Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Review

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens
In-Depth Review

Tamron calls the 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens the world’s smallest and lightest F2.8 tele-zoom full-frame lens with vibration compensation.

The "with vibration compensation" was required to qualify it against this lens's predecessor, the only slightly smaller and lighter Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens. That lens was announced less than 4 years prior to the G2 lens announcement, and if you asked me which lens Tamron was going to introduce next, I wouldn't have guessed this one as the predecessor is an outstanding performer.

While the G2 lens features a new design, including Vibration Compensation and other performance improvements, important is that the excellent image sharpness delivered by the predecessor lens has been retained.

The 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens is part of Tamron's trinity of f/2.8 Di III zoom lenses covering the most-needed focal length range. The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens, and 70-180 G2 combined fully cover the popular 17-180mm focal length range with compact high-performing lenses.

Practically since DSLRs came into existence, I've had a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in my kit. This focal length range and aperture combination is incredibly useful, and I often choose a 70-200 f/2.8 lens for my needs. Downsides to this lens class have been the relatively large size and heavy weight, making long term carry somewhat laborious.

"To achieve this diminutive size while maintaining the high performance of the F/2.8 aperture, Tamron selected the focal length of 180mm at the telephoto end and employed an innovative zoom mechanism." [Tamron USA]

Tamron stopped short of the full to-200mm focal length range, but this lens has a considerably smaller size and lighter weight that, in keeping with the other Tamron Di III lenses to date, delivers outstanding image quality at a attractive price. As I said about this lens's predecessor, you are going to want this lens.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

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I've already shared that I think this focal length range is extremely useful.

How big is the 180mm vs. 200mm difference? At 180mm, the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens frames our image quality test target (it measures 47.25 x 31.5", 1200 x 800mm) at 20.04' (6.109m) vs. the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens at 200mm doing the same at 22.50' (6.86m). That means moving 2.46' (0.751m) or about 10% closer to the subject to gain the same subject framing. The other difference is the strength of the background blur that is created with the longer focal length able to create a slightly stronger blur. Once you read this review, I doubt you will care much about these differences.

Let's dive into some specific uses that are popular.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Kid Sample Picture

At the top of the list of my favorite uses for a 70-180mm lens is portrait photography. If you are taking pictures of people, this lens has your name on it. Containing a superset of the classic 85-135mm portrait focal length range, a 70-180mm lens is ideal for capturing pleasing perspectives of people.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Kid on Rocks Sample Picture

This lens invites subject framing ranging from full-body portraits at 70mm to tight headshots at 180mm. These mid-telephoto focal lengths naturally push the focus distances far enough away to avoid perspective distortion, including noses appearing too large relative to the rest of the face and ears, yet not so far that communication with the subject becomes difficult.

"Portrait photography" is a broad designation that covers a wide range of potential still and video uses at a wide variety of potential venues, including both indoors (home, church, school, etc.) and outdoors (yard, beach, park, parade, playground, etc.). Portrait subjects can range from infants to seniors, from individuals to large groups (if adequate working distance is available). Engagements, weddings, parties, events, theater, stage performances including concerts and recitals, speakers, kids' events, families, small groups, senior adults, graduating seniors, fashion, documentary, lifestyle ... all are great uses for the 70-180mm focal lengths. There is often adequate space in even a small studio for portraiture with the focal length range provided by this lens. It is not hard to use this lens exclusively for portrait shoots.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Kid on Chair Sample Picture

That portrait photography can be revenue-producing helps justify the acquisition cost of this lens (you cannot buy stock photos of most people), and you likely noticed the paid applications in the just-shared list of portrait uses.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Kid on the Move Sample Picture

People are also frequently photographed participating in sporting and other action scenarios using this focal length range. While the 180mm focal length will likely be found too wide for large field sports photography, it works great for closer action such as that found at track and field meets and on the basketball court. Basketball is typically played indoors, and with the f/2.8 aperture (more on this soon), indoor action sports are within this lens's capabilities.

The long focal lengths and wide aperture combination enables the background of 70-180mm images to be diffusely blurred. That attribute is especially great for portraits captured where the background cannot be adequately controlled, including at sporting events and performances captured from a seat in the audience.

