When Tamron announced their new 28-75 full frame lens designed for the Sony E-mount I had mixed feelings at first. Why would we need another lens in this focal range when we already have the amazing Sony 24-70 f/2.8 G-master? On the other hand I was very excited to see a lens brand like Tamron starting to design lenses specifically for the Sony E-mount. This was great news on it’s own, but why start with the 28-75? I love extreme wide-angle lenses. The 28-75 zoom range is a range I actually rarely use. I usually carry my 12-24 or 16-35, a 50mm prime and then a 70-300 or 100-400 meaning I skip the entire 24-70 or (or in Tamron’s case the 28-75).
However, there were a few important things that made me try this Tamron lens. First of all, I was just interested to see what kind of quality Tamron would produce for the Sony E-mount. Second, and more important, was the weight of this lens. With its 550 grams this lens is 40% lighter than the 24-70 f/2.8 Sony G-Master. Weight being an important factor for me, I got triggered. Tamron managed to make this lens much lighter because their use of material and cutting some mm on the wide end. Last, the price which is 800 euro compared to the 2250 euro G-Master. That’s a big difference!
Sony A7RIII with the 12-24 f/4 per size comparison against the 24-70 f/2.8.
Now in this review I am not going to compare this lens with the 24-70 G-Master or even the 24-70 f/4 Sony Zeiss. Why? Because there are other people who already did a great job doing that. Check Max Yuryev on Youtube for example. I'll focus on the quality of this lens on it's own.
Let’s start with some specifications:
Diameter : 73mm
Length : 118mm
Filter Diameter 67mm
Aperture blades: 9
Closest focusing Distance: 0.19m (more on that later)
material: plastic, polycarbonate
When I see lens types and names like this one I always wonder what all this fanciness means, so let’s get this out of the way! ‘Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 Di III RXD’ . Di stands for Digitally Integrated Design (to reduce ghosting, flare, CA and peripheral light fall-off along with improved resolution). RXD stands for Tamron’s new Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive autofocus motor. III simply stands for the version number of this lens. It has previous versions for other mounts.
When we look at the build quality of this lens there is nothing spectacular about it. It feels a bit like a Sony kitlens. It’s mostly plastic material (polycarbonate) with the metal mount. The lens is dust and moisture resistant. It is not completely weather sealed. However, compared to Tamron's earlier lenses this version has much better resistance than its predecessors.
Tamron placed extra rings to prevent dust and moisture coming in under the zoom and focus rings.
When using the lens, the thing I noticed first and was rather annoying was the place of the zoom ring. This is not the place you would be used to. From the body, the focus ring comes first and then the zoom. Normally, it’s the opposite. I am not sure why Tamron chose to do it this way but it takes some time getting used to. For me it wasn’t really a problem, but if you’re doing a wedding shoot with multiple bodies and lenses this could be very annoying.
The design of the lens is quite basic with zero buttons on the lens. There’s no AF/MF button or any customisable button. Everything is controlled via the camera body. The focus ring is endless and smooth with no scale on the lens. The zoom ring is quite sturdy and not that smooth. This all sounds a bit negative but all in all it’s not that big of a deal. Using it on my A7RIII it feels great. The whole package looks nice and is very nice to carry around with not too much weight on your hands.
So as always, enough with the tech-talk. I like to go out shooting and see how things perform in the field. How does this lens perform? Funny enough I started out with this lens in my garden. Why? As I mentioned earlier this lens has a minimum focus distance of 19cm on the wide end (28mm). At 75mm it focuses at 39cm. This means you can kind of make macro shots with this lens which is extremely fun. Here are some examples with the lens used at it’s minimum focus distance:
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/2.8, 1/1250s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/4, 1/320s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 100
I love playing with minimum focus distances of lenses and this one does not disappoint. As can be seen the bokeh of this lens is quite nice as well. It has a nice softness to it. It’s not extremely soft but very acceptable as a background blur. Here are some other examples from the bokeh of this lens:
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 250. Good example of the front and background blur/bokeh.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/2.8, 1/125s, ISO 200. I love to play with an out of focus foreground with lenses like the Tamron. The bokeh in the foreground is nice and smooth.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/2.8, 1/1200s, ISO 200. The bokeh from the flowers in the foreground allows me to create artistic effects.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 70mm, f/8, 1/40s, ISO 160.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 250.
This is where the Tamron 28-75 shines. The sharpness of this lens is out of this world. As a landscape photographer sharpness is the most important property of a lens for me. The Tamron does not disappoint here. It’s one of the sharpest zooms I own. Even at f/2.8 the lens is tack sharp, all the way to f/14. At f/22 the lens (obviously) loses a lot of sharpness. Don’t be afraid to use this lens wide open! It’s sharp across the entire zoom range, from corner to corner at almost every aperture. Fringing and chromatic aberration on this lens is also minimum. Again, the number 1 property of the Tamron is the sharpness.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 53mm, f/4, 1/1250s, ISO 100. A lens review is not complete without my cat. In all seriousness though, this lens is extremely sharp at all apertures.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 48mm, f/2.8 wide open, 1/500s, ISO 100. Here’s a 100% crop:
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 47mm, f/2.8 wide open, 20s, ISO 100. Here’s a 100% crop:
Pretty crazy right? Download the full resolution file of the bicycle shot HERE so you can check it for yourself.
