Tamron 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 DiII VC HLDConventional wisdom has it that optical image stabilisation is usually only incorporated into longer focal length lenses. Well, of course, it’s logical that the greater the magnification the greater the risk of camera shake, but what about shooting in low light situations which demand the use of slower shutter speeds? Having image stabilisation available with any lens had been one of the selling points of camera bodies with sensor-shift IS. But now Tamron has installed an optical stabiliser system into the widest-angle zoom in its Di II line-up of lenses for ‘APS-C’ format D-SLRs.
 
 Tamron 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 DiII VC HLDTamron’s original 10-24mm zoom took the world by storm back in 2008, making maximum advantage of the smaller sensor size – and a swag of new lens technologies – to push the envelope in terms of what was possible with ultra-wide zooms. On a Nikon ‘DX’ format D-SLR – which has a focal magnification factor of 1.5x – 10-24mm is equivalent to 15-36mm and this focal range is still the widest there is in the ‘APS-C’ world – as far as wide-angle zooms are concerned.
 
Tamron’s new 10-24mm model has been completely redesigned, both inside and out, starting with the incorporation of its multi-axis ‘Vibration Compensation’ (VC) optical image stabilisation. The primary reason for its inclusion is to extent the potential for hand-held shooting in low-light situations rather than simply correcting for camera shake, which is an issue with longer lenses even in bright lighting. The 10-24mm’s VC provides up to four stops of correction for camera shake which means, if you’re shooting at 15mm effective, it would theoretically allow the use of a shutter speed of just one second (using the one-over-the-focal-length rule). In reality, that would challenge any IS system – even if you have very steady hands – so where it comes in really useful is in enabling you to use smaller apertures (and at lower ISO settings) without having to resort to a tripod.
 
Obviously the depth-of-field is pretty extensive at 10mm so stopping down is essential if you’re chasing more selective focusing. Then there are many creative reasons for using slower shutter speeds (blurring subject movement, for example) when stabilisation comes in handy. It’s also worth noting here that the inclusion of image stabilisation in this lens has benefits for video shooters too.
 
 Tamron 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 DiII VC HLD
 
On The Move
With its extreme wide-angle capabilities, this lens is very much about mobility and hand-held shooting, especially for applications such as street photography or interiors. 
 
CLICK TO ENLARGE - Test image (c) Paul Burrows 2017Tamron has worked hard to keep it as small and compact as possible, despite incorporating the optical image stabiliser. This is achieved in a number of ways, starting with the revised optical design – which utilises technologies such as glass moulding to create complex aspherical elements – and an all-new autofocusing system called HLD which is short for ‘High/Low Torque Modulating Drive’. Torque is the all-important motive force in any system involving a rotational action and it builds to peak efficiency which has an effect on the autofocusing speed, especially when driving the larger-diameter elements of an ultra-wide. Tamron’s HLD is designed to maintain optimum torque, thereby ensuring greater stability in terms of both power and speed, but equally importantly it’s a smaller and lighter weight assembly. Additionally, it allows for a full-time manual override should you want to fine-tune the AF.
 
The 16-element optical construction comprises two aspherical types and two with low dispersion characteristics. As just noted, the larger-diameter aspherical element is created via glass-moulding (which enables more precise shaping of the surfaces) while the second is a hybrid which means it has a spherical core over which are laid aspherical surfaces in optical resin. Both these elements are designed to correct for distortion while the LD/XLD types counter comatic and transverse chromatic aberrations. These optical technologies also enable a more compact construction without compromising aspects of performance such as maintaining sharpness across the focusing range.
 
On the outside, the new Tamron 10-24mm zoom has much more contemporary and smarter styling, but more importantly the barrel is now weather sealed – and there’s also a substantial gasket around the lens mount – which also increases its potential versatility. The front element’s exposed surface has a fluorine coating to help repel moisture and grease, while also make it easier to wipe clean without risking damage.
 