While portrait photography generally refers to photographing people, some of us also refer to certain types of wildlife photos as portraits. These images typically include the animal at least nearly filling the frame, and for that task, this focal length range often falls short of the need. Unless the wildlife subject is large or close, the longest focal length in this lens will usually be found too short for this task (without cropping). If capturing environmental wildlife portraits or captive (zoo) wildlife, the 70-180mm focal length range may be perfect. This focal length range is great for photographing pets, including dogs and cats.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Tree Trunk Sample Picture

When mentioning landscape photography, many immediately think of wide-angle lenses. However, telephoto focal lengths are an essential part of a landscape kit. Telephoto focal lengths can create excellent landscape images, especially when there is a distant subject to be emphasized, rendered significant in the frame, such as a mountain. It is so easy to take great telephoto landscape images that it feels (slightly) like cheating.

Another excellent use of telephoto lenses for landscape photography is to focus on closer details, allowing a strong background blur to isolate those within the image.

This focal length range is especially optimal for capturing clouds and sunsets/sunrises, allowing the frame to be filled with color from even a modest show in the sky.

Cityscapes are essentially landscape images with cities in them, and this focal length range is often a great choice for the more-distant city scenes. Street photography, usually done in cities, is another excellent use for the 70-180mm range.

A 70-180mm lens is a great studio lens, working especially well for product images and many other general studio applications. A significant percentage of the product images on this site were captured within this focal length range, and this range works well for more substantial products, including vehicles.

Here is an example of what this focal length range looks like:

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Focal Length Range Example

APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle, and that means a scene is framed more tightly, with 1.5x being the angle of view multiplier for Sony's lineup. When mounted on an APS-C imaging sensor format camera body, this lens provides an angle of view similar to a 105-270mm lens on a full-frame body. The uses for this angle of view are similar, with more working distance required for the longer focal lengths. Individual circumstances will determine if the narrower angle of view range is an advantage or disadvantage.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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This lens has a wide f/2.8 max aperture, and that this fixed max aperture is available over the entire focal length range is a significant asset.

What are the advantages of a wide aperture? A wide aperture allows a significant amount of light to reach the imaging sensor, allowing action (both subject and camera) to be stopped in lower light levels via a faster shutter speed and the use of lower, less-noisy ISO settings. Also, a wide aperture permits creation of a shallower, better-subject-isolating depth of field.

While those photographing landscapes with this lens may not find the wide f/2.8 aperture mandatory, those capturing portraits or photographing low-light events, including sporting events, will appreciate the faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings made possible by the additional light reaching their imaging sensors. Despite today's cameras' great high ISO performance, f/2.8 remains the narrowest aperture I want to use when photographing many indoor activities. In addition to stopping action in low light, the wide aperture invites handholding the camera in low light environments.

I often talk about the compositional advantages of a clean border, and one way to achieve such is to blur the background. This lens has that feature. Zoom to 180mm, open the aperture wide to f/2.8, move in close to your subject, and watch the distracting background melt away. The two images below illustrate the maximum background blur this lens can create.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Maximum Blur Example

The extra light a wide aperture provides to a camera's AF system is highly advantageous to that function.

What are the disadvantages of a wide aperture? Increased size, weight, and price accompany this attribute. Usually, including in this case, the advantages outweigh those disadvantages, and the penalties imposed by this lens are minor.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Top View with Hood

Image Stabilization

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The longer the focal length, the larger subject details (captured at the same distance) are rendered, and the more still the camera must be held to avoid subject details crossing imaging sensor pixels, the cause of motion blur. Image stabilization, VC (Vibration Compensation) in this case, is an extremely valuable feature in any lens and an especially valuable feature in a telephoto lens.

Increased AF precision is another sharpness benefit of image stabilization benefit, as the camera's AF system can produce improved focus precision if the image it sees is stabilized.

Tamron does not provide an assistance rating in stops for this lens, but the VC difference seen in the viewfinder is significant, and the stabilized viewfinder aids in optimal composition. Handheld movie recording quality is significantly improved by image stabilization.

