This Heavier Lens Might Be a Way to Travel With Lighter Gear: Experiential Review of the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 for Travel and Landscape Photography

This Heavier Lens Might Be a Way to Travel With Lighter Gear: Experiential Review of the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 for Travel and Landscape Photography

Having a zoom lens trinity is the most common approach to making sure that you have all the necessary ranges covered. But what if one lens can let you significantly lessen the amount of gear you bring?

The reason why camera brands, tripod brands, and other accessory brands put so much focus on coming up with dedicated "travel gear" is because traveling, specifically the act of physically exploring new locations, entails so much unpredictability. If you’re a photographer and your goal is to find unique scenes and breathtaking sceneries in every place you visit, it would most likely mean that you should be able to photograph anything you find interesting no matter how big or small, no matter how close or far, and regardless of the lighting conditions. Unlike most kinds of photography that we are able to do from the comforts of the general area of our homes, the challenge is to be able to bring everything that you might need while also making sure that you’re still mobile enough to move around. Regardless of whether you need to fit all your cameras and lenses in a small carry-on luggage or pack them along with three days' worth of camping supplies, the challenge is finding the sweet spot between being prepared and efficiently packed.

Traveling With a Zoom Lens Trinity

The most common advice you’d find online, not just for travel photography but for most kinds of photography, is to have a set of three zoom lenses. This means bringing a standard zoom lens, an ultra-wide angle zoom, and a telephoto lens. Of course, there is an infinite number of alternatives to this combination but generally most of what you need to cover can be within the three zoom lens ranges. Yes, there are lenses with wider ranges of focal lengths but most of them are either limited in low light or have inconsistent optical performance across the range.

For more experienced photographers, or alternatively for those who know more than enough of what to expect to photograph, these lenses can be swapped for prime lenses depending on the photographer’s preference. Personally, I sometimes switch my 16-35mm ultra-wide zoom for a 20mm f/1.8 prime lens specifically if I anticipate that my need for a wide angle lens would be to shoot nighttime landscapes. Other photographers can work with an all-prime setup, or entirely without either a wide lens or a telephoto lens. The key to finding your reliable set of lenses would be knowing your own style of photography and the kinds of compositional approaches that you prefer to take. However, for anxious travelers like myself, there’s so much comfort you can get from knowing that you have a zoom lens trinity in your bag. The downside is, there is also very likely a physical discomfort that comes with it.

How Shooting With a 35-150mm Lens Can Change How You Travel

During a recent weekend trip, I tried out what changing up my set of lenses can offer, but this time, with a relatively new zoom lens option in the form of the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD in combination with an ultra-wide angle lens. To make impact of this change more palpable, I chose to bring the Sony 20mm f/1.8 G as my ultra wide angle lens knowing full well that it would remain inside my bag for most of the trip.

The Tamron 35-150mm definitely offers a unique set of perspectives. Walking around and exploring a new place, I don’t particularly shoot wide, so the difference between having a 24mm and a 35mm as my widest option was not significant. Instead, what was more apparent was that I had more reach because of the lens’ ability to go all the way to 150mm which, in my usual set of lenses, would mean I’d have to change lenses. Though I do this kind of shooting usually during the day, the difference of an f/2.8 opening compared to what I would have with an f/4 walk-around lens was visually noticeable. Even if the lens is bulkier and heavier, the difference subjectively seems less significant compared to what’s in the bag you’re carrying.

The Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD is widely known for being a heavy piece of glass. It weighs 1.165 kilograms (2.6 lbs), 158mm (6.2 in) long and 89.2mm (3.5 in) thick. The barrel also extends as you zoom in but much of the weight remains to be on the more proximal end. In comparison to 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, this is 125 grams heavier than the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II (1045g) and 315 grams lighter than the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM version 1 (1480g) so it can be safe to say that this lens weighs roughly the same as a 70-200mm f/2.8 in general.

However, given the difference in range, it greatly intersects the ranges of a standard zoom (24-70mm) lens and a telephoto zoom (70-200mm). If we’re to look at the lens regardless of other lens choices then it would be easy to say that it is heavy and bulky. However, if you’re coming from the perspective of someone who would replace a standard zoom and a telephoto zoom with this lens, then it would result in having a heavier lens but generally carrying less gear and less total weight because it combines the functionality of two lenses into one.

I particularly always travel with an ultra-wide angle lens, a standard zoom, and a telephoto zoom (unless I know what to expect and which ones I won’t need). Of course, we all know that most of the time the bulk of the weight is coming from the telephoto lens. The usual dilemma while packing would be whether to bear the weight or to live with the possibility of missing out on a shot because the lens that would have been perfect for it was left at home. Of course, this does not apply to every kind of photographer, there are people who have a preference towards certain focal lengths regardless of where they’re going but for someone like me, there might be a lot of benefits coming from being able to fuse the two zoom lens ranges into one piece.

