I've been getting into HDSLR video recently. 5 months ago I decided it was time to upgrade my Canon EOS Rebel T2i to a 60d, and the stock 18-55 lens to something better. I read through countless product reviews and user forums and watched dozens of Youtube videos, and I settled on the Tamron 17-50 F/2.8 VC. I took that lens with me to Poland and Israel in April as my primary lens as I was filming a student trip called The March of the Living. While the lens gave me great results, the main problem I had was that it simply didn't zoom in as much as I needed. 50mm was rarely close enough, and I didn't have the time and flexibility to change lenses, and carrying two cameras was not an option when having audio gear, a monopod, etc. at least for a cameraman with my level of experience. I gained great experience from that trip and I decided to upgrade to a slightly more telephoto lens before my next trip that will take me to South Africa and Israel in August. So, it was back to the product review, message boards and Youtube clips. It didn't take long before I narrowed down my choice to one of two models. The rookie on the Canon lens battle field, the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC, or the proven veteran, the Canon L Series 24-105 F/4.0.
Do I choose something that is brand new and unproven with great potential, or something that is has been amazing for the last 10 years. Do I choose give up a full stop of light and choose the Canon for its longer focal range? Do I give up the longer focal range for a wider aperture? These questions plagued me for the better part of a month, with both lenses being similar in price and the Tamron receiving many promising initial reviews. As the title of this post suggests, my choice was the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC. I decided the F/2.8 aperture of the Tamron was more important to me than the extra range on the telephoto side of the Canon.
You'll find many reviews that will compare the Tamron for the other 24-70 lenses on the market; Canon, Nikkor, Sigma. I'm going to avoid those comparisons because they are already available a plenty. I'm going to focus on the questions that I was wondering when making my choice, as someone who is far from a lens guru and someone who is learning so much just by reading, and more importantly, on the job.
The comparison I'll often make is to my previous Tamron 17-50 F/2.8 VC, simply because that is what I'm used and what I am knowledgeable about. I also think there are many people out there who are looking to upgrade from the 17-50 to the 24-70 as I did.
The 24-70 feels much more like a pro lens vs. the 17-50. It is sturdier and more rugged. One thing I was very impressed with upon first playing with the lens was how smooth the zoom ring turned. So much so that I would feel comfortable filming zoom ins, something that was never a smooth operation on my Tamron 17-50. The same applies for the focus ring.
My 17-50 had a problem that I've read was common in third party lenses. When switching from video mode to manual photo mode at f/2.8, the camera would lock up. This was a very annoying problem and the only solution was to restart the camera, and sometimes it would even require to remove the lens and put it back on. I have yet to experience that problem with my 24-70. (And I'm keeping my fingers crossed!)
Image quality appears top notch to me! I'm very happy with the way my images turn out. Yes, as many reviews say, there is some vignetting when shooting at f/2.8, but it doesn't bother me. Depending on what you are shooting, you often don't even see the vignetting, and when you do, especially for video, I am not bothered. Depending on your standards and the type of shooting you do, you may agree or disagree. I think this factor will be different for everyone, but since I am writing this article mainly for people who are in a similar position to me, I wouldn't let the vignetting scare you away.
Autofocus is very quick and accurate. Even in Live-view, where auto-focus is considerably slower, it is still faster than live-view auto focus on the 17-50, which was painfully slow. Still, when shooting video, I recommend manually focusing, which brings up another helpful feature of the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC. Full-time Manual Focus. This allows you to be in auto focus, and still tweak manually with the focus ring without having to flick the focus from auto to manual and back.
Have a look at some test shots below and see what you think. This first batch was taken on a tripod with the timer. Apertures ranged from f/2.8 - f/5.6 ISO:100. No Photoshopping whatsoever. Click the images to see camera settings.
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This next batch was all shot handheld, mainly for demo purposes for this post. Click the images to see camera settings.
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All in all, the upgrade is well worth it in my opinion. The Tamron 24-70 F/2.8 VC is a great lens and I can't wait to put it through more thorough testing in Africa next next!