Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Review | Better, Faster, Sharper?
Wow, I can’t believe I am about to review the first Tamron “G2” mirrorless lens! It feels like just yesterday that we were talking about how great the original Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD was. Today, in this Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD G2 review, I will explain why you should definitely consider this second-generation lens.
The “original” Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 was already so good, that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it instead of the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. The old Tamron is $880, the Sony GM is about $2K, and the new Tamron is (are you ready for this?) … a mere $20 more than the old one, at $900.
If you think that makes this new lens a no-brainer, however, there is more to consider. To state the obvious, 28mm is not 24mm. So, first and foremost, to anyone looking for a fully professional mid-range zoom, 28mm might not feel wide enough.
If the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM isn’t up to your standards in terms of optical performance, however, there is now an excellent alternative in the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art, for just $1,100. Both f/2.8 zooms that reach 24mm are significantly larger and heavier than the Tamron, though.
Secondly, there’s also new competition for Tamron, in terms of compact, portable, affordable f/2.8 zooms. Sigma decided to make a Contemporary lens, the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN C. Shockingly, this lens is downright tiny, and is also priced at $900 but also on sale for $800 at times! Needless to say, it’ll be a very tough call if the Sigma is any good. (Our review of the Sigma is coming soon, but we’ll spoil the ending in this review, below!)
So, is this new Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 the best choice for you? It certainly looks like it could be the best choice for quite a few different types of photographers. In this Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 review, we’ll talk about the lens’ strengths and weaknesses, which types of photography it’s perfect for, and what the competition looks like! On that note, let’s dive in.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Specifications
- LENS MOUNT(S): Sony E (FE full-frame)
- APERTURE: Constant f/2.8
- STABILIZATION: No
- AUTOFOCUS: Linear motor (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive)
- MANUAL FOCUS: Electronically controlled, focus distance on-camera
- OPTICS: 17 elements in 15 groups, 2 Low Dispersion, Glass Molded Aspherical elements
- MECHANICS: Metal & Plastic, extends when zooming, weather-sealed, L-Fn button
- MAGNIFICATION & FOCUS DISTANCE: 0.37x, 0.18m (7.09 in)
- FILTER THREADS & HOOD: 67mm filter threads, one-piece plastic hood
- SIZE: 76×118 mm (2.99×4.65 in)
- WEIGHT: 540 g (1.19 lb)
- PRICE: $899
(B&H | Adorama | Amazon)
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Review | Who Should Buy It?
Just like its predecessor, the Tamron 28-75 2.8 G2 is perfectly suited to a whole bunch of different genres and photographers ranging from beginner to professional. Simply put, if you do a lot of photography at medium-range focal lengths, and want a relatively fast, constant aperture, then this lens is automatically a top pick!
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 is perfect for wedding photography, depending on your creative style as an artist. The f/2.8 aperture makes it usable in low light, and the image quality at that wide-open setting delivers not just “usable” but absolutely beautiful images.
Having said that, a lot of wedding photographers may often find themselves “cramming in” large numbers of people into a frame for a formal group photo, in which case having 24mm at your disposal can really make a difference.
My suggestion? As an up-close, in-the-action type of wedding photographer, I’d actually pair this 28-75mm with Tamron’s 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD, and I’d be super happy!
All types of portraiture can benefit from using a mid-range, fast-aperture zoom. Also, if you are in total control of your environment, you probably want to avoid putting human faces at the edges of a 24mm frame. So, really, this lens is another winner!
Some portrait photographers love prime lenses more than zooms, and with good reason. There is a big difference in the character of an image captured with an f/2.8 aperture and, say, f/1.4 or f/1.2. Personally, as a full-time portrait and wedding photographer, I prefer to have both zooms and primes at my disposal, and with potentially redundant focal lengths in my camera bag, I like zoom lenses that are lightweight and compact. In other words, yes, I’d buy this Tamron G2!
Fashion & Editorial Photography
If your style of portraiture is more about high-end fashion models or similar types of work, then you might want to first look at a telephoto f/2.8 zoom instead, to minimize distortion on your subjects; Tamron’s 70-180mm f/2.8 is an impressive alternative to Sony’s pricey FE 70-200mm f/2.8
Casual Everyday Photography
Any type of walk-around photography, from a random hang-out with friends to that big family vacation to somewhere exotic, could be well-documented with this one single lens. Also, when you’re carrying around a camera literally all day, the lighter the better! The 28-75mm f/2.8 is an excellent alternative to the bigger, heavier flagship 24-70mm’s.
Having said that, 28-75mm isn’t even a 3x zoom, it’s a mere 2.6x zoom. (A 24-70mm is a 2.9x zoom, by the way) So, if maximum versatility is what you’re looking for, personally I wouldn’t hesitate to instead choose the impressive Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6, a 7.1x superzoom that is one of the sharpest superzooms I’ve ever reviewed!