"... At focal lengths up to 100mm, artificial intelligence (AI) technology provides vibration compensation with videography in mind." [Tamron]

While VC is active, framing drift is not an issue, and the viewfinder view is well-controlled, not jumping at startup/shutdown and permitting easy reframing. A quiet but audible scratchy whir is heard when the switch is enabled — and when it is disabled. The sound seems slightly louder when longer focal lengths are selected.

Tamron advises that VC may not perform sufficiently during excessive movement or while using a tripod.

When you need/want to leave the tripod behind, VC is there for you, helping to ensure sharp images and adding significant versatility to this lens.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens on Tripod

Image Quality

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One of this lens's predecessor's most valuable features was the sharp imagery it created. Fortunately, the G2 lens matches that performance.

This lens is sharp in the center of the frame throughout the zoom range. In general, lenses become sharper as they are stopped down one or two stops from their wide-open apertures, but this one shows only a slight improvement — and none is needed.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition. In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness, but this one shows only a slight decline from the center to the corner.

The resolution chart is brutal/merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

70mm: f/2.8 | f/2.8 | f/2.8
120mm: f/2.8 | f/2.8 | f/2.8
180mm: f/2.8 | f/2.8 | f/2.8

These results look great. I usually also share narrower aperture results at this point in the review, but the sharpness difference between f/2.8 and f/4 didn't seem worth your bandwidth.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

70mm: f/2.8 | f/2.8 | f/2.8
120mm: f/2.8 | f/2.8 | f/2.8
180mm: f/2.8 | f/2.8

Sorry, the third 180mm corner sample inexplicably went missing.

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance, but these results are impressive. Again, stopped-down results are usually included in the site's corner sharpness comparisons, but the difference at f/4 is only slight.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA).

A lens is expected to show peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. Wide-open aperture corner shading ranges from about 2 stops at the wide end to 2.5 stops at the long end.

Want less corner shading? Stopping down is the usual solution. At f/4, the corner shading amount ranges from about 1 to 1.5 stops. Shading continues to decrease through f/8, where about 0.5 stops of shading remain.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the one-stop of corner shading showing at f/2.8 may be visible in select images, primarily those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Sony a1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

Only black and white colors should be present in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. The color separation is modest at the wide end, slowly decreases to negligible at 100mm, and increases slightly to moderate at 180mm as the separated colors align and then reverse.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally colored subjects.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

A small amount of color separation shows at 70mm, but overall, these results are good.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

This lens features Tamron's BBAR-G2 (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection Generation 2) to suppress flare and ghosting, but like most telephoto focal length lenses, it does produce some flare effects, especially at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Unfortunately, removal is sometimes challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can destroy image quality.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light that can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of Sony Alpha 1 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Coma Example

These results are not perfect, but they are closer to perfect than most lenses produce.

From a geometric distortion perspective, this lens shows slight pincushion distortion at the wide end that increases to moderate at the long end.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and telephoto lenses are inherently advantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among available scenes, assessing the blur quality, bokeh, is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Bokeh Example

70mm | 120mm | 180mm   70mm | 120mm | 180mm

The first three examples, 100% crops, show defocused highlights filled rather smoothly and shaped relatively round. The second set of examples shows full images reduced in size and looking nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

The corner shape truncation is obvious and consistent over the range. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

A 9-blade count diaphragm will create 18-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens can produce nice star shapes, as illustrated below.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The examples above were captured at f/16.

The design of this lens is illustrated below.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Design

"The design has been completely reworked and features a generous and effective arrangement of special lens elements, including one XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion), one hybrid aspherical lens element, three LD (Low Dispersion) and two GM (Glass Molded aspherical) lens elements. These combine to efficiently control chromatic aberration and other artifacts and deliver high resolution without compromise throughout the entire zoom range." [Tamron]

The image quality produced by a lens is a top performance factor, and the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens scores high in this regard — like its predecessor.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Extended Side View with Hood

Focusing

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"For enhanced AF drive efficiency, Tamron has newly developed the VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive), a linear motor focus mechanism that delivers excellent quietness and agile performance, thereby producing the highest level of autofocusing speed and precision in Tamron’s history. Additionally, a floating system is used to achieve excellent optical performance at all shooting distances. By simultaneously operating two VXD units via electronic control, the system produces clear and sharp images ..." [Tamron]

Tamron claims this system delivers "The highest levels of autofocus speed and precision in Tamron’s 70 year history." "While operating faster than ever before, the drive also maintains positional accuracy down to 0.005mm (0.0002 in), less than one-tenth the width of a human hair! This provides unprecedented fast and precise AF performance." [Tamron]

Those statements were for the predecessor lens, but they still apply.

