Is This the Ultimate All-in-One Lens? Fstoppers Reviews the Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 DI III VXD

Is This the Ultimate All-in-One Lens? Fstoppers Reviews the Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 DI III VXD

For most photographers, the idea of a (relatively) fast lens covering everything from 35mm to 150mm is a dream come true. Does the Tamron lens live up to the dream?

In all honesty, the second I saw the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 Di III VXD on B&H available for preorder, I knew I wanted one. In fact, for years, if I was to outline my dream lens, I honestly think I would detail a variable focal length lens that ranged from 35mm to 150mm. Even then, I think I would have written down a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, so the fact that this Tamron lens has a maximum aperture of f/2 at the widest focal length made it even better. So long as it was decently sharp and didn’t have a crazy amount of distortion, I was ready to go all in and buy the lens straight away. Admittedly, the one thing that I did not consider might be a problem was the size and the weight. I mean, it’s a Tamron lens, right? Their 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III was shockingly light, pleasantly fast-focusing, and quite sharp. Long story short, the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 is heavy and big. So, with all of this said, is it worth it? For me, that comes down to two options: is it going to replace my lenses already covering these focal lengths, or is it small enough and light enough for my partner to carry around with her when we are traveling?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty detail of the lens, let us first talk about the strengths of this lens. Its biggest strength can be wrapped up quickly, with just a three-word, hyphenated phrase: “all-in-one.” Covering nearly the entire focal length range of the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens combined with the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD lens, while also having a faster maximum aperture for part of its focal length range makes it a very capable lens. Once you consider the better build quality, better functionality, the weight saved (it is 185 g lighter than the two older siblings put together), and the money saved ($100 cheaper than the two older siblings put together), it is not even up for debate, right? 

Build Quality and Handling

The build quality of the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 is astounding. Not to knock the build quality of Tamron’s other lens (I think they’re pretty nice – I liked the 70-180mm f/2.8 when I test drove it and I loved their 45mm f/1.8 on my F100), but I kept forgetting it was a Tamron lens because the build quality was so much better than every other one I’ve ever held in my hands, much less ever used. As for the handling, it had its pros and cons. The functionality is amazing; it may even be better than any other lens I own, including the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II (a review of which can be found here).  

For as heavy as it is, it feels quite balanced while mounted to the Sony a7 IV; however, it is a lot of weight to feel balanced. Clocking in at 1,165 g, it is heavier than the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II (1,045 g), so while it will save you some weight compared to its two older siblings combined, it is still quite a lot to lug around. Given its long length, heavy weight, and absence of a tripod collar, it made me a bit uncomfortable to mount it to the tripod for assessing sharpness. In addition, like every lens I test for Fstoppers, I took it on the same hike in Hocking Hills to see how I enjoyed it. I honestly think that more than any other lens I’ve tested, I found this one to be a bit of a pain to carry around. The size (89 mm in diameter and 158 mm in length) isn’t the problem, and the weight, while noticeable, wasn’t a deal-breaker. I just found it pretty obnoxious to carry after passing mile two or three. 

Sharpness and Vignetting

The sharpness of this lens was good as we've come to expect from Tamron lenses lately. As you'll see in the below sample images, there is not much to distinguish photographs shot wide open to those shots stopped down two stops. One thing that will be easily noticed is the vignetting, which was pretty pronounced. That said, while all these samples are shot without lens corrections turned on, after engaging lens corrections in Lightroom, the vignetting was minimized, as was the similarly strong distortion.  

In all examples below, the example shot wide open is on the left and the example stopped down two stops is on the right. 

At 35mm

At 50mm

At 85mm

At 150mm

What I Like

  • The all-in-one nature of a 35-150mm lens with a fast maximum aperture
  • The focusing speed was on point for nearly every situation. It nailed every shot with the exception of testing it on my dog when he was running full speed across the yard, where it only found focus around 30-40% of the time.
  • The build quality is second to none when it comes to third party lenses
  • Customization of the functions/buttons

What I Don’t Like

  • Price. It is a hefty price tag for a third-party lens.
  • Size and weight. It feels like this should have been expected with the dream lens-like characteristics, but my experience with Tamron lenses told me to be ready for surprisingly lightweight and compact lens.

Similar Alternatives

Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS (cost: $1,398): I know very little about this lens and have not ever used it, nor do I know anyone who owns it. That said, from what I have read about it, it is nice and sharp but seems quite expensive for what it is. 

Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD (cost: $729): I got my hands on this lens last year (the write-up can be found here), and I liked it. Compared with the 35-150mm f/2-2.8 that I’m reviewing here, it is over 40 mm shorter (117 mm in length), comes in at 576 g, which is half the weight, and nearly one third the cost. While it has a dimmer maximum aperture, isn’t built on the same level, and doesn’t have the same level of sharpness, I would personally go with this lens over the 35-150mm. 