The lens is available in the Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, the latter being the G-Type configuration where aperture selection is controlled from the camera body. This is now standard across Nikon’s D-SLR line-up, but precludes using the Tamron on older digital bodies from around mid-2007 or earlier and, of course, all 35mm film bodies. However, using the G-Type mount has enabled Tamron to adopt an electromagnetically-controlled diaphragm in its Nikon mount version and this allows for more accurate aperture setting – especially frame-to-frame with continuous shooting. As with all Tamron’s recently-launched new lenses, the 10-24mm is compatible with the optional ‘Tap-In Console’, which is a USB dock enabling various adjustments – mostly relating to the autofocusing – and firmware upgrades.
CLICK TO ENLARGE - Test image (c) Paul Burrows 2017
 
Performance
Weighing in at a little under 450 grams, it’s hard to believe that the Tamron 10-24mm packs 16 elements inside. This lightness means that it’s balanced on the most compact of Canon or Nikon D-SLR bodies. 
 
There’s a fun factor associated with shooting with this lens which comes from finding out just how the wider angles-of-view work with different subjects. Frame first at 24mm (i.e. 36mm) – which is really the ‘standard’ wide-angle focal length – and then zoom out to see what happens. More often than not, you’ll be surprised at just how much everything has changed by the time you get to 10mm… and an angle-of-view of 108 degrees. Surprisingly, distortion is pretty well controlled, especially if you can keep the camera perpendicular to the plane-of-focus (but, if not, the exaggerated convergence effects can be fun too). The overall sharpness is very good too, with only a slight softening towards the corners at the widest apertures. Stopping down to f5.6 delivers excellent centre-to-corner sharpness, especially for an ultra-wide lens and, what’s more, one that doesn’t cost a small fortune.
 
Another surprise is the minimal vignetting even at 10mm and f3.5, and while chromatic aberrations do occur here, they’re pretty well suppressed and only noticeable along very high contrast edges in big enlargements. Again, stopping down to f5.6 or smaller virtually eliminates any colour fringing.
 
With angles-of-view of 100 degrees or greater, flare could be a significant issue, but it’s pretty well non-existent even when the sun is included in the frame. Consequently, the contrast and colour reproduction are excellent in virtually any lighting situation.
 
The Verdict
It’s hard not to be completely seduced by Tamron’s new 10-24mm ultra-wide zoom. Firstly, it’s hugely versatile – a lot more so than you might initially expect – enhanced by the provision of image stabilisation and weather-proofing. This is backed up an optical performance that is also much better than expected – if only because the very affordable price tag suggests some economies might have been made along the way. If they have, it’s hard to see where, because this lens feels well-made, and then punches way above its weight in terms of sharpness, contrast and the levels of correction across the 
focal range.
 
For this sort of money, you really could afford to buy this lens just for fun, but its ability to reveal new angles actually makes it a lot more useful – and, indeed, valuable. 
 
 
Tamron 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 DiII VC HLD (Model B023)
Price: $949
 
Format: ‘APS-C’ digital sensors. The focal range is equivalent to 15-36mm in the 35mm format (1.5x focal length magnification factor). 
Angle-of-View: 108.44 to 60.2 degrees (diagonal).
Construction: 16 elements/11 groups.
Minimum Focus: 24 cm (across the focal range).
Maximum Reproduction Ratio: 1:5.3 (at 24mm).
Aperture Range: f3.5-4.5 to f22-29
Overall Length: 82.1 mm.
Maximum Diameter: 83.6 mm.
Filter Diameter: 77 mm.
Weight: 440 grams.
Lens Mount(s): Canon EF and Nikon F (G-type AF).
Features: Weather-proofed barrel and mount, fluorine coating on the front element’s external surface, built-in ‘Vibration Compensation’ optical stabilisation, HLD (High/Low Torque-Modulated Drive) autofocusing drive, internal focusing group, continuous manual focusing override, seven-blade diaphragm, electromagnetic diaphragm control, ‘BBAR’ anti-reflection multi-coating, one large-aperture aspherical element, one hybrid aspherical element, one LD (low dispersion) glass element, one XLD (extra low dispersion) glass element. Bayonet mount lens hood supplied. Compatible with the Tamron Tap-In Console for applying firmware upgrades.

Distributor: Blonde Robot Pty Ltd, telephone (03) 9023 9777 or visit www.blonde-robot.com.au