Tamron has been quite successful with its original 15-30mm f/2.8 lens. At $1,199 (currently $1,099), it was priced significantly below its Nikon counterpart (Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 - $1,896.95), and less than Canon’s 11-24mm f/4L ($2,999) and Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L III ($2,199) while offering image stabilization for those that needed it. When Tamron announced the new 15-30mm G2, it was a surprise to most, as the original version has only been out for about 3 years (compared to about 15 years for the Nikon 14-24mm). The new G2 version is priced at $1,299, the same as Sigma’s 14-24mm f/2.8 ART.

The 15-30mm G2 completes Tamron’s G2 VC “trinity” line (15-30mm f/2.8 VC G2, 24-70mm f/2.8 VC G2, 70-200mm f/2.8 VC G2). Tamron sent us a Nikon mount 15-30mm G2 to test out for a few days – read on for our thoughts and some sample images.

Alphabet Soup:

  • AX Coating – Anti-reflection eXpand
  • eBAND Coating – Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency
  • BBAR – Broad-Band Anti-Reflection
  • VC – Vibration Compensation
  • Di – Tamron’s designation for full-frame lenses
  • USD – Ultrasonic Silent Drive
  • G2 – Generation 2
  • SP – Superior Performance

 

What’s new:

The most obvious difference between the G1 and G2 is the look – the lens now has the same design styling as their newer SP and G2 lenses, with a semi-matte black finish, a gold trim around the base, and a pill-shaped SP badge on the side. Compared to the old version, the switches are much more tactile and easier to use as they are mounted on a raised plate instead of being flush against the barrel. The new lens is also compatible with Tamron’s TAP-in console. A 9 blade rounded aperture and moisture-resistant construction carry over from the G1.

Using Dual MPUs (micro-processing units) – one for the stabilization and one for AF. The AF speed is improved as is the image stabilization. The G2 offers 4.5 stops of image stabilization per Tamron’s spec sheet. While we didn’t get a chance to fully test it and compare it to the previous model, photos at 15mm and 1 second long exposures came out quite sharp most of the time, and AF speed was nice and snappy – noticeably faster than the lens it replaces.

On the outside, Tamron updated the coatings of the front element to enhance performance and image quality. Using a new Flourine Coating, the large front element has better water and oil repellent properties. When shooting low near the water, any stray water drops and overspray that got onto the glass was easily blown away with a quick blast of two of a rocket blower. The new AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) coating, eBAND, and BBAR coatings help minimize ghosting and flaring

For Canon shooters (sorry Nikon users), the EF mount 15-30mm G2 features a rear filter holder that allows for gelatin filters to be inserted at the base, which is available on Canon’s 11-24mm f/4L.

 

Comparable Lenses:

Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC "G1"

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 ART

Taken with a Nikon D750 mounted on a tripod, and 2 monolights positioned on either side of the camera with reflectors on them.

 

 

Close Focus:

Just like the G1, the 15-30mm G2 features a close focus distance of 11 inches, or about 5 inches from the front element, and doesn’t change as you go from 15mm to 30mm.

 

Sample photos & notes:

When using the lens in low light situations, the new raised section containing the AF/MF and VC switches was much easier to find and use compared to the older model. The switches are solid and aren’t easily bumped, but are a bit less stiff than on the Sigma 14-24 Art. The zoom ring resistance also sits between the Nikon (very easy to turn), and Sigma (the hardest to turn). While I personally prefer the Sigma and Tamron zoom rings over the Nikon, there was been a lot of feedback on the Sigma zoom ring being too stiff for many. The focusing ring sits near the back of the lens, unlike the Nikon and Sigma lenses. The ring has a slight bulge to it, making it easy to find without looking or having to move your hands far from the camera body. The flaring on the lens is well controlled, and it much better than the Nikon 14-24. There was very little sun in the 3 days I spent using it, but I didn’t notice any strange flares or sun spots on any images. When shooting wide open, there is some vignetting present, but less than the Sigma 14-24 Art. The vignetting goes away as you get to f/4-f/5.6. Distortion is well controlled for a wide angle, and there weren’t many instances where I noticed the corners stretching/distorting a subject or scene.

 

 

Overall thoughts:

If you’re looking for a fast, wide-angle lens, the Tamron 15-30 G2 is worth checking out. Is it worth upgrading if you have the G1? Maybe. The ability to use the TAP-in console to update firmware is a great feature, and the new design makes using it in the field easier. At $600 less than the Nikon 14-24, and much less flaring, the only advantage of the Nikon is the extra 1mm on the wide end. For my personal shooting, the wider range of the Tamron - both G1 and G2, is more useful than the 10mm range of the Sigma and Nikon 14-24mm's.

 

The Nikon mount has just hit store shelves, and can be purchased here.

The Canon mount is expected to be released on October 12th and can be pre-orderd here.

Currently there is no mention of a Sony A-mount or FE-mount 15-30mm G2.