Andy Day said it really well at the beginning of his Tamron 17-28mm Review, “For those of us who want premium image quality without spending a premium amount of money, a compromise usually has to be made somewhere. In the past, this has meant buying, say, an f/4 lens instead of that f/2.8 lens that you dreamed of.”
This statement was exactly the position I found myself in when I decided to purchase the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 for Sony.
I was wanting to double my lens collection from a ‘wild 1’ all the way up to a ‘crazy 2’ lenses, but I wasn’t ready to drop the huge sum of cash that Sony were asking for with their 24-70mm f/2.8.
So next in line was another Sony lens, the 24-70mm f/4 which was sitting right on my happy price spot, but then I noticed the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (Sony E-Mount).
I don’t make money from photography, so it can be rather difficult to justify running out and spending a mint on a brand new lens… but this is why I tend to think a lot about my purchases and will always strive to get the best balance between quality and price!
After reading a lot of reviews and chowing down on many YouTube comparisons of the two, out came my wallet and this wonderful light weight tube of plastic, rubber and glass arrived at my door.
Table of Contents
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Specs
- Light weight
- Awesome price
- Sharp and fast
- Doesn’t feel as strong as the higher end lenses
- The vignetting that can occur
- Weight: 550g (1.2lbs)
- Length: 117.8mm (4.6 in)
- Mount: Sony FE
- Minimum Focus: 0.19m (7.5 in)
- Working Distance: 5.7cm (2.24 in)
- Filter Diameter: 67mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Image Stabilisation: No
Designed in Japan and built specifically for the Sony FE Mount (Sony Full Frame E-Mount), the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is equipped with the “RXD” (Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive) stepping motor which provides fast and quiet AF performance and also allows you to use Sony’s Direct Manual Focus.
It is a moisture and dust resistant lens that also features a flourine coating on the glass to help prevent fingerprints and smudges.
Build & Ergonomics
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 has been constructed from a combination of cheap and light materials, but it is certainly not lacking in build quality.
Much like the Tamron 28-200mm (review), the lens itself feels solid and tight and both of the rings run smoothly in both directions without sticking.
The zoom ring moves in the opposite direction to my old Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, so that took some getting used to.
The focus ring moves light and smooth enough for easy adjusting using Sony’s Direct Manual Focus mode, but is sensitive to accidental taps if you’re not careful.
A common issue when combining larger lenses with a smaller mirrorless body is ending up with a front-heavy system.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 weighs in at an easy 550g (1.2lbs) which is a similar weight to the Sony A7 iii (650g / 1.4lbs). This creates an ideal balance point between the two, providing you with the convenience of a zoom lens without being stuck with a front heavy set up.
When comparing the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 to the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 there is a rather noticeable size and weight difference. We are talking 10cm in diameter, 20cm in length and a whopping 330g in weight between the two.
However, on the flip side, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is slightly longer and heavier than the comparably priced Sony 24-70mm f/4.
Personally this weight difference is a huge contributing factor as to why I really favour this lens.
After traveling for a number of years with an extra large and cumbersome DSLR equipped with a 24-70mm f/2.8 combination, opting for a smaller mirrorless camera with a lighter lens is certainly an ideal change.
I find myself much happier carrying around this setup during my normal daily commute and certainly keen to take it on any kind of adventure.
It joins the adventure out in the open and in my hands instead of being left packed up in my bag until a moment arrives.
Just like many other third-party lenses available for the Sony Alpha range, you won’t find an AF/MF switch or any other buttons built on to this lens. This is controlled within the menu system on the camera itself, so if that is a feature you often require be sure to consider this.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 rarely gives me any grief in regards to focusing on an intended subject – most of the issues that I find can probably be brought down to tough situations in which most camera and lens combinations would have trouble.
Setting your focus point in the right area greatly helps as you would imagine, but leaving it up to a camera’s software to try and gauge exactly what it is you’re trying to capture will always leave you with a potential margin of error.
The RXD Auto-Focus motor in the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is incredibly quiet, quick, and very accurate.
