Tamron’s 28-200mm f/2.Eight-5.6 superzoom beats expectations

“Small and light-weight, this superzoom is ideal for informal images.”

Compact, light-weight

Vibrant f/2.Eight aperture (at large finish)

Typically quick autofocus

Premium match and end

Extreme vignetting

Poor edge sharpness

I’m not a fan of superzooms. These “do-everything” lenses normally do the whole lot poorly, and my expectations for the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.Eight-5.6, a full-frame lens for Sony E-mount cameras, have been likewise low. At $729, it’s a comparatively reasonably priced multi-purpose lens, and that’s the place I believed the story would finish.

I used to be incorrect.

I largely shoot with primes – lenses which have a hard and fast focal size, and don’t zoom in any respect. Primes are sharp, shiny, and compact (nicely, not all the time), and might be optimized as such due to their single focal size. Against this, the extra zoom vary you cram into one lens, usually the softer, darker, and bigger it turns into.

However the Tamron 28-200mm stunned me. It’s gentle and compact for a 7x zoom, whereas additionally being brighter than most, hitting a powerful f/2.Eight on the large finish, 2/three cease higher than a majority of different related lenses.

Tamron 28-200mm at 28mm

Tamron 28-200mm at 200mm

My expectations for sharpness, nevertheless, remained conservative. Mounting the lens to a 61-megapixel Sony A7R IV, offered for this assessment by Lensrentals, I knew intuitively that it couldn’t stay as much as that digicam’s potential — and I used to be proper.

The factor is, it didn’t must. Whereas it’s straightforward to query why somebody would spend money on an costly full-frame digicam solely to outfit it with low-cost glass, the reality is there are lots of explanation why we take photos, and for many of us, capturing the best quantity of element just isn’t the principle one.

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The Tamron 28-200mm isn’t a professional-level lens, but it surely’s additionally doesn’t have to be. It’s the proper “uncle Bob” lens you should use as a visitor at a marriage, a lot to the annoyance of the skilled photographer employed to doc the occasion. However I imply this genuinely. It is a lens for the way in which most individuals take photos more often than not, and in that function, it excels. Even that aforementioned skilled marriage ceremony photographer would possibly need to take the lens out on her off days.


At simply four.6 inches lengthy (compressed at 28mm) and solely about 20 ounces in weight, the Tamron 28-200mm gained’t make you are feeling overburdened. I carried it and the Sony A7R IV in my hand on a three-hour hike and by no means felt fatigued. I didn’t also have a digicam strap. 

That is the Tamron’s greatest power. Full-frame cameras, even mirrorless ones, can balloon to unwieldy sizes when paired with some lenses, and becoming this a lot zoom vary into such a cellular package deal is spectacular.

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The lens can also be moisture-resistant, which I very a lot appreciated whereas taking photos close to the bottom of a waterfall.

About half of the outer lens barrel is devoted to the zoom ring, which is wrapped in a grippy rubber that feels nice within the hand. The zoom motion may be very clean and lends a premium really feel to the lens not usually related to the superzoom class. The main focus-by-wire ring is a bit flimsier, however I doubt many individuals will likely be utilizing handbook focus, anyway.

A zoom lock is the only change on the lens, which might maintain it at 28mm when not in use to stop lens creep. Even should you neglect to make use of it, there’s loads of resistance within the zoom that this shouldn’t be an issue in regular use — I needed to shake the lens pretty violently to get the zoom barrel to maneuver in any respect.

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Optically, we’re taking a look at 18 parts in 14 teams, and Tamron lists “a collection of specialised parts” designed to enhance sharpness. I take this which an enormous grain of salt as this actually just isn’t a stellar performer in terms of picture high quality, however extra on that later.

The aperture vary is f/2.Eight to f/16 on the large finish and f/5.6 to f/32 on the telephoto finish. At 70mm, the utmost aperture is f/four, a full cease brighter than Sony’s 24-240mm f/three.5-6.three on the identical focal size. That is one other actual benefit of the Tamron in comparison with different superzooms, as that additional light-gathering capability may help preserve your ISO down or your shutter velocity up, lowering noise or stopping movement blur, respectively.

