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Review: Tamron 28-200 for Sony E-Mount

 

In the world of photography, one can quickly become lost in the endless blackhole that is lenses. There’s always something better, more versatile, or just unique for a particular scenario. And as a newcomer into photography myself, I can confirm, the desire to get “more” both in terms of quality and quantity, is very much a fight you’ll face. And while it may seem impossible that one could have cake and eat it to in the world of photography, the reality is there is something quite close to that in the Tamron 28-200, a fantastic, versatile value at just $749.

The lens itself is pretty straight forward. It’s a variable aperture (f/2.8-5.6) 28-200mm lens with weather sealing, no internal image stabilization and a complete lack of any additional function buttons aside from a lock switch. To some, it may be “lacking”. But the reality is, for $749 there is only so much you can have. And if Tamron had to focus on one thing to hit this price point, I’m glad they chose the bread and butter optics vs accessory features. Full specs of the lens below

Specs

  • Focal length: 28mm-200mm
  • Aperture: 2.8-5.6
    • 28mm- 2.8
    • 35mm – 3.2
    • 50mm – 3.5
    • 70mm – 4.0
    • 100mm – 4.5
    • 135mm – 5.0
    • 200mm – 5.6
  • AF drive: Di III RXD (A071)
  • Dimensions (L): 117mm (4.6in)
  • Weight: 575g (20.3oz)

 

 

Impressions

Typically when people hear “value” slapped in front of anything, they assume low quality or less features. While there are a couple things missing as noted above, there are some nice easter eggs here. For example, while this lens isn’t really a macro lens, it does pull some decent macro shots thanks to its minimum object distance of 0.19m (7.5in @ 28mm) to 0.8m (31.5in @ 200mm). This aspect  plus the wide array of scenery and scenarios that 28mm-200mm caters to means “value” isn’t exactly telling the whole story here. Unlike some other cheaper value lenses, weather sealing is present and seems to work well. I’ve used this lens in light to moderate rain with this lens and not had any issues.

Day-to-day use is honestly a breeze and rather uneventful. That is, I am not spending any time thinking and rethinking of which lens or focal length I want to shoot a scene at. Instead, I’m just aiming, framing, and shooting. Often this is repeated in quick succession at a different focal length. But given the large range, I can re-frame and get different compositions very quickly. You can take this quick point-and-shoot a step further by using something like Aperture or Shutter priority modes to get some further automation into your workflow. That said, I often just shoot manual. Occasionally I will venture into Aperture priority mode with the Min-SS feature on the Sony A7iii and an auto ISO set to a range adequate for the environment I’m in.

Sharpness and clarity are quite good considering what this lens is aimed at. It is a bit more soft on the corners than I’d like but stopping down a couple of stops clears things up a bit. Overall, for what it is and the pictures it pumps out, the image quality is more than adequate.

Will it compete with some of the über champs in the full-frame e-mount prime market? No. Those lenses are still noticeably sharper. However, those lens are also 2-3x the cost and not as versatile in the focal range department. It’s a compromise a lot of more beginner to intermediate photographers may very well appreciate making.

While most things are rosy and by all accounts fine, I have noticed one weird issue that I have engaged Tamron support about. (I will update this review with any changes as the support process moves along.)  

The issue: upon taking it out of the bag, the lens becomes slightly disconnected from the body, just enough that the contacts on the lens don’t line up and cause the camera to report back “–” or blank space for certain metrics such as ISO, shutter speed, and f stop. 

A simple press of the button to release the lens and an ever so slight twist of the lens as if I was going to actually take it fully off, and then twisting it back to reseat it fixes the issue. Now again, this may be more common with larger lenses and it’s just not something I’ve experienced.. At any rate, I haven’t seen many reports online of this being a normal occurrence on other lenses either. Since I had already registered my lens with support, the process, thus far, has been pretty painless. The only thing that will be rough is the ~2 week turnaround time right now due to covid. All things considered, this may not even be a lens issue. It could be a faulty mount on the camera body itself. Time will tell.

Wrap-up

While my lack of long term photography experience may put me at a disadvantage, I have had a number of more advanced photographers comment on my photos, praising how sharp / nice / et.al my photos are from a lens as seemingly “plain” as a lowly super zoom. To me, that is confirmation that 1) I’m not garbage at this and 2) this lens is actually as solid of a valid as Tamron suggests.

If you’re a pro, there may not be a lot of reasons other than a nice single lens outing as justification for picking up this lens. You will certainly get sharper images on a lot of the higher end primes. That said, if you’re anything else other than a pro, there’s a lot to like here and a lot of potential to be had in a single, affordable package. It is, in my opinion, a highly recommended lens. 

Video Review – Digital Goja

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