In my tests with the Sony a7 III, I tried out a few different lenses, one being the new Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD (B&H | Amazon). This lens has a unique place in the E-mount lineup, as it competes directly with Sony’s 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3, but offers slightly better low-light performance on the wide end. It also comes in at approximately $300 cheaper.
But how does it stand up in terms of performance and build quality?
When I shot with Nikon back in the day, all of my lenses were Tamron. They were reliable and provided me “good enough” image quality. More importantly, they were significantly cheaper than the native NIKKOR lenses.
Today, Tamron has grown up a bit, modernizing its style and putting a focus on good quality, lightweight lenses. The 28-200mm is no exception. It reminds me more of my Olympus 12-100mm f/4 PRO lens than any other lenses for Sony I’ve picked up. It has a small footprint, though it does push out quite a bit when you extend the zoom — almost double with the lens hood attached. The design looks and feels very slick though, and I was excited to use it.
One minor thing that did irk me was that Tamron decided to flip the positioning of the zoom and focus rings, meaning that if you mixed a Tamron E-mount lens with a Sigma or Sony lens, you might have trouble with muscle memory from time to time. Personally I wish Tamron would have matched the design of its lens rings to the native camera manufacturer, but it’s not a deal breaker, either.
- Aperture: f/2.8-5.6 maximum to f/16-32 minimum
- Minimum focus distance: 7.5 inches
- Optical design: 18 elements in 14 groups
- Diaphragm blades: 7, rounded
- Image stabilization: No
- Filter size: 67mm
- Dimensions: 2.91 x 4.6″
- Weight: 1.27 pounds
While the Tamron isn’t going to be a low light master zoomed in, nor will it obtain that super sharp image quality that fixed aperture lenses are known for, it does have several use cases. For me, I was intrigued by this lens because I photograph a lot of outdoor events. Typically with those I don’t go below f/5.6 in these situations, so having a variable aperture is not a downside for me.
More broadly, it serves as a great travel or walk-around lens. I can certainly see photographers using this lens on photowalks and vacations to avoid having to pack a bunch of gear. It’s wide enough to get a decent landscape shot and also provides enough reach to zoom in on details.
I tested the Tamron 28-200mm at an outdoor lunchtime concert event as well as some street photos for a client of mine, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. The lens performed well and kept up with burst shooting of the musicians no problem. The lens was pretty sharp, provided a pretty good, creamy bokeh (even at f/5.6) … overall it performed beautifully.
I did hear some users having some “misses” with autofocus, but I really didn’t experience this any more than I have other lenses. Autofocus was reliable and pretty fast.
While the lens doesn’t have built-in image stabilization, it takes advantage of the a7 III’s 5-axis SteadyShot sensor-shift stabilization technology, which minimizes the appearance of camera shake by up to five stops. I’m one to quickly move my camera and hands to follow the action, and I had no trouble obtaining sharp photos with the Tamron 28-200mm, probably somewhat due to its size and lightweight design.
I also used the lens capturing several wider street scenes, with trees overhead. There were some minor chromatic aberration issues with this test, but it was easily resolved through software like Capture One or Lightroom.
Sharpness was slightly soft in the corners, but certainly not a deal-breaker. I typically add a minor vignette to the corners of my images anyway, so I didn’t really notice any lack in quality when all was said and done.
In terms of bokeh, it’s what you’d expect at the wide end at f/2.8. I was able to get super close — the below photos are not cropped at all.
When I bumped down to f/5.6, though, I was pleasantly surprised with the bokeh effect I received. It presented with a feeling much closer to f/2.8 than f/5.6.
Is it worth it?
All in all, the Tamron 28-200mm provided with a great view of what I was photographing, and was what I expected from an all-purpose lens of this kind. It does what it’s supposed to — capturing the world around you — without any complaints. It certainly fills the need for a budget-friendly lens with quite the reach.
Whether or not you buy this lens, though, will ultimately be based on why you’re considering it. If you’re like me and you would love a good all-purpose zoom lens to carry around, the Tamron is definitely a winner. It’s clear Tamron is trying to make a dent in the Sony lens market, and it’s done a great job so far.