Bang For Your Buck? We Review the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 for Nikon Z

Bang For Your Buck? We Review the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 for Nikon Z

Unlike Canon, Nikon understands the importance of a third-party lens manufacturer for a healthy ecosystem and a stronger incentive for any potential buyer. And thanks to that, we get more and more interesting lenses for their mirrorless Z mount, like this proven budget-friendly option.

We’ve Seen This Before

This is not the first time Tamron has re-released a lens for a different mount. I’ve already talked about the same thing back when I reviewed the 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD Lens for Nikon Z. And just like that lens, this “new” 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 has been released a few years ago on the Sony E-Mount. How does it fit into the current Nikon Z mount options? There’s already an abundance of standard zooms available for the mount from the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, the NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, or the Tamron-made NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8 which is basically a first generation of the titular lens of this article with an improved AF motor. What makes the Tamron interesting then? Is it worth considering? Well with a sub $1,000 price it does offer quite a decent set of features and properties.

A great option for any current Nikon Z body

Built Like a Tamron

Tamron lenses follow a certain formula. Plastic and cheap-looking on the outside, decent quality on the inside. And again, while the outer body of the lens is shiny plastic, it feels solid in hand, does not scratch as easily as the older models, and stays fairly clean. I probably wouldn’t take it with me to an intensive high-risk environment where I have to treat my gear as it’s meant to be used, but I would not worry about it in a daily setting shooting in a city, capturing a wedding, a concert, or a regular event either.

The lens itself is fairly lightweight at only 550 grams and measures a mere twelve centimeters in length, so it is not large considering the focal range and the bright f/2.8 aperture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on a Zf body which I would have preferred for testing this lens out, but luckily, I was able to borrow a Z8. Which I have to say is one of the best mirrorless cameras I’ve ever had a chance to use, as I’ve already said in my review back when the camera came out. Long story short, the lens felt great on such a body. Not too large, not too small, perfectly balanced, and even after a full day of shooting out in the city without a strap my hand felt great with no discomfort.

The two rings are of course in charge of manual focus and zoom. The zoom ring’s travel is pleasingly short and quick. No need to twist your wrist unnaturally to get to your desired focal length. Yes, the front does extend while zooming, which could both suck in dust in a dirty environment and unbalance a gimbal if you use one, but that is the price for the compact design. One feature that I must praise Tamron for is the official moisture resistance. Even at such a price range, it is nice to not be scared to shoot regardless of the weather.

Not too big, not too heavy

Fast, Reliably So

The focusing group is powered by a linear ultrasonic VXD motor, which is a significant upgrade over the stepping one in the previous generation of the same lens released only for the E-Mount. The autofocus is fast, tracks moving subjects well, and the keeper rate was well over 90% in my time with the lens. The hardest test was photographing my little girl who is not even three years old and is simply incapable of staying still while playing. Every shot of her was tack-sharp and right on the eye. All I did was point the lens at her, and the AF algorithm worked its magic. The lens had no trouble keeping up.

Optically Very Capable

As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve tested the lens on the 47-megapixel Nikon Z8, so the lens had no option but to perform well, and it did. All the details were captured perfectly even at wider apertures. However, the lens does have a noticeable vignette when shooting wide open. A non-issue these days with simple lens corrections, but it is worthy of note. The vignette disappears once you stop down to f/5.6.

The aperture diaphragm consists of nine blades, which gives us quite lovely bokeh. Not as premium-looking as eleven, but significantly better than seven. Speaking of bokeh, we can get both some beautiful portraits at 75 millimeters with the wide aperture as well as some impressive close-ups thanks to the lens being able to focus from up to 18 centimeters at the wide end.

Don’t get me wrong though. Nikon’s own NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is superior in pretty much every way when it comes to image quality or build quality, but at less than half the price the Tamron is an exceptional piece of gear worth looking into, allowing you to get either more lenses or to instead spend that extra $1,200 you save on getting your next photography project off the ground.

Unassuming on the outside

Easily Customizable

There is a single USB-C port on the side of the body of the lens. This allows you to plug in your phone, load up Tamron’s own Lens Utility app, and change multiple properties of the lens. The app lets us set a preset focus distance to which we can always return to using the button on the side of the lens, we can opt for an A-B focus mode where we switch between two different distances at an instant or even a focus limiter. Last but definitely not least, we can change the response curve of the focus ring from non-linear to linear, which is a must for many uses.

What I Liked

  • Small and lightweight for the focal range and aperture
  • Fast autofocus
  • Weather-sealed
  • Short zoom ring travel
  • Customizable on the go
  • Easy-to-understand app
  • Decent image quality
  • Minimal aberrations and fringing
  • Vignetting is not too harsh

What I Disliked

  • Plastic body (still a solid build though)

The front element extends when zooming

Third-Party Does Not Hurt the Mount

Yes, Canon has recently finally opened up their mirrorless mount to third-party lens manufacturers but only for their APS-C RF-S mount. Having options and not being tied down is incredibly important to photographers deciding which camera system to get next, and I’ve had countless customers skip over Canon for not doing so. Nikon finally understood this a few years back when they allowed brands like Viltrox and Tamron to make AF lenses for their great bodies, and now we’ve got some incredible lens options without having to spend extra for the original branded ones.

This lens is most definitely a step in the right direction as it offers great image quality, decent value for money, and up-to-par performance capable of holding its own even mounted on powerful bodies such as the Z9 or Z8. Now we just need to wait for the inevitable 17-28mm and the 70-180mm to complete the lineup.


Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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Good reading. Do Tamron lenses stop some functions in Nikon cameras? is everything the same possible like using Nikon lens. Sorry my English is not good.

Thank you. Yeah, it does not seem to be limiting any functionality.