It all depends on what type of photography subjects you are into. If you do mostly close-quarters, low-light candids with friends and family, then get the Tamon 28-75mm f/2.8 G2. If you’re looking for a lens that you use for exotic family vacations, however, with subjects ranging from cityscapes and landscapes to wildlife or other distant scenes, then the 28-200mm will be your best choice.
If you’re doing all of your landscape photography work at f/11, you might not care whether your zoom lens is an f/2.8 or an f/4. In fact, in this article here, I outline exactly why you might opt instead to go with the Sony 24-105mm f/4 G OSS, for its impressive sharpness.
Alternately, again, the Tamron 28-200mm is so sharp at f/8 that you might prefer it for “traditional” landscape photography, plus you get f/2.8 at 28mm where it might really count for low-light work.
Nightscape & Astrophotography
When you’re photographing a landscape by moonlight or starlight, then f/2.8 becomes essential! Honestly, however, 28mm is often not wide enough. I would say, “just add the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 to your bag,” but the reality is, you should probably start with that wide-angle zoom, not this mid-range one!
Having said that, technically speaking this lens is indeed quite impressive in terms of its optical performance for astro-landscape photography. If you can afford both Tamron lenses, go for it!
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Review | Pros & Cons
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 may appear to be a modest or even kit-style lens at first, however, don’t be fooled. The images coming out of its optics are technically impressive, and more importantly, aesthetically beautiful.
There are a few subtle caveats that have to do with vignetting and distortion correction, for those of you who heavily process your images, but in general, the image quality delivers the goods: plenty of sharpness/resolution at f/2.8 and all focal lengths, smooth bokeh for portraiture background blur, and no pesky aberrations to worry about.
Sharpness is truly impressive. It out-resolved my 24-megapixel test camera, and seems ready for your 40-60-megapixel beasts if you have a Sony A7R III or Sony A7R IV.
Even at f/2.8, at all focal lengths, sharpness extends well away from the center of the image, reaching the edges quite nicely, and only showing a bit of softness in the extreme corners.
This is an improvement over the previous version of the lens, actually; the original is indeed quite sharp, however, it wasn’t as excellent especially off-center and especially at 75mm. I was not able to directly compare the old and new versions, however, I feel confident in this claim based on how much work I’ve done with both lenses.
Background blur is beautifully soft and smooth, making the lens perfect for all types of things from portraiture to wedding details.
“Bokeh dots”, or the well-defined circles of a pin-point light source such as “twinkle lights”, look beautiful and thankfully have only a faint amount of onion rings inside them. Off-center the dots can get oval/lemon-shaped, as with most other mid-range fast-aperture lenses.
Vignetting & Distortion
This is where I get to be highly critical of most modern mirrorless lenses. Thankfully, most photographers won’t be concerned with the following issues, but they can be a problem if you heavily edit your photos.
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2, like many other modern mirrorless lenses, is designed to be a compromise on optical performance that affords increased portability. In other words, this lens is using quite a lot of “secret” editing to reduce/eliminate both vignetting and distortion from both your raw and JPG photos.
You can leave the correction features turned on in-camera, and you might never notice any vignetting or distortion. There is also a correction for chromatic aberration, and I highly recommend leaving all three settings on “auto” with your Sony full-frame mirrorless camera!
However, you should know that optically speaking, the lens does have significant amounts of vignetting and distortion that are being swept under the rug.
Distortion is virtually nonexistent with the profile left on, and thankfully this lens is more than sharp enough that the correction doesn’t harm image detail.
However, the vignetting correction is a mixed bag. As you can see, with the correction turned off, vignetting is severe. Turning on the correction profile does help, however, it never looks truly perfect when working with, for example, the Dehaze slider on a soft, even-toned sky. Some wide-angle lenses are even worse, mind you, with noticeable color shifts in the corners of images!
All in all, I’d say the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 is almost par for the course. I should also note that as its even more compact size might indicate, the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 does have a tiny bit worse vignetting.
Sunstars & Flare
Flare is incredibly well-controlled, without any annoying dots of light in most conditions, though you can create one or two if you try really hard.
Sunstars on the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 are beautifully classic pinpoints, which is a lovely sight to see compared to most modern lenses with such rounded aperture blades that even at f/10 you don’t see any good “spike” definition. As you can see above, the points aren’t perfectly defined, but they’re quite substantial.
Also, in comparison, the newest competitor from Sigma isn’t as impressive; its sunstars are the typical fuzzy flower petals that many Sigma lenses render, as you can see above.
Color Fringing, Aberration, Coma & Astigmatism
For the most obscure aspects of testing image quality, there is some impressively good news! This new Tamron isn’t perfect, of course, but with the in-camera color fringing correction left on, there is virtually no color fringing, chromatic aberration, and even coma or astigmatism.
If you’re a portrait photographer, you’ll be glad to not have those blue/purple/green halos around high-contrast edges when shooting at f/2.8. If you’re a nightscape photographer, you’ll appreciate pin-point stars even towards the edges and corners of your images, even though there is a slight penalty in sheer resolution. It is worth noting that both the Tamron and the Sigma have solid aberration performance, and ample resolution, although the Sigma does seem to render a little more haze.
