My Favourite Travel Lens – The Tamron 28-300mm

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Last year I was given an incredible opportunity to travel to the US for three and half weeks just to take photos. My trip was sponsored by an amazing woman, which spurred me to try and get other sponsors for my photography. When you are travelling you can’t take everything with you, so being able to get a lens that could handle a lot of the scenes that I wanted to shoot was very handy. To be able to go from a wide angle view, then zoom right in, was going to be a great lens for travelling, I hoped.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-28-300mm

Tamron 28-300mm Lens – image courtesy of Tamron for both Canon and Nikon mounts.

I had read about the Tamron 28-300mm lens, and how it was a good for travelling. I decided to contact Tamron Australia to see if they would loan me the 28-300mm for my trip, and they did. It is a full frame lens and if you have a cropped sensor then you need to remember that you won’t be able to get 28mm (more like 42mm), and that it will be far longer than 300mm (similar to 450mm).

LeanneCole-tamronlens-goldengatebridge-65mm

Golden Gate Bridge with US Flag, taken through a car window. Focal length 65mm

Physical Size

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the size. For a lens with such a big zoom length, it’s quite small. It isn’t a heavy lens either. Straight away it seemed like the perfect lens to carry, that wouldn’t contribute to breaking my back.

It fits nicely into any camera bag, due to its compact size. The bag I used on my trip was quite small, and it was easy to pack. The light weight meant I didn’t have to worry about making my bag heavier. Imagine how your back would feel if you had to carry a bunch of other lenses to cover that range!

LeanneCole-tamronlens-bodieghosttown-122mm

Some of the old building at the ghost town in Bodie, CA, focal length 122mm.

Versatility

When travelling you can’t always get close to places to get the best angles, and having a lens that allows you to take photos when you are close, or far away, is an advantage. You can take an image of a building and get most of it in, then zoom in to get some details of it as well.

The following images of the Flatiron Building in NYC, show how you can take a photo of the whole building, and then a close up of some detail using the 28-300mm lens.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-flatiron-28mm

The Flatiron Building in New York, focal length 28mm.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-flatiron-300mm

Detail of the Flatiron Building, focal length 300mm.

There is also the advantage of not having to constantly change your lens. If it is busy, or crowded, you won’t have to stop, get out another lens and change it. This compact lens is great for most situations.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-beemountain-300mm

A bee on a flower, taken at 300mm.

Compromises

With any lens that has this kind of focal length range, you are going to have to compromise somewhere.

Sharpness

When you take photos at 300mm, the images are not as sharp as they are at 150mm. This is a common problem with most lenses, and more so with ones that have longer lengths such as the Tamron 28-300mm.

Slower Lens

A lens is judged by the size of the largest aperture. A fast lens has a large aperture of f/2.8 or, as is the case with some of the prime lenses, maybe f/1.4. The largest aperture means that when there is lower light you can get a faster shutter speed, which makes it a faster lens.

This Tamron 28-300mm lens has an aperture range of f/3.5 – 6.3, which translates to being able to have the faster aperture of f3.5 at 28mm, but when you zoom out to 300mm the fastest (widest) one you can get is only f/6.3. Most of the time it isn’t a problem, and only becomes one when the light is low, or when shooting indoors. The compromise is, when those conditions arise you have to put up your ISO, which introduces noise into your images, or, in old terms, grain.

Vignetting when zoomed out

One of the things I found, was that there was some vignetting when the lens was zoomed all the way out to 300mm. I was a bit annoyed initially, but when I was given an opportunity to try out the Nikon 28-300mm I noticed it did the same. It is just one of the disadvantages working with lenses such as these.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-NewYork-300mm

A view of New York Skyline from Staten Island ferry. Focal length 300mm,

The Other Factors

Weight

The lens weighs just over half a kilogram or 19oz. Compare it with the Nikon lens which is 800 grams or 28.2oz. As stated previously, it is quite a light lens, and an easy one to carry around and store.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-yosemite-28mm

One of the many mountains at Yosemite, focal length 28mm.

Price

The lens is around US$850, which makes it a good price for the versatility that you get. It makes it an affordable lens, and a very good option for a beginner who wants to find one lens that will suit almost any situation or occasion.

In conclusion

This was a perfect lens for travelling. I found it so versatile, and to tell the truth, while I took a couple of other lenses, this one was on my camera 80% of the time. I didn’t want to take it off. It was very sad when the lens had to be returned to Tamron, I know when I can get the money together, it will be the next lens in my kit.