Final Thoughts

For me, it all comes down to whether I would be willing to drop the money to buy the gear. In other words, is the value of the gear worth the cost of the gear? It’s not the sharpness, autofocus speed, the maximum aperture, or whatever else. In this particular instance, I do not ever see myself buying this lens, and as such, I don’t know that I would recommend it to anyone else. Did I take some photographs that I liked and that I would put in my 2022 photo book? Yes. Was it convenient to have the 35mm focal range up to the 150mm focal range in one lens with a reasonable maximum aperture? Yes, absolutely.  If someone just outright gave me this lens for free, would it take the place of my Sony 35mm f/1.4 GM and Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II in my bag when I go on my next trip? No, it would not. In all honesty, if someone gave me this lens, I would likely just give it to someone else. Of all the images I took with this lens, 95% of them were taken at 35mm or around the 150mm maximum and for that, I can just use the lenses I have now. 

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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It’s big and expensive. Sony’s 24-105 is a good lens but at f4. I wish they would make a new 35-105 f2.8 They have done before and it was around 600 gram.

Talk about broad generalizations. I'm not sure where the idea came from that for "most photographers" "fast lens covering everything from 35mm to 150mm is a dream come true". I doubt any reasonable study has been made of photographers on this point. (I suspect no landscape photographers were in included in this).

"Most photographers" =/ "all photographers". Obviously the niches of ultrawide and supertele are not covered but a huge amount of photographers only ever work in the 24-70/70-200 range of which this lens gets the best parts of.

It's not a 24-300 1.4, but it combines a very useful range of two of the most popular focal length ranges at a decently fast aperture. If I had one it would just about live on my camera except when I needed UW or supertele

"Most" indicates as it says, a majority, which I doubt you could make a case for. Worded better, you could easily said "Many", which would have been true.

not sure what is the big deal here. 16-35, 50 prime and 70-200/2.8 with 2x teleconverter and you ready for unless you able to put teleconverter on this lens, then there is not much of to dream about. Or do you want to use this lens for everything? Canon has EF 35-350mm since 1993 that what you looking for? ;)

You totally missed the point of the lens. That's 3 lenses you have to lug around when you could basically just have 1.

Canon's EF 35-350mm is f3.5 - 5.6 where the Tamron f2 - f2.8. Maybe you missed that part.

You need to take your landscape hat off for a second and picture other genres like portraits, weddings, events, etc, etc.

You right, but i dont think there is that much of a wow after 30 years of difference... f/2.0 wont give you that much of difference to f/2.8 when on the wider start of the lens ( 35-85 ).. Yes for general events use it is giving you easier job, but at the other side it wont be looking as good as 35/1.4, 50/1.2, 85/1.2, 105/1.4 or 135 / 1.8.... This lens will be ok for travel... I'll rather be shooting portraits with fast prime then this anytime....especially when it comes to bokeh you wont get what you're getting with fast primes . But it is subjective and everybody is willing to prefer different things. Your portraits are nice, but there is no shallow depth of field, so you probably like when there is less separation between subject and background or you are on budget and this is the best for you as you are able to covet different focal lengths with one lens only. Thanks for you reply and have a nice Sunday

first two are Canon 135/2 and last two are Canon 50/1.2

I actually shoot my 35 f1.4, 75 f1.8, and 85 f1.8 between f2 - f3.5. I grew tired of the super blurry looks. It's become boring, unimaginative, and cliché. I remember back in 2014 (if not earlier) everybody was doing that leaves look. Nowadays, I prefer subject + surroundings More editorial/environmental. For instance, I like your Christmas photos more than the leaves photos. The Christmas images have a nice editorial vibe whereas the leaves might as well been railroad track pics.

The Christmas ones are from studio and they were pre arranged... The autumn ones were shot two months earlier where I was teaching my GF how to use overlays... That was just to show you that I am not shooting landscapes only because I am not putting portraits intoy gallery... I used to do DJing for decade and I was shooting events where I used to play... 30/1.4 and 85/1.8 were the favourites back then. When in the dark you wont get much of the lighting of the space in your photos on f/2.8 unless on nigh ISO

--- "The autumn ones were shot two months earlier where I was teaching my GF how to use overlays."

So, in other words, you faked the background and you were bragging about your lenses bokeh? smh

I think the big idea that people might seem to be missing here is use case. It's easy to turn your nose up at a lens like this and say "I could just bring x + y + z lenses and I'd be totally covered," but what if you're shooting an event and not going on a hike or shooting photos of your dog (which are awesome things to photograph, by the way). As someone who shoots events in addition to portraiture, I can see this lens DOES solve real problems in certain spaces. At an event, I don't want to have to be finding time and space to switch lenses consistently - you're missing moments that this lens could easily capture by covering a multitude of highly usable focal lengths.

The lens definitely made event photography better for me. Depending on the event, I can get by with two lenses/cameras set-up.

I wonder how many people who don't see the point of this lens have actually done event photography. It's really not fun to keep track of multiple lenses or swap bodies or lenses when something unexpected happens.

