We’ve Reached Peak Zoom Lens. That’s Great for New Photographers.

For years, I didn’t have a lot of trust in zoom lenses, but that’s changed a bit.

Like many of you, I’m a prime lens shooter. I swear by my 35mm lenses. But I’ve run into situations where a zoom would’ve helped. It’s inevitable for many journalists. However, most zoom lenses just don’t cut it for me. They’re too big. Or the image quality fails at some point. Or they’re too slow. There are lots of reasons why I don’t choose zoom lenses. The last zoom I bought was the old Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM. Remember that lens? It left a really bad taste in my mouth. Since then, we’ve been reviewing nearly every zoom lens on the market. They’ve progressively gotten better. But the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 lens recently won me over.

If you’ve read this site for a time, you’ll know I’m a champion of mirrorless cameras. I always have been. The DSLR couldn’t die any sooner in my eyes. So when lenses began coming out just for mirrorless, I got excited. And that’s where I’ve always found Tamron’s relationship with Sony fascinating. Sony owns a part of Tamron. As a result, they make lenses for the Sony system. What’s more, the lenses are fantastic. Not only are they affordable, but they focus quickly and have great image quality. Beyond this, they’re incredibly well built and weather sealed. How can you go wrong?

I often feel like Sigma gets most of the attention. But they’ve got their problems. On the other hand, Tamron’s lenses don’t have major issues. Some of their primes have a too much distortion for my taste, but that’s rare and easily fixed in post-production. 

So why the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8? I needed something to round out what I have for Sony. I otherwise own all Sony lenses. None of them are G Master glass: I go for their f1.8 primes instead. Their 35mm, 55mm, and 85mm are excellent. But on the wider end, I need more versatility. And the Tamron does just that. Personally speaking, I’m confident most folks can’t tell the difference between G Master and G lenses. If you pixel peep, you’ll see it, but most folks don’t pixel peep.

The Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 has been used for our Pro Camera Reviews show. I’ve also used it a bit for product photography. When the pandemic settles down a bit, I might do some exploring with it. But it’s a solid lens that I’ll be happy with for a long time. Overall, we reviewed the lens very favorably.

If I buy another zoom lens, it would probably be for the Canon RF system. I wish something like the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 lens came to that system. They need better third party support for sure.

To think that many years ago when I started my career, zoom lenses sucked. And I don’t just mean they had issues; they legitimately sucked. They all had distortion. Some had lens creep. Some didn’t have weather sealing. Others felt so incredibly cheap. There were sharpness issues or vignetting problems. There was also focus breathing. But after a decade, that’s mostly not the case.

It’s so amazing that lens manufacturers have come this far. And overall, you don’t necessarily need a prime lens to be your first lens anymore. We’re now at a point where good quality zoom lenses are affordable enough. They can be your first lens for sure.

Editor’s Note: This isn’t a sponsored post. It’s my own opinions because folks are interested in what gets lots of the work done here on The Phoblographer. We’ve also been quite critical of Tamron in the past as we are of any other company. It’s our job.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.