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The Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 is a lens that Tamron touts as “the lightest and most compact f/2.8 tele zoom for Sony mirrorless.”
It debuted in the summer of 2020, and has a solid build quality and a reasonable price point, similar to the rest of Tamron’s recent lens offerings.
But how does the image quality stack up? Let’s find out.
Tamron has been on a roll with its Sony E-mount lens releases lately.
The recently released 70-180mm f/2.8 completed Tamron’s holy trinity of fast zooms (the others being the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8). All three of these lenses have been massively popular due to their solid builds, compact sizes, and affordable prices relative to their Sony G Master equivalents. Additionally, Tamron has released a handful of other fast prime lenses, including the Tamron 35mm f/2.8.
The Tamron 28-200mm is a full-frame autofocus lens for Sony E-mount cameras. While it can be used with Sony APS-C cameras, it is best used with a full-frame camera. All sample images in this post were taken with the Sony a7R III.
Variable aperture lenses are often looked down upon by photographers, because you can’t retain a fast f-stop when you zoom in. This means shooting at 200mm on the 28-200mm will force you to shoot at f/5.6, making it much more difficult to shoot in low lighting. However, variable aperture lenses are generally much smaller and weigh less compared to zoom lenses with constant apertures.
Indeed, the Tamron 28-200mm is incredibly small and light given its focal range. This makes it a great lens for travel or landscape photographers who work with ample light and don’t mind sacrificing a fast aperture at all focal lengths.
Like many recent Tamron lenses, the 28-200mm is very straightforward, with a single physical switch to lock the lens and keep it from sliding out when not in use.
Other than that, it’s an intuitive plug and play lens that works exceptionally well with Sony E-mount cameras. All autofocus features, including face detection and eye autofocus (for both people and animals), were fast and accurate; the lens performs well on Sony cameras.
The build quality is solid without adding lots of weight. The Tamron 28-200mm is moisture-resistant for use in wet conditions, and also has a fluorine coating on the front lens element to prevent dust and dirt build-up.
Speaking of the front lens element, the filter size is 67mm, exactly the same as the three lenses in the Tamron holy trinity. This makes it easy to interchange filters such as polarizers and ND filters among these lenses if you buy into the full Tamron lens system.
This is a bonus that comes with all Tamron lenses. If you register the Tamron 28-200mm lens within two months of purchasing it, you get an extended six-year warranty if you are in the USA, or a five-year warranty if you are in Europe.
Compared to Sony’s one-year warranty, this is a pretty big advantage when going with a Tamron lens.
So with all of the great points about this lens, how is the image quality?
It’s surprisingly good for a variable-aperture lens. Bokeh or lens blur is soft and pleasing, especially at longer focal lengths. Image sharpness is phenomenal, although admittedly not as crisp as a prime lens. And chromatic aberration, or color fringing, which often plagues all-in-one zoom lenses, is not a problem on this lens.
Similarly, 4K video shot with this lens also boasts great image quality, which leads us to the next section of the article.
Unfortunately, none of Tamron’s recent Sony E-mount lenses come with image stabilization. This feature is likely withheld to keep lenses smaller and more affordable, but it means that the Tamron 28-200mm is not an optimal lens for video or shooting handheld in low light. If you use the lens with a camera that has in-body image stabilization (IBIS), this can help make up for the lack of lens-based image stabilization. But in my experience, it’s always best to have a camera with IBIS and a lens with image stabilization.
On the plus side, this lens is lightweight enough that you could use it on a gimbal for video work, as long as you can balance it out when shooting at longer focal lengths.
While the Tamron 28-200mm does give you a fast f/2.8 aperture when shooting on the wide end, the more you zoom in, the slower the aperture gets.
This may not be a big deal-breaker if you tend to shoot in scenarios with tons of natural or artificial lighting. However, if you shoot a lot in low light, the variable aperture might bother you.
The most direct competitor to the Tamron 28-200mm is the long-standing Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. This Sony lens is very close in size to the Tamron, although it is slightly heavier, coming in at 780 g (1.72 lb) compared to 575 g (1.27 lb).
However, the Sony 24-240mm does offer slightly more range than the Tamron, plus it has OSS, or optical image stabilization. The OSS comes in handy if you shoot video, or like to have extra support when shooting handheld. The Sony lens does cost more, at $1,085 USD, but it has been out for so long that used versions of the lens can be had for prices similar to that of the Tamron.
If you value the extra range and OSS, the Sony may be the better all-in-one lens for you. However, it is quite a bit heavier than the Tamron and also has a significantly shorter warranty.