Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Review

As I write this review, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens is the #1 best-selling lens at B&H where, nearly a year after its announcement, it remains out of stock. Out of the many hundreds of lenses available, a Tamron lens compatible only with Sony alpha E-mount cameras is, at review time, selling better than every other lens, including those from camera manufacturer brands. That statistic should get your attention with the "Why?" question coming immediately next.

The why answer is that this lens offers a very useful general-purpose focal length range with a wide f/2.8 aperture available over that entire range in a compact, very attractive package with a price that is equally attractively. Do you like fast, quiet autofocus? This lens checks that box. Do you like sharp images? Perhaps overarching all of those other positives is the image quality this lens delivers — it is quite impressive.

If you have a Sony full frame or cropped (APS-C) format E-mount camera, you definitely want to read this review.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Top View

Focal Length Range

The focal length range (or individual focal lengths for prime lenses) is a primary consideration for a lens purchase or selection for use. Focal length matters greatly because it drives focus distance choices and perspective is determined by those distances. Most subjects can be photographed with any focal length, but not all angles of view provided by those focal lengths are practical from a working distance perspective and they do not all provide the ideal relational perspective when the desired subject framing is obtained. For example, photographing a group of 15 people with a 600mm lens requires a working distance that might require a large sports field to keep all group members in the frame and a phone may be required to communicate with them.

The moderately wide-angle through short telephoto 28-75mm focal length range covers a huge range of general-purpose needs, making it an ideal option for photographing a vast range of subjects. This is the type of lens that you can take when you are not sure which focal lengths you will need and usually it will be found to be the right choice.

The 28-70mm range is great for photographing people and it is ideal for portraits, weddings, parties, events, documentaries, interviews, lifestyle, theater, fashion, studio portraiture, candids, and even some sports. Use 75mm for head and shoulders portraits and the wider end for groups and environmental imagery.

This lens is a perfect choice for media and photojournalistic needs. It is a great option for street photography.

This lens is a good choice for landscape and cityscape photography with compositions being ideally captured using every focal length available in this lens. It is not difficult to create compelling landscape compositions using the 28mm perspective, while still providing emphasis on a foreground subject against an in-focus background while providing the viewer a sense of presence in the scene. At the other end of the range, 75mm works great for mildly-compressed landscapes featuring distant subjects such as mountains.

With a wide aperture, this lens is attractive for photographing the night sky with the 28mm end being of most interest in that regard.

This lens is well-suited for commercial photography and the wide end of the range is ready to capture exterior architecture and larger interior spaces. Cityscapes, countrysides, flowers, medium and large products and much more are in this lens' capabilities list.

Here are two focal length comparisons:

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Focal Length Range Example

28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 75mm
28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 75mm

This lens and I spent a considerable amount of time together in a number of locations. It was a great choice for capturing the city.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Architecture Sample Picture

If you like to photograph your food, this lens covers that.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Food Sample Picture

Going to the beach? This is an ideal lens choice.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Delaware Bay Sample Picture

Do you like to photograph patterns and details? This lens checks that box.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Sand Patterns Sample Picture

Note that many alternative standard zoom lenses offer 24mm on the wide end. Do I miss having the extra 4mm on my general-purpose zooms lens? For landscapes, yes. For event shooting, no.

Here is a 24mm vs. 28mm comparison (captured with a different lens):

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Focal Length Range Example

On the long end, going to 75mm is more useful than the to-70mm competitors, but that difference seems small.

On an APS-C (1.5x FOVCF) camera, the full frame angle of view equivalent will be 42-112.5mm. This APS-C range is lacking from a wide-angle perspective, certainly impacting landscape use, but the standard focal lengths are covered and the long end becomes considerably more attractive, especially for portraiture.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Front View

Max Aperture

As of review time, very few zoom lenses have a maximum aperture opening wider than this one, only one of those covers most of this lens' focal length range, and a wide aperture is a big feature advantage this lens holds.

Wide apertures are useful for stopping action, both that of the subject and that of the camera, in low light levels while keeping ISO settings low. While having an f/2.8 aperture may not be greatly advantageous from ISO and shutter speed perspectives when photographing under bright light (daylight for example), the story is different in low light scenarios.

Wide apertures benefit AF systems, enabling them to work better in low light environments. Even when photographing under bright light conditions, wide apertures are useful for creating a strong background blur that makes a subject cleanly stand out, isolated from an even highly distracting background.

