Head to head
Which is best, a 70-200mm with a 2x teleconverter, or a 100-400mm zoom?
Can’t get close enough to the game? We see whether you’re better off with a telezoom plus teleconverter or super-telephoto
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 + Tamron TC-X20 2.0x Teleconverter
Elements/groups: 23/17 + 9/5 optical stabilizer: Triple-mode min focus distance: 0.95m max magnification: 0.16x filter size: 77mm included accessories: Hood, tripod ring dimensions (dia x length): 88x194mm + 64x65mm Weight: 1485g + 306g price: £1299/$1299 + £500/$439 The Tamron 70-200mm got a rave review a couple of issues ago, we praised its zippy autofocus, 5-stop triple-mode optical stabilizer and pro-grade build. Unlike the previous edition, the G2 is compatible with Tamron’s new 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters.
With its relatively fast aperture rating, this lens weighs in at 1485g and measures 88x194mm. Add the teleconverter and the overall package increases to 1791g and 88x259mm. However, the physical length remains fixed throughout the entire zoom range.
The performance of the lens on its own is spectacular but there’s always some degradation when using a teleconverter. Here, great stabilization is retained and autofocus remains fast and mostly accurate, but tracking moving objects is a bit more prone to error.
Again, you can expect some degradation of image quality when adding a teleconverter to a lens, but the image quality of this particular combination is impressive. Contrast remains excellent although sharpness isn’t as good, through the entire zoom range.
At £1299/$1299, Tamron’s 70-200mm G2 lens is excellent value for an f/2.8 telephoto zoom, especially considering its build quality and performance. The TC-X20 2.0x Teleconverter is similarly well made but its price is somewhat less appealing at £500/$439.
Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
Elements/groups: 17/11 optical stabilizer: Yes min focus distance: 1.5m max magnification: 0.28x filter size: 67mm included accessories: Hood dimensions (dia x length): 86x199mm Weight: 1115g price: £789/$799 Not as robust as the 70-200mm, this 100-400mm zoom has a weather-resistant design and similar fluorine and EBAND coatings, along with rapid autofocus and a 4-stop dual-mode stabilizer. A tripod mount ring is available separately for £109/$129.
At just over a kilogram, this lens is less than two-thirds the weight of the 70-200mm plus teleconverter, so it’s more convenient for carrying and handheld shooting. It’s also physically shorter at 199mm, but increases to 277mm at the longest zoom setting.
Tracking erratically moving objects is trickier without the 70-200mm lens’s third stabilization mode, which only applies correction during exposures and doesn’t affect the viewfinder image, but autofocus accuracy is more consistent when tracking.
Not as sharp as the 70-200mm but, apart from soft image corners at 100mm, it’s a little sharper than the other lens with a 2x teleconverter. The tightest available depth of field is pretty much the same as when using the 70-200mm with the teleconverter.
Compared with the combined price of £1799/£1738 for the 70-200mm lens plus the teleconverter, this lens is about £1000/$1000 less to buy. It’s not as strongly built and the optional tripod mounting ring is sold separately, but it’s still a bargain.