Tamron 70-200 F2.8 Lens Review

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Tamron 70-200 F2.8

Tamron 70 – 200 F2.8 Lens Review by Barend Craven

Having absolutely no idea how to introduce this Tamron 70-200 F2.8 review has left me sitting here, at my desk, drinking coffee and letting my eyes wonder over my place and it has dawned on me that there is very little I have purchased that does not earn money or does not have the potential to earn money. This leads me to the question of how I go about a purchase, what are the questions I ask myself and what is my reasoning.

A 90mm Tamron macro lens from SA Camera, delivered to my doorstep my overnight courier, started my journey into the incredible world of Tamron Lenses. This 90mm macro was such a superb product (see image below) I decided, having a dire need for a 70-200 F2.8 lens, to follow it up with the Tamron 70-200 F2.8.

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F8, 1/250 sec, ISO 200, daylight

After taking delivery of the Tamron 70-200 F2.8, again door to door, overnight from SA Camera and shooting with it a little, I decided to explore the capabilities of this lens and the general overall ethos of the purchase. This immediately presented me with the following questions:


Is my decision to buy this lens made as a photographer or as a business person?

As photographers we all want the best equipment, the latest bodies, lenses, gadgets, etc and there is nothing wrong with this. I also do CCTV installations and recognise the value of having the correct equipment to increase my productivity in this field. I daren’t embark on an installation without my trusty CCTV tester, and, even though it has all the capabilities one requires, I would still like the one with the built in multimeter, after all, when you are up in a ceiling in this sweltering heat and need a multimeter, it’s a massive timesaver having it there all in one piece of gear. In my photography, this is exactly the same. Not only does having the latest gear improve our images to a degree, I have found that it also improves our overall “self-worth” as a photographer which leads us to charging the prices we should be charging. It also, and most importantly in my opinion, creates a more professional image for the client, bearing in mind that, in this day and age, our client is usually reasonably familiar with imaging equipment and the ranges and prices involved and you may end up with a fairly annoyed client if you charge R12 000 for a wedding and you arrive with an entry level DSLR and shoot the entire event with a pop up flash.

The question here is, to what degree is this viable. Is what we are making from photography justifying our expenditure. Yes, it will make money but will it make a profit? If it will make a profit, how long will it take to make this profit. If you are asking these questions then yes, you are making this decision as a business person.


How does the Tamron compare to the Manufacturer brand?

To answer this question I decided to perform a few tests involving some fairly common “kit” lenses versus the Tamron versus the more expensive OEM brands to see where the money goes. The following lenses were used with estimates of the prices:

OEM 18-105                        R3395.00 (still a personal favourite)

OEM 70-300                        R2500.00

OEM 70-200 F2.8              R26 849.00

OEM 24-70 F2.8                 R19 149.00

Tamron 70-200 F2.8         R8000.00

Tamron 24-70 F2.8           R9295.00

The target (see below) was shot in broad daylight, under exact conditions for all tests, at F6.3, 1/500 sec at ISO 100 on the same body on a tripod to ensure accurate results.

This is the target used, printed in A3

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In our first test we compared the Tamron 70-200 F2.8 with an OEM one which produced some surprising results:

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Tamron 70-200 F2.8 left vs OEM right

In the above image we have the Tamron on the left and the OEM on the right. Both lenses are zoomed at 200mm and the images are screenshots of the target zoomed in to 500 percent on editing software. One can see there is a slight sharpness on the Tamron side.

In our second test we compared the Tamron 24-70 F2.8 with an OEM one:

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Tamron 70-200 F2.8 left vs OEM right

In the above image we have the Tamron on the left and the OEM on the right. Both lenses are zoomed at 70mm and the images are screenshots of the target zoomed in to 500 percent on editing software. Interestingly enough the Tamron is lighter and the OEM is ever so slightly sharper on this test.

Looking at the above tests, I simply fail to see the justification of, as a part time, should we say “pro photographer” as I earn a reasonable second income from photography, to spend almost double or triple the amount on an OEM lens when I am achieving basically the same results with the Generic Tamron brand.

Again, as a photographer, we want the finest in quality, yet the above answered the question as to which brand of “pro” glass I should be buying. It did, however, raise one final question:

Why should I buy “pro” glass as opposed to using my kit or other lenses?

To answer this we had to go straight back to the target tests and compare results. In the first test, we used both OEM 70-200 F2.8 and Tamron 70-200 F2.8 and threw and OEM 70-300 into the mix:

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In the above, we have the same test with the OEM 70-300 (zoomed to 200mm) on the left, The Tamron zoomed to 200mm in the centre and the OEM 70-200 F2.8 on the right. We have the same results on the F2.8 lenses, yet we show a marked difference between the two F2.8’s and a “kit” lens.

On the below, we performed the same test with the 24-70 F2.8’s and my trusty OEM 18-105 lens:

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Again we have the 18-105 “kit” lens on the left, the Tamron 24-70 in the middle and the OEM 24-70 on the right, all zoomed to 70mm.

 The above test answers the question perfectly.

Yes, when it comes to lenses, one cannot dispute the value of getting low light “pro” lenses, however, as budget always comes into play, look at the theory of diminishing returns displayed here and remember at all times:

”If you think like a photographer, you will take images as a photographer, if you think like a businessman, you will earn an income” ~ Barend Craven, www.barendcraven.com

Visit www.tamron.com by clicking here.

Visit www.tamron.co.za by clicking here.

Manufacturers page on this lens, here.

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