Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha/NEX (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published May 2023


Most of us start photography with an affordable camera kit. This will be sufficient for a while, but eventually, you want to up your game and move towards faster lenses. You can, of course, add some prime lenses, but most will probably upgrade their standard zoom lens first. If you stick to the OEM manufacturer, this can get pretty expensive, but there's also a nice middle ground occupied by third-party manufacturers. And one of the APS-C format alternatives in Sony-E mount (and Fujifilm X-mount) is the Tamron 17-70mm f/2.8 Di III-A VC VXD ... quite a mouthful of a name. Compared to Sony's 16-55mm f/2.8 G (or the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8), it's available for almost half the price at around 700 USD/EUR. And while it sacrifices a millimeter at the wide end, it offers some more reach. Unlike the Sony/Fujifilm lenses, it adds an image stabilizer to the package making it especially attractive for users with cameras without IBIS. In terms of paper specs, this sounds like a winner, isn't it? Let's see ...

The first contact with this lens may produce a mild shock to some. While it can hardly be called a brick, it is a comparatively long lens, as you may already have concluded from the product image above. This isn't all that surprising because a longer tele range will usually translate to a longer lens as well. The build quality is an aspect where some cost-cutting is quite obvious. There is nothing wrong with a plastic lens body per se, but in this case, it feels a bit cheap. That's subjective, of course, but if you are coming from the good stuff, you may not be overly impressed. Still, it's surely capable of taking some abuse, and the moisture-resistant construction helps against the elements. A fluorine coating on the front element also repels dust and water. The zoom and focus ring operate smoothly. The positioning of the focus ring near the mount is a bit unfortunate. During the field sessions and with activated DMF (Direct-Manual-Focus), I often touched the focus ring - because it's inevitable in this position - annoyingly switching the camera into magnified focus mode. The more conventional positioning at the front of the lens would have prevented this issue. As usual, the lens extends quite a bit when zooming toward the long end of the range. An almost curious design choice is the lack of any switches on the lens. You have to use the camera's menu system to switch on/off the AF and image stabilizer - probably not a showstopper for most users. A petal-shaped lens hood is provided.

Note: The lens suffered from zoom creeping, and with the attached hood, it didn't hold its zoom position at 70mm in the product image above.

The "RXD" in the lens stands for "Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive". While this may be silly to read, it is actually a good thing. The AF is both very fast and operates silently. Manual focusing works "by-wire" so you will trigger the AF motor when trying the focus ring. As mentioned, the lens features an image stabilizer (VC=Vibration Control) which is good enough for about 5 f-stops depending on your coffee intake.

Optical construction16 elements in 12 groups, inc. 3x aspherical, 2xLD elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
Equiv Full Format"26-106mmmm f/4.2"
Image Stabilizer5 f-stops gain
min. focus distance0.19-0.39m (max magnification: 1:4.8)
Filter size67mm
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresimage stabilizer, moisture-resistant, fluorine coating

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