Review Tamron SP AF 70-200 mm F/2,8 Di LD [IF] MACRO (C FF)


Some time ago, we were excited about our review of the Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8. The Tamron SP 70-200 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD complements this lens well in terms of focal length range. It’s a combination with which you’re perfectly prepared to go traveling—bright, reasonable compact (for lenses designed for full-frame) and solidly built. The shortest focal distance of less than a meter also makes great close-up shots possible. We reviewed this lens, which was introduced at the end of 2012, on a Canon 5D MK3, a camera with a full-frame sensor.


Construction and auto focus Tamron SP AF 70-200 mm F/2.8 Di LD [IF]

In the design (23 lens elements in 13 groups), there’s a big extra-low dispersion lens (XLD; shown in purple) used, as well as two lenses made from low-dispersion (LD) glass. That contributes to high contrast and few color flaws (chromatic aberrations). There is use made of an internal focus (IF) mechanism, so that the front lens does not turn during focusing. Both the weight (1.5 kg) and the dimensions, as well as a front lens of 77 mm, are more or less the same as the Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8. They’re impressive lenses. With a black Tamron, you’ll be less noticeable when doing street photography than with a white Canon. lensdesign
There are multiple switches on this lens, for AF/MF and for image stabilization, but there’s no AF limiter. That’s unfortunate, because a solid AF limiter is used in particular by journalists to be able to focus faster. Lenses usually come with a number of abbreviations, as in this case: “SP” (Super Performance), “Di” (Digitally Integrated Design), “VC” (vibration control) and “USD”. The “Di” concept stands for a generation of lenses that have be specially designed for digital cameras.
In terms of focal length range, the Tamron 70-200 mm is especially suited for portrait, nature, and sport photography. Manual focusing is very smooth. The auto focus is fast, but simultaneously quite precise. We sometimes run into fast focusing when reviewing 70-200 mm zoom lenses, but sometimes it doesn’t go that well. The reproducibility of the AF of the Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 is good, but it is a bit lower than that of Canon or Nikon.
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Image stabilization

There is already an older version of the Tamron 70-200 mm (from 2007), but without image stabilization, that is still for sale at a lower price. At various shutter times, we made an alternating series of shots with and without image stabilization at a focal length of 70 mm, and then we analyzed the test shots using Imatest. This way, we can see smaller trends in sharpness than we can with the naked eye. By visual inspection, even shots made with a shutter time of 1/6 second and image stabilization look sharp. They are just as sharp as pictures made with a shutter speed of 1/50 second without image stabilization, but measurably less sharp than shots taken from a tripod, or with faster shutter speeds. VRtest



In the RAW files, we found visibly less vignetting than in the jpg files that we saved in the camera at the same time. We placed an illustration of this phenomenon above. Because of this, the Tamron 70-200 mm has significantly better scores for vignetting in RAW than in the WYSIWYG (jpg) scores. That has nothing to do with the Tamron, but with the Canon camera. As we see on many other lenses on a camera with a full-frame sensor, vignetting is visibly present in shots that are sensitive to it (vacation pictures with an evenly blue sky), or after stopping down one stop. In SilkyPix, Photoshop or Lightroom, the vignetting is simple to correct with a lens correction profile. You do get a weaker signal-to-noise ratio in exchange, which negates the advantage of the lower signal-to-noise ratio of a larger, full-frame sensor in the corners.



Tamron SP 70-200 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 117 mm, 200 ISO, f/5, 1/640


In general, the distortion is nicely limited for a zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. The distortion runs, as usual, from barrel-shaped at the shortest focal lengths to pincushion-shaped at the longest focal lengths. Only at a focal length of 70 mm can you sometimes find visible distortion, which can be corrected simply with the free copy of SilkyPix that’s included, or in Lightroom or Photoshop with the lens correction profiles there, of course.



You’ll have a lot of trouble seeing the difference in sharpness between the Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 and the Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 II.

This Tamron 70-200 mm also performs well when it comes to sharpness. Here, you see the Imatest results for jpg files stored with a standard image style by the Canon 5D MK3. At the longest focal length, the sharpness is a bit lower than at the other focal lengths, but it’s still very high. The sharpness at the edges and in the corners is also in general very good. The Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 VC is remarkably less expensive than the Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS MK2, but in terms of sharpness they’re evenly matched.


70200overbviewMOTamron SP 70-200 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 177 mm, 200 ISO, f/5.6, 1/200, Image cutout at 100%

Chromatic aberration

Telephoto lenses and wide-angle lenses are in theory the most sensitive to color separation/chromatic aberration. In the corners, you can have trouble with colored (purple/blue) edges at sharp contrast transitions. With the application of aspherical lenses and lenses with high-quality glass types in the complex design, which consists of 23 elements, Tamron has succeeded perfectly in completely suppressing that phenomenon.  CA

Bokeh Tamron SP 70-200 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

Tamron70200sampleimageTamron SP 70-200 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200 mm, 200 ISO, f/5.6, 1/200

Bright 70-200 mm f/2.8 telephoto zooms on SLR cameras with a full-frame sensor are often the perfect companion for photographers who can appreciate a beautiful bokeh/background blur. High-quality glass, a large aperture, long focal length and a full-frame sensor work together to produce a beautiful bokeh. This is true too for the Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 DiVC USD, which has an aperture with 9 lamellae.


Conclusion Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD review with Canon 5D MK3


Look in our list of all reviewed lenses or the lenses we’ve reviewed with a Canon mount in order to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you store the files in the camera as jpg, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: “What you see is what you get”. {insertgrid ID = 308}
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens when the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. {insertgrid ID = 309}


  • Very high image quality
  • Fast and accurate AF
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Super-solidly built
  • Attractively priced


  • Not extra-well sealed against dust and splash water
  • No AF limiter

Practically every journalist has a bright 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom lens in his or her photo bag. This kind of zoom lens is not only widely applicable, but it also delivers high image quality. That’s why most quality-conscious amateur photographers have a similar lens. The Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 VC offers the same high image quality as the Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS II, but at a significantly lower price. That means that the Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 VC is a very attractive option for all owners of a 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom that’s more than 5 years old as a replacement for their 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom. All recently designed zoom lenses are, thanks to modern computer techniques, high-quality glass types, high-tech coatings, faster AF and, last but not least, ever-more-efficient image stabilization, really significantly better than the older versions. With a modern lens, the high image quality of modern SLR cameras comes more fully into its own. Put the Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 VC on your camera and be surprised.

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