Is This Tamron 35-150mm the Best Walk-Around Lens on the Market?

Is This Tamron 35-150mm the Best Walk-Around Lens on the Market?

If you're looking for a lens that's super sharp, incredibly versatile, remarkably cheap, and able to cover almost every scenario you want from a walk-around lens, then this 35-150mm lens from Tamron is perfect. These images testify to that.

In a recent article here on Fstoppers, the writer asked if the Sigma 24-70mm Art lens was the best all-round lens. As an owner of the Sigma Art 50mm lens, I can certainly attest to the unbelievable image quality of the Art series lenses. That 50mm lens has easily been my favorite lens for a very long time and is very often the first lens I go to when I'm a little unsure of what to use. So I can definitely understand the appeal of the wider spectrum 24-70mm zoom lens in the same series. However, as a recent buyer of the Tamron 35-150mm, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it must go close to outgunning the 24-70mm as an all around lens. And is certainly better as a walk-around lens. 

For clarification, I don't personally consider anything under 35mm as a walk-around lens. I'm not saying that's a rule that anyone has to agree with or accept, it's just that for my own circumstances anything under 35mm is used for landscape photography. Typically, I use the Canon 16-35mm for my landscape photography, and when I make the premeditated decision to go outside and take dedicated shots of nature or seascapes, I always take an assortment of gear including tripods, filters, filter holders, and all manner of other paraphernalia, which always requires a bag and a certain level of preparation. My 16-35mm lens is never something I just pick up on a whim, sling over my shoulder, and skip out the door with when I have nothing pre-planned in mind.

I have always used the Canon 24-105mm lens for that. It has served me well, but as time's gone by I've fallen out of love with it, for two main reasons. The first is that it only has a maximum aperture of f/4, which is not particularly wide in today's lens climate. Secondly, the lens creep on that particular lens is simply out of hand. I can't rest that lens on my camera body for more than two seconds without it fully extending to its maximum zoom length. And it's a big, chunky lens so when that thing starts bouncing into you as you walk along, it isn't a pretty, little tickle. It seems to be a particular problem with that lens, and I used it as a convenient part of my justification for going out and getting a replacement.

The magnificent Tamron 35-150mm

Which brings us to the Tamron 35-150mm. As an owner of two other Tamron lenses I am already fully aware of their quality. Indeed, almost two years ago here on Fstoppers I wrote about the Tamron 16-300mm lens and asked if it was the best walk-around lens for APS-C format cameras. I love the fact that they just work. There's no bells and whistles about them but they do exactly what I want them to do. To wit, I'm not particularly fussy when it comes to lenses and I'm certainly no pixel-peeper, but I do have some requirements. I want the autofocus to work quickly, accurately, and relatively silently. I want as big a zoom range and maximum aperture range as possible. I don't want horribly funky chromatic aberration. And I want it to be affordable, as I'm not lucky enough to have any deals or sponsorships going with any lens companies. So with those things in mind, the Tamron 35-150mm to me was absolutely perfect.

It has a zoom range of 35-150mm (which extends to roughly 50-225mm on APS-C format cameras), a maximum aperture range of f/2.8-4, which allows for some beautifully shallow depth of field, and it's currently priced at $799. Yes, yes, and yes. What I also really love about the Tamrons in my experience is that they just work straight out of the box. I have three Tamrons and from box to camera to shutter button, bang, bang, bang, the autofocus is dead on every time. Compare that with my Sigma Art 50mm, which was horribly back-focused out of the box, and it's pretty apparent why I gush more and more about Tamron. Indeed, I had to buy the Sigma dock and calibrate the 50mm Art lens as it was almost unusable, initially. Finally, I love the fact the Tamron zoom cameras have a locking mechanism (on the right side of the image above) so that when you're not using it you can switch the lock on and there's no lens creep like I have with my Canon 24-105mm.

