Starting bright: Tamron unveils first affordable travel zoom (28-200mm) that opens to f/2.8 at wide angle
posted Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
Summer's almost here and even though the world has changed a lot, many of you are still preparing to embark on various travel journeys, which is a great way to reinvigorate both the mind and the body. Tamron aims to help all of you Sony FE-mount shooters in the creative department for your ventures, by providing a lightweight "all-in-one" zoom with a new twist: one that can go as bright as f/2.8 at the widest angle of 28mm.
Meet the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD!
Historically, travel zooms have had variable apertures that most often got only as bright as about f/3.5 or so, leaving you without a truly bright option even at the widest angle. That all changes today, and with a lens that is not only physically lightweight but also reasonably light on the pocketbook at just $729.
Let the debates begin as to whether or not 28mm is really "true" wide angle, given that a 24mm equivalent field of view is the more classic choice for most all-in-one zooms. Indeed, if landscapes are your favorite subject, you'll likely want to look for a wider zoom option for your travels, such as Tamron's 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III. And yet if you're more varied in your shooting style, and find yourself leaning more towards portrait work or close wildlife shooting, then this new lens from Tamron will likely be a very enticing and affordable proposition indeed. After all, at just 20.3 ounces (575g) it's certainly not going to weigh anyone down in the field.
Of course, you're only going to be able to rely on f/2.8 for a short span of the focal range. By 50mm you'll be reduced to f/3.5, 100mm to f/4.5, and 150mm and beyond to just f/5.6. Yet it's nice to know that you'll never have to rely on f/6.3, as travel zooms in the past have often historically ended up at the telephoto end of the range. Still, you'll be in fairly dim territory for longer focal lengths designed for sports and close wildlife.
Fortunately, as all of you full-frame Sony shooters are aware, that sensor size can generally handle fairly high ISOs before noise creeps in too aggressively, so at least you have some cushion in that regard when needing to achieve higher shutter speeds. There's no IS on this lens, but most current Sony full-frame bodies now come sporting in-body IS, and this will also come to your aid as the aperture starts to dim.
As we covered in some detail while recently shooting the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 lens, one of the most important features about Tamron's overall lens design philosophy is the relatively low weight from their full-frame mirrorless series of lenses. Mirrorless itself was initially created to reduce size and weight, and yet so many zoom lenses that can achieve f/2.8 or brighter are heavy. Tamron is obviously pushing the boundaries regarding what a lightweight zoom lens can achieve here, and we applaud this evolutionary direction for the obvious freedom it gives enthusiast photographers who shoot on-the-go.
Also intrinsic to this line is the common ability to achieve close focus. The new 28-200mm can achieve a 1:3.1 magnification at the widest angle, allowing you to approach your subject to within 7.5 inches. At the telephoto end, you can approach to within 31.5 inches, which still allows a close magnification of 1:3.8.
Moving on to the technical design department, the lens sports what Tamron calls a "generous" array of special elements in yielding this new, lighter smaller design approach. The lens utilizes 18 elements across 14 groups and includes Glass Molded Aspherics, Hybrid Aspherics, Extra Low Dispersion and Low Dispersion elements. And the RXD AF motor is reported to be "exceptionally quiet" in AF operation, which is an additional reassurance for anyone shooting wildlife or in quiet environments.
As with other zooms from the Di III line, the lens is reported as capable of utilizing Sony's fast AF functionality, such as Fast Hybrid AF, Eye AF, etc, and we've most assuredly found this to be the case in the other models we've thus far tested in the field. The lens is even reported as "moisture-resistant" which, as we found when researching that term for the 70-180mm f/2.8, means that light drizzle and moderate snow are not an issue for this lens. The front element is also coated with a fluorine coating to protect against smudges and is reported as both water- and oil-repellant.
Of course, we'll need to check out the images themselves before we can say anything about the image quality, but if the lens proves to be in-step with other recent lenses from Tamron in the full-frame world, we'll continue to be duly impressed. Stay tuned, as we'll be bringing you more once we can get our hands on a coveted review sample in-house! This lens will be available to the public in late June for a reported $729.