Tamron’s second-generation ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for APS-C DSLR cameras features weather sealing, a new AF drive and improved optical performance.

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In summary

This lens is designed for cameras with APS-C sensors and will initially be available for Canon and Nikon bodies.

On Canon cameras, the coverage is equivalent to 16-38.4mm in 35mm format, while Nikon users will have angles of view equivalent to 15-36mm.

With either range, the lens is best suited to landscape and scenic photography, although it will also work for photographing large groups of people and, at a pinch, could be used for street photography, preferably with a camera that has touchscreen shooting capabilities.

The low level of rectilinear distortions would also enable this lens to be used for architectural shots.  

Integrated VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilisation comes in handy when shooting in dim lighting and also when recording movie clips. The moisture-resistant construction and fluorine coating will be welcomed by outdoor photographers and travellers.

 

 

 

Full review

Announced on 6 February, 2017, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD updates a popular wide-angle zoom lens the SP AF10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical [IF] (Model B001), which we reviewed in August 2012 and has been on sale since 2009. While the previous lens came in mounts to suit Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony cameras with APS-C sensors, so far the new 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD is only available with Canon and Nikon mounts.

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 Side view of the new Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD lens without end caps and lens hood. (Source: Tamron.)

The optical design in the new lens is more complex than the previous model’s, partly because of the built-in stabilisation system. It consists of 16 elements in 11 groups and includes one moulded glass aspherical element, one hybrid aspherical element, one low dispersion (LD) element and one extra low dispersion XLD element. Their positions are shown in the diagram below.
 

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 The optical diagram of the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD lens showing the positions of the exotic elements. (Source: Tamron.)

Tamron’s proprietary BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating has been applied to various elements to suppress flare and ghosting. The surface of the front lens element is coated with a protective fluorine compound that is water- and oil-repellent, making it easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to dust, moisture and fingerprints.
 

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 The diagram above shows the location of the weatherproof seals in the new 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD lens. (Source: Tamron.)

Other new features include integrated stabilisation, the latest HLD (High/Low torque-modulated Drive) AF drive system and weatherproof sealing. The lens is supplied with front and end caps plus a petal-shaped lens hood and a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Who’s it For?
 Since this lens is designed for cameras with APS-C sensors and will initially be available only for Canon and Nikon bodies, this limits its potential market. The focal length range applies further restrictions, since it only covers wide angles of view.

On Canon cameras, the coverage is equivalent to 16-38.4mm in 35mm format, while Nikon users will have angles of view equivalent to 15-36mm. With either range, the lens is best suited to landscape and scenic photography, although it will also work for photographing large groups of people and, at a pinch, could be used for street photography, preferably with a camera that has touchscreen shooting capabilities.

The low level of rectilinear distortions would enable this lens to be used for architectural shots. However, close shooting capabilities are very limited and you have to guard against including your feet in shots when using the shortest focal length ““ and your shadow in shots when the sun is behind you.

Integrated VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilisation comes in handy when shooting in dim lighting and also when recording movie clips. The moisture-resistant construction and fluorine coating will be welcomed by outdoor photographers and travellers.

Build and Ergonomics
 Tamron doesn’t say what this lens is made from but, going by its weight and price, we suspect it’s mostly polycarbonate plastic. That’s not a problem as its build quality is similar to most other Tamron lenses and it includes sealing to exclude moisture and dust. It also boasts a fluorine coating on the front element of the lens, which resists dirt and grease and makes the lens easy to keep clean.

The metal mounting plate is very solid and fits firmly to the camera body and the overall finish of the lens is somewhat better than you’d expect for a lens with a sub-$1000 price tag. Both focusing and zooming are largely internal elements, so the lens only extends by a millimetre or two when it is zoomed from the 10mm position to 24mm (and back).  The 77mm filter ring doesn’t rotate with either action.

The zoom ring is located just behind the bayonet mounting for the lens hood. It’s roughly 22 mm wide, with a band of ribbed, rubber-like material covering the front 18 mm. The front element doesn’t rotate while focusing or zooming allowing users to fit a polariser or other angle-critical filter without hassles.

