I’m generally reluctant to try new things, especially when they are expensive. I was looking for a replacement for my 15-year-old Canon 35-135 f4-5.6. Quickly, I found that any sort lens manufactured by Canon was going to cost me more than I was willing to pay, so I looked at alternatives. In reviews, the one lens that constantly came up as a lot of bang for the buck was the Tamron SP AF 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF), which lists for around 450-500 USD. This sounds like a lot of money for a piece of glass, but is quite inexpensive compared to other manufacturers. Up to this point, I had never owned a Tamron lens, nor had I ever met anyone who had one that was much more than a cheap telephoto, so my impression was that Tamron made cheap lenses in terms of optical quality, and this was reflected in the price. I could not have been more wrong, as this lens was a pleasant surprise.
Speaking of optical quality, this particular lens bar none produces among some of the sharpest images I’ve seen. I was used to using my old Canon 35-135 f4-5.6 for most of my photography work, but it was designed for and intended for use with 35mm film SLR’s. The resulting images on 35mm are quite stunning, but when I started to use it with my first DSLR, it lacked the sharpness I’d come to appreciate on film. Generally, I had to stop it down to improve sharpness when shooting digital. When using film, I was generally able to get away with f/4 in lower light by using exposure bias, but not so much with digital because it has a narrower dynamic range than film. So with these things in mind, I went shopping for something that was faster and produced crisp images even while wide open, and I decided on the Tamron.
In terms of construction, this lens is built like most barrel lens in this price range, with a polycarbonate enclosure. The main drawback is that the zoom action is external, which could introduce dust and other contaminants inside the lens. The focus mechanism is internal, so this allows for circular filter use without messing up angular adjustments. It comes with a petal-type hood, which is nice to help prevent lens flares. The autofocus motor is kind of slow when going between extremely close to extremely far, but the focus was crisp, and when using something like AI servo mode on the camera, the motor was able to keep up when tracking the subject. It is surprisingly lightweight for an f/2.8 lens. When I opened the box, I was expecting a behemoth, but out stepped a small, 1 pound lens. This was nice, because I’ve been used to hauling around a boat anchor around my neck. After fitting it on my 50D is was comfortable to wear-in fact I hardly noticed it was there.
Lastly, Tamron gives a 3 year warranty with the lens, which is long compared to other manufacturers. I thought this was an added bonus when considering the price for performance.
In short, it’s inexpensive compared to other lens while delivering comparable performance. If you’re in the market for an affordable wide-aperture lens, consider this guy.