LeanneCole-tamronlens-santacruz-135mm

Seal at Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Focal length 135mm.

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Leanne Cole

is a fine art photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. She loves Melbourne and photographing it, along with other parts of the state. She likes doing architectural and environmental photography. You can find her on her website or on Instagram.

  • This lens is so awesome! It’s my go-to, along with a 50mm f/1.4. I really don’t need any other lenses. I take all of the surf, beach, and travel pics on my blog with this lens: Likely By Sea.

  • Darryl

    I agree with the author. While the lens isn’t the greatest optically, it more than makes up for this minor shortcoming with its versatility, lightweight and small size. It’s also pretty inconspicuous to boot. I think it’s a great all-in-one travel lens value

  • Burt Johnson

    I bought one last week, and so far love it, while exploring Istanbul. I had the original Tamron 28-300 from nearly a decade ago, and stopped using it pretty quickly because it was just too soft. This lens is a major upgrade from that version 1.

  • I think you will find the updated version very good. I am sure you will love having it, I never wanted to give it back. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Great points Darryn, great, thank you for contributing to the discussion.

  • I think if I owned one it would rarely be off my camera, a great lens. Thanks for sharing Cynthia.

  • Darryl

    I agree Burt. Version 1 was pretty soft, I tried it for about a month trying to figure out why all my shot were soft (Adjusting MFA, using LiveView). I realized that the lens itself was soft. Eventually sold it and bought version 2

  • Darryl

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to the States. Looking forward to visiting your corner of the World

  • That would have been frustrating I think, it was good that you were able to sell it.

  • I did enjoy it, it was fun. I love my corner of the world, so anything I say will be biased, but it is great. Just don’t come in summer, lol

  • abrianna

    For cropped sensors my favorite walk around lens for travel is the Sigma 18-250. I like it for the same reasons Leanne does-I could shoot long distance and close ups with this lens. I used it at the Grand Canyon last summer and it stays on my camera most of the time.

    Here is one of my shots from last summer of sunset on the Canyon:

  • Mark S

    I used the older Tamron 18-270 version for several years on a Nikon D5000. I believe this type of combo camera and lens gives you great versatility with low weight.

    I recently got a D5300 and the newer Tamron 16-300 version and I have been able to get some incredible shots by only carrying a single lens. The added pixels on the D5300 let me crop a bit and still enlarge to 12×18 with excellent sharpness.

    If I was a pro maybe it would be worth carrying 2-3 cameras, a half a dozen lenses, and a tripod but for me it is not worth it. One of my most recent shots was of an abandoned fire tower that was highlighted with a bright orange sunset behind it with streaked clouds that looked like smoke. I saw it from my car and pulled off at the only place available that was about 150 yards away on a fairly busy highway. I had limited perspectives, only a couple of minutes before losing the perfect light, and I had to shoot across the highway traffic. Step out of the car, turn on the camera, zoom, frame, and shoot about 10 slightly different shots all in under 45 seconds. Without this lens I could not have framed the shot from my perspective. I was able to make the tower pretty much full frame. Any more wasted time jockeying equipment would have lost the perfect light. In the end I got a VERY nice photo that I printed on aluminum that is an absolutely striking study in black and orange. Crisp details, straight lines. I could not have gotten a better picture (for this size) with any other equipment.

    Yes low light is an issue but that almost always happens indoors and flash or a different lens can solve that problem.

    I have even had good luck with a 1.4x converter in bright sunlight doing some sports photos from the sidelines which yields a zoom well over 400. Although this requires manual focus due to some hunting.

    I do nearly 100% of my photo work with this lens.

  • Its a great camera…with wide range of Zoom..and if the pictures are taken from the same camera it is fab..

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  • PDL

    Please stop with the incorrect idea that with cropped sensors you do not “get” 28mm. This is bogus to the extreme. Lens focal length is lens focal length regardless of sensor size.
    What you are talking about is Field of View (FOV) not focal length. If you are going to be providing articles to “beginners” at least attempt to not lie about it.

  • travel bug

    Your tone is a bit harsh – we are all friends here

  • That may be the case, however, it confuses people a lot, I’ve found, they understand 28mm, or that kind of thing more than they understand FOV, and I believe it is my job to do things in a way that they understand readily, I’m really sorry if that offends you, but I guess in the end we all have different ways of teaching.

  • That is a good lens, I have friends who have it and they love it as well. Though I’m not sure that you can use it on a full frame, but great alternative for a cropped sensor. Thanks for sharing your experience and your image.

