DSLR Lenses

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens

The Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens has a lot going for it: fast, lightweight, sharp and relatively inexpensive. Here’s why I’m not going to buying it.

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8Many photographers praise the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD lens, and the accolades are well deserved. This lightweight, fast autofocus mid-range zoom lens has a lot going for it. It’s 3.6 inches long and weighs 1.5 lbs.

As of this writing, the Tamron 28-75mm is the most compact and lightweight in the history of fast zoom lenses. It has a constant maximum aperture of f2.8 and produces very sharp images with good, natural-looking color. Background blur, known as bokeh, at wide apertures is quite beautiful.

Color produced by the Tamron 28-75mm lens

As a user of only Canon digital single lens camera lenses prior to renting the Tamron, it took me some time to get used to the less saturated look of images taken with it. However, the colors are quite lovely and can be easily adjusted when editing if desired.

According to the owner of LensRental.com, Roger Cicala, “the color difference between manufacturers is pretty dramatic: Sigmas are much warmer than Canon lenses while Tamron are slightly cooler. It has to do with the coatings they use for the various elements in the lens.

“It’s pretty common for photographers to have different settings in post processing (or use different in-camera settings if they shoot in jpg) for different brands of lenses.”

Why the Tamron 28-75mm lens is not for me

Still, after using the lens for two weeks and having high hopes for it, I decided I wouldn’t buy the lens. It’s often not wide enough, focus “hunts” in low light and, most importantly for me, it lacks image stabilization.

Not wide enough

My DSLR,the Canon XSi, has a crop factor (focal length multiplier) of 1.6. As a result the lens has an effective focal range of 44.8 – 120mm. For inside shots, it was often just not wide enough.

Auto focus hunts in low light

The lens autofocuses slowly in lowlight and “hunted” more than expected. While this problem is not unique to the Tamron lens, I somehow expected faster focusing from a fast lens. After all, I want a fast lens to use in low light! However, when focus is achieved, images are very sharp and clean.

Roger explained,” As a general rule third party lenses, like Tamron and Sigma, autofocus very well in good light but struggle more than Canon lenses in low light. The third party makers have to ‘reverse engineer’ Canon’s focusing algorithms since Canon doesn’t license them. In good light they usually do just as well as the Canon lenses.”

A great lens worthy of consideration

Every interchangeable lens has its pros and cons, no matter what they cost. I concur with many users of the Tamron 28-75mm that there is not a better lens “for the price,”

While the Tamron 28-75mm doesn’t meet my needs personally, I would never discourage others from buying it if you understand and can live with the limitations. What I consider limitations though, may not be limitations for you.

What I like about the Tamron 28-75mm

  • Very sharp
  • Excellent bokeh
  • In the majority of shots, contrast is good
  • Has macro capabilities
  • Focuses fast in good light
  • Lightweight
  • Very moderately priced

What I dislike

  • Can be slow to autofocus in low light
  • No image stabilization
  • Widest angle often not wide enough for taking photos inside

View sample photos taken with the Tamron 28-75mm lens.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

3 Comments

  • I have this lens, and it’s my favorite. I hardly ever take it off. Agreed, it’s not wide enough occasionally, but if I want the wider shot, I can put on the kit lens, right? I hardly ever do though.  After getting used to this lens, I sold my 50mm 1.8 because it was soft until 2.8, so the tamron already covered the 50mm focal length well, and is sharp from 2.8 on up. I want to know where the 24-105 f/2.8 lens is…