For any photographer who enjoys traveling, finding the ideal balance between utility, image quality, and size and weight can be tricky. This lens offers a great choice to condense it all into one.
When I volunteered to take a look at the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD, I really thought it was going to be big and heavy. In all honesty, I was not particularly looking forward to taking out to give it a run. Before diving into it, I will admit that I was completely wrong. My very first impression was seeing the outer box it was shipped in and the anxiety started setting in. Nevertheless, I opened up the outer box to reveal a relatively petite product box and found myself shocked and smiling from curiosity. To my pleasant surprise, the lens ended up being even smaller than the product box suggested.
Coming in at 576 grams, this lens is approximately the same weight as the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM (524 grams), which is well known for being surprisingly light compared with other fast 35mm primes. In addition, it is only about two thirds the weight of the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM (886 grams) and Sony 70-200mm f/4 G (840 grams). In addition, this lens is quite petite for what I would have expected; despite covering everything from 28mm all the way to 200mm, the Tamron is only 117 mm tall compared with 136 mm for the Sony 24-70mm and 175 mm for the Sony 70-200mm. If you are traveling or hiking, this light weight and small size really make a big difference.
First things first, I wanted to make sure that I took this lens on a hike to be able to compare it more directly with other lenses in my arsenal and other lenses that I’ve used previously. On the day I went out, I will admit that the weather was less than ideal, as I arrived later than I wanted and I forgot to bring my tripod, which is pretty critical for those longer focal lengths. As a result, I thought that I had pretty limited opportunities to let this lens really shine. With that said, I was quite impressed with the image quality after using it wide open, where I kept it for most of the hike. Given the light weight and small size, it was not difficult to easily make it through some of the most difficult parts of the hike without feeling like the camera and lens combo was weighing me down. Despite being light weight, the lens does not feel cheap. In addition, the ribbing feels comfortable and pleasant to use. Auto-focusing was quick and confident. For every photo on my hike, it nailed the focus every time and could even keep up with my crazy dog running around my back yard.
I would be remiss to not mention that I thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility of shooting everything from wide angle photography to more intimate landscapes. True, zoom lenses give a variety of focal lengths, so what I am saying may not be surprising. Personally, I had yet to use a lens that more or less blended a 24-70mm lens with a 70-200mm, much less merge the two together in a way that still gave results I was happy with. I would give this lens high marks on the feeling of quality and the enjoyment when using it.
Much like the size and weight of the Tamron lens, the image quality was worthy of saying I was pleasantly surprised. Though I did not get much of an opportunity to shoot this lens stopped down for landscapes; however, I did get to do some test shots at 28mm as well as at 200mm stopped down twice. I did not notice any distortion or vignetting after the lens profile correction was applied through Lightroom.
The above example is a test for sharpness at 28mm. As you can see, this lens does a great job with rendering detail at the widest focal length. Even when viewing only a small portion of the frame, details remain quite good and could easily render nice detail when printed at 11x14, and I would even go so far as to guess that it could be printed larger with good results if need be. I will also share a few of the photographs I made at 28mm while I was out on my hike.
The above example is a test for sharpness at 200mm. As demonstrated, sharpness is still on point and renders details nicely. Not all of my example photographs using long focal lengths were taken at 200mm but the few that I took were some of my favorites. If I was to say what my favorite aspect of this lens was, I would say that it was the ability to shoot at 200mm and the quality of the resulting images. I'm used to having my longer focal length lenses be so large and heavy that they are difficult to hold still - that was not the case here.
If you enjoy traveling and leisurely photographing your family, friends, or the scenery, this lens may be right for you. This lens would be particularly best for you if you normally pack several lenses but would like to cut down on volume and weight. If you are concerned about the maximum aperture and intend to use this lens for some portraits, I would like to remind you of two things: this lens is on par with and may even be faster than many kit lenses, which are perfectly capable lenses and at longer focal lengths (think 135mm to 200mm), you don’t need prime-fast lenses to get good subject separation. For example, shooting at 200mm with an aperture of f/5.6 and a subject 20 feet away, the depth of field is still less than a foot. Compare this with a lens shooting at 200mm with an aperture of f/2.8 and the same subject at 20 feet away, the depth of field is around half a foot, which means that for the extra cost, size, and weight, you only gain about 6 inches shallower depth of field.