4 Professional Zoom Lenses for Photographers on a Budget

In the past few years, we’ve seen professional zoom lenses take a quantum leap forward. Prime lenses have always produced the best image quality, but zoom lenses have become exceptional. Professional zoom lenses have been the envy of many photographers. And if you shoot with Sony cameras, then you’re in luck as you have access to the best professional zoom lenses that don’t cost a whole lot of money. You’ll still have funds left over to get other accessories if you need them. So take a look at this roundup to see what’s great on the market right now.

How We Chose These Professional Zoom Lenses

Here’s some insight into how to use this guide on professional zoom lenses:

  • Our staff has reviewed all these professional zoom lenses. Each section has a link to our fuller reviews. We’ve shot all the product images and sample photos in this roundup, so you can trust that we’d recommend these products with confidence.
  • Most professional photographers know a zoom isn’t a substitute for getting closer. Sometimes you really, truly can’t get closer. But don’t use it as a crutch. Always remember the powerful framing a wider angle can provide.
  • These professional zoom lenses have some degree of weather-resistance built in. They’ll do the best job of keeping the sensor in your Sony camera clean.
  • These lenses work with Sony’s autofocus system to get great autofocus performance even in low light.
  • These lenses can fill a lot of gaps for you. Shooting a wedding? Are you a photojournalist? Going to photograph landscapes? Well, these lenses are capable. The Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 specifically is a huge winner on this list.
  • These lenses use Tamron optics and achieve a unique look. There’s surely character and it’s evident once you load the images into post-production software.

Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD

Tech Specs

ModelA058
Focal Length35-150mm
Maximum ApertureF2-2.8
Angle of View
(diagonal)
63°26′- 16°25′
(for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction21 elements in 15 groups
Minimum Object
Distance
0.33m (13 in) (WIDE) /
0.85m (33.5 in) (TELE)
Maximum Magnification
Ratio
1:5.7 (WIDE) / 1:5.9 (TELE)
Filter Sizeφ82mm
Maximum Diameterφ89.2mm
Length*158mm (6.2 in)
Weight1,165g (41.1 oz)
Aperture Blades9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum ApertureF16-22
Standard AccessoryFlower-shaped hood, Lens caps
MountSony E-mount
FormatFull-Frame Mirrorless***

How Are the Colors?

In our review, we state:

The first time Tamron’s colors really hit me was when they came out with their 35mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8 for DSLR cameras. The colors from the Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD hit me just as hard. But the colors here are a bit more muted, and I adore that. It’s also so much more important for anyone shooting portraits.

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Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD

ModelA046
Focal Length17-28mm
Maximum ApertureF2.8
Angle of View (diagonal)103°41′-75°23′ (for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction13 elements in 11 groups
Minimum Object Distance0.19m (7.5 in) (WIDE) /
0.26m (10.2 in) (TELE)
Maximum Magnification Ratio1:5.2 (WIDE) / 1:6 (TELE)
Filter SizeΦ67mm
Maximum DiameterΦ73mm
Length*99mm (3.9 in)
Weight420g (14.8 oz)
Diaphragm Blade Number9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum ApertureF/22
Standard AccessoriesFlower-shaped hood, Lens caps
Compatible MountsSony E-mount

How’s the Color?

In our review, we state:

Here at The Phoblographer, we tend to shoot in Daylight or Tungsten white balances. The images give us a more cinematic and film-like look straight out of the camera. We’re very happy to say, that when it comes to colors, the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD really excels.

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Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD G2

Tech Specs

ModelA063
Focal Length28-75mm
Maximum ApertureF2.8
Angle of View
(diagonal)
75°23′- 32°11′
(for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction17 elements in 15 groups
Minimum Object Distance0.18m (7.1 in) (WIDE) /
0.38m (15 in) (TELE)
Maximum Magnification Ratio1:2.7 (WIDE) / 1:4.1 (TELE)
Filter Sizeφ67mm
Maximum Diameterφ75.8mm
Length*117.6mm (4.6 in)
Weight540g (19 oz)
Aperture Blades9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum ApertureF22
Standard AccessoryFlower-shaped hood, Lens caps
MountSony E-mount
FormatFull-Frame Mirrorless***

How are the Colors?

In our review, we state:

“Tamron tends to be vivid and have its own sort of color that Sony doesn’t quite give. Sony is vivid, but also kind of sterile. Tamron isn’t that way. And in our tests, the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 G2 stayed true to that philosophy.

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Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III VXD

Tech Specs

ModelA056
Focal Length70-180mm
Maximum ApertureF2.8
Angle of View
(diagonal)
34°21′-13°42′ (for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction19 elements in 14 groups
Minimum Object DistanceAF: 0.85m /33.5 in (Full zoom range)
(MF: 0.27m /10.6 in (Wide), 0.85m /33.5 in (Tele))*
Maximum Magnification RatioAF: 1:4.6, MF: 1:2 (Wide) / 1:4.6 (Tele)*
Filter SizeΦ67mm
Maximum DiameterΦ81mm
Length**149mm (5.9 in)
Weight810g (28.6 oz)
Aperture Blades9 (circular diaphragm)***
Minimum ApertureF/22
Standard AccessoryFlower-shaped hood, Lens caps
Compatible MountsSony E-mount

How are the Colors?

In our review, we state:

“Colors rendered by the Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 are vibrant and saturated but lean towards the warmer side out-of-camera. This is preferred by some photographers, providing a more organic tone to images. Those seeking more color-accurate images will want to shoot using custom white balances.”

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The Phoblographer’s various product roundup features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve thoroughly reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This piece is presented in partnership with TAMRON. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this roundup already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few essential gems to you.

Chris Gampat

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