It’s the lightest and most compact telephoto zoom in its class, but is it a must-have for Sony E-mount users? Michael Topham put it to the test
Tamron 70-180mm F/2.8 Di III VXD: Build Quality
The lens doesn’t have quite the same solid feel in the hand as the Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 G Master. It lacks customisable autofocus (AFL) buttons on the barrel and doesn’t support the use of a tripod collar either. Don’t let these points give you the wrong impression though as it is a well-constructed lens.
Whereas Sony’s lens has a metal barrel, this zoom mostly uses lightweight polycarbonate in its construction and it’s principally this choice of material that makes it handle so well with Sony’s A7-series cameras. Whereas some telephoto zooms can upset the balance and make a camera feel uncomfortably nose heavy, this isn’t a concern with this zoom.
The barrel rests comfortably in the palm of your left hand when shooting handheld and the large rubberised zoom ring that operates across a short throw of under a quarter turn is a pleasure to use with no change in fluidity at any point in the zoom range. Users get a zoom lock that can be engaged at 70mm too, however I witnessed no sign of zoom creep when the lens was pointing down so this was rarely used.
The focus ring isn’t rubberised like the zoom ring, plus it’s fairly thin by comparison and doesn’t have hard end stops. That said, it operates smoothly and instantly loaded a magnified view onscreen and through the viewfinder with the slightest tweak when shooting a series of close ups in manual focus mode.
The mount of the lens is made from metal and it’s surrounded by a rubber seal that compresses against the mount of the camera to prevent dust and moisture creeping past. A further seven seals are used throughout the internal construction to give it additional protection when it’s being used in wet or damp conditions.
As for the styling and design of the lens, it’s similar to Tamron’s previous E-mount zooms. The barrel tapers out from the lens mount and remains the same diameter virtually all the way to the front. It upholds a rather understated matte-black finish and the four focal length markings (70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 180mm) are easy to read.