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Tamron's 24-70mm lens takes image-stabilization lead

The new lens, with a fast F2.8 design, can counteract camera shake with vibration compensation that Nikon and Canon competitors currently lack.

Tamron's SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens
Tamron's SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens Tamron

Lensmaker Tamron announced a new 24-70mm F2.8 zoom lens today, beating Nikon and Canon with a model that brings image stabilization to this premium lens category.

The SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD lens includes Tamron's vibration compensation technology, which can counteract camera shake to stabilize photos. It's a feature that Canon and Nikon haven't added to their 24-70mm F2.8 lenses.

Such lenses don't have a huge zoom range, but they're popular among photo pros and enthusiasts, in particular because their wide aperture is good for low-light shooting with smoothly blurred backgrounds. Wider-angle lenses don't need image stabilization as much as telephoto lenses, which magnify even slight wobbling, but the feature is still useful for handheld photography. The VC feature therefore gives Tamron a bit of an edge--unless rivals actually get a product to market first. There are rumors in particular that Canon will update its 24-70mm F2.8 lens soon.

Tamron didn't announce a price for the lens, but expect it to be significant in light of the competition's prices: Canon's costs about $1,300 and Nikon's $1,900. Tamron also boasts it's got "resolution at the top of its class."

The Japanese company also didn't say when the 24-70mm model would ship.

It's a new zoom range for Tamron, which right now sells a 24-85mm F2.8 model that retails for about $450.

It uses a new vibration compensation technology, Tamron said:

Tamron's original VC image stabilization mechanism utilized a moving-magnet system whereby a heavy magnet was positioned near the moving VC lens element. In the new VC unit the positions of the magnet and the coil are reversed, because of this the VC optical lens element is attached to the coil. The new VC mechanism employs a moving coil mechanism with a lightweight coil, and the lighter coil reduces the load on the drive system. Thus, the lighter, more compact new VC unit contributes to the lens's overall light weight and compact size.

Because the 24-70 mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a high-speed zoom lens with maximum aperture of F/2.8, its VC system must drive a lens that is larger and heavier than other zooms. Therefore, the shape, size, and layout of the drive coils are all designed to obtain sufficient thrust. The result is a full-size, high-speed zoom that provides the same high level of compensation effect.

The new lens uses a lot of high-end components in its 17-element design: three LD (low-dispersion) elements, three aspherical elements, one hybrid aspherical element, and two XR (extra refractive index) elements. That boils down to a better job handling chromatic aberration and other lens problems.

The lens also has rounded aperture blades for better out-of-focus areas. "This rounded diaphragm retains a nearly circular shape even when taken two stops down from its fully open state," Tamron said.