I want to thank Tamron USA for working with us and extending the loaner for this review and BEC course. I’m reviewing using my Sony A7III
Rounding out Tamron’s holy trinity of f/2.8 zoom lenses sits the 70-180 f/2.8 Di III VXD which is the longest lens of the trio. Offering the photographer a very versatile focal length range suitable for a variety of shooting situations.
When I was asked to try out this lens provided by Tamron on my Sony A7iii and leave an honest review; I immediately was elated to give this lens a shot. I normally shoot with the Tamron 28-75 G2, so exploring a longer focal length excited me and I couldn’t wait to try something new!
Out of the box.
The Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 is a small and light telephoto zoom lens that comes with a plastic lends cap and flower-shaped lens hood – there is no lens bag included. Tamron delivers a stripped-down feature set (meaning no external buttons or aperture ring…) enabling them keep the lens small (3.2 inches wide and 5.9 inches long) and lightweight at only 1.8 pounds. The lens does feature a switch that locks the focal length in place if you find you’d like to stay at a set length for a period of time. I didn’t use this feature as I enjoy the versatility of being able to experiment with different lengths to get more creative shots.
Focusing is fully internal but zooming is not, with the length of the lens changing as you zoom from 70 to 180 mm. The Tamron 70-180 isn’t fully weather-proof but it does benefit from moisture-resistant construction which helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the lens (although I would not recommend shooting in the rain for any length of time). The front element has hydrophobic Flourine coating (basically a water repellant) that is highly resistant to fingerprints and debris. Which is GREAT for a busy family session! Shooting. Using a telephoto lens requires a different way of thinking while shooting. You need to have room to move and accept that you will not have too much of the surrounding environment in the images. This was especially challenging for me because I tend to get wide landscape shots with my clients as part of their gallery set.
I took the experience further out of my norm and shot in a location that I don’t frequent for outdoor painterly portraits to see if it would truly make a difference in my shooting experience and in my images. As a primarily beach photographer, I headed to the park. Filled with trees, branches and leaves that normally bring so much chaos and environmental noise to an image.
The focal length, wide aperture, and iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades were able to provide calm, cohesion, and creaminess to my background (aka, bokeh). As an environmental photographer; I rely heavily on my lenses to retain the ambiance of my surrounding while putting the focus on my clients. Tamron lenses are able to retain the natural light in a variety of situations without the use of external lighting.
The accuracy of the Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 Di III VXD focus is very good with no focus variation whether the lens focuses from a closer distance or from farther away and I rarely detected focus hunting.
Let’s talk post-production
So yes, it focuses fast, is light and compact with an appealing price point… but does the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD produce optimal goods?
In short, yes it does.
Using the largest aperture of f2.8, the sharpness over the zoom range is very good. The background blur is pleasant and not too busy. The lens uses a new focusing motor called Tamron VXD (Voice-coil extreme-torque Drive) which works accurately, quickly and is virtually silent.
Typically lenses with focal ratios of f2.8 or larger are prone to longitudinal color aberrations in high contrast areas that show up as magenta coloration in the foreground and greenish hues in the background and are not easily corrected in post. This Tamron has exceptionally very little of the loCA when inspecting an image zoomed in at 300%.
The Tamron 70-180mm provides low vignette with minimal distortions which can be adjusted in post but actually provides a more flattering portrait if left alone.
Like most modern lenses, the Tamron 70-180mm shows strong contrast (which really helps your subject pop out of the background!) and good color saturation throughout the aperture range.
Tamron, did you succeed in making my outdoor painterly session dreams come true? Yes, you did… in fact, I’d say you surpassed my expectations!
Review & Images by Clearwater Photography, Letha Imboden
Emotive lifestyle photographer based in Tampa Bay Florida specializing in beach and water photography. I take ordinary moments and turn them into something extraordinary!
Hair & Make-up: Corine Potter IG is @corinethemakeupmom