This article reviews Tamron's 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD "all-in-one" zoom lens for Sony E-mount full-frame mirrorless digital cameras, which features a compact, lightweight design offering superior portability with zoom versatility.
The Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD lens for Sony E-mount cameras. This lens is particularly useful for landscape photographers looking to lighten their load and simplify their gear.
Tamron recently released an incredibly capable lens (and a new personal favorite of mine), their 28-200mm lens for Sony E mount mirrorless cameras. This lens absolutely knocked my socks off when Tamron lent me one to use on photo trips to Death Valley and Iceland. I LOVE this lightweight, sharp, and compact do-it-all performer, which pairs perfectly with a wide-angle lens, allowing you to minimize your gear while simultaneously maximizing your creative potential.
Sunrise storm in Death Valley, photographed from a substantial distance away. The Tamron 28-200mm lens allowed me to zoom in and capture this distant landscape scene.
This is a completely independent review without compensation from Tamron. I don't have any relationship with Tamron, business or otherwise.
Editor's note: Tamron has been a sponsor of Shuttermonkeys, and founder Ian Plant has long had a sponsor relationship with Tamron. Also, affiliate revenue helps support this site. We are committed to 100% transparency regarding financial relationships with equipment providers and brand partners, and we strive at all times to ensure that reviews are independent, honest, and free of bias.
Tamron's 28-200mm lens has a wide-open aperture of f/2.8 at 28mm, and by 200mm it is at f/5.6 (it is f/4 through 70mm, which is actually pretty good). The lens has a 67mm front filter thread, which is a design feature across all of Tamron’s latest E mount lenses, making filter swapping a cinch and keeping your bag lighter and wallet thicker.
This little lens packs down to 4.6 inches long when collapsed and weighs a mere 20.3 ounces. Clearly, this lens is optimized for portability and compactness, which means the sacrifice of a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the focal length range. The lens also has some surprisingly good minimum focusing distances; at 28mm your minimum distance is 7.5 inches, while at 200mm you can focus as close as 31.5 inches.
The Tamron 28-200mm lens in action in the middle of a crazy sandstorm in Death Valley.
One other item to note: there is no internal stabilization in this lens. The lens was intentionally designed this way, relying on the internal image stabilization found in Sony cameras to keep weight and size down for the lens. Being a landscape photographer, I shoot on a tripod 99% of the time, and the other 1% of the time when I’m hand-held I find the internal stabilization of my Sony to be perfectly adequate when combined with a slightly higher ISO. I want smaller and lighter for my style of shooting, so this lens hits my sweet spots all over the board.
I think it is fair to say that this lens has been designed with landscape and travel photography in mind, and it isn't really optimized for super serious wildlife or action photography.
Being able to shoot a landscape scene like this image here of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland zoomed out to a wide-angle perspective, and then zoomed in on small details—all without having to swap lenses—is a game changer.
Zooming in to 200mm on the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption you can see the detail in the flowing magma and other fine details within the frame.
Currently, the Tamron 28-200mm is only available for Sony E mount cameras. It is designed to work on full frame cameras; if used on a Sony E camera with an APS-C sensor, remember to adjust your effective focal lengths by applying a 1.5x crop factor.
Let’s get to what many of you are wondering and hoping to find out: how sharp is this lens? An answer in short: incredibly! I have created images from 28mm all the way through 200mm, never once worrying about how sharp these images would be. I am truly impressed with this lens.
When shooting wide open at f/2.8 you will notice a bit of edge and corner softness. If shooting wildlife or portraits, this might be an issue. If you’re a landscape shooter, this isn't likely to be a problem, as you will typically stop down to smaller apertures for increased depth of field. Stopping down enhances performance across the entire image field, and certainly by f/8 and f/11, overall image sharpness is exceptional.
I also really didn't notice much issue with chromatic aberration, especially after applying lens profile corrections in Lightroom, which easily took care of any color fringing that snuck by.