"The new 70-180mm F2.8 G2 zoom is equipped with a VXD linear motor focus mechanism that was first used in the 1st-generation model." [Tamron]

But, it gets better: "Tracking performance when following moving subjects such as sports action and vehicles has received a further boost while maintaining TAMRON’s highest-ever level of high-speed, high-precision autofocus." [Tamron]

This lens internally focuses quickly and quietly.

Low light AF is slowed, but zoomed to the wide end, it can lock on subjects with strong contrast in rather dark environments. More light is required to lock focus at the 180mm end.

Non-cinema lenses usually require refocusing after a focal length change. As illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens does not exhibit parfocal-like characteristics. When focused at 180mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in focus blur.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Parfocal Example

The non-rubberized ribbed focus ring is modest in size and raised just enough above the smooth lens barrel to be tactilely easy to locate. This ring is smooth and has an ideal amount of resistance with no play.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Angle Extended View

When turned slowly, a 400° rotation drives focus between full extents at 70mm, allowing fine, precise focusing adjustments. At 180mm, 1440° of slow rotation is required for the same. Turn the ring quickly, and the numbers drop to 250° and 360°.

Those were the default focus ring characteristics. Via the Tamron Lens Utility app, you can have it your way. The Focus Ring Function Setting options are:

  • MF Ring Rotation (Default or Reverse)
  • MF Method (Non-linear or Linear with 90°, 180°, 270°, or 360°)

A single customizable focus set button is provided. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press focus set to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button and can be programmed to another function using the camera's menu.

I'll address more customizable functionality in the Custom Switch discussion later in the review.

This lens design places the focus ring behind the zoom ring. While this design is not my preference, it is a perfect design for making the focus ring easy to use, especially when using the lens handheld where the focus ring is at the fingertips of the hand balancing the lens.

It is normal for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

This lens produces only a modest change in subject size through a full-extent (worst-case) focus distance adjustment.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Focus Magnification Example

70mm: Far | Close   180mm: Far | Close

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode with the shutter release half-pressed or the AF-ON button pressed.

This lens does not have an AF/MF switch, requiring this camera setting to be changed via the menu system (or via a switch on some camera models).

This lens has a minimum focus distance of 11.8" (300mm), and at 70mm, it generates a significant 0.26x maximum magnification spec.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens27.6(700)0.23x
Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens23.6(600)0.28x
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports Lens25.6(650)0.19x
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens15.7(400)0.30x
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens10.2(260)0.50x
Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens11.8(300)0.26x
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens10.6(270)0.50x
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens37.4(950)0.16x

At 70mm, a subject measuring approximately 3.4 x 2.3" (85 x 57mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance. At 180mm, a 6.2 x 4.1" (157 x 105mm) subject does the same.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Focus Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

While strong magnification is a great feature, peripheral image quality is soft at the highest magnifications, especially at wide apertures.

Mount an extension tube behind this lens to moderately decrease and increase those respective numbers. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. As of review time, Tamron does not publish extension tube specs or manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

This lens is not compatible with Tamron teleconverters.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Angle View with Hood

Design & Features

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"Every individual part of the lens has been reexamined, right down to the fine details, resulting in an enhanced design that updates both operability and the ergonomic considerations. The surface of the lens exterior is shiny and glossy black. Improved abrasion resistance makes the lens harder to scratch and resists fingerprints. Additionally, the grip performance has been improved. The smoothly curved, glossy surface of the brand ring creates a dignified appearance with a design that signifies functional beauty and high quality." [Tamron]

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Compared to 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens

Above, the G2 lens is shown looking great next to the G1 lens on the left. Notice that the mount cap's size was reduced.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

Not common in the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens class is the zoom extension, adding 1.05" (26.7mm) to the 180mm length. The extended inner barrel has little play, and tight tolerances on all moving parts add some assurance that this lens has been carefully designed with modern construction methods utilized.