Here is an example of the maximum background blur this lens can produce:

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Maximum Blur Example

A disadvantage of a wide aperture is the required increased physical size of the lens elements. Larger lens elements come with heavier weight and higher cost. This lens seems to side-step those disadvantages.

Image Stabilization

Note that this lens does not feature image stabilization. While image stabilization adds greatly to the versatility of a lens, it also adds size, weight, cost, and potentially compromises image quality and durability. With Sony's mirrorless cameras featuring IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization), the need for a lens to provide this feature is diminished.

At 28mm, this lens was producing a high percentage of sharp Sony a7R III images at 1/3 second shutter speeds and about 2/3 were sharp at .4 seconds. Only sporadic images were sharp at longer shutter speeds. At 75mm, a majority of 1/3 second results were sharp with a sweet spot seeming to be at .4 seconds (or I had a moment of unusual steadiness). These results were obtained under ideal conditions. While results under less-ideal conditions may require shorter exposures, the benefit of in-body image stabilization should remain similar.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens on Tripod

Image Quality

It makes sense that photographers are drawn to lenses that produce great image quality and great image quality is part of what makes this lens so incredibly popular.

Wide open, the center-of-the-frame results from this lens are razor sharp across the entire focal length range. There is a slight sharpness drop at 75mm f/2.8, but the sharpness is so good at the other focal lengths that a slight drop still means sharp images at 75mm. The fine black-against-white details in the enhanced ISO 12233 test chart make any lack of sharpness very clear, but comparing this lens' f/2.8 results against its f/4 results shows very little center-of-the-frame change until 75mm where a contrast increase takes the results from sharp to razor sharp.

Common is for a lens to deliver less-sharp details in the outer portion of the image circle (the corners), at least at the widest aperture settings, and this lens shows a touch of that attribute. Still, the corners are not bad at f/2.8. Look for corner sharpness improvements through f/5.6 where this lens delivers corners as sharp as or sharper than most other lenses in its class.

In addition to our standard lab tests, I like to share some real-world examples. Below you will find sets of 100% resolution crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony a7R III. The images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale (note that even modestly-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the true characteristics of a lens). These examples are from the center of the frame.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

28mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0
45mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0
75mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0

There are not many zoom lenses that perform as well as this one at f/2.8. Be sure to find details in the plane of sharp focus for the basis of your opinions, especially at 75mm where the depth of field is shallower in this set of comparisons.

On the topic of the plane of sharp focus, this can sometimes move forward or backward as a narrower aperture is selected. Called focus shift (residual spherical aberration or RSA), this issue is seldom (never?) desired and this lens does not have that problem.

Moving to the corners, we can see that details are not being rendered as crisply as the center-of-the-frame results. These are 100% crops taken from the absolute top-left corner of Sony a7R III frames.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

28mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0 | f/5.6
45mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0 | f/5.6
75mm: f/2.8 | f/4.0 | f/5.6

While details in the f/2.8 corners are not perfectly sharp, they are better than many other f/2.8 standard zoom lenses can produce. The results improve at f/4 and again at f/5.6 where few other f/2.8-capable standard zoom lenses can match this one.

Corner sharpness does not always matter, but it does matter for many disciplines including landscape photography. When I'm photographing landscapes with corner sharpness being desired, I'm probably using f/8 or f/11 to obtain enough depth of field for in-focus corner details and this lens works beautifully for this purpose. When shooting at the widest apertures, depth of field is often shallow and the plane of sharp focus less-frequently includes a corner, making corner sharpness less important.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens' entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. Wide-angle, ultra-wide aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide open but the about-2.5-stops of shading in the Tamron 28's corners is not bad. Stopping down one stop reduces the 28mm shading to about 1.5-stops and roughly 1 stop of corner shading, an amount slightly noticeable in evenly-colored frames, remains visible through the balance of the aperture range. The 75mm shading is next-strongest with about 2-stops in the corners at f/2.8, about 1.2-stops at f/4 and roughly 0.5-stops at narrower apertures.

The amount of shading at the full-extent focal lengths is not strong, but the mid focal lengths have even less. Figure roughly 1.5-stops at f/2.8, just over 1 at f/4 and about 0.7 at narrower apertures.

Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Note that the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens supports in-camera lens corrections including peripheral shading, chromatic aberration, and distortion when used on compatible (many) Sony E-mount cameras.

