Canon vs Tamron VC vs Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 Comparison Review

Now that I ordered my Canon 5D Mark III I can start buying some really good glass. Since I am mostly a run and gun shooter, I don’t have the […]

Testimonial-david-d

Now that I ordered my Canon 5D Mark III I can start buying some really good glass. Since I am mostly a run and gun shooter, I don’t have the luxury of time to swap out prime lenses out on the fly all day long, so that is why the first lens I want to buy is a 24-70mm f2.8.

Now I have used the Canon 24-70mm many times in the past and I really like it, but I got really excited when Lee Morris from Fstoppers.com turned me the new Tamron 24-70 VC lens that has VC or vibration control and is cheaper. The Canon 24-70 is $1,600 and the Tamron is $1,300. Lee had mixed results on which one is sharper so I thought I would give you guys another test.

  • Canon: Filter Thread 77 mm , 953 g, 12.19 cm length $1,600
  • Tamron Filter Thread 82 mm, 825 g , 11.68 cm length $1,300
  • Sigma Filter Thread 82 mm, 790 g, 9.40 cm length $900

I’m a bit biased already on this review because I really want to Tamron to win but that’s is why my good friend James Drake from 5KInsight is here to keep things in perspective. James is real smart guy, and has a lot of experience using really expensive glass, you should listen to him if he if we disagree. The reason why I want it to win is the Tamron has image stabilization which is awesome for video. For it to win, it needs to be just as sharp as the Canon and have a good working vibration control.

I think a lot of people that shoot video are frustrated that Canon didn’t give us a 24-70 with IS. I think Cannon lost an opportunity here and has left the door open for Tamron on this one. Important to note this is not the II version of the Canon lens that runs for $2,300.

So what I’m really hoping for in this test is the Tamron is to be just as sharp as the Canon because the 5D Mark III it is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Observations

Right off the bat that Canon has a very stiff focus ring, I know from using my friends that is a couple years old the focus ring is a lot smoother than this one.

The all turn clockwise to extend the lens, however the Canon actually zooms when contracted which is backwards from the other two and all other lenses I have used. This can be frustrating.

Range of the focus ring and how well each manually focuses, Canon 120 degrees, Tamron 100 degrees, Sigma 85 degrees.

Sharpness

If there was an instance where in one test there was one lens sharper in the center but the other was sharper in the corner, I gave the win to the one sharpest in the center. When I had to spend more than 30 seconds trying to figure which one was sharpest I would call it a tie, sometimes it was so close.

For the most part they all tied in the middle f5.6 to f8 at both wide and tele.
Sigma did really well at f22 and f2.8 at 24mm.
The most glaring however was Sigma at 2.8 at 70mm.
Tamron won only once at f8 at 24mm but it had no glaring issues and way always ever so slightly behind the winners.

The Tamron VC is a lot quieter than my Canon 28-135 IS.

  • The first thing I wanted to know was how good was the VC or vibration control on the Tamron, so I ran a similar unscientific test like Lee Morris did, on this sign I am shaking it about the same amount as he did. And as you can see I got similar results. But that is not real world unless I drink a crap load of coffee, as you can see by these hand held shots it works amazingly well, almost like having a monopod. This shot looks like it is locked off on a tripod, but they are not, all are handheld using a black rapid strap, side to side it is usually smoother but here I did pretty well moving down. And when you put the Tamron on a glidecam like the the Blackbird I am reviewing, it makes flying a camera a lot easier for a beginner like myself. Sometimes you are not just doing camera movement but you are focusing at the same time, here with the Canon you can see how much more shake is happening while I zoom to my shoe, but with the Tamron you get smoother shots, and this is not easy because I am zoomed out to 70mm. Watch here as I struggle to framing up the pot in the right side of the frame, and watch how the Tamron helps ease it in to position.
  • The vibration compensation on the Tamron is a huge help when manually focusing, watch here at 70mm while punching in 10x how shaky it is, then with the Tamron it is easier to grab a quick focus.
  • The Tamron and the Sigma both have much more vignetting than the Canon does as you can see in the corners.
  • At 5.6 zoomed into 70mm the Sigma bounces back and has a slight edge on the Tamron for the corners and the center. However when the Canon steps in, it has a slight advantage over the Sigma at 5.6. I found the same thing as Lee Morris did at 5.6 comparing the Tamron to the Canon where the Canon is sharper in the center but in the edges I would say the Canon was a slight winner.
  • At f8 the Sigma and Tamron tie and here the Canon is a slight winner over the Tamron.
  • At f16 was a tie all around for both the center and the corners. If I had to look at it for more than 30 seconds to find a winner I call it a tie.
  • At f22 the Sigma beats the Canon.
  • Switching to 24mm at 2.8 we see again that the Sigma is noticeably bad compared to the Tamron in the corners, however the Sigma in the center beats the Tamron, and again the Sigma beats the Canon in the center.
  • At 5.6 the Sigma is razor sharp beating everyone in the center.
  • At f8 the Tamron beats the Canon and Sigma in the center and corners.
  • At f16 it was a tie all the way around
  • And at f22 another tie as well.
  • We did one quick test with Bokeh and to me they all looked similar, James thought that the Canon won slightly.
  • I did noticed that the focus speed for all three was the same, even when I was going from a close subject to a far subject even when the far subject had little or no contrast, none of them had to hunt around for focus like my cheaper lenses.

Sharpness Test Results

f2.8 70mm – Tamron beats Sigma (Sigma looks bad in the center and edges)
- Canon beats Tamron ever so slightly at center and edges

f5.6 70mm – Sigma beats Tamron at both center and edges
- Canon beats Sigma only at center, edges are a tie

f8.0 70mm – Sigma and Tamron tie
- Canon wins slightly

f16.0 70mm – All three tie

f22.0 70mm – Sigma does a nice job beating both Tamron and Canon

———

f2.8 24mm – Sigma beats Tamron in the center
- Tamron beats Sigma in the edges
- Sigma beats Canon in center
- Canon beats Sigma in the edges

f5.6 24mm – Sigma and Tamron tie
Sigma beats Canon in the center

f8.0 24mm – Tamron beats both Canon and Sigma

f16.0 24mm – All three tie

f22.0 24mm – All three tie

Tamron 24-70 2.8 with VC

Weather Resistant?

  • Canon is ‘sealed and gasketed against dust and moisture’,
  • Tamron “Moisture-resistant construction helps prevent water from penetrating the lens.”,
  • Sigma not weather proof.

Tamron 24-70 2.8 with VC

Bokeh

I am not an expert on bokeh, I used to think it was when you had more blades in the lens made prettier circles, but I am not seeing much ghosting or doubling of the blurry objects on any of them.
Where I need the VC the most is at 70mm and not so much at 24mm, I plan on buying L series glass for a 16-35mm some day.

Chromatic aberration

I really didn’t see that much difference this, I was not seeing any blue streaks or purple fringing when zoomed in 3:1.

Closest Macro Distances

  • Canon at  – 9″
  • Sigma at 7″
  • Tamron at 6.5″

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Products Used In This Video

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For those wondering the follow focus ring is by Foton Accessories.

Tamron 24-70mm 2.8

Tamron 24-70mm 2.8