The rubberized focus ring is substantial in size, and the raised contour and large size make this ring easy to find. The zoom ring is positioned in front of the focus ring, and as usual for similar designs, the zoom ring is forward of the balance point. The left hand rests under the focus ring during comfortable balanced use, and the right hand is called on to help support the camera when the left hand is positioned for comfortable zoom ring access.

This lens has two crisp-functioning switches, a zoom extension lock switch and a 3-position custom mode switch.

A USB Type-C port is located near the mount. The lens can be plugged into a computer (USB Type-C cable not included) and managed via Tamron Lens Utility. Using this software, the lens firmware can be updated, the focus ring direction can be reversed, the focusing ring adjustment rate can be set to linear or variable, and the Custom Switch can be programmed.

The settings available for each Custom Switch setting are:

  • Assign function from the camera
  • Select AF/MF (press or hold for 1 sec.)
  • Focus Limiter (set time for video shooting)
  • Focus Preset (set time for video shooting)
  • A/B Focus (set time for video shooting)
  • Ring Function (focus/aperture)
  • Clear Settings

Lens Utility facilitates firmware updates and features a reset to factory option. Settings can be saved and loaded.

This lens has a dust and moisture resistance design.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Weather Sealing

"For greater protection when shooting outdoors, leak-resistant seals throughout the lens barrel help protect your equipment. Also, the Connector Port is the water-proofed USB Type-C variety." [Tamron]

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Mount

"The front surface of the lens element is coated with a protective fluorine compound that is water- and oil-repellant. The lens surface is easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture, and fingerprints." [Tamron]

This Tamron lens is compatible with advanced mirrorless camera features, including Hybrid AF, Eye AF, Direct Manual Focus (DMF), and in-camera lens correction (shading, chromatic aberration, distortion).

The only lighter lens in this f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens class is the predecessor lens, and it is only slightly lighter. The Canon option is slightly shorter.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens37.8(1070)3.5 x 5.7(89.9 x 146)772019
Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens24.5(695)3.3 x 4.7(83.5 x 119)772020
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports Lens47.1(1335)3.6 x 8.1(90.6 x 207)772023
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens36.9(1045)3.5 x 7.9(88 x 200)772021
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens28(794)3.2 x 5.9(82.2 x 149)722023
Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens30.2(855)3.3 x 6.2(83 x 156.5)672023
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens28.6(810)3.2 x 5.9(81 x 149)672020
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens52.9(1500)3.5 x 7.6(87.9 x 193)772017

For many more comparisons, review the complete Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

The joints of my fingers uncomfortably impact the barrel of this lens when tightly gripping the Sony a1.

In visual comparisons, this Tamron lens appears more like an f/4 lens than an f/2.8 model.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens to other lenses.

The medium-sized 67mm filter threads mean that filters for this lens are not too large or expensive. Also positive is that this size is common, especially among other Tamron Di III lenses. This commonality facilitates effects filter sharing, lowering costs and keeping the kit compact.

A tripod ring is not included with or available for this lens, leaving it front-heavy when the attached camera is mounted on a tripod, inviting sag after lockdown.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Side View with Hood

The hood is included. Tamron adds an "H" prefix to the lens model number first using a particular hood for the hood model name, and the petal-shaped Tamron HA065 Lens Hood is included in this A065 lens box.

This impact-absorbing semi-rigid plastic hood provides good protection to the front element from bright light and scratches. The mold-ribbed interior aids reflection avoidance. A push-button release to make the bayonet mount smoother was omitted.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Cap

A lens case is not included in the box. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Extended Top View with Hood

Price, Value, Wrap Up

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The Tamron name is synonymous with great value, and this lens, with great performance at half the price of the Sony 70-200mm nearest equivalent, only further reinforces that reputation.

Tamron's Di III lenses are designed for use on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models.

"This product is developed, manufactured and sold based on the specifications of E-mount which was disclosed by Sony Corporation under the license agreement with Sony Corporation." [Tamron]

Tamron USA provides a 6-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens was online retail sourced.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Front View on Camera

Alternatives to the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens

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Let's start the comparisons with this G2 lens's predecessor, the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens.

