Tamron 70-180mm lens, front and back elements

The Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 is Here: Details & Dates

The Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD lens for full-frame Sony E-mount (development announced last October) is finally in production and will begin shipping next month if there isn’t too much interference from the global COVID-19 pandemic. The lens is expected to hit store shelves on May 14.


One of Tamron’s main goals with their mirrorless lenses for Sony E-mount has been to keep lenses as compact as possible in order to balance well with Sony’s compact bodies. As we reported last October, Tamron was able to shave off 40% of the lens’s weight by reducing it from a 70-200 to a 70-180mm (~10% reduction in focal length).

Lens ModelLens LengthLens WeightFilter Size
Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 VXD149mm / 5.9"810g / 1.8lbs67mm
Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM200mm / 7.87"1480g / 3.26lbs.77mm
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L III199mm / 7.83"1480g / 3.26lbs.77mm
Canon RF 70-200 f/2.8L146mm / 5.75"1070g / 2.35lbs.77mm
Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 FL202.5mm / 7.97"1430g / 3.15lbs.77mm
Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 G2193mm / 7.6"1500g / 3.31lbs.77mm
Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 Sport203mm / 7.99"1800g / 3.97lbs.82mm

Consequently, the lens weighs only 810g (1.8lbs) and is 149mm (5.9″) long, making it the smallest and lightest lens in its class… almost. The Canon RF 70-200 f/2.8L is slightly heavier but it is shorter by a few millimeters at its most compact, though it extends dramatically when zoomed (its price is also more than twice as heavy, at $2700). The Tamron 70-180 weighs a full 2 pounds less than the Sigma 70-200 Sport lens.

Matthew Gore | Light And Matter

As a trio, the Tamron 17-28, 28-75, and 70-180 f/2.8 are even more dramatically lightweight than their competitors. Consider the Tamrons vs the Sony and Canon 16-35, 24-70, and 70-100 f/2.8 lenses, Canon’s RF 15-35, 24-70, and 70-200 lenses, Nikon and Sigma’s 14-24, 24-70, and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses.

BrandWeightWeightWeightTotal Weight
Tamron420g550g810g1780g (3.92 lbs)
Sony E680g886g1480g3046g (6.72 lbs)
Canon EF790g805g1480g3075g (6.78 lbs)
Canon RF840g900g1070g2810g (6.19 lbs)
Nikon F1000g1070g1430g3500g (7.7 lbs)
Sigma For EF1150g1020g1800g3970g (8.75 lbs)

Of course, it’s important to remember that these sets of lenses don’t cover the exact same range of focal lengths; Tamron has the narrowest of the group.

Fast & Close Focus

MOdel of Tamron VXD Unit
Tamron A model of the Tamron VXD Unit

Tamron has joined major lens manufacturers in the process of beginning to switch from ultra-sonic style motors (like Canon’s USM and Nikon’s Silent-Wave) to linear motors (like Sony’s latest lenses), which can be extremely fast and accurate. The Tamron 70-180 uses dual linear motors that they’ve branded VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) that are faster than any previous Tamron AF system and are accurate to 0.0002” (two ten-thousandths of an inch) in travel, making them reliable and very precise.

In addition to being fast, the lens offers good close-focusing capabilities, focusing down to 33.5 inches away from the end of the lens (Minimum Object Distance), giving it a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.5, which is pretty standard for a 200mm lens.

Interestingly, the lens will focus much more closely (with manual focus) at the 70mm end of the zoom… down to about 10.5″ but with some loss in image quality, according to Tamron. For details, see their information page.

Lens ModelMOD/MFDMagnification Ratio
Tamron 70-180 VXD33.5 inches1:4.6 (up to 1:2*)
Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM37.8 inches1:4
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 III47.25 inches1:4.7
Canon RF 70-20027.6 inches1:4.3
Nikon 70-200 FL43 inches1:4.76
Sigma 70-200 Sport47.25 inches1:4.67
Matthew Gore | Light And Matter


Though lightweight, the Tamron 70-180 should be suitable for professional use (I’ve certainly used their 28-75mm all over the world and it hasn’t let me down). It has been heavily weather sealed and the optics have protective, water-repellent coatings.

Tamron 70-180mm lens weather sealing locations
Tamron Weather sealing rings on the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Lens

Optically, the lens makes use of 19 elements in 14 groups, including ten special glass elements (XLD, LD, GM, aspherical), and 9 circular aperture blades for smooth bokeh. I’m excited to see how the performance compares to my Sony 70-200 GM.

Matthew Gore | Light And Matter

Price & Availability

As mentioned above, the Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 VXD will cost about $1199 when it begins shipping next month. Pre-orders will begin shortly at the usual places, including B&H Photo and Adorama.

What do you think? Will it be worth giving up a little bit of magnification to gain some mobility?

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