10 march, 2020
For a short period of time I had the pleasure of having the entire Tamron family for Sony FE mount. The two zoom lenses, which are very successful, the Tamron 17-28mm f 2.8 Di III RXD and 28-75mm f 2.8 RXD III and the three prime lenses Tamron 35mm f 2.8 Di III OSD, Tamron 24mm f 2.8 Di III OSD and Tamron 20mm f 2.8 Di III OSD which is the latest release. The series does not end here, Tamron has also announced a 70-180mm f 2.8 tele lens to be released this spring.
As we already talked about the two zooms, let’s see about the three primes. This time I will skip the specifications, which you can easily find. I will just point out that all three lenses can focus very close to the subject, obtaining a magnification ratio of 1: 2. This way you can get some interesting pictures, especially from 20mm.
The lens design maintains the minimalist zoom lens line. The 35mm has a strange lens hood and the front element is very small, as the Tamron wanted to maintain the same dimensions for all three lenses and that’s why they oversized the 35mm housing. I appreciated that all five lenses produced so far use the same 67mm filters.
The materials used are the same as the ones we were used to, the plastic used making them extremely light: the 20mm has only 220g.
The most pleasant surprise is that the metal frame has been protected against moisture with the rubber lining, which is a bonus considering the price is more than decent.
Tamron 20mm f 2.8 Di III OSD is the least sharp of them. Compared with the 17-28 at 20mm the clarity in the center of the image at f 2.8 is similar, but as we move away to the corners we see a significant difference, the fixed lens, contrary to expectations, remaining behind the zoom. The difference disappears after f 5.6.
The colors are neutral, the contrast is good.
The 20mm distortes very strongly, lucky that the camera correction profile is applied to the JPG and the RAW Lightroom already has the correction profile, even if it is a very new lens. The 24mm does moderate distortion, and the 35mm does not distort at all.
All lenses vignette quite strongly at f 2.8, but what surprised me is that the 20mm vignette a little even at f8. Personally it does not affect me too much, and the existence of the correction profiles makes the flower compensate for the ear.
Flares and chromatic aberrations
I did not notice chromatic aberrations, and the flare is well controlled at all targets.
At small apertures, the lenses produce 14 rays around the light sources due to the 7 blades of the diaphragms.
It’s an element that tastes good. I noticed that in this chapter the three fixed lenses are slightly better, the background distracts less attention than the one obtained from the zoom lenses.
For all the lenses the focus is very precise, but it disappoints by the slow speed, well below today’s standard, and by the fact that it is not exactly silent. The noise is not a continuous one, but rather like clicks that might disappoint those interested in video, especially since the 20mm lens would certainly have been interesting for the vloggers.
The OSD (Optimized Silent Drive) focus system is different from the one used on zoom lenses. The RXD used on these is faster and totally quiet.
If for 20 and 24mm the focus speed is only slow, for the 35mm lens it is a problem, even in good light the focus is not cursive, but on interrupted segments of waiting moments. In dim light the time is extended further. It is best observed when having to make large transitions from the close subject to the distant one or vice versa.
I also conducted tests on the subject in motion. The 35 is not able to keep up with a running man, and 20 and 24 behaved better, but still not very good.
The test device was a Sony A7 III.
28-75 and 17-28 also had problems on the focus side, which Tamron later solved from the software.
- Low price
- Small size and weight
- Weather sealed construction
- Slow focus
- No stabilization
- The 20mm and 24mm might be sharper
I recommend them for
I recommend them for travel photography, landscape, street, architecture, photo reporting.
Tamron has a strong competition here, in addition to the native Sony 28mm f 2 and 35mm f 1.8 lenses, we have a full range of Samyang 18mm, 24mm and two 35mm variants (pancake f2.8 and a f 1.4). Sigma has the same 20, 24 and 35mm series but with f 1.4. And if I missed something you can add them in the comments.
This set of fixed lenses may not enjoy the same success that Tamron’s zoom lenses had, but they come as a beneficial addition to the offer. They will certainly find their place in the photo bags of those with a smaller budget. They are excellent for those who want a lightweight backpack.
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