The other two members of Tamron’s “holy trinity” of fast f/2.8 zoom lenses are the recently reviewed 17-28mm f/2.8 and the 28-75mm f/2.8. The Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD is a member of Tamron’s own “holy trinity” of fast f/2.8 zoom lenses. These three lenses are designed with a concept that is extremely similar to one another; they are far more inexpensive, in addition to being significantly more compact and lighter in weight than equivalent lenses produced by other manufacturers.
|Optical construction||19 elements in 14 groups inc. 1x molded aspherical, 1xXLD, 4xLD, 2x hybrid elements, floating system|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.85m (max magnification 1:4.6, up to 1:2 using MF at 70mm)|
|Hood||petal-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied|
|Other features||moisture-resistant, transport lock|
This is notably the case with the 70-180mm f/2.8, which features a pretty revolutionary design that is on par with that of the Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM L IS, with the Tamron lens going even farther in certain ways. It is also far more cost-effective than Sony’s own FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS, coming in at a price point of around 1200 USD or EUR.
Tamron 70-180mm F/2.8 Di III VXD Zoom Lenses
The zoom mechanism on almost all 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses does not stretch when the lens is zoomed in or out. Both Canon RF and Tamron have diverged from this feature, which means that the length of the lens will rise as you zoom out more. It allowed Tamron to dramatically reduce the size (81x149mm) at its 70mm setting, which was made possible when combined with the somewhat shorter focal length and the utilization of an XR element.
In addition, Tamron utilized exceptionally lightweight body materials, which resulted in a weight of 810g for the camera. To put this in perspective, the weight of the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens is nearly twice as much. Tamron also made the decision to eliminate the tripod mount entirely, most likely because they were aware that such lenses are only sometimes mounted on tripods. On top of that, there is not even an AF/MF switch that you can find.
However, there is a transport lock option that can be used to prevent zoom creeping, even if we did not find evidence of this issue in the sample that we tested. In terms of the quality of the build, we would classify it as being of a high consumer grade. It has been meticulously put together, and the controls work without a hitch.
However, you don’t really get the feeling that you could carry it into a combat zone (assuming that this is something that interests you, of course). Having said that, the structure is resistant to dampness, and it will be robust enough for the requirements of an amateur notwithstanding. A lens hood in the shape of petals is included in the packaging.
The lens incorporates Tamron’s VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) for silent autofocusing. When using our rather dated A7R II, we found that the autofocus was quick at f/2.8 but slowed down significantly after that due to extra micro-adjustments (more on this later). The manual focusing mechanism is by-wire, as is standard, and it is an extremely accurate system.
It is already quite amazing that it can focus down to 0.85mm, which equates to a magnification of 1:4.6 when using the AF mode. When using the manual focus mode, you have the ability to focus down even farther, reaching a maximum magnification of 1:2 at 70mm, which is considered macro territory.
A floating system should also be able to compensate for the decline in picture quality that occurs at closer focus distances. Because the Tamron lens does not have an image stabilizer built into it, you will need to rely on the IBIS instead (camera IS). Although this is normally sufficient, in-lens image stabilization has a tendency to perform marginally better at longer focal lengths.