some preliminary reviews came in from early buyers.  The onion skin bokeh showed up.

Onion Bokeh take by Kerlu at Canon Digital Photography Forum

OMG what have I ordered!  Then others showed that all lenses do this, in varying degrees,  in similar conditions.   I wonder why I always buy stuff before it is well reviewed.

My main  concern that I still had was that, I know that, when canon makes an L class lens you get good image quality images. But I did not know anything about Tamron.

Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC Lens

Anyhow…. it came in the mail.   Oh boy oh boy.

By the way here are the comparative stats ( with prices on 31May12):

Make Canon Tamron
Model 24-70mm 1:2.8 SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
Construction 16 elements 13 groups 17 elements 12 groups
Angle of view 84 dg to 34 deg 84 dg 1m to 34 dg 21 m
Focus Front-Focusing method Front-Focusing method
Closest 1.25 ft 1.25 ft
Zoom Rotating Rotation
Stabilization No VC
Blades 8 9 rounded
Min Aperture f22 f22
Lens hood Round some petaling flower shaped
filter 77mm 82mm
Max Dia 3.3″ 3.5″
Length 4.9″ 4.6″
Weight 33.5 oz 29.1 oz
Amazon  price $1,811 $1,299

First impressions about the Tamron VC 24-70mm with comparisons to the Canon:

1.  It feels heavier, but its not .  I always thought the Canon was a big lens for such small focal lengths but the Tamron VC 24-70mm feels wider ( it is at 82 vs 77mm) and it feels denser.  Not sure what that means but I liked the feel of it.

2. The zoom is tight and its on a different ring.  Its closer to the lens in the opposite position from the Canon. I am still getting used to it.  By comparison it makes the canon feel like something is too loose.   One good thing is that you will never experience zoom creep on this.   Tamron included a zoom lock but its overkill and only works at 24mm.   I guess I would like it a little looser but not as loose as the Canon. On the canon if I extend it to 70mm and set it on the table it compresses on its own to nearly 24mm.  The Tamron VC 24-70mm just stays there.

3.  There’s that VC button….. mm-hhmmm,   nothing like that switch on the Canon.  With my old man hands I can take shots down to about 1/80 sec on the canon at 70mm….. not too bad eh.   But with the Tamron VC, on a good day, I can take shots down to about 1/15 sec.  And that my friends opens up a lot more lighting conditions without having to go to high ISO settings.  It is very enabling.

Canon and Tamron Lenses fully Extended


Canon and Tamron Lenses Compressed









Canon and Tamron 24-70 Hoods

4.  The lens is huge,  it is 82mm,  and its right there at the top of the body.   Its like begging for a scratch.   But I looked at the Canon and its just as close.  The hood is fairly shallow too compared to the canon.  The canon hood is huge. I needed the help of a reader to figure this one out.  Tamron’s VC 24-70mm lens hood is what you would expect in a wide lens but on the Canon you need to fully extend it to get to the 24mm.  So the hood has to provide glare protection as the lens moves through it.  The other downside of the 82mm is filters.  I have a Canon 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, 17-40mm 4, Sigma 50mm 1.4.  They all use 77mm lenses.   So I have 1 polarizer, a 10 stop ND, 1 set cokin filters that all fit 77 mm.   They are useless for this new lens.  So I have already had to get another polarizing filer and I am thinking about getting some of the other filters in 82mm.   So now I have to carry a double set of filters….. ugh.

Note that one reader said that I could use a step down filter adapter.   Also the p series cokin set does have a 82mm glass holder but I have read that you will get some vignetting with that set-up with a wide angle.   So I think I will have to get the pro series cokin filters (more stuff and more $$)  Let me know if this is wrong.

5. General build quality.  It feels pretty good.  the AF and VC buttons are smaller but they are ok

As for performance I don’t see that big of a difference except the image stabilization is wonderful to have…..which is why I got it.   Here are some other things that I found out as I have played with it.

1.   Lens Sharpness is a little better on the Tamron VC 24-70mm at 70mm but a little better on the Canon at 24mm.  I ran Reikan’s Focal lens calibration software on it to see if I could quantify it and sure enough it verified what I thought I was seeing….but these are small differences.

2.  One thing that did surprise me with the FoCal test.   They have a AF consistency test.  You can run 10 or more shots and see how often the target is in focus.  Tamron VC 24-70mm lens was REALLY consistent like within .4 % over 10 points where the Canon came in at around 3.8 %.  Another reviewer found the same result….. So the Tamron has an edge on consistency.

3.  I have had no issues with bokeh.   Here is a quicky comparison of a couple of roughly 100% crops of the first image.   The first crop is the Tamron VC 24-70mm and the second is the Canon.  One reader suggested that I take a picture where there is bright points of light coming through a dark area.   I have included that and you can see the famous “onion skin” effect.   This does not bother me as I do not take many shots like this and its easy to repair with a little blur tool.


Tamron Bokeh

Canon Bokeh












I am not a BOKEH connoisseur but these both look ok to me.


