I Love This Lens: Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD Review

The Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD is quite a fun lens to use, but it’s not perfect.

I’ve learned something over the years; if anyone knows how to make a superzoom lens, it’s Tamron. They’ve made a few that were great in the past decade. And with the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD, I’m impressed on a level I didn’t expect to be. Typically with superzooms like this, you sacrifice on image quality. But in Capture One 20, we couldn’t find any significant issues with distortion sharpness, etc. Throw in the fact that this lens is weather-sealed, lightweight, and small. Seems like a perfect lens, right? On top of all this, consider the fact that there’s only a two-stop difference between the wide end and the telephoto end. The focal length range with the apertures is very usable indeed. Despite all this, there’s one big problem that you’ll need to find a way past.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • A handy range of focal lengths
  • A useful set of apertures too!
  • There’s a lock at the wider end, though it’d be better if it locked at specific focal lengths too.

Cons

  • Believe it or not, this lens could use image stabilization.

Gear Used

We tested the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD with the Sony a7r III and the Sony a7 original.

Tech Specs

Specs for the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD are taken from the LensRentals listing. Be sure to rent one!

Angle of View75° 23′ to 12° 21′
Aperture Blades7, Rounded
AutofocusAutofocus
BrandTamron
CompatibilityFull Frame
Diameter2.9″
Filter Size67.0mm
Focal Length28.0-200.0
Groups/Elements14/18
Hood IncludedYes
Image StabilizationNo
Item TypeLens
Length4.6″
Lens TypeNormal Range
Max Aperture2.8
Maximum Magnification0.32x
Mfr. Model NumberA071
Minimum Aperture22.0
Minimum Focusing Distance0.6feet
MountSony E
Weight1.27 lbs.

 

Ergonomics

Here’s what the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD looks like. It’s characterized by two rings. The larger one controls the zoom functionality. The back ring is smaller, and that controls manual focus. In real-life use, this is a bit awkward. I’m so used to that ring being towards the front of a lens. But nonetheless, it helps with grip.

As far as controls go, the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD doesn’t have very much on it besides the zoom and focus ring. The outlier is this little switch. It controls the lock on the lens.

Here’s the front filter thread area. During our review, we didn’t use this lens with a filter of any sort. And luckily, the hood doesn’t make the overall package much larger.

When fully zoomed in, the lens almost doubles in size. But with that said, it’s still not that large. The Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD is a pretty compact lens, and we really enjoy that about it.

Build Quality

We used the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD in the rain a bit. NYC was subject to a dust storm that came across the Atlantic ocean and hit us pretty hard for a few days. The Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD on the Sony a7r III survived it all. Its design lets you grip it with ease while remaining usable–even in slippery conditions. More and more, I’ve wanted metal lenses, but I’m not sure I’d want a zoom lens that’s metal because of the apparent weight issues. With that said, the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD doesn’t have a lousy plastic feeling to it. Instead, it’s pretty solid. Tamron does indeed have lenses with metal built-in, but this isn’t one of them. So, in this case, I’m very impressed with the build quality of the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD. If it can survive the abuse we gave, you’ll be happy to know that you’re bound not to have an issue in most situations with this lens.

As far as I’m concerned about the build quality, the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD is rugged enough for professional use and travel photography. Providing that you put it in a camera bag with enough protection to resist the rough and tumble of an airport or other travel, I think this lens will be just fine. As I went around NYC on an apartment hunt, the lens came with me in various bags. Each and every time, it was subjected to a bit of abuse. We jokingly call them “durability tests” here at the Phoblographer. But the lens kept functioning flawlessly. So even though it’s a very affordable lens, it’s not cheating you out on quality.

Ease of Use

While I like the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD overall and I think that it’s simple to use, I think it’s held back by one big thing. If this lens had even just a little bit of image stabilization, it would be an easy Editor’s Choice award for us. But that’s not there. For those not familiar, Tamron designates their image-stabilized lenses with the “VC” moniker. That is what’s missing from the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD. Image stabilization would really help at the more telephoto end. Where I found it to be problematic is on a tripod at night. I turned off the image stabilization to shoot long exposures. But my roof was a bit shaky, and when I turned it back on in-camera, the problem mostly corrected itself. I believe that if the lens had it too, that the combo would have delivered better results.