With it’s nice bokeh and excellent sharpness the Tamron 28-75 is a great performer. But it does have some distortion across the zoom range and vignetting when using the lens (close to) wide open. The Lens profile in Lightroom fixes this mostly. You have to manually select it.
Distortion at 75mm:
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/5.6 1/20s, ISO 250.
Here’s an example of the distortion at 75mm. Look at the top and bottom of the frame, you can see it being curved. Applying the lens profile fixes this for 90% but not completely. Above animation shows before/after lens profile (distortion and vignetting) applied in Lightroom.
Distortion at 28mm:
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/2.8 1/60s, ISO 320.
Somehow converting this to gif completely removes the shadow detail because of the 256 color conversion but you get the idea. The vignetting at f/2.8 is pretty strong, but the lens profile removes this for the most part.
The distortion and vignetting on this lens aren’t a dealbreaker for me. They’re easily fixed in Lightroom and I mostly find them not big of a deal.
The autofocus of this lens is fine in general. It’s quite fast although not extremely fast. I would consider it just ‘normal’. With the RXD motor the lens is very silent. I really didn’t hear the autofocus motor while focusing so that’s a good thing for video shooters. The transitioning of autofocus during video was smooth and no strange things there. I have not much more to say about the AF. As a landscape photographer I tend to not use it too much but I didn’t find any problems while using the AF in the field for quick shots. I read a bunch of stuff about a weird issue with the AF of this lens on earlier versions. The lens wouldn’t focus on the correct focus point and would focus on something in the front. Tamron addressed this issue and said it would release a firmware to fix this. (updateable via software by connecting your camera with the lens attached to your computer) On my version of the lens I encountered zero problems though.
I like sunstars! For me as a landscape photographer sunstars are important. However, I care more about them on very wide angle lenses compared to a 28-75. Still, I think it’s important to show the sunstar in a review.
Here’s an example of the sunstar at an aperture of f/22. It’s not bad with the sun rays equally distributed. It’s also nothing spectacular. The sunstar is not that sharp but it’s good enough to use as an element in your photo. It’s certainly not disturbing in my opinion.
More sample shots:
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/9, 1/20s, ISO 320
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 39mm, f/11, 1/50s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/10, 1/100s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/9, 4s, ISO 200. Multiple shots focus stacked to get everything in focus.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/11, 1/40s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/6.3, 1/40s, ISO 200
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/7.1, 2s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/6.3 1/60s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/9, 30s, ISO 50
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 100
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/14, 1.6s, ISO 50
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 75mm, f/2.8 1/50s, ISO 3200
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/4.5, 20s, ISO 250
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 36mm, f/11, 1s, ISO 100. Focus stack of 2 images to get foreground and background both in focus.
Sony A7RIII, Tamron 28-75 at 28mm, f/18, 30s, ISO 50
My conclusion of this lens is that Tamron made a lens in the 28-75 range that perfectly fits my needs. I, as someone who normally doesn’t really use a 24-70 lens will now start to use this focal length more just because of this lens. This may sound a bit strange but it's mainly because of how light this lens is so I can easily put it in my bag. That along with the amazing sharpness makes this lens a perfect landscape lens in it’s range.
Do I miss the 4mm if I would compare this to a 24-70? To be honest I can’t really answer that. I am an extreme wide angle shooter and I tend to use the 12-24 or 16-35 most of the time. So when I use the 24 or 28-75, I really don’t care about the 28 or 24. For people that have a 24-70, check how often you use it on the wide end and see if you need the extra 4mm wideness or not. To me the 28-75 was perfectly fine as I use other lenses for my wider needs.
Very light for a lens in this range with an aperture of f/2.8.
Close focus distance at 28mm of 19cm that offers for macro possibilities.
Excellent sharpness over the whole zoom range from wide open at f/2.8.
Low price (800 euro) when compared to the competition.
Less good things:
Distortion over the whole zoom range. Is fixed with the lens profile in LR, but not 100%
Quite strong vignetting at f/2.8 and upwards. Again, fixed in LR. Not a dealbreaker.
Build quality is not that great. But the good thing about it is that it’s really light.
No AF/MF button or any other button on the lens.
Strange placement of the zoom ring.
The good things really outweigh the bad things for me here. I’d say that this lens is perfect for landscape photographers who value light weight and sharpness the most.
Last I would like to note that the release of this lens had an interesting timing as it was released almost at the same time as the new Sony A7III which is one of the best allrounder cameras on the market. I have seen many people get this lens recently combined with the A7III. For around 3000 euro that’s a package that’s extremely hard to beat. I saw that this lens is currently not in stock in the US. Hope that it's available again very soon :)
NOTE: I didn't test this lens for astrophotography YET because of the current full moon. I will update this article when I did some Milky Way/star photography with it at f/2.8.
Gear used in this review:
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Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!