This is a lens that makes your life easier and reduces the compromises enough that it's very viable.

There's a reason the 24-70 and 70-200 are almost universally used for events. They maximize versatility and minimize the amount of gear that has to be carried and swapped. This lens tries to push that a step further.

Now, if you were still going to carry two bodies, you could carry this lens, and a specialized prime like a 24 1.4 or 85 1.2 on the second body. It opens up some nice options.

I daresay most of the "but you could just use x+y+z lenses" don't work professionally and don't comprehend lugging gear bags to multiple shoots a week and how much easier and convenient 1 lens on one body is vs 3 or 4 over two bodies is. Or, as you say freeing up the second/third body for good 1.4 primes or an ultrawide. Or even being an amateur and just leaving the house with this and a small sling bag instead of a backpack full of those lenses.

Most working photogs use a 24-70 and a 70-200, this just combines the best parts of both without sacrificing aperture down to F4. Would be an amazing wedding, event and portrait lens.

nope...35-150 is there to cover the focal lengths of favorite primes....35, 50, 85, 105, 135... for the same reason Canon created RF 28-70/2.0 ... for years companies thought that something like this is actually useless and they were splitting it into two lenses until now people thing that this is actually something special....well its not...tamron is just trying to fill up a holes on the market to get more money for their products....this lens is not aim for professionals anyway...professionals will have 2 bodies and two lenses because you cant risk that when one camera let you down you have nothing to shoot 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 is and still will be the best solution for professional. This may only be ok for travel or hobbyist ...yet the fact that you dont get image stabilization on the lens and it goes all the way to 150mm is another thing... we use 70-200/2.8 stabilized on stabilized bodies those days

--- "yet the fact that you dont get image stabilization"

Sony fullframe bodies have IBIS, just so you're aware.

We are used to have both... Lens and sensor stabilised ... Because it make quite a difference when you shooting telephoto lens

You are used to having both lens and sensor stabilized?

1. From what I can tell, you just recently got the R6 and have been using DSLRs for much of your photography. Those are not stabilized.
2. The 135 f2, 200 f2.8, and 70-200 f2.8 in your gear list are not stabilized.

At a max of 150mm and light weight, you don't need lens + body stabilization. One would have to be one heck of a weakling if they think they do. And, for at least a decade, much of Tamron's lenses for Sony didn't have stabilization so it's nothing new. Kinda like your EF lenses and you did just fine. :)

I used to have same toy as you have for some time but didn't like the a7 lll... It was way too early for mirrorless so I got 5dmk4 and waited for something like R6.. So the stabilised lenses and sensor at the same time is nothing hew to me. You cant really compare 15 years old lenses with new lenses... There is far more to it than stabilised 85/1.4 from canon compare 85/1.2 without stabilisation. 200/2.8 mk2 is great cheap lens with superb output for bargain price... But again... 25 years old lens compared to something new.

What I have in gear bag here is only what is in the gear list on Fstoppers... Your gallery is also 10 times bigger on IG then here

Relax. I wasn't poking at your equipment. I have no idea why you're doing the riverdance and bringing up 15 years this, 25 years that. Lol. I was merely calling out your bs statement that you're used to having both lens IS + body IS, which implies you've been shooting regularly and a long time with, when that isn't possible with your DSLR gear.

Hard to find a real target for this lens

A monster range will of necessity be a collection of compromises

if you're in a studio, you use what's best for each shot.
this can't be the best 35 and 150

35/85 in studio = 28/75 if you switch every minute. but if you have studio lighting, a 2,8 constant is just fine, and any advanced SONY will have plenty of resolution so your 75 can easily cover 85 with crop

working hand-held, that extra weight will really get on your nerves (those nerves at the bend of the elbow)

That we can call a game changer 😉😊

Big is right. That would be an extremely big lens.

You shoot with what works for you. I have this lens' older brother, the 2.8-4. It's a pretty good lens, but not on the level of good primes. But, it was within my budget. I don't do paid stuff anymore, so this works well as my walk around lens. It's heavy as is my camera, but I don't trudge off on 20 mile hikes, either.

It's the ultimate events/portrait lens, not a do everything lens. If you take hobbyists into account, far more people do landscapes, travel, wildlife than events if I had to guess.

Hey! Columbus! My home town. And I can't tell you how many miles I have hiked in Hocking Hills.
Just hope they build this lens with other mounts. This could be a great travel lens.

The modern "full-frame" camera is a great tool. Like the original swiss army knife.
But like that legendary gadget, its popularity rested on its convenience and portability.
You lose a lot of that convenience and portability when you load up on a super-fast wide-range zoom, regardless of whatever efforts were put in the body to keep its weight down.

That swiss army knife would lose much of its appeal if it had to be wheeled around like a carry-on bag

IMO the quality of a lens is merely determined by the quality of its images and its ease of use.