Aah, the 24-70mm lens. Or in Tamron’s case, the 28-75mm lens. While this focal length isn’t exactly cutting edge, it seems to be a necessary zoom lens that you’ll find in a lot of professional photographers’ bags.
So when the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 came out for Sony E-mount, I wasn’t exactly excited to test it out. But after seeing the quality and autofocus, coupled with its smaller-than-average footprint … well, let’s just say Tamron has officially changed my mind.
Coming full circle
To fully understand my review on the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2, you have to understand where I’ve come from. When I first got started in photography, with my Nikon D5100, the very first lens I bought was the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. Back then, Tamron was known to me as a sub-tier budget brand. It got the job done, but it wasn’t perfect. Over time I upgraded to the company’s 24-70mm f/2.8, before switching to the micro four-thirds system a few years back.
Now, with Sony as my daily workhorse, I had been using the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens. And boy has that lens been a joy.
But believe me when I say that, something about the Tamron 28-75mm just put it a bit above the Sigma for me. While the Sigma renders a beautiful picture and is relatively fast, it’s big and bulky. It’s not fun to carry around for a long period of time (and certainly not in a backpack, either).
So when I first picked up the Tamron 28-75mm, I was rather surprised. It had the exact opposite footprint of the Sigma I had become so used to. And over the course of a few weeks, I found that it exceeded my expectations. So much so that I bought it. And that’s how I came all the way back to Tamron for my standard zoom lens.
- Fast, accurate autofocus
- Focal length covers a wide array of use cases
- Bokeh has improved over the first version
- Some fuzziness when dealing with shallow depth of field backgrounds that are busy
- Missing 4mm on the wide end might deter some
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 — Technical specifications
- Focal length: 28-75mm
- Aperture range: f/2.8–f/22
- Angle of view: 75°23′- 32°11′
- Optical construction: 17 elements in 5 groups
- Minimum object distance: 7.1 inches (wide) / 15 inches (tele)
- Maximum magnification ratio: 1:2.7 (wide) / 1:4.1 (tele)
- Filter size: 67mm
- Maximum diameter: 75.8mm
- Length: 4.6 inches
- Weight: 19 ounces
- Aperture blades: 9 circular diaphragm
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 — Ergonomics and build quality
While I mentioned this above, the Tamron 28-75mm is certainly one of the smallest and lightest standard zooms I’ve picked up (not counting micro four-thirds lenses). It gives me the ability to easily hold my camera for longer, and doesn’t put a strain on my wrist.
Better yet, it gives me more room in my bag, maybe to throw in another prime lens.
If you’ve ever picked up a Tamron E-mount lens before, you won’t be super shocked at how the 28-75mm G2 feels. While it has a bit of a plasticky feel to it, this thing is as solid as a rock. It’s gotten a slight redesign to the exterior, and I find it very easy to grip in my hands.
If you have other E-mount zooms that aren’t made by Tamron, note that the zoom ring turns in the opposite direction. This can get a bit to get used to, especially if you’re having to switch back and forth. And on the zoom ring topic, this one has a refined grip, allowing for a bit more precise zooming and focusing.
Finally, there’s also a customizable button on the lens, as well as a USB-C port for updating the lens’ firmware.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 — In the field
The first time I used the Tamron 28-75mm G2 was actually at a running race — the Amway River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, MI. It was dark when I started, but I was able to see it through to mid-morning to capture the final heat of runners. It gave me a great sense of how the lens performed in changing light conditions.
Outside of that, I also used the lens to capture some images for a landscape architecture company, and then I took it on a trip to Washington DC. I finished my tests with some beautiful fall color landscapes.
Throughout my using of the Tamron 28-75mm G2, I was consistently impressed. While I hadn’t used the original version, I had heard from colleagues that it suffered from lack of character. If that’s the case, Tamron has truly up-leveled its game, and has brought an artistic feel to the lens that makes it a joy to use.
Naturally, most of my autofocus testing came from that race. My job was to capture the race as a whole, so I got some wide shots from the starting line. The lens was able to lock on subjects quickly, taking advantage of my Sony a1’s tracking capabilities.
Outside of that race, I found that even in areas that lacked contrast, the lens was able to lock on rather easily to the subject I was trying to focus on. Even in low light conditions, which were tested during the exhibit, “Laurie Anderson: The Weather” at the Hirshhorn in Washington DC, the lens was able to lock on, despite it being very dark.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 — Image quality and characteristics
One of the biggest things that surprised me with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 was how much character it truly had. When photographing fall colors, I was able to capture some magnificent scenes, that required very little editing. Colors were great and the lens created somewhat of a moody feel that I wasn’t expecting.
Outside of that, the lens performed well in terms of any potentially problematic areas.
Distortion control, vignetting and chromatic aberration
When capturing the landscape architecture outside of Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI, I tried to put the lens to the test, especially in terms of distortion and chromatic aberration.
While there is some distortion present on the wide end, it’s very manageable, and it’s less than you’d expect. By the time you reach about 32mm, the distortion is pretty much eliminated.
In terms of vignetting, while there’s some in the corners, again, it’s very subtle. Compared to my Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens, there’s a pretty dramatic reduction in vignetting here.
With chromatic aberration, I simply didn’t notice any. Even with my landscape architecture shots and some of the surrounding buildings, chromatic aberration is not a problem with this lens.
It took a bit for me to actually test lens flare on this lens. It was hard to see any, but I did end up getting some while photographing directly at a light through a plane propeller at the National Air and Space Museum in Virginia.
While there was a bit of flare on the propeller, it was certainly still manageable and within reason.
Coupled with the lens’ amazing autofocus is some superior sharpness. The Tamron 28-75mm G2 not only locks on to subjects fast, it also captures them very, very sharp. With a zoom lens like this, that’s really what you want, as this will undoubtedly be considered by photojournalists and event photographers.
But it’s also a great landscape lens, and you can really see how sharp the lens is when capturing the scenes around you.
Bokeh was one of the biggest downfalls of the original version of this lens, and the G2 seems to have improved upon it. Sure, it won’t get you results like that fancy 85mm f/1.8 prime in your bag, but it still presents a nice circular bokeh.
One thing to note here is that there is a little bit of fuzziness present with a shallower depth of field on a busier background. While I don’t mind this, it’s worth mentioning.
Like most Tamron lenses, the 28-75mm G2 tends to lean toward the warmer color spectrum. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I find Tamron’s colors to be very pleasing to the eyes.
The new standard for E-mount?
For me, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 lens is the perfect complement to my shooting setup. It’s compact and lightweight, meaning that it doesn’t bog me down, and that it gives me more room to pack an extra lens or accessory with me. The sharpness and picture quality here reign supreme.
For what some would call a budget-friendly lens, it sure delivers the quality of a premium lens. It’s found a permanent spot in my camera bag, and I can’t wait to continue using it.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Lens for Sony E
Featuring an updated optical design and refined focusing system, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 is a Sony E-mount zoom offering a versatile wide-to-portrait-length range and bright f/2.8 maximum aperture. Revamped optics yield higher resolution and improved sharpness over the previous generation and the focusing system has been replaced with a VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) mechanism that achieves faster, more precise performance to suit both stills and video applications.