But what about the image quality? Below I'll post a bunch of images that are straight out of camera, without any editing save for whatever processing my camera did at the JPEG saving stage. I took them at different focal lengths so you can get a sense of the autofocus accuracy, the sharpness, the contrast, and the bokeh. The captions in each image will give you all the information you need. These first three images come from a sunny day at the park with my family last weekend. Almost 100% of my shots were stunningly crisp and those that weren't were mainly due to fumbling and bumbling about on my part, rather than any deficiencies in the lens.

1/1600th, f/5, ISO 500, 64mm

This was a high contrast scene but I couldn't find any evidence in any shot of chromatic aberration, or weird colored fringing. I was mostly using single point focus (without any Eye AF or Face AF) and it was lightning quick and accurate every time.

1/2500, f/4, ISO 500, 64mm


The lens didn't get tricked by the bubbles, as long as I did my part. All three of these images were handheld.

1/2000, f/5, ISO 500, 43mm

These next two photos are self-portraits using different focal lengths. I placed the camera on a tripod, set my focus point and quickly ran into position. The focus was bang on every time, with some nice shallow depth of field evident too.

1/160, f/4, ISO 125, 135mm

Apparently, I left my smile in the camera bag.

1/200, f/2.8, ISO 100, 35mm

I also took the lens to one of my favorite hiking places in the mountains and took different shots at a variety of focal lengths. I purposely tried to find some really high contrast scenes to test out the chromatic aberration, or fringing. I think the lens passed with flying colors.

1/100, f/4.5, ISO 500, 35mm, handheld

The lens also has vibration control (called VC which you can switch on and off depending whether you're using a tripod or not).

1/320, f/10, ISO 100, 150mm. The local baseball stadium, a good few miles from this vantage point

1/1250, f/8, ISO 100, 76mm. The seahawks that hover high are a majestic sight. Paired with an APS-C format camera, this lens would be awesome for some types of wildlife or bird photography

This last shot here was taken about an hour prior to writing this. I just wanted to show people that I do actually take pictures of things other than nature.

1/400, f/3.2, ISO 100, 52mm. Autofocus is so fast and the images are so crisp

That funky green tinge in the bottom right corner of the image above is not the lens. It was just a bit of plastic on the railing that I was leaning over.

Summing Up

The Tamron 35-150mm is so versatile and sells for such an incredibly affordable price it almost beggars belief when you consider the image quality it produces across the zoom range. It covers almost every favorite portrait focal distance such as 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 105mm, and then keeps on going up to 150mm. The great thing is that it's also compatible with Canon APS-C format cameras, which gives it an effective zoom range of about 50-225mm. If I'm perfectly honest, I have never been completely sold on the Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens that I currently own and I will happily replace it with this Tamron when the situation calls for it. In closing, here's a summary of my feelings:

Pros:

  • Fast, accurate autofocus
  • Wonderful image quality across the zoom range
  • No obvious chromatic aberration
  • Affordable
  • Lock feature to prevent lens creep
  • Not overly bulky
  • APS-C compatible
  • Really versatile zoom range of 35-150mm

Cons:

  • Only available (now) for Canon and Nikon
  • Maximum aperture of f/2.8 is not across the entire zoom range
  • Lock feature only works at 35mm

All in all, I am ecstatic with my new Tamron 35-150mm lens. It will definitely replace my Canon 24-105mm, and in most imaginable circumstances I think it will supplant my need for the Canon 70-200mm lens. Tamron is really making waves these days and the fact that I'll be ditching two Canon lenses because I think this 35-150mm far outperforms them both should tell its own story. The Sigma Art series of lenses are astoundingly good but they are not without their drawbacks, especially the autofocus issues straight out of the box.

If you're thinking about a versatile walk-around lens and you don't have thousands to spare, then I highly recommend this Tamron 35-150mm. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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35 Comments

A bit wider on the wide end say 28-150mm would have been awesome :)

Iain Stanley's picture

Tamron actually has a very good 16-300mm, but it's not full-frame compatible.

