The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens: Three Days of Shooting and I'm Impressed

The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens: Three Days of Shooting and I'm Impressed

When I moved to Sony, part of the appeal was the smaller body. However, the idea of being able to replace my big, heavy wide-angle zoom with something light and fast seemed impossible. Last month, Tamron released its 17-28mm f/2.8, and I just spent three days using it to photograph a parkour event in central London. Ahead of a thorough review, here are my first impressions.

Following the success of its 28-75mm f/2.8 lens, Tamron’s wide-angle effort has been widely anticipated by Sony users. The big, heavy, expensive glass made by Sony and Sigma is certainly incredible, but more affordable options that actually offered good quality seemed unlikely. The 28-75mm lens changed this, and the 17-28mm is keeping with the high bar that Tamron set last year.

This is a comparatively small, light lens that instead of compromising on sharpness or maximum aperture, compromises on width and reach: 1mm at its widest and 7 m at its longest. The big question for everyone considering this lens — myself very much included — is whether this compromise is acceptable with what I shoot. My work involves shooting almost exclusively with my beloved 16-35mm f/2.8 L (currently adapted with the Sigma MC-11), and the thought of changing this is a little terrifying.

Tamron has loaned me a lens for a month, and I just spent three days photographing the Rendezvous training event hosted in Central London by Parkour Generations (Facebook, Instagram). The lens performed well at an event that has some diverse conditions. It endured wind, heavy rain, gloomy clouds, bright sunlight, gritty housing estates, dark woodlands, and dull interiors. I’ve been excited at the prospect of this lens since rumors first emerged, and it’s great to know that it delivers the quality I want and that the reduced focal range didn’t feel uncomfortable or restrictive.

Autofocus was snappy and responsive, which is crucial for a sport where movement is unpredictable. I'm frequently pointing the camera upwards to create drama, which means a lot of strongly backlit subjects. Eye autofocus worked well, and sharpness at f/2.8 is very good, in addition to creating a pleasing texture to out-of-focus areas. Quality of bokeh isn't high on my list of requirements from a wide-angle zoom, but for me, the Tamron delivers surprisingly well.

The size of the lens makes it a joy to use, and being able to shoot holding the camera with just one hand (I use a Meike grip) was a novelty. The lens didn't seem to struggle to focus under the dark canopy of the rain-soaked woods, even with the intermittent rain (and no, I didn't test out the weather-sealing too closely). In addition, my initial impressions are that this is a sharp lens, and it certainly compares well to my Canon 16-35mm.

Being a fan of lightweight travel, I know that the Tamron would come with me more often on those random trips where I'm not sure which glass to take along. If Tamron could then make one of its forthcoming Sony primes an affordable, lightweight 35mm f/1.8, I'd be incredibly happy, giving me a truly agile setup that moving to mirrorless always promised but never quite wanted to deliver.

I have a few more weeks in which to put this lens through its paces, and early signs are good, especially given the price point. My task over the next few days is to hope for some clear skies, try to dig a tripod out of my building site of a house, and make my first ever attempt at astrophotography. Wish me luck.

Check back soon for the full review, and feel free to leave any questions, requests, or suggestions in the comments below.

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16 Comments

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I've had this lens on pre-order since July from B&H, and sadly I'm still waiting :(

But looking at all the test images coming out with this lens, I must I'm getting more eager by the day to get this into my hands and start shooting with it!

Eric Salas's picture

Just go through Amazon. Got mine same day shipping.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Is Amazon an official distributor of Tamron? I've heard horror stories of major brands not honouring warranty on purchases made via non-certified distributors / vendors...

Eric Salas's picture

You can always read the descriptions of who you’re buying from. Most are clearly marked but people don’t read so they blame amazon instead of themselves when they buy black market items.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I just emailed Tamron, and they confirm Amazon Canada is NOT an official distributor for Tamron, and they will not honour warranty on Tamron products purchased there, and other customers who purchased via Amazon are commenting to the same effect. And even then, you have to be double-careful that you are getting it from the actual Tamron Amazon store when buying in the US and not from any third-party Amazon store:

https://www.amazon.com/tamron-products

The ONLY official online-only distributor of Tamron lenses in Canada (this doesn’t include brick and mortar locations with online stores who are on their authorized list) is Amplis Foto Inc:

https://store.amplis.com/collections/lenses

When you buy from them, you get the 6-year standard warranty valid for Canadian inventory, and it’s boosted to 10 years upon registering... So, if Canadians buy a Tamron lens from the above link to Amplis and register their purchase with Tamron Canada, you get 10 years of warranty!

Here is the link to Tamron Canada’s authorized dealer list:

http://www.tamron.ca/dealers-search/

And information on their warranty for Canadians:

http://www.tamron.ca/warranty/

Guess this is good info for my Canadian peeps, and less for US, but still useful so you know where to buy them in order to get warranty.

Cheers

Eric Salas's picture

Don’t have a problem with being in the US for me. I’m good to go.
That does suck they don’t honor their warranty unless they’re on a list. If the product is sold second hand but still their product it shouldn’t matter.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Totally agree...

Nikon and Sony are the same with their lenses; their warranties are geographically specific, and won't be honoured in other countries / continents, and are non-transferable when sold by third-parties, or even if ownership changes hands, ridiculous if you ask me.

Eric Salas's picture

Best of luck finding one! It’s worth it.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I actually just bit the bullet and picked up the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Sony FE mount, thinking this would be a good preview of the 17-28mm, and totally thinking I would kick it back after a while...

OMG, I don’t know what special sauce Tamron put into the 28-75, but that lens is NOT going back now! It’s like multiple primes all rolled into one, it’s that razor crisp! And despite what many YouTubers say about the build quality, it’s actually very nice to handle and I have no complaints.

If the 17-28 is anything like the 28-75, now I really can’t wait!

Eric Salas's picture

Yea, I’ve completely abandoned the GMaster line after getting the Sigma 35 and 105 Art lenses. Tamron is the same; sharp as hell through the range but just have to be careful with flares. Sometimes you’ll see them in the viewfinder and sometimes you won’t.

I wish someone, anyone, would compare this to the 16-35 f4!

Joel Hazel's picture

Check out Royce Bair’s Nightscape book before you do. It’s worth every penny when your first starting out in astro, less you’re headed out with someone who knows what they’re doing (and is kind enough to help you and forego any shooting themselves).

I have the Tamron 15-30mm 2.8 and i use it for landscapes and astro, and it is a gem of a lens. Sharpness is very good, not that much vignetting on the edges, at 2.8 the stars on the edges are not bad at all. Looking forward to seeing your astro shots!

Andy Day's picture

Ha. Please don't get excited. I had a half hour window at 11pm one evening here in France - not as dark as it could have been. Definitely not my finest work..! 😂

Joel Hazel's picture

The Mona Lisa wasn’t painted the first time da Vinci sat down so your good man. : )

Yeah ... not available.