The biggest advantage the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens has over the other ultra-wide angle lenses is its price. The 10-24's USA price varies based on the amount of the rebate that, at review time, is typically available for it - but a $50-$100 price advantage over the next-most inexpensive lens, the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC Lens is not unusual.
I've been rather hard on the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens in the recent ultra-wide angle lens reviews I've been creating. This lens and I got off to a rough start. The first two copies I purchased had to be returned due to significant focus calibration problems. The first copy front-focused and the second copy front focused at 24mm. Fortunately, the third copy is focusing accurately most of the time.
The bigger reason for my negative tone for this lens is the poor wide open image quality it delivers. I include results for two copies of the Tamron 10-24 in the ISO 12233 chart tool. Both show very soft wide open results and results are still not impressive even at f/8 at 24mm. I'll discuss this aspect in more detail later in the review.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens sample picture above was taken with a Canon EOS 60D at 10mm, f/8. Notice the perspective distortion achieved by angling the camera upward from a close vantage point.
Getting the proper focal length or focal length range is a very important criterion when selecting a lens. And the first attraction to any ultra-wide zoom lens is in fact the ultra-wide focal length range, so let's review what this focal length range looks like. Being a Tamron "Di II" (Digital Camera) lens, the Tamron 10-24 has a smaller-than-full-frame image circle designed to work only on APS-C/1.6x/1.5x FOVCF DSLRs. All of the ultra-wide angle lenses compared in this review are the same in regards to this smaller image circle. Thus, the focal lengths shown for all of the lenses below are similar to 1.6x longer focal lengths on a full frame SLR or DSLR. The Tamron's 10-24mm focal length range frames like a 16-38.4mm lens frames on a full frame DSLR.
Following is an example of the focal length range of this lens. Click on the image below to view a much larger comparison including 4 other ultra-wide angle lenses.
For most people, the ultra-wide angle zoom lenses are so wide that they are not going to be the ideal general purpose lens. But they do make a great complement to a general purpose lens.
You likely have an APS-C general purpose lens with a 17 or 18mm wide end - or perhaps a full frame lens with a 24mm wide focal length. You can match (or closely match) one of the sample results above with your widest focal length to determine how the rest of the available focal lengths align with what you already have. When deciding which focal length range is best for you, consider the lens(es) you already have and how the ultra-wide angle zoom focal length range aligns with it. Also consider which focal length range you need in the lens that is mounted while using this lens (with no lens change required).
In terms of focal length ranges, the focal length numbers mostly tell the difference. 8mm is wider than 10mm and 24mm is longer than 20mm. The Tamron 10-24 has the longest overall focal length range of this comparison group.
Use ultra-wide angle focal lengths to emphasize a foreground subject in relation to a mostly-in-focus background. Landscape and architecture (indoor and outdoor) photographers are two groups with a need for such angles of view. If photographing people is your goal, keep your distance when using this lens - unless perspective distortion is also your goal.
Know that built-in flash coverage on most DSLRs will not be wide enough to cover much of the focal length range of this lens. Plan on an alternative method of flash lighting/diffusion if planning to use flash with this lens.
Like most of the lenses in this class, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens has a relatively narrow max aperture, and the max aperture changes over the focal length range. This means that wide open aperture exposure values will change as the lens is zoomed to longer focal lengths.
Here is a table that compares the max aperture for these lenses.
|Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens||10mm||13mm||18mm|
|Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens||8mm||8mm||13mm|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens||10mm|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens||10mm||11mm||12mm||16mm|
|Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II Lens||10mm||14mm||21mm|
|Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens||11mm|
The two fixed max aperture lenses in this group, the Sigma 10-22 f/3.5 and the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, hold the aperture advantage. The Tamron 10-24's max apertures are 1/3 stop wider than the Canon 10-22's max apertures at 4 focal lengths, giving this lens a slight advantage over the other variable max aperture lenses in this group.
While Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens may have comparably favorable max aperture settings available, you may not want to use them. The image quality the Tamron 10-24 delivers at these wide open apertures is poor - images are very soft across the frame. Stopping down to f/5.6 makes a big difference in the quality of the image. At f/5.6, only the corners are soft at 10mm. The center of the frame remains sharp at f/5.6 through 24mm, but the corners and mid-frame areas grow softer with the focal length increase until only the very center of the frame is sharp at 24mm. Slight additional improvement is seen at f/8, but 24mm results remain unexciting.
