- Outstanding central sharpness
- High level of central CA correction
- Low distortion
- Low flare
- Moisture resistance
- High edge CA
- Lower edge sharpness at smaller apertures
For users of Canon and Nikon APS-C format DSLRs, Tamron has upgraded their highly successful 10-24mm zoom. Offering a “35mm equivalent” of 16-37mm (Canon) or 15-36mm (Nikon), let’s see how this new updated lens performs, using the Canon EOS 600D body for this review.
Handling and Features
A wide petal type lens hood is included that bayonets securely onto the lens. This bayonet surrounds a 77mm filter thread. Immediately behind this lies the zoom ring, clearly marked and firm in operation. It is smooth enough, although lacks the silky feel of more expensive optics.
The distance scale is between this ring and the thin manual focus ring, and is housed under a clear plastic window. Distances are marked in feet and metres. Focusing is down to 0.24m (9.4 inches), a maximum magnification of 1:5.3 or 0.19x. The manual focusing ring can be used at any time as there is full manual override of the AF system. The ring is much smoother in operation than the zoom ring. Placement of the manual focus ring is such that the hand has no tendency to nudge it inadvertently when zooming.
Closest to the camera body we find two switches. There is the usual AF/MF switch, plus the on/off switch for the VC (Vibration Compensation) system. A benefit of four stops is claimed. Tamron has managed to include VC in this lens for the first time, and have achieved this whilst hardly changing the size at all compared to the previous model. The instructions advise to turn the VC system off when using a tripod.
Weighing in at a modest 440g for both Canon and Nikon versions, the lens is quite compact. It is moisture resistant, something that has been particularly relevant during this review. There are 7 circular diaphragm blades, designed to improve the bokeh of the lens. This is also a first outing for Tamron’s HLD (High/Low torque modulated drive motor) which is claimed to improve the speed and accuracy of AF. The diaphragm blades are also driven electromagnetically, now in both Canon and Nikon variants. Only certain Nikon bodies will support this.
Optical construction is 16 elements in 11 groups, which include 1 LD (low Dispersion), 1 XLD (Extra Low Dispersion), Aspherical and Hybrid Aspherical elements. Tamron utilise their BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) and Fluorine coatings.
The lens is compatible with the Tamron TAP-in console, which enables a USB connection to a PC. This makes firmware upgrades to the lens possible, plus fine adjustments to the AF and VC systems.
In use, the lens proves to be extremely comfortable to use and very efficient. Focusing is fast, the lens is compact and light, balancing very well with the Canon EOS 600D used for this review. 10-24mm is a very useful ultra-wide to wide standard lens, offering a powerful wide angle experience even when the APS-C crop factor is taken into account.
Sharpness at 10mm is centrally outstanding from f/3.5 to f/8. It is excellent at f/11, very good at f/16 and still good even at f/22. Very impressive. At the edges, the result is very good from f/3.5 to f/5.6, excellent at f/8 and f/11, very good at f/16 and fairly soft at f/22.
15mm shows outstanding central sharpness from f/4 to f/8, remaining excellent at f/11, very good at f/16 and good at f/22 down to f/25. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/11, good at f/16 but soft beyond that at f/22 and f/25.
20mm again shows outstanding central sharpness from f/4.5 to f/8, becoming excellent at f/11, very good at f/16, good at f/22 and generally soft at f/29. The edges are good from f/4.5 through to f/16, but soft at f/22 and f/29.
At 24mm the performance shows excellent central sharpness at f/4.5, becoming outstanding at f/5.6 and f/8, very good at f/16, good at f/22 and becoming soft by f/29. The edges are very good from f/4.5 to f/11, good at f/16, soft at f/22 and very soft at f/29.
Sharpness has been concentrated firmly on the centre of the field, with some outstanding results. The edges do lag behind, as do apertures smaller than f/11. The lens performs better at wider apertures, so may be more suitable for low light users, or those interested perhaps in street photography. Using small apertures for maximum depth of field may well lead to soft edges.
How to read our MTF charts
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.
The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.
CA (Chromatic Aberration) is corrected to an astounding degree at the centre of the image, at all focal lengths. The edges do display some visible CA, although this can be corrected in software. This can clearly be seen in several of the images shot for the review.
Chromatic Aberration Charts
How to read our CA charts
Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens’ inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.
Flare resistance is excellent and even against the light there is no loss of contrast, nor are there any artefacts visible.
Distortion at 10mm is a fairly obvious -3.35% of barrelling. By 15mm this has changed to near perfect rendering, showing just +0.05% of pincushion. This does increase slightly as we zoom in, with pincushion distortion measuring +1.12% at 20mm and +1.30% at 24mm. It is controlled very well for such a wide zoom lens, which is fortunate as pincushion distortion in a wide-angle lens is not what our eyes expect to see.
There is no complaint regarding the bokeh of the lens. It has a very attractive overall rendering. Likewise the VC system, which easily delivers the promised 4 stop advantage.
Finally, the VC system once again is found to more than live up to its claims. Four stops are claimed, four stops can be expected without any hesitation. This may not be seen to be quite as relevant as in a telephoto lens, but will still be of value in low-light situations where the camera needs to be hand-held.
Bokeh At F4,5 | 1/125 sec | f/4.5 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F11 | 1/20 sec | f/11.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Bokeh At F29 | 1/4 sec | f/29.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Environmental Portrait | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 13.0 mm | ISO 1600
Arley Hall | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 11.0 mm | ISO 400
Bold Colour | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Garden Landscape | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
Texture In Old Stone | 1/1000 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 400
Old And New Build | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 400
|Focal Length||10mm – 24mm|
|Angle of View||60° – 108°|
|Max Aperture||f/3.5 – f/4.5|
|Min Aperture||f/22 – f/29|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|
Value For Money
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD Lens is priced at £579.99/$870, which compares with the previous version, the Tamron SP 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD AF Aspherical at £419/$628 for Canon, Nikon or Sony A fit, or £377/$565 for Pentax K fit.
There are few exact competitor lenses, but there is the Nikon AF-S 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 G DX at £729/$1093.
The nearest equivalent for most marques are the 12-24mm lenses, for example, the SMC Pentax-DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL IF (£779/$1168), Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f/4 G IF ED DX (£979/$1468), Sigma 12-24mm Art DG HSM (£1649/$2473) and Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM (£649/$973).
Thinking slightly outside the box, there are also the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM (£499/$748) and the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM (£2699/$4048). The latter is, of course, a full frame lens but could be used on a crop sensor.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD Lens is an excellent lens that can be highly recommended. It is designed with the centre of the field very much in mind, so depending on use, it should be possible to enjoy the outstanding sharpness when the main subject is fairly centrally placed. However, it is still possible to have excellent edge sharpness if the aperture used is chosen with that in mind.
It is an attractive optic, not only for its sharpness and other optical qualities but also for its smart new design ethos, matching nicely with other new Tamron lenses. Add the moisture resistance and a price competitive with its peers and we have a very useful general purpose wide angle zoom capable of very satisfactory results.