Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens for full-frame Digital SLRs.

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Handling and Features

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: Tamron 28 300mm PZD Di Lens (1)

Tamron have offered a 28-300mm super-zoom lens of one kind or another for 35mm full frame cameras for quite some time now. This lens is the latest refinement, which sports optical vibration compensation, a silent piezo-electric focusing motor and a splash-proof construction. The lens costs around £620, and we'll take a look how it performs in this review.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Handling and Features

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: Tamron 28 300mm PZD Di Lens (6)

The size of this lens is fairly typical for an optic sporting a 10x zoom range, as is the weight, which is 540g. It balances well on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III body used for testing, and will make a good companion for smaller, more compact SLR camera bodies as well. Matte finished, high quality plastics have been used for much of the construction of the lens barrel, and the bayonet fitting is metal, so it feels reasonably robust as a result. A rubber gasket, located around the metal lens bayonet, will help to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body. The lens professes to be dust and splash proof, and is sealed internally.


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A Piezo Drive motor powers autofocus and speeds are fairly quick, for a super-zoom lens. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring near the base of the lens. Manual focusing action is smooth and well damped, which makes fine adjustments a pleasure to apply. The zoom action is as smooth and although it seems to tighten up a little when being zoomed from 200mm to 300mm, it doesn't snag at all. Enough resistance has been applied to prevent the zoom creeping forward when it is pointed down, even so, a switch to lock the lens at 28mm is provided, to prevent the lens from being extended accidentally when removed from a case or bag.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: Tamron 28 300mm PZD Di Lens (4)

Closest focus distance is 49cm, which is fairly typical for a lens covering this zoom range and focusing is performed internally. The 67mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers. A petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which attaches to the bayonet fitting on the front of the lens.

Tamron's Vibration Compensation system promises to allow hand held shooting at shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be consistently possible. The system settles down quickly , providing a steady viewfinder image, although it is best to leave a short pause after focusing to allow the system to settle properly. With care, sharp held held shots were possible at shutter speeds as low as 1/30sec around half the time at 300mm, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb may recommend.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: Tamron 28 300mm PZD Di Lens (3)

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Performance

At 28mm and maximum aperture, the sharpness delivered by this lens across the frame is already excellent. Stopping down improves performance across the frame, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/8. Here clarity is outstanding across the frame.

Zooming to 100mm, results in a drop in sharpness to very good levels in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, and good clarity towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to f11 provides the best performance across the frame for this focal length, here sharpness is excellent across the frame.

Finally at 300mm, overall performance is reduced a little further, but the lens still holds pretty well, especially for a lens with such a large zoom range. At f/6.3, sharpness reaches good levels across the frame. As is the case with 100mm, f/11 provides the best performance, producing very good levels of sharpness across the frame.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: MTF@28mm
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: MTF@100mm
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: MTF@300mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.


Levels of chromatic aberrations are kept within acceptable limits throughout the zoom range, with fringing only exceeding one pixel width at f/6.3 and 300mm. This low level of fringing should pose few issues, even in images with high contrast towards the edges of the frame.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: CA@28mm
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: CA@100mm
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review: CA@300mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.


Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is reasonably controlled for a lens of this type. At 28mm the corners are 2.39 stops darker than the image centre and at 300mm the corners are 1.69 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/8 or beyond throughout the zoom range.

As is often the case with super zoom lenses, distortion is noticeable at both ends of the zoom range, although it isn't too intrusive. At 28mm 4.51% barrel distortion is present, which is a noticeable level and at 300mm 1.1% pincushion distortion is present, which is much less apparent. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so any distortion should be fairly easy to correct in image editing software subsequently if required.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a respectable job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss on contrast. At 300mm, shooting into the light does result in a little loss of contrast, but otherwise, this lens is fairly immune to flare.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Sample Photos

Value For Money

This 28-300mm lens costs around £620, which is comparable to Nikon's 28-300mm VR lens, which retails for around £659, although the Nikon optic has a slightly faster f/5.6 maximum aperture at 300mm.

This lens will be of particular interest to owners of Canon or Sony full frame cameras, as neither manufacturer currently offers a similar lens. Well, Canon do offer a 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L USM lens, but it is huge, heavy and costs around £1900, so it is hardly similar.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Verdict

Superzoom lenses like this offer a versatile, compact option which is great for travel, or simply for when a large zoom range is convenient. This lens adds a decent vibration compensation system, resistance to dust and moisture and fast focusing to allow this lens to be used in a wide range of shooting scenarios, further increasing the convenience on offer.

Although Nikon camera owners may see that the difference in price to the marque alternative is only slight, it will be owners of Sony and Canon full frame cameras, looking for a convenient option for travel, or simply for when wandering with their camera, especially as there is no sensible alternative from these camera manufacturers, or any other third party lens brands currently available.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Pros

Consistent sharpness across the frame
Convenient 10.7x zoom range
Effective VC system
Good build and splash proof construction
Reasonably compact and lightweight
Piezoelectric focusing motor

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Cons

Not much different in price between this and Nikon marque lens


Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens Review:

The Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD offers a versatile, compact option which is great for travel.