4.  There is a small issue with vignetting on the Tamron VC 24-70mm.  You really only see it at 24mm and I don’t normally see it unless I am looking for it.  Here are a couple of shots I took.   Again the Tamron is on the left and the Canon is on the right.  Its there but its hardly noticable.

Minor Vignetting on Tamron at 24mm

Nearly no Vignetting of Canon at 24mm








So I would have to say that the Tamron is an equivalent lens to the Canon.  But add the VC image stabilization to it and for me it makes it a much superior lens for my kind of photography.  I did good buying it 😉



  1. 24-70mm f2.8 - Tamron on my Camera, Canon in the closet
    May 31, 2012

    […] – Tamron on my Camera, Canon in the closet The details of my title can be found in my blog at: Bobkeenan Photography Canon versus Tamron VC 24-70mm f2.8 lenses – Bobkeenan Photography But the essence is that I love my Canon 24-70mm f2.8 but for the kind of shots that I do I need […]

  2. Gregory
    May 31, 2012

    Impressive. Will be my next lens!

  3. Marcel
    June 3, 2012

    You don’t have to buy all new filters and you buy a step-down ring 82-77 and you have a 1.6 crop camera so you won’t get vignetting.

  4. Marcel
    June 3, 2012

    Sorry, I only read the first and last part and I later read that you had a FF camera. Despite that you can save money for a other ND filter and a little money for the 82 ring for the Cokin.

    I did not buy an extra ND for this lens and I bought Colin ND filters that are a fifth of the price for a round ND filter. I can step up the strength by sliding in more ND filters.

  5. Zoom Lenses Make You Lazy
    July 14, 2012

    […] Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC.  Vibration control.  BTW I did a comparison between the Canon and Tamron Here.   It really solved the hand shake issue and offered larger DOF’s (higher f stop) for the […]

  6. DJ Shax
    August 20, 2012

    I bought one and it’s not been off my 5d mark ii since. Brilliant for weddings. With the money I saved I treated my self to a Canon EF70-200 f/2.8L IS ii USM which sits on my second body. SORTED!!! I was able to purchase a Awsum glass 🙂

    Dave Shax

  7. DJ Shax
    August 20, 2012

    Whoops, that didn’t come out right. The ‘Awsum glass’ bit should have come after ‘Brilliant for weddings’ and the ‘I was able to purchase a’ should have been deleted….I hope you get my drift.

    Hi from Kent UK to everyone by the way 🙂

  8. Alex
    September 11, 2012

    Thank you for the great review on Tamron 24-70.

  9. Safari P
    October 20, 2012

    I think anyone considering any of these lenses should look for a rental house (if available in your area) and test both under relevant shooting conditions. I have shot with both lenses and in my experience, the Canon is overall a better lens when Optics and build quality is considered. The resolution and feel of the Canon acquired images have a slight edge over the Tamron. The Image Stabilization on the Tamron however, for those who need, would be a plus. 24 – 70mm is not that much of a range for a steady hand to shoot without an IS. I have shot an entire wedding using just the Canon 24-70mm without any need for IS. The Color rendition on the Tamron is quite pleasant. The color is cooler than the canon warmer tone. The Tamron’s color is close to Zeiss lens colors in Tone which I like especially for Videos. The zoom ring on the Tamron is Stiff and its auto focus is not super fast. There is an assumption that after much use the zoom ring will loosen up but I guess whoever owns one long enough will be the one to tell us. I have a TAamron that I am using right now as a walk around lens on my 5D MK III, however, I am not in love with the lens as much as I am trying to convince myself. The Price is Good but there is just something about the Canon Glass that just gives it an edge over the Tamron. I am going to return the TAmron to STore and look get a used 24-70mm on ebay or whereever I find one. Some have said the image stabilization for video use is why they got the Tamron. I am curious to see what moving objects in your video looks like because in my test, the VC really suits still images better than motion picture. The image stabilization doe snot work like the dynamic IS you see on a video camcorder. Those are smoother and designed for Video. The IS on Tamron for video use, for me, is not what I would call smooth. I would rather use a Tripod or perfect my hand held skills. This is my position on this and everyone will have different reasons why they will pick a particular brand over the other. I would say again, try both out and decide what suits your work flow and or budget.

    • bobbyk
      October 22, 2012

      Nice long post… thanks. I agree with most of what you said. Good advice. I will say that I also notice that color quality is different with the canon being more appealing. But that difference is small, to me, compared to the benefit of the VC. I have found that time and again, on the Canon 5D MK III, one of the better low light cameras, that there is noise at 100% in the shadows if you do just a little curve adjustment above ISO 800. Some of my best shot are in shaded or low light situations. For the dof and field of view that I look typically look at, in the low light situations, I push ISO to 800, f-stop to between 4 and 8. My resulting shutter speed ends up being in the 1/30-1/80 sec. About one shot in 10 have some camera shake effects with these old hands. But click in the VC and about only 1-2 out of ten have the shake problem. The results is looks of good sharp images without having to do noise reduction in photo processing that tends to take out some of the real sharp elements of the image and replace them with an unnatural sharpness. So I like the Tamron for walk around shooting.


Leave a Reply