Ultra-wide-angle-zooms are incredibly versatile lenses that are well-suited to many genres of photography. These zooms usually feature focal ranges of either 14-24mm or 16-35mm. However, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD offers something a little different.
There’s no doubt that Sony E-mount photographers are spoiled for choice when it comes to ultra-wide-angles zooms. There are options from Sony and Sigma that both cost more than the lens we’re reviewing today. So, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 DI III RXD has been turning heads with its price point that comes in at less than $900. Does this feature-rich yet affordable ultra-wide-angle zoom check all the boxes? Let’s find out.
- Weighs just 0.92lbs (420g)
- Optics are great overall
- Weather sealing
- Fast, accurate autofocus
- Ghosting and Chromatic aberrations are well controlled
- Priced very well
- A fair amount of pincushion distortion
- Colors render on the warm side
- Edge and corner softness
- Heavy vignetting
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD technical Specs
All of the technical specs below have been taken directly from the official Tamron website:
- Focal length: 17-28mm
- Maximum aperture: F/2.8
- Optical construction: 13 elements in 11 groups
- Minimum object distance: 0.19m (7.5 in) (wide) / 0.26m (10.2 in) (tele)
- Maximum magnification ratio: 1:5.2 (wide) / 1:6 (tele)
- Filter size: Φ67mm
- Maximum diameter: Φ73mm
- Weight: 420g, 0.92lbs, or 14.8 oz
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Minimum aperture: f/22
- Standard accessories: Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps
- Compatible mounts: Sony E-mount
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD — Handling and build quality
Like other lenses in the Di III RXD line, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD features an incredibly minimalist design. You’ll find that there are no switches on the lens. This means you’ll have to use the camera body to switch between manual and autofocus. There is a sizable zoom ring toward the 67mm front element. Back toward the mount, you’ll see the manual focus ring.
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is small for this type of lens. Amazingly, Tamron was able to keep the weight of the lens under 1lb at 0.92lbs (420g). To do this, Tamron constructed the lens from lightweight composite plastics, which feel nice and solid. The mount is made from metal, though. In terms of length, the lens measures 2.87-by-3.9 inches / 73-by-99 mm. The size and weight make the lens incredibly easy to handle. The lens also balanced perfectly on the Sony a7 III.
It has plenty of weather-sealing
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD features weather sealing. Looking at the construction images, this lens features six seals throughout the body of the lens and then one more seal at the mount. I haven’t been able to use the lens out in inclement weather during my time with it. However, I’m sure that this lens will hold up just as well as other lenses in this family.
Overall the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is a well-constructed lens that features a nice basic design. It feels really nice in the hand thanks to its overall size and weight. You’ll have no problems using this lens for extended periods.
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD — In the field
Tamron’s 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is an incredibly easy lens to pick up and use. It’s as user-friendly as a modern lens can be. There are no controls on the lens to fiddle with. The large zoom ring provides a nice place to grip the lens.
The zoom ring is a little on the stiff side when it comes to turning it. Still, it feels nice and the high levels of resistance cut out lens creeping. The manual focus ring turns very smoothly. There’s no image stabilization in this Tamron lens. However, with the IBIS in the Sony a7 III, I was able to handhold this lens down to speeds of 1/8s.
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD — Autofocus performance
This lens’ autofocusing speeds are very good on Sony’s cameras. From 17mm through to 28mm, the lens was rapid and accurate. This lens had no problems at all in single, continuous, and tracking modes.
I have used this lens to create panning shots, for street photography, and more. I had no problems nailing the shot every time the shutter was pressed. The lens does slow down a hair in low-light situations, but it’s really not bad at all. Overall, the autofocus performance of the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is top-notch.
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD — Characteristics
Overall, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is a good performer optically. However, there are some issues with distortion. You’re going to get nice colors, sharp images, decent bokeh and well-controlled aberrations, though. Let’s break things down a little further.
An ultra-wide-angle lens that suffers from distortion? No, surely not! Look, it’s common for wide-angle lenses to suffer from some degree of distortion. However, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD does suffer a little more than most. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting at 17mm or 28mm, pincushion distortion is present.
The pincushion distortion can easily be fixed during post. Just don’t forget to correct it. If you don’t, not only will you see the pincushion distortion, but you’ll also see a wicked amount of vignetting. Take a look at the images above (the top image was taken at 17mm, the bottom image was taken at 28mm) and play with the sliders to see before and after lens correction images.
Chromatic aberration, flares and ghosting
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD really excels when it comes to controlling chromatic aberrations, flaring, and ghosting. In short, there’s really nothing to worry about at all here.
I have not seen any CA or fringing, flaring when shooting directly into light sources is very well controlled, and ghosting is no problem at all. As you can see in a few of the images above, the Tamron 17-28mm can also produce nice sun stars with well-defined tines. Nicely done, Tamron.
You’re not going to be able to complain much at all when it comes to how sharp your images will be. At f/2.8 you’ll be treated to images that are razor-sharp in the center. However, when you get to the extreme edges and corners you will see softness creep in.
This story remains true until you hit f/5.6. Even then, the edges and corners are not tack sharp. Still, this is a common trait of ultra-wide-angle lenses. Unless you pixel peep or stand inches away from your prints, though, you’ll barely notice it. Again for a sub $900 lens, the optics are excellent.
In the right situations, the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD can produce some pleasing bokeh. When you shoot at the minimum focusing distance of 7.5 inches at 17mm, the background can melt away. In terms of bokeh balls, you’ll not get much, and those you do create will take on a Catseye shape. However, for an ultra-wide-angle zoom, the bokeh is really quite nice.
The colors that the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD renders are pleasing overall, though they are a little on the warm side. Colors, of course, can be fixed quite easily if you shoot RAW. However, if you shoot in JPEG only, this is something you need to be aware of. It’s not that the colors are displeasing, they’re actually quite nice. Just be careful with skin tones. Just to note. The colors in the sample images have not been altered. This is what you’ll get straight from the camera.
Who is the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD for?
If you’re in the market for an ultra-wide-angle lens and are OK with the slightly non-traditional focal range of 17-28mm, this lens from Tamron is a fine choice. The wide 17mm focal range is perfect for landscapes, cityscapes, astrophotography, and architectural photography. The long end makes this lens great for street photography, documentary photography, environmental portraits, and more.
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is well built but has an easily manageable weight of 0.92lbs. It can weather wind, rain, and snow thanks to its weather sealing. It feels nice in the hand overall, and the optics, apart from some pincushion distortion are excellent.
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is cheaper than the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art and the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM while pushing both of these lenses in some areas. If you have less and a grand to spend on an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, this option from Tamron is a good one.
Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD
The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD is a versatile zoom for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. Covering ultra-wide to wide focal lengths, this lens is suitable for landscape, astrophotography, and architectural shooting. However, if you’re up for a challenge, it can be used for street photography, documentary photography, environmental portraits, and more. Its weather-sealing and its bright f/2.8 constant maximum aperture complement this focal range well.