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: Verdict
This eagerly anticipated third model in Tamron’s series of fast zooms will be well received by Sony full-frame mirrorless users who’ve been patiently waiting for a practical and lightweight telephoto lens. Up until now, the Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 G Master (£2149) has been one of the only options available for Sony full-frame users looking for a telephoto zoom with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and comes at a high price that exceeds what many people are prepared to pay.
Like the Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD and Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD, this is a lens that conforms to the ethos of trying to strike the perfect balance between size and weight without compromising on image quality. It does this extremely well, although doesn’t provide quite the same reach at the long end as its Sony rival. As you might expect from a mid-range telephoto lens it also lacks a few of the advanced features you get with a professional telephoto zoom such as optical image stabilisation, a tripod collar, autofocus lock buttons and a predominantly metal construction.
These points aside, it’s well made telephoto lens that benefits from weather resistance and spritely autofocus. It handles well on Sony A7-series cameras and the extra stop you gain over a lens such as the Sony FE 70-200mm f4 G OSS (£1149) makes it superior for shooting in low-light and times when you’d like to isolate subjects from distracting surroundings by creating a super shallow depth of field. Those who buy it will be impressed by its optical quality, particularly the sharpness it resolves wide-open at f/2.8 and the quality of bokeh in out-of-focus specular highlights.
Ultimately, if you’re a Sony user looking for a fast telephoto zoom, but can’t bring yourself to spending over £2000 on Sony’s pro-spec equivalent, this third member in Tamron’s line-up of fast F2.8 zoom lenses should certainly be on your radar. Best of all it’s small, light, performs well and represents good value for money.