The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

While lateral CA is usually easily corrected with software (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide, it is, of course, better to not have it in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples, 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of ultra-high resolution 5Ds R frames.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 75mm

There should be only black and white colors in these images with the additional colors showing lateral CA. A moderate amount of color shift is seen in the 28 and 35mm examples. At 50mm, the results appear ideal and by 75mm, the shifting colors have reversed and are modestly showing again. Lateral CA is a strong contributor to the corner results shared above being a bit soft.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

In the examples below, look for fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights. The subjects are neutrally-colored, so any other color is being introduced by the lens.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

28mm | 45mm | 75mm

In the two wider samples, color differences are slight. The 75mm example shows more difference, but the difference is still not strong.

The 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens features Tamron’s proprietary BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating, designed to "dramatically" reduce ghosting and flaring. Flare is caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and interesting artifacts. With 15 elements (in 12 groups), expect to see some flare effects at narrow apertures. Flare effects can be embraced, avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging and, in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality.

There are two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional). Remember that lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the extreme top-left corner of an a7R III frame.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Coma Example

28mm | 45mm | 75mm

While these results are not stellar, they are not unusual either.

This is a standard zoom lens and the standard zoom lens geometric distortion statement holds true. This lens has barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into negligible distortion (at just wider than 35mm) and on into pincushion distortion at the long end. The amount of barrel distortion at 28mm is moderate and the amount of pincushion distortion at 50mm through 75mm is moderate. These amounts are normal for this class of lens.

Linear distortion can make careful framing of subjects with straight lines more challenging and when those straight lines are along the edge of the frame, the distortion can become obvious in the image. Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing software and distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens and focal length combination in the first place.

The quality of blur seen in the out of focus portions of an image is referred to as bokeh. Following are some f/8.0 100% crop examples of out-of-focus (in the background) specular highlights along with an additional sample, an f/2.8 capture cropped to show the bottom right quarter of the frame.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Bokeh Example

28mm | 45mm | 75mm | 75mm | CE

The specular highlights are slightly mottled in their fill, show relatively mild peripheral rings, and have a very smooth transition into the surrounding area. The second 75mm example was captured outdoors and shows a very nice quality blur.

The "CE" results reference the cat's eye bokeh effect, a form of mechanical vignetting, seen in the corners with the bottom right being shown in this example. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the corner of the frame, the shape is not round and that is the shape seen here. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming round.

With an odd-numbered aperture blade count, distant point light sources captured with a narrow aperture and showing a star-like effect will have 18 points as illustrated below.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Starburst Effect Example

I find the stars being created by this lens to have a decent shape, though there are double rays apparent.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Design

Overall, especially considering the challenging wide-angle-to-telephoto focal length range being traversed along with the price of this lens, the image quality being delivered by the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens is excellent.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Side View

Focusing

"The AF drive on the A036 includes an RXD (Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive) motor unit to help you stay focused on the action. RXD uses an actuator to precisely control the rotational angle of the motor, allowing it to directly drive the focusing lens without passing through a reduction gear. A sensor that accurately detects the position of the lens enables high-speed and precise AF, which is ideal when shooting continually moving subjects or video. With a focusing system that is both smooth and quiet, the A036 lets you shoot a video without worrying about picking up ambient drive sounds." [Tamron USA]

The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens autofocuses extremely quietly and quite fast.

Keep in mind that the speed of focusing is in part controlled by the camera. The Sony a7R III, for example, de-focuses the lens slightly before focusing on the subject in AF-S (single shot) focus mode, even if focusing at the same distance with the same subject, for an overall mediocre focus speed. In AF-C (continuous) focus mode, that annoying attribute disappears and the lens' fast focus speed can be fully appreciated.

Focusing is internal and it is consistently very accurate, a huge key for fully realizing a lens' image quality potential. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode and this lens supports advanced AF features in compatible cameras including Hybrid AF and Eye AF.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Extended Top View with Hood

This lens design places the focus ring behind the zoom ring. While this design is seldom (never?) my preference, it is a perfect design for making the focus ring easy to use, especially handheld as the focus ring is at my fingertips while holding the mounted lens balanced in my left hand. This nearly-flush-mounted focus ring is modestly-sized and only slightly grippy. The focus ring has a relatively light, but a decent amount of resistance with no play.

With the focus ring being electronically-controlled (focus-by-wire), the rate of focus adjustment can be made variable, based on the rotation speed of the focus ring and this one has that feature. Turn the focus ring slowly and you have a crazy-long approximately (it is hard to turn the ring this slowly for this long) 4 full turns (1440° of rotation) required for a full-extents adjustment, making extreme fine-tuning easy. Turn the ring very fast and the focus extents are delivered in about 270° of rotation.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Focus Magnification Example

28mm: Distant | Close 75mm: Distant | Close

As illustrated above, there is a normal/moderate amount of change in subject size (focus breathing) as focus is full-extent adjusted.

