The Tamron does remarkably well to maintain sharpness at its widest aperture of f/2.8, throughout the zoom range, almost matching the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 in this respect. Compared with the Sigma 70-200mm, it’s also slightly sharper at 200mm, and contrast is very impressive. Autofocus is very fast and the optical stabiliser also works extremely well. Overall, this is a really excellent lens. We so often see the ED tag applied to Nikon lenses that it’s become all but ubiquitous. However, instead of one or maybe two Extra-low Dispersion elements, this lens has no fewer than seven. Build quality is also a step up from competing 70-200mm lenses, featuring a tough magnesium alloy rather than plastic barrel, complete with weather seals.
As in the Nikon 70-200mm f/4, the VR system includes both normal and active modes, the former of which has automatic panning detection. As well as the usual A/M mode (autofocus with manual override), there’s an M/A mode that gives greater priority to manual focusing. There’s also a focus limiter, which locks autofocus travel between five metres and infinity.
Despite its magnesium alloy build, this Nikon is the heaviest 70-200mm f/2.8 lens in the group at 1.54kg. Even so, it’s reasonably comfortable for prolonged handheld shooting, and the construction really does feel the most robust.
There’s an excellent consistency in sharpness and contrast, not only throughout the zoom range but also at differing apertures. The rounded diaphragm, with nine blades, helps to maintain a pleasant bokeh when stopping down a little from f/2.8.