Tamron 17-70mm – The Best General Purpose Lens?

To begin with, I would like to special thanks to Cles Distribution of Tamron Singapore for giving me the opportunity to loan the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD (Model B070X) for Fuji mount for this review. At the time of releasing this review, I returned the loan unit to Cles Distribution.

Tamron 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD (Model B070)

Intro

Tamron 18-300mm f3.5-6.3 was first announced in August 2021. Fast forward 8 months later, here comes the second lens. Based on the full-frame equivalent, it gives a focal length from 25.5mm to 105mm and this is actually a good range for everyone to pick up easily.

Design & Build Quality

First of all, it comes with a plastic build body with a metal rear mount bayonet. It may not have the best handling experience but the built quality is solid for its class. The plastic material gives it a smooth like feel when you hold it.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 70mm . f5.6 . 1/750″ . ISO 160 . Classic Chrome

If you have noticed, this lens does not have an aperture ring, which means controlling the aperture value has to be done on the front dial of the camera body.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 35mm . f4 . 1/3800″ . ISO 320 . Classic Chrome

Rotating the zoom ring gives a smooth with little friction experience. The zoom throw takes 90° from 17mm to 70mm, which is great for quick zooming purpose. Unlike the zoom ring, the manual focus ring is frictionlessly smooth.

Likewise, it is also an external zoom lens, which means it extends the length of the overall lens when you zoom. At 70mm, it extends about 1/3 of the original length. The 67mm filter size lens weighs 530 grams. Personally, I feel the weight is well distributed throughout the lens. I do not feel the lens weight is heavy on the front, especially at 70mm.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 70mm . f2.8 . 1/1600″ . ISO 320 . Classic Chrome

Although this is an external zoom lens, it comes with weather sealing, not weather resistant!

Image Quality

At f2.8, the sharpness of the image quality is sharp but not a tad sharp. Let me explain. If you view the photos from the monitor, phone or tablet at the “filled” size, they are sharp. If you blow it up to 100%, it is somehow not that sharp. But it could be me being picky.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 70mm . f2.8 . 1/80″ . ISO 1250 . Classic Chrome

Nevertheless, the sharpness is pretty consistent across the focal lengths. The contrast is pretty decent too.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 70mm . f2.8 . 1/400″ . ISO 320 . Classic Chrome

Since it is a zoom lens, I am expecting some chromatic aberration and vignetting. But the lens proves me wrong. I do not see any chromatic aberration but only a little vignetting was observed. I think Tamron did well in this department.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 35.5mm . f2.8 . 1/3200″ . ISO 320 . Classic Chrome

For sunny stars, the sharpest result is at its smallest aperture among all apertures. Not sure if this is the common behaviour when it comes to zoom lenses?

Focusing

The focusing speed is probably not the fastest I have ever tried on a zoom lens. Maybe it is due to the limitation of the Rapid eXtra-silent stepping drive (RXD) motor? It does focus fast enough during the day for all focal lengths. But when it comes to low-light situations, it is no longer fast enough. I can feel the response time of the focusing speed is slower or maybe it is me who feels it that way. Sometimes I am also unable to focus locked onto the subject and it takes a few tries to get it. You might have lost the golden moments when the subject is finally focused.

But thanks to the RXD, the focus is silent and I hardly notice any motor noise whenever I press the shutter.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 53.2mm . f2.8 . 1/340″ . ISO 160 . Classic Chrome

Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)

At 17mm, this lens is capable of shooting at a Minimum Object Distance (MOD) of 19 cm and has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.8. How close is 19 cm? Basically, I have to remove the lens hood if I want to shoot that close. At 70mm, the MOD is 39cm and has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.2. I must say the engineering of this lens is very impressive. It allows the photographer to shoot a very close-up of the subject.

Shooting wide open will give you a soft render characteristic feel. Some photographers appreciate it while some do not. Stepping down the aperture will help to improve the overall sharpness.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 70mm . f2.8 . 1/420″ . ISO 160 . Classic Chrome

Something to note

Unlike the Tamron 18-300mm, it does not come with a Zoom Lock Switch that prevents the lens from creeping. Probably it does not need one?

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 34mm . f2.8 . 1/900″ . ISO 320 . Classic Chrome

As the name of this lens suggests, it comes with Vibration Compensation (VC). While there is no official statement on how many stops of compensation, I find it works well. At 70mm, I can go as slow as 0.2 seconds. This is something beyond my expectation and I am very satisfied with this outcome. This makes me think that it might work even better with In-Body Image Stabilization cameras.

Fuji X-T3 . Tamron 17-70mm @ 70mm . f2.8 . 0.23″ . ISO 160 . Classic Chrome

Side by side

There are not many lenses in the market that meet the constant f2.8 zoom criteria. The closest is the red badge XF16-55mm f2.8 and the soon-to-arrive Sigma 18-50mm f2.8.

From what I see, each lens has obvious pros and cons. The biggest pro for Tamron is that it is equipped with an optical image stabiliser, has a longer reach and better price (compared to XF 16-55mm only, 799 USD versus 1999 USD & SGD 1262 versus SGD 1799).

Who is this for?

It can be used for almost every genre except for wildlife (probably). For photographers who just want to keep as few lenses as possible, this is one good lens to consider and I am sure it is also a good travel lens too.

Conclusion

As a general purpose lens, Tamron strikes a good balance in almost everything and does serve its purpose. It has a constant f2.8, decent image quality, decent MFD, considerably lightweight, weather sealing and it gives a reasonable price too. If these criteria meet your checklist for a new zoom lens, you can consider this to be your next arsenal.

Thank you for reading.

Disclaimer:
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Some of the shots
 are straight out of the camera while others are edited via In-Camera Raw Processing, Capture One and Photoshop.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.

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5 thoughts on “Tamron 17-70mm – The Best General Purpose Lens?

  1. I recently purchased this lens and have used it under morning light/sunrise conditions, with shutter speeds of 1/4 to 1/2 of a second on my X-T3. I haven’t been able to use it yet in “normal”, every day situations. I agree with your statements on how it handles and its image quality. It has great close focus, but I find those images a bit soft. The bokeh also has the onion ring look, as reported in other reviews. Do you think the Fuji 18-120mm is a bit sharper, or are they about the same? If you had to choose one based on best IQ, which would it be?

    Like

    1. Hi Ian, yes. the results are soft at MFD which I highlighted in my post. The softness is very subjective to individual preference. Some love it, some hated it. As for bokeh, the onion ring is within my expectation.

      The XF18-120mm, in my opinion, is much sharper than the Tamron 17-70. I will choose the XF18-120 over 17-70. It is also depending on what you want to do with the lens, both lenses have their own pros and cons. F2.8 over F4, VC over non-OIS, IQ, etc. I suggest you to loan the XF18-120mm when it is available then you can decide which one to get.

      Cheers.

      Like

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