The new Tamron 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD is a compact telephoto zoom for Canon and Nikon full frame and APS-C SLRs. The lens is built for high optical performance. The lens contains no fewer than 20 lens elements in 14 groups and has three LD elements with a low refractive index. It is not the lightest zoom in this range, but it does offer many capabilities. The lens is weather-resistant, nicely finished and focuses well close-up. And the price is also very attractive.
SHARP AND SHARPLY PRICED: Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD
If you look at the price-quality ratio, then the Tamron 70-210 is a winner.
The Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD has to compete against a few formidable competitors. Both Canon and Nikon have a very good 70-200 mm f/4. But the Tamron already wins the battle for the lowest price. The Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD is easily a few hundred euros cheaper than its Nikon and Canon counterparts. You will not see that lower price in the execution. For example, the Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD has a dual microprocessor that provides fast autofocus and good image stabilization. The shortest setting distance of the Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 is only 0.95 m and thus achieves a maximum magnification of no less than 1:3.1. The lens can be equipped with a tripod collar and works well with Tamron’s 1.4 and 2x converters. And the lens is also extensively sealed against dust and moisture. If you look at the price-quality ratio, then the Tamron 70-210 is a winner.
The build quality of the Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD is good. The lens is extensively fitted with gaskets, both in the lens and at the rear so that it can be used in all kinds of weather. The Tamron 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD has an internal zoom mechanism. It therefore does not get longer during zooming. This also means that dust and moisture can penetrate less easily. The front lens has a fluorine coating so that moisture and dirt cannot stick to it and the lens can be easily cleaned. Both the zoom ring and the focus ring turn nice and smoothly. What Canon users will have to get used to is that the zoom ring is in front of the focus ring. Those who have several Tamron or Nikon lenses will of course appreciate this. One of the strengths of the Tamron 70-210mm is the shortest setting distance of 0.95m. That gives the lens a magnification of 1:3.1. Of course, that is not really macro, but it is possible to photograph pretty small subjects in full screen.
The image stabilization works well, and 3 to 4 stops of profit is feasible. The black finish with silver ring at the mount is completely in line with other modern Tamron lenses and gives the lens a chic look. Those who shoot with Canon and do not want to have a white zoom have a nice alternative with the Tamron. The lens comes without a tripod collar, which is not unusual for light zoom lenses. A tripod collar is available as an option, and the beauty of this collar is that there is already an Arca Swiss base on it, so you do not have to use separate quick release plates. Unless of course your tripod head cannot handle Arca Swiss. The lens has two switches: one to switch between manual focus and autofocus and one to set the correct position of image stabilization.
The image quality of the Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD is excellent. The sharpness at full aperture in the center is already excellent at almost all focal points, with the exception of the extreme telephoto. The sharpness drops there a bit. The corners are reasonable in the extreme zoom positions, both at 70mm and at 210mm, at full aperture, and good at the 100mm and 135mm positions. One stop stopping down brings improvement over the entire range both in the center and in the corners and with stopping down one stop, the lens reaches its peak. At full aperture, you see some vignetting, which has practically disappeared at f/5.6. The distortion is very light barrel-shaped at 70mm and turns into pincushion-shaped from 100mm. At 210mm, it is the strongest, at 1.5%. Overall, the Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD makes a good impression and is not inferior to other 70-200 mm in this segment. The lens can be combined with Tamron’s 1.4 and 2x converters. Given the fact that the quality of the 70-210 mm drops off a bit in the extreme positions, the question is whether it is wise to do that. If you use a converter, make sure you stop down at least one stop.
FAST AND ACCURATE AF
A dual microprocessor in the lens, in combination with an ultrasonic annular autofocus motor, ensures fast and precise focusing. The new Tamron also has the ability to directly influence the focus manually thanks to the ‘Full-time Manual Focus override’. You do this by simply turning the focus ring. You do not have to flip a switch for this. The Tamron autofocus works well. The lens focuses quietly and quickly. A strong trump card of the Tamron is the Tap-In Console. With this, you can easily update the firmware of the lens as well as making a great many adjustments. If the focus is not exactly right, then the Tap-In Console offers more options for correcting it than the camera bodies that the lens can be used on. With the Tap-In Console, you can adjust the focus of the lens at many different focal lengths on multiple distance settings in very small steps. The shortest setting distance is 0.95 meters, and the maximum scale is 1:3.1. That is pretty good. This allows you to use the lens for some more extreme close-ups.
The Tamron 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD features the Tamron VC (Vibration Control) image stabilization system. This system must yield a profit of 4 stops. This allows you to take sharp shots by hand even in low light. As an accessory, there is also a tripod collar available with a universal Arca-Swiss tripod connection for taking pictures with very long shutter speeds. On the lens next to the AF/MF switch, there is also a switch for turning the image stabilization on and off. Turning it off when the camera is on a tripod or when using very short shutter speeds is recommended.
The Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD is of course ‘only’ an f/4. That is one stop less bright than the often-used 70-200 mm f/2.8 zooms. And easily 2 stops less than short fixed focal telephotos. But that does not mean that you cannot get a decent background blur with the Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD. If you want a lot of bokeh, then it is important to zoom in a lot. At 200mm and f/4, you have a nice background blur. The bokeh balls do have a bit of sharp separation and quickly deform to the side, but in the center, they are nice and soft. You get an even better bokeh when you use the shortest setting distance. Everything in front of and behind your subject then melts away very nicely.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD
- Good shortest distance setting
- Good autofocus and image stabilization
- Good image quality
- Weather resistant
- Competitively priced
- Zoom ring in front of focus ring (for Canon users)
- Tripod collar only as an option
FROM 70MM TO 210MM:
The Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD is a great addition for Nikon and Canon photographers. The lens is well built and weather resistant. The image quality is good, and the bokeh is beautiful. A bonus is the shortest setting distance. As a result, you can also photograph small subjects in full screen, and you will not have to grab a macro lens so quickly. If you photograph with Canon and you want a black telephoto zoom, then this is a good choice. And when you also look at the price, the Tamron becomes very interesting.