Tamron 70–180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD: A Worthy Alternative

 

The Tamron 70–180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD is a promising lens, the latest addition to the company’s mirrorless camera lineup. Nilofer Khan reports.

Following the launch of the 17–28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD, and the 28–75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD, Tamron has now introduced a new lens to its lineup, the Tamron 70–180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD. This series is Tamron’s commitment towards full frame mirrorless cameras.

Features
Constructed using 19 elements in 14 groups, along with eXtra Low Dispersion, Low Dispersion, Glass Molded Aspherical, and hybrid aspherical lens elements, the lens features a nine-blade circular diaphragm. It has a filter diameter of 67mm, and a minimum focusing distance of 0.85m in the AF mode. In the MF mode, it is capable of focusing at 0.27m at the wide end, and 0.85m at the telephoto end. However, when shooting flat macro subjects, Tamron stated that the edges would appear stretched out. The lens has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.6 at the telephoto end and 1:2 at 70mm. It also has Manual Override.

It comes with the linear motor AF drive focus mechanism, Voice-coil eXtremetorque Drive, and has the Broad-Band Anti- Reflection Generation 2 Coating. The lens enables parfocal, a characteristic that allows you to change the focal length without affecting the focus. It is dust and moisture resistant, and has a fluorine coat on the front element. The lens comes with a hood.

Handling
The Tamron 70–180mm weighs 810g and measures 149mm in length. On the Sony Alpha 7R III body, it appears a little large, but it is much lighter and smaller than the Sony 70–200mm f/2.8 GM OSS that weighs 1489g. It has a broad, textured, rubberised zoom ring at the front of the barrel, and a smaller focus ring at the back. One rarely needs to switch to manual focus unless photographing macros or extremely close-up portraits. There is a zoom-lock that only works at 70mm. It also extends when you zoom. The manual focus is exceptionally smooth with a large degree of rotation between minimum focusing distance and infinity.

I quite liked the shallow DOF produced by the lens. I preferred to make portraits in low light because of its pleasing bokeh. Exposure: 1/5sec at f/2.8, ISO 800. Photograph/Nilofer Khan

Performance
The lens is remarkably sharp, especially at the center. It has slightly soft corners at the widest aperture, which disappears by f/4. This softness is not visible unless you closely look at the edges. The colour rendition and the overall image quality is marvelous, and captures intricate details across all apertures and focal lengths. At f/2.8, the lens renders extremely thin DOF, producing excellent results for portraits and macros.

There is noticeable sagittal aberration at f/2.8, especially at the periphery of the image. It becomes quite pronounced as you move towards the telephoto end. This effect resolves at f/4. Vignetting is visible at f/2.8 across the entire focal length but begins to disappear at f/4, and completely vanishes at f/5.6. The lens shows incredible control over flare, lateral chromatic aberrations, ghosting, and pincushion distortion. The AF is extremely precise and silent, even when recording videos, but is expectedly slower in low light. At 180mm, with the camera’s IS on, the lens can capture sharp images even at 1/20 sec.

Conclusion
Although the Tamron 70–180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD is useful for portrait and macro photography, I also found it wonderfully usable for street photography. Priced at Rs. 99,900, the lens is a great, cost-effective alternative to Sony’s FE 70–200mm f/2.8 GM OSS, priced at Rs. 1,99,990. The latter has features including IS, focus mode switch, and shake compensation mode switch. If you don’t require these functions, then the 70–180mm f/2.8 is perfect for you. It offers fast focus, pleasing bokeh, sturdy build, and is quite lightweight, all available at half of Sony’s price.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Better Photography.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Zoom ring, Quiet AF, no IS, splash-proof
17/20
Performance
Sharp images and good colours
32/35
Build Quality
Sturdy and weathersealed
22/25
Ergonomics
Small, light lens, good ring positions & design
13/15
Warranty & Support
Two year warranty, good service
3/5
MRP Rs. 99,900
OVERALL 86%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Advanced street, fashion, event, and macro photographers and portraitists. It is a buget-friendly alternative that renders good image quality.
Why? Well-designed with excellent ergonomics on smaller full frame bodies, the lens is light, sturdy and very compact.
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