With thanks to Harrison Cameras for loan of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF
  • Sony Alpha
  • Sony A
Focal Length28mm - 300mm
Angle of View8.15° - 75.23°
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
Min Aperturef/22 - f/40
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalent28mm - 300mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus49cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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celios Avatar
celios 7 Australia
8 Feb 2016 2:42AM
Just read your ephotozone review on the Tamron 28-300 pzd lens. Thankyou, an excellent summary of the performance of this lens.
However, I have a question. How is it possible for the performance of this lens (MTF charts ) to go right off the scale BEYOND excellent at the 28mm focal length and the 100mm.? This is a far better performance than the test for the similar 28-300 Nikkor on your site - which I don't have a problem with, but is this chart correct for the Tamron?
If so, it appears to be a far better lens for IQ than the Nikon equivalent.
Would any one care to comment/clarify. I am looking to buy a 28-300 for my D750 and the Tamron looks superior and cheaper!
Bonzozine Avatar
Bonzozine 8 1
22 Feb 2016 3:12AM
Hi. I have many expensive prime lenses and zooms for my Nikon d750 and d5200. I recently bought the Tamron 28 300 latest version lens as a daytime walkabout lens. It is small and light and it is great to have just one lens when out for walks. I am blown away with the performance of this lens at f8 or f11. The optical performance is superb. At 28 mm -35mm f8 ish it is as sharp as my Nikon and Sigma prime lenses. I live in sunny S, and before I purchased this lens I had already made the assumption that it would not meet my requirements at al,l if it was used whilst opened up to f5.6 or whatever. So if you have a d 750 and you want to have a cracking good lens and are prepared to push up the ISO on a dull UK day, then I thoroughly recommend this lens. You will not get a shallow depth of field, but hey... you actually get a a very good depth of field which is what I need most of the time.It is excellent value for money. For professional work, portraiture etc. (I make a healthy part time living from photography) I use my Tamron (superb) 24-70 VC f2.8, Tamron (superb) 70-200 VC f2.8 and for low light live music gigs I use sigma f1.4 primes.
I have bought all of my lenses after reviewing the Ephotozine reviews and MTF charts and so far they have been a fair representation of my own experiences. if you are after a great zoom that knocks the spots of the Nikon zooms then get the Tamron VC latest 28 300. and just keep it set on aperture mode at f8 or f11. Good Luck.
celios Avatar
celios 7 Australia
22 Feb 2016 11:14AM
Thanks for this inside info on the Tamron 28-200 Bon. Great to get some good insights from someone in the know.
I thought as much from the extensive research and online comparisons I have done on the Tamron vs the Nikon 28-300. I have tried out the Nikkor 28 - 300, which is pretty good, although at 300 not terrific. If the Tamron matches it, and it appears to and maybe more, then I will be happy. It is a lot cheaper than the Nikkor here in Oz. so
I think I will go ahead and buy one.
I also have a Sigma 150 - 500 which needs to be used at f8/f11 to get the best resolution and I have no problem with this. As you say, it is just a matter of cranking up the ISO and wallah! great images.
Thanks again for the feedback.
celios Avatar
celios 7 Australia
29 Feb 2016 10:57AM
Just bought this lens. It is proving to be a quite remarkable lens on my Nikon D750. Beautiful sharp images across the focal length range and very solid and well built.
Never bought a Tamron before - only Nikkors, but this is a very nice lens and having tested the Nikon 28-300 I think this is better - both in terms of IQ and handling. Never thought I would go for a Tamron, but this is a beauty.
Bonzozine Avatar
Bonzozine 8 1
26 Mar 2016 12:59AM
Very quick update....... I am still very impressed with this lens even when compared to my Sigma f1.4 primes and Nikkors etc. I use it on my D 750 and now on my apsc Nikon d 7200. From my research this is the sharpest superzoom for a cropped sensor camera and the MTF charts for the Nikon, Sigma and Tamron superzoom cropped frame equivalent lenses are technically not as good as this lens.....(MT charts) bearing in mind that the equivalent zoom range is 42 -450mm. All being said, I only really use this lens in daylight where I live in sunny Spain at f8 or f11. I have managed to get some fantastic shots at f 11 which when blown up to A3 size, the IQ is excellent. Today I have sold one of those photos !! Very roughly, the best IQ is probably between 28mm and 250mm ish. Wait for this.....I dropped the lens on to marble tiles from waist height.....lens hood and rear lens cap attached. No damage whatsoever ! Unlike my beautiful Tamron 24 70 VC which I dropped last month in similar circumstances that has cost me a small fortune to repair with Tamron in Germany. Don't drop lenses on concrete or marble !
rfwilliams Avatar
3 Mar 2021 9:57PM
This is a very good lens, but unfortunately Tamron is not in the business of keeping the firmware updated on this model. I have one that I use on a Nikon D750 and would like to use on my Nikon Z6 with the FTZ adapter, but the lens does not work. I also have the Tamron 35mm F/1.8, the 45mm F/1.8, the 85mm F/1.8 and they all work with the FTZ adapter. Oh, Tamron still sells this lens, but they don't have a fix for the newer Nikon cameras. If you every want to go Nikon Mirrorless, you do not want this lens!
Photomate Avatar
13 Oct 2021 7:28AM
I was blown away by the Color and Contrast of this lens, that said my copy is a little soft on the right hand side, i have had it serviced by Tamron in the Euro zone, is much better now, bit still a little soft on Full frame.. i used it on my Canon 7DII at some local men's Soccer matches, shooting the action when the players came very close to the sideline, i got some really good shots with it, i also have some Canon Fast Primes, again the Color and Contrast and the out of focus areas are very sweet.

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