Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Gallery: A bright travel zoom that seems as versatile as they come
posted Monday, July 13, 2020 at 12:27 PM EDT
People like to travel light, and they tend to not want to think too much while on vacation. The trouble is that most all enthusiast photographers still crave good image quality, and often can’t accept the quality from a smartphone, even while on vacation. This is the dilemma that a lens such as the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III aims to fulfill.
Tamron has long been a pioneer in creating all-in-one zoom lenses that are light and affordable, and their 28-200mm line actually dates back to 1992! That year saw the release of the AF 28-200mm F/3.8-5.6 Aspherical model, and here some 28 years later they've brought us a full-frame 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 lens for Sony E mount. For those of you scoring at home, this is indeed the first full-frame travel zoom lens to sport an f/2.8 aperture at the wide angle.
I spent a week with the lens while paired with the Sony A7 III by my side, during my “normal” work week and into the weekend, to see if I could rein in enough versatile images of good quality to warrant recommending this model to our readers. It wasn’t long before it became second-nature to grab it for a family stroll, given that it can cover so many different shooting situations yet remain fairly light, especially considering that it’s a full-frame lens.
Of course, you're still fairly dim at the telephoto end with just f/5.6, however it's not as dim as some all-in-one zooms that force you to f/6.3 or even dimmer by that length. And if you're curious about how quickly the lens does force you to stop down, your maximum apertures at various zoom ranges are F3.5 by 50mm, F4.5 by 100mm, and F5.6 at 150mm through 200mm.
Let's get out into the wilds and see how the images actually look...
Capturing near and far
If variety is the spice of life, then it seems plausible to think that a lens with a diverse focal length range is a worthwhile choice for travel. Below are examples at a variety of focal lengths to showcase the sheer versatility of this lens for both nature photography and more.
As mentioned, the 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 is the first full-frame travel zoom lens to open to this bright of an aperture at the wide angle. Below is an example of the shallow depth of field afforded such a large aperture paired with a full frame body at wide angle.
And while I didn't explore close-focusing abilities quite as much as with the recent 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III lens, this model is quite good at close focusing as well. You can expect to achieve focus from just 7.5 inches away while at 28mm (1:3.1 magnification ratio) and from 31.5 inches away while at 200mm (1:3.8 magnification ratio). This adds even more versatility to an already versatile lens.
Another terrific quality of the Di III line of lenses that I've now grown accustomed to is super-quiet focusing. I got quite close to this dragonfly below, and the otherwise skittish creature allowed me to work on focus without feeling intruded upon, as did the monarch butterfly and the hawk below.
In addition, I found the focusing capabilities of the lens in conjunction with the Sony A7 III to be reliable and seamless in a wide variety of shooting situations.
There simply aren't many negative things I can find to tell you about the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6. Yes, it is fairly dim at the telephoto end, and 200mm certainly won't be long enough for all wildlife needs. But for sheer versatility across most types of shots you'll encounter in your travels, including the ability to go bright at the wide angle, it's simply unmatched at the affordable price tag of $729. Now I just need a vacation... so I can tote this lens to an exotic locale!
For more images, access to all EXIF data and to download the original RAW files as delivered straight from the A7 III, please see our Tamron 28-200mm Gallery page.