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Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD to the test, capturing photos in and around his local area to find out just how good it is for general photography.


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Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD
 

Tamron lays claim to yet another "first" with the fastest general-purpose zoom lens for full-frame mirrorless Sony FE fit cameras. The new lens sports a super-fast 35-150mm f2-2.8 specification and if the performance fulfils its promise then we will have something uniquely useful for travel and general photography. Here we couple the new lens to the 42MP Sony A7R III full-frame body, so let's see how we get on.

 

Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD Lens Handling and Features

Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD
 

The fast, bright f/2-2.8 maximum aperture does come at a price and that is, predictably, size and weight. The lens is bulky and feels quite heavy, weighing in at a solid 1165g. This is probably approaching the limit for a lens with no tripod mount, but it does mary up well with the camera body and feels quite balanced in use.

Starting at the front, there is a supplied petal lens hood that bayonets slickly and securely into place. There is a locking catch, nicely recessed so that there is no danger of it being accidentally released. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 82mm filter thread. The front element of the lens is water repellant and the whole construction is moisture resistant. Tamron notes that this is not full weather resistance but nonetheless does offer an advantage in damp conditions.

The manual focusing ring is electronic and, as usual, impeccably smooth in operation. It supports the usual Sony focusing methods, including AF, DMF (Direct Manual Focusing) and MF. DMF enables manual focus tweaks to be made to the focus position whilst AF is still active. All focusing options are controlled from the camera body. The AF is smooth, faster and whisper-quiet. Focusing is down to a “minimum object distance” of 0.33m, or 13 inches, at 35mm, for a maximum magnification of 1:5.7 and 0.85m, or 33.5 inches, at 150mm, for a maximum magnification of 1:5.9.

Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD
 

There are three buttons that control focus lock and it does strike me that the placement suggests the lens has been designed for landscape or portrait orientation, but with right-handed photographers in mind. Perhaps there should be a fourth button provided to cater for those who are left-handed, but this is something that is just a question rather than a conclusion, and if it is an issue then it is not one that is confined to this lens but to almost all photographic kit.

The AF/MF switch is self-explanatory, as is the Lock switch that fixes the lens at 35mm for carrying purposes. As it happens the lens shows no sign of extending under its own weight whilst being carried, but perhaps it might after some time has passed. There is also a custom switch that is used to switch between various custom settings that can be set up using Tamron Lens Utility, but more of that in a moment.

The zoom ring extends the lens significantly but does not throw it too far out of balance. The markings are clear and also quite accurate. Behind the zoom ring is, unusually, a connector port for the specialised USB-C lead, the Tamron Connector Cable. Tamron Lens Utility can be downloaded from the Tamron website and offers not only a means of obtaining firmware updates for the lens, but also assigning various other functions. The options are detailed on the Tamron website and include focus ring set up, A-B focus, focus reset and various other options. Increasingly, this is an interesting continuing development in the concept of lens design being a partnership of lens and camera for functions and even reduction of aberrations.

 

Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD
 

Optical construction is 21 elements in 15 groups. Tamron has its own variety of multi-coating and uses BBAR-G2 (Broad Band Anti-reflection) which is well established as being highly effective. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades, for improved bokeh, the smoothness and aesthetic appearance of those out of focus areas.

There is no way this was ever going to be an ultra-compact lens, that f/2 maximum aperture value taking care of that. The usefulness of the lens is extended well into the evening hours or for available light shooting indoors, albeit as always at the cost of reduced depth of field at wider aperture values. This has great potential for portraits with nicely diffused backgrounds, but where more depth of field is required then smaller apertures will still need to be used.

 


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Comments


26 Jan 2022 2:24PM
How about focus breathing?

Thanks.
26 Jan 2022 2:58PM
Many lenses exhibit focus breathing and it doesn't necessarily have much of an impact for stills photography, but of course it can do depending on the sort of photography undertaken. I haven't made any specific note about it for this lens, but being an IF design it is likely to show some focus breathing.

I'm interested to know what photography you have in mind and how focus breathing will affect that?
1 Feb 2022 3:39PM
Is anyone able to shed some light on how this diffraction cheating result is possible? Is it misleading test data or is there a way a lens design can not feel the effects of diffraction at apertures like every other lens?
1 Feb 2022 3:58PM
An interesting question. It might of course be that some electronic correction is happening that we are unable to switch off. It might be that there is some edge displacement of the elements so that the figures improve because the aperture is smaller and there is more depth of field and depth of focus. Field curvature could mean that the edges are slightly out but it improves as we stop down. Just a few ideas there.

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