Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di LD [IF] macro - Full Format Review / Lab Test
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published January 2011

Special thanks to Michael Sambale for providing this lens for testing!

Note: We've reused most of the introduction from the corresponding APS-C review for obvious reasons.


As usual Tamron wins one trophy straight from the start ... the one for the longest product name. The Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Di LD [IF] macro represents their offer in the arena of fast, professional grade tele zoom lenses. As such it competes against the mighty Canon zoom lenses a la 70-200mm f/4 USM L (IS) and 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L (IS II) which are arguably among the very best lenses here. While it may be very hard to beat these Canon lenses in terms of performance, Canon’s lenses are not exactly budget items making it worthwhile to consider a third-party offer such as the Tamron SP.

The build quality of the lens is very good although it cannot touch the Canon L lenses here. The body is made of a tightly assembled combination of good quality plastics and metal parts. Typical for such a modern fast tele zoom lens it is a "true" IF (internal focus) lens with a non-rotating front element and a fixed physical length regardless of focusing or zooming. The zoom ring operates quite smoothly. The broad, rubberized focus ring is usually decoupled from the focus gear system. It can be engaged using a focus-clutch system by pulling/pushing the ring from/to AF mode. This may sound like a good idea but you tend to defocus the image during the process so it's not quite as efficient nor elegantly solved as in Canon lenses with ring-type USM drive. The lens is specified as "macro" - this may be stretching the aspect a little but, the Tamron lens can focus down to 0.95m or a object magnification of 1:3 which is closer than most lenses in this class.

The Tamron lens relies on a conventional micro-motor for focus - a primary point of criticism by users. Used in conventional (phase-detection) AF mode it is reasonably fast and also accurate but we wouldn't really classify as suitable for action photography. Live-View (contrast-) AF is quite dismal and our test cameras were consistently unable to lock on even on our high contrast test targets - probably a first here in the lab but nothing to be proud of. That said it is probably not really a lens used in Live-View mode anyway. Accurate manual focusing is very difficult due to the very short focus path.

Here's a comparison towards the non-IS Canon lenses in this class:

Tamron AF 70-200mm f/2.8 SP Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 USM L Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L
Release Date 2008 2001 1995
APS-C: equivalent focal length and aperture (DOF) "112-320mm f/4" "112-320mm f/5.6" "112-320mm f/4"
Elements/Groups 18/13 16/13 18/15
Special Elements 3x LD 1xCaF2 4x UD
Image Stabilizer Efficiency (*) none none none
Aperture blades 9 (circular) 8 8
Min. focus (magnification) 0.95m (1:3.1) 1.20m (1:5) 1.50m (1:6.25)
AF motor conventional micro-motor ultrasonic with FTM ultrasonic with FTM
Zoom type "true" IF "true" IF "true" IF
Size 90x194mm 76x172mm 85x194mm
Weight 1150g 705g 1310g
Filter size 77mm 67mm 77mm
water/dust protection none none none
approx. Price (EUR) ~650€/US$ ~550€/US$ ~1050€/US$

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