While it can be an individual lens-specific attribute, parfocal-like behavior is not a characteristic the reviewed lens exhibits. It appears that the lens attempts to adjust the focus distance to be appropriate for the focal length selected (there is a slight lag showing at times), but the subject does not stay precisely in focus. If you adjust the focal length, re-establish focus.

While a distance window is not provided, a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of Sony's electronic viewfinders during manual focusing.

Standard is for lens manufacturers to provide the minimum focus distance, referred to as minimum object distance (MOD) by Tamron. Far less common is for the manufacturer to list a different number for the wide and telephoto ends and even more unusual is for the wide end to have a maximum magnification spec that is higher than the telephoto end.

"The Model A036 breaks all the rules regarding MOD. The A036 reaches a MOD of 0.19m (7.5 in) at the 28mm wide-angle end achieving a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9 [0.34x]. A working distance of just 5.7cm (2.24 in) from the front element allows you to shoot close-up with a sense of perspective unique to wide-angles. At the 75mm telephoto end, the 0.39m (15.3 in) MOD provides an image magnification of 1:4 [0.25x], allowing close-up shooting with a pleasantly blurred background similar to a macro lens." [Tamron USA]

OK, the "similar to a macro lens" part is a big stretch, but the 0.25x maximum magnification spec is still a good one, relatively high for a zoom lens. The 0.34x score makes the top-10 list, tying for 8th place among the 209 zoom lenses in our specifications database.

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens15.0"(380mm)0.21x
Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM Lens15.4"(390mm)0.18x
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens15.0"(380mm)0.28x
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens14.6"(370mm)0.21x
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens15.0"(380mm)0.24x
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens15.0"(381mm)0.20x
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens7.5"(190mm)0.34x
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens13.0"(330mm)0.26x
Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens15.0"(380mm)0.21x

At 28mm, a subject measuring approximately 2.7 x 4" (68 x 102mm) will fill the frame at the minimum focus distance. Zoom to 75mm and the approximate frame-filling subject size increases to 3.5 x 5.3" (89 x 135mm) at a significantly longer focus distance. A white-throated sparrow, measuring roughly 5-6" (127-152mm), proved cooperative enough to exercise the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens' minimum focus distance capabilities, enabling a maximum magnification comparison.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Minimum Focus Distance Example

While both focal lengths can make the bird large in the frame, the size of the bird in the 28mm frame is obviously larger than in the 75mm frame.

The minimum focus distance is measured from the imaging sensor plane with the balance of the camera, lens, and lens hood length taking their space out of the number to create the working distance. At 75mm, there is plenty of working distance at the minimum focus distance but at 28mm, the plane of sharp focus is only about 0.5" (13mm) in front of the lens hood. Removing the hood adds some space, but the lens is still likely to affect the subject lighting. The 28mm bird illustrations show the with-hood darkening of the scene, especially on the bird's wing.

Note the bird comparison nicely illustrates a differing perspective, close vs. closer, and also that at 28mm, this lens can make your subject's wings look big. Make no mistake — this is not (usually) a good bird photography lens.

While this lens' magnification capabilities are excellent for a lens in its class, you are not going to like the additional lateral CA that appears near the maximum magnification. Testing this attribute at both 28mm and 75mm showed that, while image sharpness remained very good, lateral CA was strong even near the center of the frame and the corners look like this:

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Minimum Focus Distance Lateral CA Sample Picture

The above image of a black and white (only) subject is a 100% lower-left corner crop captured at f/11 with the a7R III. It will take a good lens profile, user skill, and/or processing software to knock this lateral CA out. Backing off of the subject a bit helps in this regard, but moving farther away also negates this lens' high maximum magnification advantage.

Magnification from wide-angle through standard/normal focal length lenses is generally significantly increased with the use of extension tubes which are basically as their name implies, hollow tubes (with electronic connections) that shift a lens farther from the camera. Doing so allows the lens to focus at closer distances, though at the expense of long-distance focusing. Sony does not publish extension tube specs, but mounting an extension tube behind this lens will very significantly increase its magnification capabilities.

