This large-aperture wideangle zoom hits the sweet spot for Sony full-frame mirrorless users, says Andy Westlake

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD

Pros:

  • + Large f/2.8 maximum aperture is good for low-light shooting
  • + Excellent optical quality even at large apertures
  • + Compact size and light weight
  • + Splash-proof construction

Cons:

  • - Relatively short 1.6x zoom range limits versatility
  • - Front-mounted zoom ring doesn't quite fall naturally to hand

Product:

Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£899.99
Sony’s full-frame mirrorless system has been around for more than five years now, but the big third-party lens makers have only started to pay proper attention to it relatively recently. However while the likes of Zeiss and Samyang have made a decent array of E-mount primes, only Tamron has yet made a native full-frame autofocus zoom. Following on from the highly regarded 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD that it launched in early 2018, the firm has now released a wideangle companion, in the shape of the 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD.

The 17-28mm f/2.8 is very compact for a fast wideangle zoom

This new optic maintains the same design philosophy, being a large-aperture zoom that achieves a compact size by employing a relatively modest focal-length range. Indeed its 1.6x zoom ratio is surprisingly short in a market where such lenses usually extend to 35mm. But there’s a good deal of sense in Tamron’s approach, as most users will surely be pairing the lens with a standard zoom starting at 24mm or 28mm.

The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is designed for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras

The 17-28mm f/2.8 goes head-to-head in the market with the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS, and a spec comparison between the two makes for interesting reading. The lenses are the same length, but the Tamron is somewhat slimmer and 100g lighter, at 420g. The Sony has a wider zoom range but gathers a stop less light, and while it also includes optical stabilisation, this is inconsequential for users of cameras that include in-body IS – in other words, all except Sony’s first-generation full-frame mirrorless bodies. Crucially, the Tamron is more affordable, with a launch price of £900 compared to the Sony’s £1050 street price. So how does it perform?

Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD – Features

Despite the lens’s relatively restricted zoom range, Tamron hasn’t skimped on the optics. The 13-element, 11-group design includes three aspherical elements, two low dispersion glass elements and an extra-low dispersion glass element, all with the aim of minimising distortion and chromatic aberration. Tamron also makes full use of in-camera software compensation to suppress residual aberrations.

A petal-shaped lens hood is included in the box

Zooming and focusing are both internal, which means that the lens’s length and balance stay essentially the same at all times. The minimum focus distance ranges from 19cm at wideangle to 26cm at the 28mm setting, allowing striking close-ups. The barrel features moisture-resistant construction for shooting outdoors in challenging conditions, with fluorine coating on the front element to repel raindrops and fingerprints alike.

The lens sports a 67mm filter thread – unusually small for a wideangle zoom

Filter uses will appreciate the 67mm thread, which is unusually small for a wideangle zoom, allowing the use of relatively inexpensive accessories. It’s also shared with both the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 and Sony’s compact 24-70mm f/4 standard zoom. A petal-shaped lens hood is included in the box and reverses neatly for storage, while the front element retracts further within the barrel on zooming to 28mm, providing additional shading against incident light.

  1. 1. Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD - Features
  2. 2. Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD - Build and handling
  3. 3. Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD - Performance
  4. 4. Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD - Verdict
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