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Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 Lens Review

John Riley reviews the wide-angle Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 FE mount lens, for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras. Find out how it performs in this test.


|  Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Tamron has a trio of Sony E fit, full-frame prime wide-angle lenses that are small, light and very reasonably priced. A matching set comprising 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD, 24mm f/2.8 Di III OSD and 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD has to be an exciting proposition. Add to this a macro close focus magnification of half life-size and things start to look very interesting indeed. First off, let's look at the 20mm f/2.8 lens, coupled with the 42MP Sony A7R III camera body, and see what it can do.


Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 Handling and Features

Clearly, weighing in at a very modest 220g, there is an extensive use of plastics in the lens construction. This is not a negative point as the right sort of plastics can be effective and durable. In this case, the standard of manufacturing is excellent and the lens operates very smoothly. The front element is fluorine-coated to repel dust, moisture and grease and there is built-in moisture resistance to enable use in less than ideal weather conditions.

Starting at the front of the lens we have a dedicated petal lens hood that bayonets securely into position. There is no locking catch, but the hood shows no tendency to work loose anyway. The bayonet fit surrounds a standard 67mm filter thread. This size is common to all three lenses, offering a useful economy as only 67mm filters are needed for the set.

The only control on the lens is the manual focus ring and the function of this is, as usual, set on the camera body. The options are AF-S (AF Single Shot), AF-A (AF Auto), AF-C (AF Continuous), DMF (Direst Manual Focus – MF can be used while AF operational) and MF (Manual Focus). It is electronic in operation and utterly smooth in its action. The amount of resistance is just right. Focusing is down to 11cm, or 4.3 inches, a maximum magnification of 1:2, or half life-size. This is incredibly useful, allowing focusing as close as many macro lenses once did. Couple that with the ultra-wide 20mm focal length and many new possibilities arise for new perspectives on macro subjects. The only caution is that at the minimum focusing distance to 11cm (from the film plane) the front of the lens is only 2cm or so from the subject. This leaves little room for lighting so we do need to be careful that a shadow is not being cast on the subject. For the closest focusing, it may be useful to remove the lens hood to ensure there is some room to work.

Optical construction is 10 elements in 9 groups, including LD (Low Dispersion) and glass moulded aspherical elements. The diaphragm comprises 7 blades.

The term OSD means Optimised Silent Drive and refers to the AF motor. The AF is almost silent as we would expect, all but for the occasional slight sound if the focus point isn't grasped immediately. However, this is rare and most of the time AF locks on silently, quickly and accurately.

Finally, the metal mount is solid, but quite tight on this sample and it does not have the same silky feel as many lenses.

There are no particular vices when using the lens and it really is a pleasure to have such a compact, light optic at a time when many lenses are becoming ever faster in terms of maximum aperture, but ever larger and heavier as a consequence.


 


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Comments


Thanks for this review. I've got the 17-28/2.8 Tamron and the comparison of performance with this lens at 20mm shows a significant difference in sharpness and maybe, just maybe, justifying its addition.

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