Like I mentioned earlier, this lens is a purpose built, minimalist lens: it’s light, small, and works great. There is a lock on the lens barrel helping prevent lens creep, and that’s it. This lens completely relies on the user to control its focusing mode, adjusting in-camera between autofocus and manual focus. I have one of my custom buttons on my Sony dedicated to my Focus Mode, allowing me to easily switch between the various modes my camera allows. Having this AF/MF switch on the lens would be welcomed, but I am assuming Tamron opted to forgo the switch to help keep this lens small and light. Personally, I am fine with this decision, and after a few shoots I didn’t think twice about not having this feature.
Autofocus is reasonably quick and accurate (of course, the camera controls autofocus, but lens characteristics can affect the optimal function of the camera's autofocus system in terms of both speed and accuracy). My Sony 24-105mm f/4 G lens is faster, but not more accurate. Of course, for my landscape photography, I don't really need an ultra-fast focusing lens. However, if you happen to be a wildlife or sports photographer, the reduced AF speed might be something to consider (and it might be more noticeable on older Sony camera models).
For me, the Tamron 28-200mm did an excellent job, with little to no hunting for focus, missed focus, or lag to engage the AF motor. When in manual focus mode, the focusing ring is buttery smooth to rotate and easy to fine-tune your shot, especially with Sony’s great focus peaking feature in live view.
As you can see from the image below, I love shooting into the light to create dramatic photos. The 28-200mm has Tamron’s BBAR multi-coating to minimize flare and ghosting. While in Death Valley, I worked in extremely harsh lighting conditions, with bright sunlight and blowing sand, the kind of conditions that could easily overwhelm even the best lenses. Overall, I think the Tamron 28-200mm did an excellent job. As you can see from the image below, even when pointed directly into the sun, lens flare was well-controlled. Now, I did have some images with flare artifacts, and I had a few that were completely ruined by flare, but as I said, these were extreme conditions, and I think the lens handled it about as well as any other high-quality lens.
Immersed in a sandstorm within Death Valley, the lens did great shooting directly into the sun with little to no flare or ghosting.
Tamron lenses feature moisture-resistant construction and this lens has a fluorine coating on the front element to resist dust, dirt and finger prints, helping to keep the front element clean. But, how well does the weather sealing work on the Tamron 28-200mm lens? I completely abused the lens, using it in a wicked sandstorm in Death Valley. A day or two after the sandstorm shoot, the lens stopped working. I don't know if the fine grit that was constantly blowing around overwhelmed the lens' weather sealing, or if it was some other issue (it was a loaner lens, and I don't know if someone else abused it before it came to me). Watch the video below if you are interested in seeing how much of a beating the lens took:
Tamron sent me a second copy of the lens, which I took to Iceland to photograph the erupting volcano there just south of Reykjavik. I proceeded to subject the lens to another round of abuse, exposing it to rain, volcanic grit blowing in gale force winds, and even a hard drop on the ground. This time, the Tamron 28-200mm didn't skip a beat, handling the extreme conditions without any issues. You can see the lens in action at the volcano in the video below:
So, what is the final verdict on durability? It's hard to say without more lengthy testing. Punishing conditions can make even the most durable and weather-sealed lenses fail, and in just two photo trips I exposed the Tamron 28-200mm to some of the worst I can imagine. One lens failed, and one didn't. I'm not entirely sure why the first lens failed, but I wanted to flag the issue.
I truly love this lens for my landscape work, and I find it allows me more flexibility compared to the Sony lenses that I have been using to cover this focal range. It is a versatile and capable lens, perfect especially for photographers looking to go light and small.
Where to buy
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About the author
Joseph Roybal is a professional fine art landscape photographer based in Denver, Colorado. His passion for photography stems simply from his love of the outdoors. Joseph feels most at home when he is amongst snow-capped peaks, along rocky coastlines, or surrounded by fields of wildflowers. Joseph specializes in creating compelling imagery that allows his viewers to feel as if they are amid the scene, witnessing it firsthand. You can see more of his work at https://www.josephroybal.com.