The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens is not compatible with Tamron teleconverters.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Side View with Hood

Build Quality & Features

Tamron USA's marketing department went a bit over the top with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens design description on their website:

"The A036 zoom features our new 'Human Touch' design, a mixture of form and function embodied by the 'Luminous Gold' brand ring above the lens mount. It tells you that no detail has been overlooked in creating a design and feel that’s easy to work with—everything you look for in a photography partner. And everything you expect from Tamron." [Tamron USA]

Wow. That said, this is a very nice lens.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated        Compare »

The light weight and polycarbonate exterior design are not going to provide reassurance of a rugged design, but at the same time, this feels like a high-quality product. The tight tolerances on moving parts including practically no play on the extended inner barrel add some assurance that this lens has been carefully designed and that modern construction methods were utilized. The lens has a very nicely-smooth narrow shape and the matte/satin black finish along with the engraved white lettering with a modern, attractive font style looks great. The "Luminous Gold" ring appears very silver-like to me. White gold perhaps? Regardless, it looks nice.

The rubber-coated zoom ring rises very slightly from the barrel and is very smooth with no play. The lens extends by 0.99" (25.1mm) at 75mm. The zoom ring logically turns in the same direction as Sony's zoom lenses, increasing focal length while being rotated clockwise (same as Nikon, opposite of Canon).

This lens has exactly 0 buttons and switches. The AF/MF button is one that I do miss and having to hit a menu option (programmed to a custom button) for this commonly-used feature is annoying. The lack of switches should mean increased reliability and decreased the chance for dirt and moisture penetration.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Mount

Tamron says "Environmental seals are located at the lens mount area and other critical locations to prevent infiltration of moisture and/or rain drops and afford Moisture-Resistant Construction."

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Weather Sealing

"The front surface of the lens element is coated with a protective fluorine compound that is water- and oil-repellant. The lens surface is easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture and fingerprints." [Tamron USA] Even an oily fingerprint easily wipes away and this feature is especially appreciated if the lens gets dirty in the field.

Tamron claims that this lens "... is compatible with many of the advanced features that are specific to mirrorless cameras." One such feature, camera-based lens firmware updates, became highly useful during my tenure with the lens, as a firmware update was released during this review and I can confirm that installing the lens firmware update was easy. The process is similar to the Sony camera firmware updates, utilizing the provided computer-based software to manage the process via a direct-to-camera USB connection with no USB Tap-In console required. I find the final message on the back of the camera to be slightly unsettling: "Lens update complete. Remove the battery and finish updating." I have to remove the battery to finish updating the firmware? Why is a power-off not sufficient?

I often complain about the lack of finger space Sony provided between the lens and grip in their review-time-current mirrorless cameras including the a7R III, a7 III and a9. While the first joint on my right hand's middle finger still impacts the lens body, becoming red and slightly sore when holding this lens in shooting position for relatively long periods of time, the relatively narrow lens body means that the pressure is not as bad as with Sony's 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

From a size and weight perspective, this lens is practically in a class of its own with the older Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens being the only smaller and lighter lens in this list.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens28.4(805)3.5 x 4.4(88.5 x 113.0)822012
Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM Lens50.5(1430)4.1 x 5.5(103.8 x 139.8)952018
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E AF-S VR Lens37.8(1070)3.5 x 6.1(88.0 x 154.5)822015
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens36.0(1020)3.5 x 4.2(88.0 x 107.6)822017
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens31.3(886)3.4 x 5.4(87.6 x 136.0)822016
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens31.9(904)3.5 x 4.4(88.4 x 111.8)822017
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens19.4(550)2.9 x 4.6(73.0 x 117.8)672018
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens18.0(510)2.9 x 3.6(73.0 x 92.0)67
Tokina 24-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens35.2(998)3.5 x 4.2(89.6 x 107.5)822015

For many more comparisons, review the complete Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

Making the comparison visual:

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens to other lenses.

With a smooth, narrow, and lightweight design, this lens is a pleasure to carry and use for even long periods of time. As shared earlier, I've carried it to numerous places and found nothing to complain about in these regards, aside from the slight grip comfort issue.

The medium-sized 67mm filter threads mean that filters for this lens are not too expensive. Also positive is that this is a common size, increasing the potential for filter sharing. Note that using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter will increase peripheral shading slightly at 28mm. A slim model such as the B+W XS-Pro or Breakthrough X4 is highly recommended.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Angle View with Hood

To be counted on is that Tamron will include the lens hood in the box, with this lens model getting the HA036 lens hood (logically adding an "H" to the front of the lens' model number "A036"). While not big, this nice-looking semi-rigid plastic hood definitely provides some protection from impact and from flare-inducing bright lights. This hood bayonet-mounts and lacks a release button. With few exceptions, I always use a lens hood and note that a reversed lens hood does not count and even gets in the way, yielding a negative impact.