  • I like your work flow Mark and I am often of the same mind. Good to have a lens that can do just about everything. I consider myself a pro, but often I just want to walk around and take some photos, especially when scouting a new location.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Mark.

  • Stephen Phillips

    if you have a canon i would recommenced the 18-200 s for convenience

  • Stephen Phillips

    sorry meant the canon 18-200 s lens

  • PDL

    So you essentially agree with what I said – but you want to do is make them understand.. what?? I would suggest that your inability to clearly explain focal length as a physical characteristic of a lens and FOV as a characteristic of sensor size, is in the teaching, not comprehension. You are selling your students short while perpetuating an out right lie.

  • Jan Kovacs

    Dear Leanne, if you are happy with the photos you have taken, that is great. if you havent told me it was a DSLR you shot, I would have certainly though it was a smarphone. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say…

  • Why would you recommend it Stephen?

  • Thanks Jan, I think, I’m not quite sure what you mean however. I’m not sure you would have got a lot of these with a phone, especially the ones at 300mm, I know I can’t zoom in that far with mine and get that kind of clarity.

  • thank you, I agree.

  • Travellin’ Penguin

    Stop being difficult, we know what she means

  • Thank you.

  • Stephen Phillips

    Hi When i purchased my eos 700 d (different name in USA ) I was after a good lens that i could use most/all of the time without the hassle of taking several lens around with me etc. I am happy with it.- i recommend you read the test results for more info

  • I’m sure it is a good lens, but this one goes to 300mm, so a little further, It is great that you like it Stephen, I have a friend who has the Nikon equivalent, but she is interested in this one as it is also a lot lighter. Thanks

  • Stephen Phillips

    true buton other hand starts at 28 not 18 -so not so good for landscapes etc-i also prefer sticking with same company – no warranty / compatible problems/ easier dealing with one company etc-i would also check if the quality is as good

  • I don’t use Canon, so I have no idea, but as someone who has always done the same, used on Nikon, I was surprised and pleased with how the lens performed. I had no problems with the lens, I do have full frame, so the 28mm wasn’t that big of an issue, and I used it many times for landscapes.

  • Stephen Phillips

    ok but not everyone has full frame. i presume it has stabilizer feature

  • No, they don’t, but it is a full frame lens. Yes, it does have image stabilisation.

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    This is a great Travel lens for me with my 5D Mark III. Very light weight, decent pictures, I don’t need to take other heavier lenses like 24-70, 70-200. Of course, it cannot match to those 2.8 lenses. Unless you are going to shoot for business projects, or top magazines, it is a great lens for family vacations. I am adding a few sample pictures from my recent trips in this comment.

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    at 1/1000

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    Low light at 28mm

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    low light

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    at 300mm

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    low light at 300mm

  • Sudarsan Vaithu

    Sharpness..

  • Mike

    great focal length for sure – one lens in my bag and I’m done. Just wish it was a bit lighter!

  • Len Cook

    Leanne, my only reason to remove my Tamron 18-270 is to reach out with my Nikon 80-400. Are there significant differences between Tamron’s 18-270 vs their 28-300?Thanks

  • I don’t know I’ve never used the 18-270, however one of the biggest differences would have to be that the 18-270 is for a cropped sensor and the other for a full frame, so on a Nikon the 28-300 for a cropped sensor would supposedly be a 42-450mm. Other than that I don’t know.

  • You are right, cannot match them, but for what you said and I said, it is good. Thanks for that and including more images to show how it looks.

  • jac07660

    You mention “vignetting” when the zoom is all the way out to 300 – I just started shooting and am not sure what that means. Can you explain please?

  • jac07660

    You mention “vignetting” when the lens is zoomed out all the way. I just started taking pix a couple of months ago so I’m not sure what that mean…. can you explain please?

  • pincherio

    The main difference between the 18-270 and the 28-300 is that the 18-270 is made specifically for cameras with crop sensors while the 28-300 can be used without limitations with cameras with full frame sensors.

  • pincherio

    The 18-270 is designed for crop sensors. While they can be used with full frame cameras, there would be a drop in resolution if used with Nikon/Sony while there would be serious vignetting on the wide end when used with Canon. That would be the most significant. If you are using a full frame Nikon, you might consider a change. If your camera has a crop sensor, then there would be no real point in switching.

  • The edges or corners are darker than the rest of the image. I hope that helps.

  • I found it a good weight, then again I’m used to heavy lenses, though compared to the Nikon equivalent it is as light as a feather, the Nikon one was quite a bit heavier.

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