Tom Reichner's picture

And I have the opposite feelings - that 35mm is plenty wide enough, but going out a bit past 150mm would be useful.

I think 35-170mm would be just about perfect, but 35-150mm is close enough to make me quite happy.

I have a 24-105mm, and practically never go any wider than 35mm ..... so 28mm on the short end would be useless to me.

Very interesting lens. It sure is a good range.

Iain Stanley's picture

It is, and relatively compact too. Especially good that it is APS-C compatible, too.

It's a versatile lens, but I certainly wouldn't want to walk around with something that large.

Iain Stanley's picture

Perspective I suppose. I went from the little nifty fifty to the pancake 40 to the 24-105 and then the Sigma Art 50. This is far easier for me to manage than the latter two, especially coz of the locking function

Well, when you compare it to an ART, yeah.... I sure as hell wouldn't want to walk around with that, either. Aside from just being unwieldy, my back would hate me for it by the end of the day. It's either a 50mm f/1.8 or a 28mm f/2 for me these days. I'm not going to pretend like "zooming with your feet" is a reasonable replacement for focal length, but comfort sometimes requires compromises. :/ Everyone has their own priorities, I suppose.

Iain Stanley's picture

yeah they're all good points. I haven't used a mirrorless system yet so I don't know what I might be missing, but I am simply used to the weight of all the lenses I quoted above. Even the Sigma Art 50mm, whilst heavy and bulky, is not something I groan about using for hours at a stretch. It's heavy, sure, but I'm just used to it now. I might feel very differently as technology (and weight of technology) progresses, however.

Tom Reichner's picture

I'm usually walking around all day with my 100-400mm or my 300-800mm on my camera.

A 24-105 or a 35-150 is just something to keep in the shoulder bag or in the pocket for unusual opportunities that may spring up unexpectedly. Hard to believe the weight of a little 50mm Art lens would actually be a problem for anyone.

I have 3 herniated discs, a fused L4/L5, a left foot drop from surgery complication with the fusion, and arthritis in my right knee (I'm 35 LOL). Yeah... the weight of a little 50mm ART lens would actually be a problem for me to carry around for any significant amount of time. People have different physical capabilities. Glad that you are capable of it, though. Stay healthy. :)

William Nicholson's picture

Can't say anything bad about Tamron glass. I have the 16-300, 18-270, 150-600 and super wide 10-24. Tamron glass works well out of the box, once calibrated with the body these lenses are awesome. I shoot fast action sports on a Nikon D-500 and these lenses are a perfect match and the end results are proof Tamron lenses are a superior product. Best bang for the buck while on a small budget.

Iain Stanley's picture

Completely agree. I’ve got the 16-300, 150-600, now the 35-150 and love them all. Thumbs up for Tamron

William Nicholson's picture

The 150-600 and 2.0 multiplier is my main go to lens. Was thinking about 70-200 but why spend the cash with the 16-300 in the bag. Use the big boy for those action shots of my son while mountain bike racing, the 2.0 allows me to reach out a long ways to get him. Love the 16-300 and have the 18-270 on an old Nikon D-60 and blows me away the clarity on such a old out dated body. Impulse buy on the 10-24, kinda kick myself for that one. I truly believe Tamron makes better glass than others even the Nikor. Love the 150-600, pull that out and you hear people around you gasp while saying "WOW" Big boys need big toys. Great article by the way. Long Live DSLR.

Iain Stanley's picture

By 2.0 multiplier do you mean a teleconverter? You use that on the D500? Which teleconverter?

William Nicholson's picture

Tamron TC-X20 on the D-500. Stretched out it is 1,680 give or take on the DX sensor. A wee fuzzy at that range if you are trying to capture something in a shadow area but great in bright light areas. I can't free hand that bad boy, shake to much, have to use tripod or single stick. Only use it when trying to get a tight crop from a distance. Takes some getting to. Works awesome on the 16-300. Just depends on what you are doing how how far you want to reach. I don't do portraits or wide angle landscape, fast moving sports, mountain bike racing as well motorcycle and auto racing. Teleconverter not recommended for fast action, well that is just my opinion. Pony up the cash and get one if you really want to reach out and touch someone.