In the image quality comparison, the two lenses show near-equal image sharpness. The G2 lens has more peripheral shading, less flare effects, increased pincushion distortion at the wide end, and slightly more lateral CA in some comparisons.

The Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens vs. Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens comparison shows the G2 lens slightly larger and heavier, but the difference will be found of little significance to most. The G1 lens has a higher maximum magnification spec, 0.50x vs. 0.26x. The G2 lens has Vibration Compensation, a Custom Switch, a focus set button, and a nicer design.

As of review time, both lenses remain in Tamron's line-up, with the G1 lens priced moderately lower than the G2. Get the G2 lens unless that price difference is critical.

Moving on to Sony's latest offering in this class, the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens.

In the image quality comparison, the two lenses perform similarly in the center of the frame, and the Sony lens is slightly sharper in the periphery, except at 70mm where the Tamron lens has a slight advantage. The Sony lens has less pincushion distortion and slightly less peripheral shading at the long end. The Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens vs. Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens comparison shows the Sony lens is considerably larger and heavier. Larger reflects in the filter threads, with the Sony lens using 77mm filters vs. 67mm. The Sony lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9, and a slightly higher maximum magnification spec, 0.30x vs. 0.26x. The Sony lens has an AF/MF, IS, and focus range limit switches, while the Tamron lens has a Custom Switch. The Sony lens's extra 20mm on the long end is valuable, as is its tripod ring, but it costs more than 2x as much as the Tamron lens.

The Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports Lens hit the streets at about the same time as the Tamron lens.

In the image quality comparison shows the Tamron lens a tiny bit sharper except at 180mm vs. 200mm, where the Sigma lens is a tiny bit sharper. The Tamron lens has slightly more pincushion distortion. These slight differences are not likely to be decision factors.

The Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens vs. Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports Lens comparison shows the Sigma lens is considerably larger and heavier. Larger reflects in the filter threads, with the Sigma lens using 77mm filters vs. 67mm. The Sigma lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9. The Tamron lens has a higher maximum magnification spec, 0.26x vs. 0.19x. The Sigma lens has an AF/MF, IS, and focus range limit switches, while the Tamron lens has a 3-position Custom Switch vs. 2. The Sigma lens has an aperture ring with associated switches and 3 AF stop buttons vs. 1.

The Sigma lens's extra 20mm on the long end is valuable, as is its tripod ring. As a "Sports" lens, the Sigma 70-200 is robust, designed for exceptional durability. The Tamron lens is moderately less expensive.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens Top View

Summary

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The Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens review summary reads like the predecessor's.

The lens comparisons just shared create that awkward feeling. Something is not adding up — and this is not the first time Tamron has created this equation. The comparisons, along with the rest of the review, show the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens delivering image quality comparable to or surpassing the best-in-class lenses. Still, this lens is far smaller, much lighter, and significantly lower priced than the 70-200mm lens options. This scenario begs for some hidden catch, but ... I've not yet found such.

The Tamron lens's light weight does not exude rugged build quality confidence, but it seems nicely built with tight tolerances, and a long warranty indicates that Tamron expects the lens to withstand years of normal use. Also, this lens performs well. Using the most extreme minimum focus distance results in poor periphery image quality, especially at 70mm and at wide apertures, but using longer focus distances simply brings this lens in line with the rest of the class in this regard, leaving it not disadvantaged.

"The greatest feature of the series is the excellent portability." [Tamron] While portability is indeed an excellent feature, challenging that aspect for the "greatest feature" is the image quality for the price. The Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens delivers excellent image quality for an impressively low price. Factor in the compact, lightweight, modern lens design and the spirit of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras is encompassed and exceeded. This lens is a compelling choice for a huge range of general-purpose needs.

As I've been saying in the other recent Sony-mount Tamron lens reviews, I rarely suggest buying a camera brand specifically to enable the use of a lens from a different manufacturer. The Tamron 70-180 VXD is another lens that encourages this scenario. One can justify selecting a Sony camera to enable the use of the Tamron 70-180mm F2.8 Di III VC VXD G2 Lens. This high-performing lens is an outstanding value.

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