Usual for this type of lens is a moderate amount of barrel distortion at the wide end of the focal length range. Unusual for this type of lens is that a slight amount of barrel distortion remains at the long end of the focal length range. Far more typical is for pincushion distortion to be present from the mid through long segment of the focal length range.
CA (Chromatic Aberration) is noticeable through the entire focal length range - primarily in the corners and stronger at the wide end.
With a wide open aperture, the Tamron 10-24 has about 2 stops of peripheral shading at 10mm with between 1 and 1.2 stops of shading over the balance of the focal length range. Wide open, the Tamron 10-24 compares well against the other lenses in this class in this regard. Surprising is how little vignetting is reduced when a stopped down aperture is used.
A bright light, such as the sun, in the frame at 10mm is going to result in strong flare effects in your image. The amount of flare effects seen diminishes to nearly none at 24mm.
Bokeh (background blur quality) is not easy to discern in a lens this wide - and is not real important for the uses I have for a lens such as this one. In the 10-24mm range, OOF details generally remain tiny, but this 7-aperture-blade lens does not produce especially nice blur quality.
Unless you are using manual focus, focus accuracy is very important to final image quality. I have encountered focus accuracy problems with many 3rd party lenses and, as I said at the beginning of this review, I had to return my first two Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lenses. The third lens focuses accurately most of the time.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens internally focuses slowly and audibly. The focus ring turns during AF and FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is not available. The filter rings do not rotate with focusing.
The raised AF/M switch is easy to reach with the left thumb. Force required to rotate the adequately-sized manual focus ring ranges from light at infinity to moderately-firm at the closer distances. While not the smoothest ring, it has no play or wobble in it. The Tamron 10-24 focus ring turns in the opposite direction of Canon's focus rings. Focus distances are well marked and printed on the focus ring. Focus breathing (image changes size when focusing) is not an issue with this lens.
In the short distance focusing category, the Tamron 10-24 turns in best-in-class performance.
|Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens||9.4"||(240mm)||0.17x|
|Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens||9.4"||(239mm)||0.13x|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens||9.4"||(240mm)||0.15x|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens||9.4"||(240mm)||0.15x|
|Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II Lens||9.4"||(240mm)||0.20x|
|Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.09x|
A .20x MM (Maximum Magnification) value will not cause this lens to be confused with a macro lens, but the value is easily high enough to produce a dramatic perspective at 10mm.
The rear-positioned (where I like it), strongly-ribbed zoom ring is adequately sized and has a nice amount of rotation. This is not the smoothest zoom ring available, but it is not bad - and has no play or wobble. Zoom ring rotation is in the opposite direction of Canon lenses (the same as Nikon lenses). The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens does change size slightly when zooming, reaching full extension 20mm and full retraction at 14mm.
The overall shape of this lens is smooth with ribs raised slightly higher on the focus ring than on the zoom ring. The objective end of the lens has a wider diameter than the rest of the lens.
The petal-shaped lens hood is included. Tamron's center-and-side-pinch front lens caps are very nice, but the install-in-one-position-only rear caps are not my favorite.
The Tamron 10-24, like the others in its class, is nicely sized for use. Compare the size and shape of the Tamron 10-24 with some other lenses in its class below. Lenses arranged from short to tall in retracted position, are the:
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II Lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens
The physical size differences between these lenses are not significant. The same lenses are shown below fully extended with their hoods in place.
Again, the physical size differences between these lenses are not significant - and all of these lenses have a very nice-to-use size.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens||13.6 oz||(385g)||3.3 x 3.5"||(84.0 x 90.0mm)||77mm||2004|
|Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens||19.6 oz||(555g)||3.0 x 4.2"||(75.0 x 105.7mm)||na||2010|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens||18.4 oz||(520g)||3.4 x 3.5"||(87.3 x 88.2mm)||82mm||2010|
|Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens||16.6 oz||(470g)||3.3 x 3.2"||(83.3 x 81.0mm)||77mm||2008|
|Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 DI II Lens||14.3 oz||(406g)||3.3 x 3.4"||(83.2 x 86.5mm)||77mm||2010|
|Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens||19.8 oz||(560g)||3.3 x 3.5"||(84.0 x 89.2mm)||77mm|
The Tamron 10-24 has a plastic feel to it, but the overall build quality appears to be good. A weight of 14.3 oz (406g) places this lens near the bottom of the class.