The two-lens combo I brought to see how the experience differs

If that’s the case and I end up using it as a walk-around lens, then potentially the only lens left in my bag would be the ultra-wide angle lens that can range from 373 grams (Sony 20mm f/1.8) to 680 grams (Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM) for me. While the lens on my camera might be heavier, the overall weight of gear is significantly less.

Alongside the benefits of this unique range, the Tamron 35-150mm does have excellent optical performance. It seems to do very well at the widest aperture and continues to have great sharpness up to f/11 where it begins to slightly soften.

Being able to shoot at 35mm f/2 on its own is a notably pleasant experience knowing that you wouldn’t have to change lenses to achieve it. Subjectively I can say that it focuses very well and accurately with sufficient light but (though I’m not able to quantify) it seems to be less capable in very dark situations. On top of everything, while I generally like using this lens, my only qualm about it is that it does not come with a tripod collar to support the front-heavy setup.

What I Liked

  • Unique range with f/2-2.8 widest aperture
  • Great image quality

What I Didn’t Like

  • Front heavy
  • No tripod collar

You can purchase the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD here.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Nicco Valenzuela is a photographer from Quezon City, Philippines. Nicco shoots skyscrapers and cityscapes professionally as an architectural photographer and Landscape and travel photographs as a hobby.

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Why limit to the 35 - 150? In most travel situations, extreme depth of field isolation isn't as common a need so ultra wide apertures just add weight. Speaking of Tamron, I'd choose the 28 - 200. It is ranked as sharper than either the Sony or Nikon equivalents and offers more flexibility in a lighter package. Otherwise, forget the interchangeable lens camera and go with an all in one.

I carry the Sony 20mm always (my fav lens now), and then usually a 40mm pancake lens. 35-150mm range would be very useful in lieu of the 40mm, since I also entertain the idea of carrying around the 70-200mm. I am waiting for some breakthrough in lens tech materials where all these lenses become simply a thin sheet, weighing only a few grams. ;⁠-⁠)

This will be the invention of the century ☺️

35mm just isn’t wide enough for my travel photography. Architectural and landscape photography most of the time needs a 15-30mm perspective to make it stand out.

No doubt, it has its positive side but I just wondering, do you think that this specific lens with 1/4 ratio equal in its optic quality to 3 lenses with ratio 1/2.5 - 1/3 ? Ither Canon or Nikon trinity ? Have you tested / compared it optically and other

Very cool!

An excellent combo is the Tamron 17-28 f2.8 + Tamron 28-200 2.8-5.6. The latter is at least f4 until 70mm and if you have a tripod, this is an excellent combo for landscape. Adding one prime like the Samyang 45/1.8 or Sony 85/1.8 covers the night quite well resulting in ~1.1-1.3 kG + camera.

My travel kit is a 24-240 and 14-35 zoom. Great coverage, relatively light.

I have Samyang's 35-150/2.0-2.8 for event work, but I don't expect I'll be using it as a walkabout lens simply due to the in-hand weight. When I'm exploring, I'd rather have some of the weight - in the form of additional lenses - in a bag or backpack to minimize the weight in my hand or on a neck strap. Also, when making scenic photos I am almost always stopping down for more DoF. My current walkabout combo is Sony's 28-60 and Tamron's 70-300. I can add my Tamron 17-28 as needed. The 28-60 is also great when I want to go ultralight. I'd love to have Tamron's 28-200 but can't justify spending the money when I already have these other lenses.

I do like mine Sony 24-105 f4. It covers more of 95% of my needs. It is wide enough and telephoto enough. Also, it has some macro ability as well. The most important part is that the lens is light and stabilised with great picture quality. Eventually, I may add some of my other lenses but it depends what I am expecting to take picture of. Often I add Samyang 24mm f1.8 for night and astrophotografy or Sony 55mm f1.8 Zeiss which I love.
I also have Ttartisan 11mm 2.8, Sony Macro 90mm 2.8, Sony 70-200mm f4, Minolta 135 f2.8, Minolta AF 500mm f8.
I use Minolta with adapter.
Again, the quality of Sony 24-105 f4 and because it is light is enough for me.
Tamron 35-135 2/2.8 is a heavy lens, realy heavy lens and for tgis reason is not good for travel lens.
I bought all my lenses because they are with great picture quality and light.
Unless you are professional sport, wedding or studio photograph I do not recomend Tamron 35-135mm f2-2.8 lens.

How does this lens compare to the 28-200mm Tamron lens?

It's bigger, more expensive, one stop brighter at the wide end and two stops brighter at the long end.