The only times where I feel the lens has hunted for focus or lagged in performance would be in low light or low contrast situations where conditions confuse the camera in to not knowing what it is you’re trying to capture.
This lens has put up with a decent amount of mixed usage over the last 4 months, and it has certainly lived up to the standards I expect from pretty much any lens.
I’m not one to shy away from chances or putting myself and my gear in to precarious situations to get a shot, so it’s definitely been put through its paces with plenty of opportunities to fail miserably.
My trusty Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 has endured rushing on foot through busy cobblestone streets, being knocked about while climbing mountains, held arms length out the windows of moving cars, and even endured a bumpy ride on the back of a camel in the desert (it’s harder than you’d expect).
It was splashed with mud while off-roading, covered in dog slobber, sand blasted across the dunes of Morocco, splashed with beer at a bar, and quietly endured the crisp Australian nights under the stars.
In basically every situation it managed to focus on what it was I was aiming for, and any other time I would chalk it down to software deciding that it was something else I wanted.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is an absolutely great performer in so many different ways which allows me to forgive it for it’s little quirks.
It has sharp image quality around the centre of the frame through the entire aperture and zoom range, only encountering a bit of subtle softness on the far corners at it’s widest and brightest (f/2.8 at 28mm).
Personally I find that the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 has an optimum level of sharpness between f/4 and f/5.6, but I still tend to use it mostly at f/2.8-f/3.5 for some reason that I cannot explain.
Barrel distortion can be noticed at 28mm on images with straight subjects such as buildings or horizons, but it will become relatively unnoticeable between 35mm to 50mm.
From 50-75mm you’ll start to notice some pin cushioning going on, but I never found it too prevalent or a problem on any of my photos.
If you find that Lightroom adds too much vignette after applying the lens profile, I’ve found that adjusting the vignette setting in the Lens Profile Correction panel will rectify that (not the one in the Effects panel).
The lens flare that you will experience with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 will range from a rather soft smooth glow to an intense blast of light across the lens.
This is to be expected in my opinion being a zoom lens, and a rather subjective matter as to whether this is a good or bad feature of the lens.
Personally I am a sucker for lens flare and I’ve been pretty happy with the results I’ve been getting with this little bad boy strapped to my Sony A7 iii.
I am also only going to briefly touch on the bokeh of this lens as it is another thing that is quite subjective between different photographers.
I do quite like the bokeh that the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 produces when I aim to get it in my photos, as it tends to be smooth and creamy and not too overly bubbly.
Depending on conditions you’ll get lots of spots and circles happening but they don’t tend to be perfectly uniform either.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Sample Images
Check out these sample images taken with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8.
Value for Money
If you’re out and about shopping and you decide to compare a cheaper third-party product to a professional high end native variation, you’d probably expect it to be a chalk and cheese type of comparison.
In most cases I can admit that I think in that exact way, but I have to say that based on my experiences with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, I feel as though it’s not that way at all.
Unless you’re pixel peeping, analysing, and comparing images shot from both at 100% directly side-by-side, you would still probably struggle to tell where they differ.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 current sits at less than half the price of the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8, and is similarly priced to the Sony 24-70mm f/4, at around $900. However, in my opinion the quality that it produces is certainly comparable to either one of them.
I will admit that the Sony may out perform it in different ways but I cannot imagine it to be “twice the price” worth of difference.
For a great travel companion and daily lens that can also hold it’s own through many different situations, you’re definitely getting yourself a fantastic package for the money.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Review | Conclusion
Tamron have been around for quite some time developing lenses for all of the big camera brands. I’ve had experience with their lenses on previous camera set ups of mine and have heard so many great things about their latest iterations.
I have really enjoyed using the 28-75mm f/2.8 for the last 6 months and will continue to enjoy using it for a very long time.
The balance of quality, weight, performance, and value really come together to create a great experience. It will always travel with me and my camera and I’m ready for pretty much any photographic situation presented to me.
Next up I might search for a longer range zoom lens, and based on my great experiences with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, I will definitely be having a good look at Tamron’s range of zooms.