Autofocus and picture high quality

The 28-200mm makes use of Tamron’s Fast Further-Silent Stepping Drive, or RXD, autofocus motor. In follow, I discovered the lens centered rapidly and precisely the overwhelming majority of the time, though it often lagged simply behind when my topic was shifting towards me. In equity, most of my testing was carried out whereas mountain climbing by a fairly darkish forest. Though it was the center of the day, I used to be usually taking pictures at ISO three,200 or above, so I wasn’t working with a ton of sunshine. Focus efficiency would seemingly be even higher in brighter situations.

As for picture high quality, nicely, that is the place the 28-200mm begins to fall behind. On the plus facet, the f/2.Eight aperture permits for an honest quantity of depth of discipline management on the large finish, and the way in which the lens renders defocused areas is definitely fairly good so far as superzooms go. The telephoto compression at 200mm additionally makes for an honest portrait look, even when the aperture is just f/5.6. Subjectively, I don’t hate it, however neither is it something thrilling.

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It’s not all excellent news, although. Objectively, the lens falls quick in a number of methods. Vignetting is intense, and whereas it decreases on the telephoto finish, so does general gentle transmission. Taking pictures f/5.6 at 200mm appears to be about 1/three cease darker than f/5.6 at 70mm. Gratefully although, at smaller apertures, transmission throughout the zoom vary is basically equal.

There’s additionally some unusual conduct in terms of element. On the large finish, sharpness falls off fairly considerably from the middle to the sides of the body, however the edges do enhance noticeably once you cease right down to f/5.6. The middle, nevertheless, doesn’t appear to get a lot sharper. On the telephoto finish, whereas element is of course extra uniform throughout the body, I didn’t discover any profit to stopping the lens down. F/5.6 and f/11 regarded equally sharp — or equally not sharp.

A part of this most likely has one thing to do with the digicam. At 61 megapixels, the A7R IV is diffraction-limited someplace round f/5.6 — so even when the lens was sharpening up at f/11, there’s an opportunity I simply couldn’t see it. The A7R IV’s is an extremely unforgiving sensor, and I’m not stunned the Tamron 28-200mm doesn’t ever look nice on it underneath shut inspection.

However it is a lens constructed for informal use in the actual world, and until you intend on making large prints, I don’t suppose you’ll be dissatisfied with the standard. With in-camera lens corrections enabled, you most likely gained’t even discover a lot of its shortcomings. The flexibility to seize all kinds of photographs with dependable autofocus from such a light-weight package deal is a big benefit for the typical buyer, one which simply outweighs the imperfect optical efficiency.

Our take

In the future, optical engineers will discover a strategy to construct a superzoom lens that doesn’t sacrifice picture high quality. Right now just isn’t that day. In case you’re in search of a lens that may showcase what your full-frame Sony digicam can do, this isn’t it.

However on this case, that’s OK.

The Tamron 28-200mm f/2.Eight-5.6 just isn’t making an attempt to be the one lens to rule all of them. In case your costly Sony G Grasp lenses are what get you thru the week, this Tamron is what you pull out on the weekend. It’s the lens you’re taking tenting or pack into your carry-on for a global flight (when that’s allowed once more). It’s the lens you select once you’re able to cease worrying about megapixels, discipline curvature, and bokeh, and focus as a substitute on making reminiscences.

And for many of us, that’s what images is all about.

Is there a greater different?

Sony makes a 24-240mm f/three.5-6.three which, at $1,050, isn’t that rather more costly and it offers you extra vary than the Tamron, however on the expense of a slower aperture. It’s also bigger and heavier, at 27.6 ounces, making it much less appropriate for actions like mountain climbing.

What strikes me most concerning the Sony lens is the broader angle — the distinction between 24mm and 28mm is larger than you would possibly suppose, however the additional 40mm on the telephoto finish I don’t personally discover to be that helpful. For most individuals, I don’t anticipate both is price giving up 2/three cease of sunshine and including extra bulk to your digicam bag.

How lengthy will it final?

The strong construct high quality ought to give this lens good longevity and, like most lenses, it ought to final a few years. In case you’re taking a look at it as a primary lens, nevertheless, it’s possible you’ll rapidly outgrow its limitations.

Must you purchase it

Sure, if you need a versatile walk-around lens for a Sony mirrorless digicam. Don’t anticipate optical greatness, however the Tamron 28-200mm is ideal once you want a conveyable, one-lens resolution for any informal images surroundings.

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