Everyone likes to say that the camera has image stabilization, but it’s not as effective at telephoto focal lengths. The longer the focal length is, the less of an effect that sensor-based stabilization will have. Sensor stabilization works wonderfully on wider lenses. But at the telephoto end, you need it in the lens. Image stabilization will really help at the longer focal lengths and the overall ease of use. Sure, you can keep your ISO settings up high to compensate via the shutter speed. But why? Why not just give us consistent reliability?

Otherwise, this lens is standard fare for a Sony style lens. There isn’t a switch on the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD except for the lock. If you want to control the autofocus engagement, you’ll have to do so from the camera body. Otherwise, you’re just zooming in and out. Again, it’s a joy to use. I had a lot of fun with this lens.

Autofocus

The best part about Tamron lenses is that since Tamron is partially owned by Sony, I have a strong feeling that they’re sharing autofocus information better. So with the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD attached to the Sony a7r III and the Sony a7 original, it felt just like it was focusing with a Sony lens. It’s awesome. The only situation where I felt like it struggled is with really low light. But Sony, in general, will do that. Canon is still ahead of Sony in that regard.

At other times, I used the lens to track moving subjects and to automatically search for something cool to focus on. It had no trouble at all. And this is important because any photographer who wants to potentially buy this lens should be concerned about a third party on a Sony camera body. If you can’t utilize Sony’s fantastic autofocus, then why get the system? You’re throwing away a significant part of it otherwise. In the image above, the lens was able to lock onto the dog’s face and eyes to nail the shot. It’s pretty impressive.

Image Quality

Here’s where I’m maybe most impressed by the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD. It’s got fantastic image quality. No matter the focal length, it’s super sharp. You’re also able to get some beautiful looking bokeh at the telephoto end of this lens. And even better is the serious lack of distortion problems that I ran into with this lens. Some of the company’s prime lenses were riddled with distortion issues. But this one zoom doesn’t have any of those problems. Sounds backward, right? Indeed, this is the case.

Bokeh

The Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD has some gorgeous bokeh at the longer end of the lens. At the wider end, I wouldn’t really bother. It’s a 28mm f2.8, and you’re not going to get much to write home about. But the lens focuses reasonably close. So to each their own.

Chromatic Aberration

We couldn’t find any issues with purple fringing at all with the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD. But most impressive is the distortion control at the wider end. Tamron did a fantastic job here, and you’ll have little to worry about. This is great for architecture and cityscape photography. More importantly, it’s great for travel.

Color Rendition

I’ve always really liked Tamron’s color rendition, and there’s no exception to that preference here. The colors are lovely. Combine this with the sensor output from Sony, and you’ll have nothing to complain about overall.

Sharpness

The Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD is impressively sharp when stopped down. You’re able to render a whole lot of great details from the images. When we were shooting fireworks at f11, the sharpness was surprising. Not that I’m surprised by sharpness at f11, but I’m more surprised at the fact that a superzoom like this is just that capable. Well done, Tamron!

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small
  • Light
  • Affordably priced at $799.
  • Sharp
  • Compact for carrying

Dislikes

I wish it had just a bit of image stabilization.

There’s a lot that’s wonderful about the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD. From the time you pick it up, you’ll feel like this lens is one that you can permanently attach to your camera and enjoy. And quite honestly, it’s just that kind of lens. You can use it for everything. Does it specialize in anything in particular? No. But it’s more than good enough to do almost any job you need with the right add ons like a flash or a tripod. It’s also weather-sealed, lightweight, and small. The only caveat is the lack of image stabilization. But overall, it’s hard to find a significant fault with the Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD. There isn’t much to say about this lens because it’s just that good out of any superzoom that we’ve tested.

The Tamron 28-200mm f2.8-5.6 Di III RXD receives five out of five stars. Want one? Get them for $799.