Tamron 28-75/2.8 – Small, light, high quality standard zoom lens
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is the smallest and lightest 2.8 standard zoom suitable for full frame cameras. Sigma has a smaller one, but it is a DX lens designed for the reduced APS sensor size.
Tamron 28-75 review – Specifications:
The long name of this lens is:
Tamron SP AF 28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)
Lens Construction (Groups/Elements) 14/16
Angle of View (on film) 75°-32°
Type of Zooming – Rotation
Diaphragm Blade Number – 7
Minimum Aperture – F/32
Minimum Focus – 0.33m (13″) (entire zoom range)
Macro Magnification Ratio – 1:3.9 (at 75mm, on film)
Filter Diameter – 67mm
Weight – 510g (18.0 oz.)
Diameter x Length – 73mm x 92mm (2.9in x 3.6in)
Accessory – Lens hood
Available Mounts – Canon EF, Nikon AF-D, Pentax, Sony Alpha (Minolta).
It comes with a 67mm lens cap, a rear cap and a flower shaped lens hood.
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is designed as a full frame lens for both the film and digital cameras, and has all the advanced features of the latest digital lenses from Tamron (Di lens).
On the reduced sensor dSLR cameras (Nikon DX, Fuji, all Canons except the 1D and 1Ds series, Minolta, Pentax), it will act like a ~ 42-112/2.8 on a full frame camera.
I tested the Tamron 28-75/2.8 in Nikon mount, so all specific details in this review are about the Nikon version (aperture ring, no AF internal motor, etc.).
Tamron 28-75 review – Appearance:
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is nicely built and gives an impression of high density because of those 16 glass elements in a rather small package.
The lens mount is of course metal, burt the lens exterior is made from a high quality plastic, with the zoom and focusing rings covered in differently textured rubber.
The build quality is more than enough for professional use in normal assignments, but it does not compare with the professional offerings from Nikon and Canon, with metal barrels, but at almost 4x the cost.
Being designed to be used on film cameras, the Tamron 28-75/2.8 has an aperture ring which can be locked at the minimum aperture.
The lens feature a zoom lock mechanism meant to prevent extending of the zoom when the camera is carried around. Actually this zoom lock is incredibly useful when trying to mount/unmount the lens from the camera, since all the exterior surface of the Tamron 28-75 consists of rings: aperture, zoom, focusing ring.
Using the zoom lock, you can firmly grab the camera from the zoom ring which is generously sized and you can twist it into the camera mount without fear of any damage. Well done.
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is assembled in China which can account for some sample variation reported on some photography forums.
The filter size is 67mm, not very common among Nikon users, but shared with the Nikon 18-70/3.5-4.5 AFS. Anyway, the 67mm filters are not too expensive, at least compared to the professional 77mm size.
Tamron 28-75 review – In use:
Back in the film days, and now on full frame cameras, a 28-70/2.8 zoom was considered a standard zoom and used for all situations when a really wide angle or telephoto lens were really needed.
Now, with so many dSLRs with APS sized sensors, it looks that the 28-70 zoom lost a lot of its importance. But this is not true at all.
Let’s have a look of the possible uses of this interesting lens:
People and portraits
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is actually one of the best “people” zooms, because it can handle almost all assignments were photographing people is involved.
Its zoom range on a reduced size sensor is about 42-112mm which cover everything from small groups, to full length people, to close up portraits in a single very convenient zoom lens.
I use a lot my Tamron 28-75 both in the studio and on location for fashion, portraits and all sort of people images.
Some people find an 28-70/2.8 lens invaluable for weddings and social photography also, so if the focal length range fits your style you should look carefully at the Tamron 28-75/2.8.
Corporate and industrial photography
Here the 2.8 aperture of the Tamron 28-75 comes in handy, for a bright viewfinder image and the possibility to play with the depth of field in carefully composed and framed images.
Even in not so bright environments, as often encountered in the industrial photography you can get good available light images.
Products and close up photography
Due to its maximum magnification ratio at 75mm, the Tamron 28-75/2.8 is able to do pretty close-up photography.
It is true that it doesn’t beat the Nikon 60/2.8 micro in sharpness in close range, but it is a much flexible alternative when it comes to quickly photograph a lot of very different sized products.
