While companies such as Canon have earned their reputation long ago, third parties like Tamron with smaller marketing budgets must fight to make each product stand on its own merit. The Tamron AF 24-70mm f/2.8 SP Di USD VC, at a cost nearly $1000 less than Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8, seems a worthy comparison to the latter Canon product. But does paying for the brand name pay off? Is it really possible to sell a comparable product at 60% of the price?
Out of the box, one will find a sturdy tube full of optics in the Tamron. Outside construction consists of a rigid plastic body and a metal lens mount. The zoom and focus controls operate smoothly, and the addition of a petal lens hood means this product fits no description of cheap. On the other side of the pond, Canon’s lens is weightier at 950 grams, but the inclusion of weather proofing yields an impervious-to-nature feel. Tamron, however, seems to have more confidence in their product: compare their six year warranty to the short twelve months that Canon offers.
Based on qualities like distortion and noise, it should be easy to decide which is the better performing lens. In truth, the Tamron holds up very well, with its only true drawback being a noticeable amount of barrel distortion at 24mm. Canon commands a large amount of praise in this category, being called the sharpest lens that some have ever used. Autofocus is a game that Canon knows well, and the quality of it on this all around lens is superb through its entire focal range. Tamron’s lens keeps pace with this result, perhaps even being a bit quieter while doing it. Lastly, both companies include some version of image stabilization on their lenses, but Canon, with their larger R&D department, appears to own the better iteration.
The lenses match up well. In each category there is a distinct winner, but this victory is shared and the margin is always small. Considering the vast price difference, and a much longer warranty guarantee, Tamron emerges as the clear winner of this comparison. If you remain unconvinced, observe one final trump card. Tamron encourages compatibility of its products on any camera it can manage to fit it to, while Canon’s lenses remain proprietary. There are many examples of when paying for a brand name product truly does end up the better decision. In this case however, there are better alternatives out there, and at a fraction of the cost no less.