Iain Stanley's picture

Awesome thanks for all the info

Gene Samit's picture

I like the lens alot. It is a bit heavy for this 70 year old.
It is the "walking around lens" we all seem to want.

Iain Stanley's picture

You’ve got 24 years experience on me!

Sounds like a great lens if that focal length range works for you, but I personally think 35mm at the wide end is just not wide enough to be considered a walk around lens, it's more of an all around compromise

F2.8 at 35mm is cool, but that's really the only useful advantage it has over the 24-120vr, and having the 24-35 range is in my opinion far more important than F2.8 at 35mm, or the 120-150mm range, and the 24-120vr is smaller, lighter, and native Nikon

Tom Reichner's picture

The 35-150mm range is nearly perfect as a walk-around type lens for me.

I have a 24-105 that I loved on a 1.6 crop body (equivalent 38mm to 168mm) ..... but when I switched to full frame, the 24-105 was not nearly as useful. I practically never use it at anything wider than 35mm. I mean, the 24-35mm part of the range may as well not even exist, because I never use it for the wildlife and bird photography that I do.

I do wish that this Tamron would go a bit longer on the long end, say out to 170mm or thereabouts. That would nicely parallel the field of view that I got from my 24-105 on my 1.6 crop bodies. But I can live with it stopping at 150mm. I always have the 100-400 with me, so I have access to the longer focal lengths, but more overlap is always welcome, as there are many times when there is simply no time to do a quick lens change.

Iain Stanley's picture

Interesting. 24-35mm is far too wide for my own walkaround needs but that's the beauty - we're all different.

Jacques Cornell's picture

It would help readers if you'd state right up front what mounts are available. I had to skim the entire article to discover that it's only available for Canon and Nikon. For a mirrorless-only shooter who wants to avoid adapters, this is a non-starter.
Similarly, I dislike software reviews that don't mention OS requirements until the very end.

Tom Reichner's picture

I think the focal length range of 35-150mm is just about perfect.

I've had a Canon 24-105mm for many, many years. For much of the wildlife photography I do, it was a very useful range on a 1.6 crop body, but when I switched to full frame, it was very frustrating because it has too much at the wide end that I never use, and doesn't go far enough at the long end.

The 35-150mm range on a full frame is very close to the 24-105 on a 1.6 crop sensor, and that was what I found so useful. So it looks like I'll be getting the Tamron 35-150 to replace my now-seldom-used 24-105mm. Glad that something more useful has come along for the type of wildlife and bird photography that I sometimes do.

Thanks, Tamron!

My Nikkor 24-120 f4 lived on my D810. Since i shoot M, I will choose constant aperture every day of the week. This 24mm is only for landscape photography attirude is just ugh.

Iain Stanley's picture

I didn't say 24mm is only for landscape. I said the 16-35mm is only for landscape "for me", and I gave my own reasons, which may not apply to you or others

Zsolt Könczey's picture

agreed, I’m using this awesome lens since last summer on my D750 and all I can say, that is so perfect for my needs, very rarely need wider, than 35, but very often I need more, than 105mm, so 90% It stays on my body, since, than I ha e sold my 70-200, ok, it does not replace that, but no longer need that, yeahhh, maybe a f/2.8 through entire range, would be even better, but the weight and size would be much, much different...

Iain Stanley's picture

pretty much identical to my situation

I replaced my 24-105 with the 35-150 and love it, no cons for me, and I just replaced my Ef50 1.4 with the Tamron 45 1.8 and couldn’t be happier!! Oh and the 35 matches up well with my 16-35 f4 as well lol

Iain Stanley's picture

Yeah I’m hoping Willie Wonka exists and tells the Tamron execs to read this and then throw me a couple test lenses every now and then jaha

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