The 77mm filter size is a very common one. If considering the use of a circular polarizer filter, be aware that very uneven results are likely when used at 10mm on this lens.
For many more comparisons, review the complete Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
While comparing these ultra-wide angle lenses, let's take a look at an image quality comparison. Click on the image below to view a 100% crop image quality comparison between 6 ultra-wide angle APS-C format lenses. The comparison loads in a new page. Use Alt-Tab/Ctrl-Tab to switch between pages as you read the commentary below.
Here are some comparison thoughts:
The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens shifts the focal length range to the wide end. The Tamron has a wider aperture than the Sigma 8-16, but the Tamron's wide open image quality is far worse. Stopped down to match the Sigma 8-16's aperture, the Tamron puts forth a much better showing, but still lags behind the Sigma 8-16's image quality at the long end of the 8-16's range - especially in the corners. Sigma's HSM AF is nicer than Tamron's AF. The Tamron has noticeably more CA, slightly more flare, is a bit lighter and accepts front filters. The Tamron is easily the least expensive lens in this comparison.
The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens is a sharper lens and has a better AF system. The Tamron has less vignetting at wide open apertures though the two lenses are similar in this regard when stopped down. Again, the Tamron is easily the least expensive lens in this comparison.
The Sigma's 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Lens I purchased performs worse on the left side of the frame than on the right - even after being sent to Sigma Service. So, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens competes reasonably well in the above comparison - but I think that the Sigma is a better lens. The Sigma turns in, overall, better image quality. Except at 10mm, the Tamron has less vignetting at wide open apertures. Stopped down, the two are similar, but the Sigma has the edge at 10mm. The Sigma also has the edge in the flare comparison at 10mm. The Tamron's 10mm barrel distortion is easier to correct than the Sigma's 10mm wave-type barrel distortion. Sigma's HSM AF is nicer than the Tamron's AF. To the Tamron's advantage are lower cost, slightly lighter weight and an extra 4mm of focal length on the long end.
The Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens is the second least expensive lens in this group. Wide open, the Sigma produces a much sharper image. However, the Tamron has a generally-wider max aperture. This comparison is closer at f/5.6, but I still give the Sigma my vote. The Sigma has more vignetting. Sigma's HSM AF is nicer than the Tamron's AF. To the Tamron's advantage are lower cost, slightly lighter weight and an extra 4mm of focal length on the long end.
The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens has a significant max aperture advantage over all of the other lenses in this test group, making it a better choice for stopping action in low light. The Tokina is a sharper lens and shows less vignetting, but tends to show flare more easily. The Tokina does not extend. The Tamron has a longer focal length range, is lighter and again, less expensive.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens is available in Canon (reviewed), Nikon, Pentax and Sony/Minolta mounts. My standard disclaimer: There are some potential issues with third party lenses. Since Tamron reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer AF routines, there is always the possibility that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Sometimes a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer, sometimes not. There is also the risk of a problem that results in the lens and body manufacturers directing blame at each other. Tamron USA's 6-year warranty is far superior to Canon's standard 1 year warranty (Tamron's international warranty is also 1 year).
Picking the best ultra-wide angle lens for your needs is not easy. I've liked the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens since it became available - it remains one of the best choices. The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens is also a good option - I especially like its extremely wide angles of view. The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX Lens' f/2.8 aperture is very nice. And the two Sigma 10-20mm lenses are more fine options from this review list.
My experience with the Tamron 10-24 leads me to recommend one of these other just-listed options for your ultra-wide angle lens unless your budget is your primary concern. And if you decide that the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II Lens is what you can afford, you will likely be happy with what you get for your money. Shoot stopped down and avoid the longest focal lengths. If you don't have an ultra-wide angle lens for your APS-C DSLR, definitely get one.
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