Macro & Close-Up Photography
As with many Tamron lenses, the close-up performance is quite good; it’s not what you’d get from a dedicated macro lens, of course, but there is plenty of sharpness, beautiful bokeh, and a solid overall magnification ratio.
Design & Durability
Okay, let’s transition from talking about the images, to talking about the lens itself. Physically speaking, Tamron is using plastic in all the right ways. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 is sturdy, smooth-operating, and weather-sealed. It does not exactly feel like it is on the same level as, say, a Sony GMaster lens or a Canon L lens, however, don’t let that fool you! There are many years of longevity in the G2 series Tamron lenses, despite not being as “overbuilt” as their name-brand competition.
Also, I do appreciate that Tamron has been creating so many lenses with the modest, portable 67mm filter threads, in an era where 77mm filters have given way to the large, expensive 82mm filters for a professional-grade lens. This might not be possible if Tamron ever makes an “SP” mirrorless lens, but for this series, I’m very grateful.
Tamron’s latest autofocus technology is quite impressive in terms of both sheer speed and precision/reliability. In other words, they didn’t just put a faster motor in this G2 lens, they have also improved our ability to trust the lens to deliver in-focus images even when working in dim, active conditions.
By the way, Tamron claims the lens is actually twice as fast, but I couldn’t measure/confirm such a claim so precisely. I can at least confirm that it is definitely more snappy/responsive, and it just nails focus far more consistently than older third-party lenses!
Manual Focus Performance
Manual focus is done electronically by the smooth-operating focus ring. There is no distance scale on the lens itself, but the in-camera distance scale works well enough, and when turning the camera off and back on I do believe it is memorizing your focus position. Manual precision itself is fantastic.
Features & Customizations
This is one of the biggest areas where Tamron has made improvements compared to the lens’ predecessor. Instead of a total no-frills design, the G2 lens has two major new additions: A customizable function button, and a USB port for firmware updates!
It is unfortunate that firmware updates are now such a common thing for lenses, however, this is a good thing in the long run because it should offer smoother operation overall, and even provide actual autofocus improvements for your existing lenses!
Personally, I do wish Tamron had gone with an AF/MF switch on the side of the lens instead of a function button. Sony camera bodies already have a plethora of customizable buttons, and in my opinion, not enough traditional switches.
When it comes to important settings like autofocus versus manual focus, I really appreciate having a physical switch because it allows me to sense the setting without having to take my eye away from the action even for a split second.
Here is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons to buy this lens. There is no way to sugar-coat this: The Tamron costs less than half as much as the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, and yet, it’s even better, optically speaking.
Then again, there are some other great values out there, too. If you want an even smaller f/2.8 zoom that covers almost the same focal range, Sigma’s 28-70mm f/2.8 Contemporary is even smaller than the Tamron. Alternately, if you want an excellent value but also want to go to 24mm, you’ll have to invest in the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art.
Lastly, if you want to wait and see if Tamron makes an “SP” 24-70mm f/2.8 for the E-mount someday soon, you could expect it to cost $1,200 or more, and be a very different lens in terms of physical weight and filter thread size, etc.
All in all, $900 is a truly excellent value for the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2. Can you actually beat the value, though? Let’s talk about the alternatives in more detail next…
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 | Versus The Competition
There are different criteria to consider here. Do you want a very similar option to the Tamron 28-75mm G2? There is the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8, and that’s it. Personally, I actually do prefer the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8, because it is a bit more compact than the Tamron, plus, I really like having an AF/MF switch more than I care about having one of those Fn buttons on the lens (Although the USB port on the Tamron is nice!)
Then again, what if you want an f/2.8 zoom that goes to 24mm? If you’ve got the budget and you’re not shopping the Tamron specifically for its compactness, then my advice is to skip the Sony 24-70 GM and get the Sigma 24-70 Art lens that I mentioned earlier.
By the way, not that it should matter too much, but Tamron zooms rotate in the same direction as Sony E-mount zooms, while Sigma zooms rotate in the other direction. (The “Canon direction” that is…)
Last but not least, what about the previous Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8? Well, since the price is so similar, if you don’t own either lens yet, then you should absolutely just get the G2. The difficult question is, what if you already own the previous version? Honestly, if you’re happy with the sharpness and autofocus performance, then yeah, stick with your current investment! The G2 will only give you a consistent, noticeable advantage if you are really pushing the envelope of what is possible with low-light, high-megapixel photography.
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 Review | Conclusion
It is exciting to see Tamron delivering a second-gen product for the Sony full-frame mirrorless ecosystem, indeed! The original E-mount Tamron 2-75mm f/2.8 was already impressive, however, today we have 61-megapixel cameras and this will put a high demand on older lenses.
You might not need to upgrade from the previous version if you already own it and you are not an extreme-corners pixel-peeper in terms of image quality, however, if you do any pixel-peeping