I discovered that it makes a very worthwhile addition for product shooting when different perspectives than my Nikon 60 micro and Tokina 100/2.8 macro or shorter focal lengths are needed, so I take it with me anytime I have to shoot products, both in location or in the studio.
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 – a fast lens with obvious advantages:
- bright viewfinder image for easier framing in low light situations
- faster and more precise AF
- makes possible available light pictures in more situations
- better separation from the background due to less depth of field
- faster shutter speeds for freezing the movements
Being on the small side of 28-70/2.8 zooms, the Tamron 28-75/2.8 is very good for portraits having a lower “intimidation factor” than most comparable lenses.
It also balances very nicely even on small and light cameras, as the Nikon D50 and D70, not to mention the Canon 350D.
The AF is really fast since the whole focusing range, down to 13″ means a rotation of just about 60 degrees of the focusing ring. Obviously, this lens was designed to be used in fast paced situations.
Despite this and with the help of the constant 2.8 aperture, the AF is accurate and locks positively on the subject in almost all conditions.
The manual focus should be quite pleasant because of the wonderful feeling (at least for an AF lens) of the focusing ring and the fast 2.8 aperture, but since the angle of rotation is so small it should be done with caution, especially on non moving subjects.
Tamron 28-75 review – Performance:
Since the Tamron 28-75 was designed to cover the entire 24x36mm area of film cameras, on APS sized dSLRs only the central part of the image get used, so even better image quality can be expected.
Special glass (XR, LD, aspherical) is used in no less than 9 from the 16 elements of this lens, to help minimizing optical aberrations while keeping the design so compact.
All those contribute to the fact that the Tamron 28-75/2.8 delivers very good performance across the zoom range and at most apertures.
At F 2.8 the quality is quite good, and it improves significantly from F 3.5 with extremely good results at F 4.0 and above.
As usual, especially on digital cameras, the diffraction will limit the quality at highest apertures (F 16 and above), this phenomenon being depending on the camera’s resolution – a 6 Mpx camera will be less affected then a 12 Mpx camera.
At large apertures, the impression of sharpness will be accentuated by the limited depth of field, since the main subject will stand out better against a blurred background.
I have absolutely no problems in shooting the Tamron 28-75/2.8 at F 4.0 and above, with the best performance being at F 5.6 and F 8.0.
If necessary I will shoot at F 3.5 or even F 2.8 where some beautiful portraits can be done, but this requires a very careful focusing on the exact spot needed because of the shallow depth of field.
Since I do not use this lens for architecture (at an equivalent of 42mm is not wide at all, and I prefer the Tokina 12-24 for this tasks anyway) I did not tested it for distortion, but it is definitely there at the wide and and for mission critical shots can be easily corrected with Panorama Tools, or easier with PTLens from Thomas Niemann.
The Tamron 28-75 is a multipurpose lens, and once acquired it should stay in your bag all the time. Let’s see some useful kits for general purposes:
Tamron 28-75/2.8 + Nikon or Tokina 12-24/4 + 80-200/2.8 – The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is really made to fit between those two zooms. With this kit I can cover most of my subjects, except for specialized macro photography, but I don’t do sports and birds.
Tamron 28-75/2.8 + Nikon 20/2.8 – a much smaller, F 2.8 kit for social events and weddings. The Nikon 20/2.8 fits in a pocket when not in use, if you don’t enjoy shooting with your bag over your shoulder.
Tamron 28-75 review – Conclusion:
The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is a very high quality lens in a small package with a very good cost, making it one of the very few 3rd party lenses almost unanimously recommended.
It is exactly where it should be for a 3rd party 2.8 zoom lens, but when you account for the optical quality and portability it’s a bargain.
Quite sharp at F 2.8, sharp at F 3.5, very sharp from F 4.0 to F 11. This lens is in my bag, what can I say more ?
If you only had 3.5-4.5 zooms before, you will definitely appreciate the bright viewfinder, especially in dark interiors. And the 2.8 aperture will open a lot of technical and creative opportunities for you.
Small and light:
If you ever handled the Nikon 28-70/2.8 you won’t believe that a 28-75/2.8 can be made so small and light, with such good optical quality.