Tamron 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Review
March 20, 2019
When Tamron released the first generation of its wide-angle zoom lens, it was the first model in its class to offer built-in image stabilization. Fast forward four years and the market for stabilized wide-angle zooms is still pretty sparse.
The lens minimizes wide-angle distortion and chromatic aberration through the use of an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element plus multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements. The G2 is the beneficiary of new AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) coating, which the company says they’re able to deposit on lens elements more uniformly thanks to new deposition technology. The coating helps reduce flare and ghosting, particularly from peripheral areas of the lens, where the AX coating can now reach. There’s fluorine coating on the front lens element to make it easier to wipe away dust and fingerprints.
Dual Micro-Processing Units and a tweaked algorithm give the lens improved AF speed and image stabilization over its predecessor, according to Tamron. You’ll enjoy a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range and the lens’s nine-blade aperture stops down to f/22. It can focus on objects as close as 11 inches (at 30mm). A full-time manual focus override function lets you tweak focus manually even when the lens or camera is in autofocus mode.
Superficially, the design of the 15-30mm G2 is mostly the same as the G1—it still offers a weather-sealed design that weighs in at a fairly hefty 2.5 pounds. It is heavier than both the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 Art lens and Nikon’s AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8, though not quite as beefy as Canon’s 11-24mm f/4 USM lens.
Don’t Miss: Great Wide-Angle Lenses
The major design difference between the G1 and G2 is the addition of a drop-in filter slot, which is a boon for landscape photographers. That said, the implementation of the slot is somewhat unorthodox—rather than slide one in cartridge-style, the filter drops in a tiny slot between the lens and sensor. Patiño says that’s not ideal. For one thing, changing the filter means un-mounting the lens from the camera body which can introduce dust onto the sensor when you’re working outdoors. What’s more, the filter slot is not available for the Nikon mount version of the lens, only the Canon edition.
Keep in mind that many lenses in this class, like the aforementioned Sigma Art lens, do not have any filter slot options.
Image Quality & Performance
Patiño was such a fan of the image quality of the original version of this lens that he bought one when our test concluded. To test the G2, Patiño shot interiors of a new music studio using the Canon 5DS and mounted the lens on a 1 DX Mark II and a Ronan for a music video. He also took some handheld shots with the G2 on the 1D X Mark II.
In his view, the G2 offered image quality that was extremely pleasing, though the differences between the first gen model and the second were subtle, he says. There was no visible chromatic aberration in Patiño’s shots and the lens did an excellent job resolving the plentiful pixels on Canon’s 5DS, even out by the edges of the frame.
The G2 does seem to have zippier autofocusing. Patiño says that it handled the 1D X Mark II’s Servo AF mode quite well.
Like the original, Tamron’s second-generation 15-30mm f/2.8 lens has no real direct competitors. It’s not only a unique zoom, but with improved autofocusing and robust image stabilization it’s also fairly unique among close competitors. It’s less expensive than Canon’s 11-24mm f/4 and Nikon’s 14-24mm f/2.8 while offering image stabilization that both lenses lack.
If you don’t own the original, the G2 is definitely worth it, Patiño tells us. If you own the G1, upgrading is a tougher call if only because the first edition still holds up so well, he adds.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 G2
PROS: Excellent resolving power and image quality; good build quality; improved image stabilization; faster autofocusing.
CONS: Filter slot not available for Nikon cameras; heavier than some close competitors.