A professional photographer is one that makes more of their taxable income from photography that’s been contracted to them. In most cases, they don’t have a lot of money to spend. Luckily, Tamron has been making pretty exceptional lenses for mirrorless cameras for several years now. And more than any other third-party brand, we tend to throw our weight behind them. So here are the best budget zoom lenses for professional photographers. Know that we’ve reviewed all of these, too.
This article is presented in partnership with Tamron.
Table of Contents
How We Test and Choose the Best Budget Zoom Lenses for Professional Photographers
- The Phoblographer’s various product round-up 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 fully reviewed in these roundups.
- 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.
- When we test lenses, we’ve got various things in mind. First off, we consider who might want to buy the lens and what they might do with it. With that in mind, we try to tackle at least three genres of photography with that lens in a variety of situations. If the lens has weather resistance, then we’ll test it accordingly with a weather-resistant camera. We also test the autofocus of the lens in continuous mode, single mode, with exposure preview effects, without those effects, and then with all the major image quality parameters. These days, no one really makes a bad lens — but some are far better than others.
- In this specific roundup, we’re basing our findings on the reviews that we’ve done. We’re choosing a favorite, but we’re also giving photographers a bunch of others that they might like, depending on how they shoot.
Our Choice for the Best Budget Zoom Lens for Professional Photographers: Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD
It’s really nearly impossible to beat this thing. For several photographers, the Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD is the only lens they need. Available for both Sony FE and Nikon Z mount, it gives professional photographers the most frequently used focal lengths in just one lens. Tamron packed sharp image quality, speedy autofocus, superior build quality, and other cool features including a built-in USB port to update the firmware and customize the lens for your still of video shooting style. And that firmware tells a story since the lens has been optimized to be faster focusing at least once.
These specs are borrowed from the Lensrentals listing
|Angle of View
63° 26’- 16° 25’ (for full-frame mirrorless format)
|Low Dispersion Elements
|1:5.7 (Wide) / 1:5.9 (Tele)
|Mfr. Model Number
|Minimum Object Distance (M.O.D.)
|13″ (0.33m) (Wide) / 33.5″ (0.85m) (Tele)
What We Think
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 pretty much as hard, but the colors here are a bit more muted. I adore that. And it’s also so much more important for anyone shooting portraits.”
Other Great Options for the Best Budget Zoom Lenses for Professional Photographers
It’s pretty universally decided that most photographers will do well with the Tamron 35-150mm. But what if you shoot other camera formats or subjects? Well, then we’ve got you covered with these two lenses.
TAMRON 17-70MM F2.8 Di III-A VC RXD: Great for Fujifilm X (and Sony E-mount, too)
In our review, we state:
“In terms of autofocus, this lens can surely hold its own with nearly anything that Fujifilm makes. And that’s wonderful to know! In fact, I’d rate it along the lines of the new Fujifilm LM lenses. That means that it’s faster than most of the older glass out there.“
TAMRON 150-500MM F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD: Great for Fujifilm, Nikon, and Sony
In our review we state:
“The Nikon Z mount has been working very closely with Tamron recently. In the case of the Tamron 150-500mm lens, it’s now available for the system. This lens has some of Tamron’s highest-end technology inside of it — like the autofocus motors and the optics. For what it’s worth, it performs admirably on the Nikon z9.“
Using This Guide to the Best Budget Zoom Lenses for Professional Photographers
If you’re considering purchasing anything from this list of the best budget zoom lenses for professional photographers, know the following:
- This is a sponsored roundup. But any professional will tell you that Tamron makes the best budget zoom lenses for the pros. The image quality, autofocus performance, price, and overall quality are there like no other lenses on the market.
- Originally, these lenses were available only for the Sony E mount. But that has since expanded. Perhaps more mounts will be covered in the future.
- Tamron is partially owned by Sony, so the autofocus performance is typically better with them than it is with other 3rd party options.
- Tamron’s zooms are often better than Fujifilm’s own.
- Nikon rebadges many of Tamron’s own lenses after making some external updates to them. But if you’re looking to save money, get the available Tamron lens.
- Our Editor in Chief owns three Tamron lenses for the Sony E mount. In fact, they’re the only zoom lenses he owns, and he’s famous for never wanting to use zooms.
- All of these lenses offer some of the best weather resistance on the market.
Picking the Right One For You
If you’re still a bit confused as to the right lens for you, here are some questions to ask yourself
- What’s your budget?
- How will you use the product?
- What lighting situations are you in, and how will that affect what you’re doing? Our reviews hyperlinked in this article can help with that.
- Are you traveling a lot with it?
- Will you be using it in a situation that’s a bit rougher?
- Who else uses this product? How are they using it?
- What’s so appealing about this product that I can’t get from what I have already or something else?
- When will I really have time to use this product?
- Where will I bring this product?
- How will this product help bring me joy and joy in my photography?
These are just a few of the questions that we ask ourselves, but we think that you should ask yourself these for sure.