A lens case is not included with this lens. Lowepro's Lens Cases are a favorite for a quality, affordable single lens storage, transport, and carry solution.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Cap

Most lens caps provided today work very well, but Tamron's lens caps have long been great.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Front View on Camera

Price and Value

To state it concisely, the value of this lens is exceptional.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Angle View

What does "Di III" mean? Tamron's Di III lenses are designed for use on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens specifically is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full frame and APS-C sensor format models.

At this point in a review, I always provide a disclaimer regarding potential compatibility issues with third party lenses. That Sony has worked more closely with third parties than Canon and Nikon reduces the risk for purchasing this lens. That the firmware for this lens can easily be updated through compatible cameras further reduces risk.

Tamron USA provides a significant 6-year limited warranty and Tamron Europe's limited warranty is an also-long 5 years. Those warranty durations should help alleviate any build quality concerns.

The reviewed Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens was online-retail sourced.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Angle View Extended with Hood

Alternatives to the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens

The big question at this time is, should I get the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens or the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens? In the image quality comparison, I'm going to give the Tamron the slight edge in most (all?) comparisons. The Sony has very slightly less vignetting at f/2.8 and I like the Tamron's flare response slightly better. Which lens has more linear distortion depends on the focal length being compared, but the Tamron shows less pincushion distortion at the long end.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens vs. Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens comparison shows, as we saw earlier in the review, the Sony being significantly larger and heavier. The filter size difference, 67mm vs. 82mm, follows in this regard. Especially with its heavier weight, the Sony seems better constructed. The Tamron has a higher maximum magnification, 0.34x vs. 0.24x, with the caveat that it comes with significant levels of lateral CA.

The Sony's additional 4mm on the wide end is going to be found more valuable to most than the Tamron's additional 5mm on the long end. The Sony has an AF/MF switch, a zoom ring lock, and it comes with a case included. You could buy a boatload of cases for the huge price difference. The Sony's price tag is well over 2x higher than the Tamron's. I usually prefer the camera manufacturer brand lens, but ... I'm having trouble maintaining that direction with this comparison.

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens is a lens commonly adapted for use on Sony mirrorless cameras. In the image quality comparison, the Tamron once again rivals the camera manufacturer brand. The Canon has slightly less peripheral shading at the wide end at f/2.8 and the Tamron shows modestly less flare effects.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens vs. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens comparison shows the Canon being the larger and heavier lens. The difference is not quite as big as in the Sony comparison, but it is still significant. The filter size difference, 67mm vs. 82mm, again reflects the lens size difference. Especially with its heavier weight, the Canon seems better constructed. The Tamron has a higher maximum magnification, 0.34x vs. 0.21x, with the issue that it comes with significant levels of lateral CA.

The Canon's additional 4mm on the wide end is going to be found more valuable to most than the Tamron's additional 5mm on the long end. The Canon has AF/MF and zoom ring lock switches. While the Canon is considerably more affordable than the Sony (before the cost of a Canon EF to Sony E-mount adapter is factored in), the Tamron remains the far less expensive option.

Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

Something doesn't add up. The comparisons just shared, along with the rest of the review, show the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens delivering image quality comparable to the best-in-class lenses, yet this lens is far smaller, much lighter, and costs significantly less than the premier lens options. What am I missing?

The Tamron's light weight does not exude rugged build quality confidence, but it seems nicely built with tight tolerances and a very long warranty indicates that Tamron expects the lens to hold up and it performs very well. Using the most extreme minimum focus distance results in very strong lateral CA, but ... using longer focus distances simply bring this lens down with the rest of the crowd in this regard, leaving it not disadvantaged.

The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens maintains the spirit of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, providing very impressive image quality from a small-sized and lightweight package. The low price of this lens does not veer from the mirrorless spirit and perhaps exceeds it. I'm not at all surprised that this lens is a best-seller right now and it will likely be so for a long time. It would be an even better seller if Tamron could produce enough lenses to satisfy the orders for it.

What is the best Tamron lens? After using it a considerable amount, the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens has become my new favorite. It is a very compelling choice for a huge range of general-purpose needs.

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My Recommended Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my purchases. Get your Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD Lens now from:

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