Behind this band is an un-ribbed strip carrying focal length markings for the   10mm, 13mm, 15mm, 18mm, 20mm and 24mm settings.   We found the zoom ring was quite a bit stiffer than the focusing ring although it turned smoothly enough, with hard stops at each end of the focal length range.

Immediately behind the zoom ring is a 13 mm wide section of the lens containing a distance scale, which is inset into the outer barrel below a transparent plastic shield. It carries distance markings in metres and feet from 0.24 m to infinity.

Located just behind the distance scale is the focusing ring, which is 10 mm wide and entirely clad with ribbed rubber. It turns freely through 180 degrees with soft stops at each end of the range.

The lens extends for a further 23 mm to meet the mounting plate that attaches to the camera. Located on the left hand side of this section are two sliders; one for switching between AF and MF and the other for switching the VC stabilisation on and off.

The supplied, petal-shaped lens hood is about 37 mm deep and made from hard, matte black plastic. Its interior surface is finely ribbed to suppress reflections. It can be reversed over the lens for transport and storage.

Performance
 We tested the supplied lens on a Canon EOS 7D body with an effective resolution of 17.9 megapixels. Our Imatest tests showed the lens to be just capable of meeting expectations for the sensor at three focal lengths (13mm, 15mm and 18mm) but only around the centre of the frame and with a limited range of aperture settings. The best performance was with the 13mm focal length at f/5.6.

Unfortunately, although performance in the central third of the frame remained high across a wide range of aperture settings, edge and corner softening were significant and persisted through most of the aperture range, up to f/16 at which diffraction had a severe impact on resolution. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.

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 Lateral chromatic aberration was mostly within the ‘low’ band, although it ranged into the medium band with wide apertures at the shorter focal lengths and medium-to-small apertures between 15mm and 18mm. In the graph of our Imatest results below, the red line marks the border between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA, while the green line separates ‘low’ and ‘medium’ CA.

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 We found evidence of coloured fringing along high-contrast edges in many of the test shots we took. Interestingly, it was somewhat less than we expected, given the results of our Imatest tests. We’d advise buyers of this lens to watch out for it and apply in-camera corrections where they are available.

Autofocusing performance was generally good and the built-in stabilisation system worked well, enabling us to hand-hold the camera at shutter speeds of 1/15 second and obtain 100% of shots sharp with no signs of camera shake. Hunting for focus only occurred in rare situations when subjects were poorly lit and had very low contrast.

To test vignetting and distortion we had to disable the corrections in the EOS 7D camera and use raw files for assessments. Vignetting occurred at the maximum aperture for all focal lengths, although it was less obvious than we expected for such a wide-angle lens. Two stops down from the maximum aperture it was largely resolved.

Rectilinear distortion was present, although much less than we expected for such a wide-angle lens. We found slight barrel distortion at 10mm and 13mm and slight pincushion distortion at 20mm and 24mm but little or no distortion in between. For most photographers, this problem wouldn’t be an issue since both can be corrected in-camera or with editing software.

Although the relatively shallow lens hood provided very little protection against stray light, the review lens was remarkably flare resistant, even when the sun intruded into the image frame. We found a few instances of flare artefacts and slight veiling but,overall  there was little loss of contrast or saturation in shots.

On one or two occasions backlit shots showed traces of veiling flare and a few contained flare artefacts. But in general, the backlight performance of the lens was remarkably good.

There’s not much point using this lens for close-up work, partly because it can’t focus closer than 24 cm, at which the field of view is too large to provide satisfactory images at either end of the zoom range. The inherent wide-angle distortion in the lens can be used with creative effect for some subjects (examples below) but bokeh is impossible to evaluate.

Conclusion
 Wide angle zoom lenses have been relatively popular for many years and there’s plenty of competition in this space from both Canon and Nikon and other third-party manufacturers. The Tamron lens’s built-in stabilisation provides a point of difference between it and Nikon’s more expensive AF-S DX Nikkor 10″“24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, which otherwise has similar specifications.

