When the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 was announced for Sony E mount, I was needless to say, excited. I had longed for a lens that would give me the view of what a typical f/4-5.6 zoom lens would, but in a faster variant. My dreams had finally come true!
As a corporate and community event photographer for the last seven years, I’ve experienced it all. Parties, company meetings, speaking engagements … even a hungry hungry hippo tournament on the ice. But more often than not, I take the lens trifecta (usually my Sigma 14-24mm, Tamron 28-75mm and Tamron 70-180mm) and a prime lens. Oftentimes I have to go from a close-up, telephoto view to a wide view in mere seconds.
Sure, having two cameras on me at all times is an option. And it’s one that myself, and many photographers, utilize. But wouldn’t it be nice to just have to carry one camera, with one lens?
- Solid, well-built lens
- Great image stabilization
- Fast autofocus
- Great in low light
- Can replace two lenses with its wide focal range
- Heavier than what most mirrorless photographers might be used to
- Noticeable distortion and vignetting
Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 — Technical specifications
All tech specs are taken from the product listing on Tamron’s website:
- Maximum aperture: f/2-2.8
- Angle of view: 63°26′- 16°25′
- Optical construction: 21 elements in 15 groups
- Minimum object distance: 13 inches (wide) / 33.5 inches (tele)
- Maximum magnification ratio: 1:5.7 (wide) / 1:5.9 (tele)
- Filter size: 82mm
- Maximum diameter: 89.2mm
- Length: 6.2 inches
- Weight: 1,165g (41.1 ounces)
- Aperture blades: 9, circular diaphragm
- Minimum aperture: f/16-22
- Image stabilization: Yes
- Weather sealing: Yes
Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 — Ergonomics and build quality
Let me start off by saying that the Tamron 35-150mm is quite the lens in terms of size and weight. The lens immediately reminded me of my old DSLR lenses, that were bigger and heavier to carry than the mirrorless versions I have come to love.
That said, this is an f/2-2.8 lens, with a pretty wide focal length, so it doesn’t exactly surprise me. The lens comes in at just over 2.5 pounds. Compared to my Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 lens, this is 0.75 pounds heavier. The lens is quite a bit chunkier as well, coming in at roughly 3.5 inches wide. That might not seem like a lot, but something about this lens makes it feel heavier and look bigger than it actually is.
And at the end of a four-hour photoshoot, I was starting to have calluses on my fingers. No doubt that Sony’s camera ergonomics are playing a role here, but the weight of the lens made it so that it was just slightly uncomfortable after four hours. That said, this was the longest event I had had in several months, and that may have played a part here too.
During my testing period, I received the new Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM II lens. I found that lens was a little better balanced on my Sony a1, than the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 lens was. However, the benefits and wide focal length of the Tamron really outweigh any other lens (at least for Sony E mount) on the market today. And let’s be honest — this lens on a DSLR would be way larger.
Outside of that, this mostly metal, weather resistant lens has two buttons. One is a ring function switch that lets you toggle between focus adjustment and aperture adjustment on the focusing ring while in Aperture Priority or Manual modes. This is next to an AF/MF switch. The other button can be assigned through the camera. There’s also a lock button to prevent any accidental zooming.
Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 — In the field
As I mentioned above, having an all-in-one lens with a varying focal length that can shoot at a minimum aperture of f/2.8 across the spectrum is very handy. The focal range here is perfect for about 95% of photographs that event photographers need. At my events, with the exception of getting some ultra-wide crowd shots, I kept this lens on at all times. I was able to test the Tamron 35-150mm at three events — two indoors, and one outdoors — in addition to taking it on a few photowalks.
Now, I already have an all-in-one lens — the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6. Obviously this is great for outdoor events with plenty of light, but it’s less than perfect for indoor or low-light events. That’s why the Tamron 35-150mm is so handy.
Yes, it’s heavy. And yes, your hand might get a little sore after several hours with it. But it’s either that, or you have two cameras with two different lenses. I prefer the simpler, one camera, one lens method.
Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 — Autofocus performance
Tamron lenses have always been pretty fast to focus for me, and the 35-150mm is no exception. Sony’s Eye AF worked like a charm, even in darker environments, and I rarely had a miss. It performed well in both single and continuous autofocus modes. The only issue I ran into was when my battery grip decided to switch to the Lock position, which didn’t allow me to focus … oops!
Throughout my testing, I was able to shoot easily and in-focus, even down to 1/40s on my Sony a1. The image stabilization here works very well — and is certainly needed due to the magnitude of the lens.
Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 — Image quality
The image quality of the Tamron 35-150mm is simply superb. Tamron has hit a home run when it comes to quality of glass here, and photographers should be quite pleased with this. There were some minor concerns around distortion control and vignetting, but those are easily fixed in post-processing.
Sure, it’s a bit pricey, but it still beats most fast zoom lenses (especially 70-200mm zooms) on the market in terms of affordability. Below are some additional thoughts on image quality.
Distortion control and vignetting
If there’s one area of disappointment with the Tamron 35-150mm, it’s with its distortion control at the telephoto end. While this can be easily fixed in post-processing, I was surprised to see a decent amount of distortion throughout the frame. In the image above, you can see the wooden post in the background both without and with lens corrections to see what I mean.
Vignetting is pretty strong, as you can also see above. Personally I like a little vignette, as it helps to draw in the viewer to my subject. But it might be something that you might want to correct in post-processing.
Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations
The Tamron 35-150mm does a great job of controlling chromatic aberrations and ghosting. Being West Michigan, I didn’t really have a chance to test out the flaring capabilities here.
In terms of sharpness, you won’t be disappointed. The Tamron 35-150mm is tack sharp, and really shows off Tamron’s quality. This is a pro-level lens at its core, and it’ll work wonders for those that use it for things like events and photojournalism.
Zoom lenses never really “wow” when it comes to bokeh, but the Tamron 35-150mm is an exception. The lens has a very nice shallow depth of field, and some impressive bokeh that was nearly perfectly round. You won’t find catseye bokeh here — the bokeh is very pleasing to the eye.
Like most Tamron lenses, the 35-150mm tends to lean toward the warmer color spectrum. This is a plus for Sony shooters, as Sony tends to lean a bit green in-camera. I found the colors to be very pleasing, and rarely found myself having to edit white balance after the fact.
The Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 takes your entire event lens kit and dwindles it down to one (or two)
If there’s one lens I’m most excited about for pros right now, it’s the Tamron 35-150mm. I think back on all the times where I’ve had to quickly change lenses, nearly missing a shot in the process. The Tamron 35-150mm helps to avoid those situations, and really can replace two standard event or photojournalism lenses. The wide focal range here is wonderful to see, and the fast aperture makes for great photos in any situation.