There’s no stabilisation, either, in Canon’s EF-S slightly shorter 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, although it’s provided in the much cheaper EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens and the dedicated EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens for EOS M bodies. Pentax camera owners will find the SMC Pentax DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED (IF) Autofocus lens at a slightly lower price than the Tamron lens but it, too, lacks stabilisation.

It’s early days for this lens at present so few re-sellers have it listed on local sites, although a couple already have it listed below the RRP. Off-shore prices are confusing, with some sites listing the lens at US$499, which is the same price as the previous model. Maybe this is an aberration ““ or a special offer for early purchasers.

If you’re planning to buy this lens, make sure you’re looking at the pricing for the Model B023; not Model B0001 (which should be much cheaper). And if you choose to shop off-shore, don’t forget to add the shipping price, which will be at least AU$35. We believe it would be safer to shop at a local re-seller to avoid possible model confusion and other issues.

If you’re looking for wider angles of view, check out our review of the Sigma AF 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens, which was published in July 2010. It’s available in mounts for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony/Minolta SLR cameras and is a very good performer.  

 

SPECS

 Picture angle: 108 degrees 44 minutes to 60 degrees 2 minutes
 Minimum aperture: f/22-29
 Lens construction: 16 elements in 11 groups (including 2 aspherical, 1 LD and 1 XLD elements)
 Lens mounts: Canon EF-S, Nikon F (DX)
 Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture)
 Focus drive: HLD (High/Low torque-modulated Drive
 Stabilisation: Yes; 4 Stops shake compensation
 Minimum focus: 24 cm
 Maximum magnification: 1:5.3
 Filter size:   77 mm
 Dimensions (Diameter x L): 83.6 x 84.6 mm (Canon) or 82.1 mm (Nikon)
 Weight:  440 grams
 Standard Accessories: Front Cap, Lens hood (HB023)

 Distributor: Blonde Robot, http://www.blonde-robot.com.au/,  (03) 9023 9777  

 

TESTS

 Based on JPEG files captured with the Canon EOS 7D camera.

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SAMPLES

 The files used to evaluate vignetting and distortion were CR2.RAW files, with no corrections applied.
 

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 Vignetting at 10mm,  f/3.5.
 

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 Vignetting   at 13mm, f/4.
 

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 Vignetting at 15mm, f/4.
 

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 Vignetting at 18mm, f/4.5.
 

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 Vignetting at 20mm. f/4.5.
 

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 Vignetting at 24mm, f/4.5.
 

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 Rectilinear distortion at 10mm.
 

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 Rectilinear distortion at 13mm.
 

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 Rectilinear distortion at 15mm.
 

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 Rectilinear distortion at 18mm.
 

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 Rectilinear distortion at 20mm.
 

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 Rectilinear distortion at 24mm.
 

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10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/1000 second at f/9.
 

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24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/1250 second at f/9.
 

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Close-up at 10mm; ISO 200, 1/25 second at f/6.3.
 

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Close-up at 24mm, ISO 200, 1/60 second at f/6.3.
 

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Flare at 10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/1600 second at f/11.
 

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Flare at 24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/2000 second at f/11.
 

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Traces of veiling flare, 24mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/30 second at f/13.
 

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Backlit subjects, 24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/9.
 

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Backlit subjects with flare artefacts (circled), 17mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/11.
 

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10mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/20 second at f/10.
 

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10mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/200 second at f/11.
 

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10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/10.
 

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 Crop of the above image enlarged to 100% to show coloured fringing (circled).
 

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Bird photography is just possible if the subject is relatively large and close; 24mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/40 second at f/10.
 

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Characteristic wide-angle distortion; 10mm focal length,  ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/11.
 

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10mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/50 second at f/11.
 

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24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/8.
 

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24mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/30 second at f/7.1.

 

Rating

RRP: AU$949; US$650

  • Build: 8.9
  • Handling: 8.9
  • Image quality: 8.6
  • Versatility: 8.5

 

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