Mirrorless cameras were originally designed to not be as large as DSLRs. But in recent years, lenses to accommodate those cameras have become ginormous. However, Tamron has kept it real the entire time. Their lenses truly aren’t all that massive. In fact, they make the best small zoom lenses under $1,000. With that you get greatimage quality, fast and quiet autofocus, weather resistance, and a lens that you won’t mind carrying around all day. Here are our favorites.
This article is presented in partnership with Tamron.
Table of Contents
How We Test and Choose the Best Small Zoom Lenses Under $1,000
- 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 Small Zoom Lens Under $1,000: Tamron 20-40mm f2.8 Di III VXD
What a fascinating choice of focal lengths, right? The Tamron 20-40mm f2.8 Di III VXD is on this list because it starts out at the wider end and then goes into the normal end at 40mm. 40mm lenses are some of our favorites; and this one stays at a consistent f2.8 throughout the range. With solid build quality, a small size, and fast autofocus, it’s really difficult to beat this lens.
These specs are taken from LensRentals
|Angle of View
|94.5 to 56.8°
|Wide Angle and Normal Range
|Macro Reproduction Ratio
|Mfr. Model Number
|Minimum Focusing Distance
|Groups/Elements11/10421Low-Dispersion ElementsGlass-Molded Aspherical ElementsHybrid Aspherical Elements
|Diameter (o x L)3.0 × 2.9″0.8 lb.Weight
What We Think
In our review, we state:
The Tamron 20-40mm f2.8 Di III VXD is incredibly capable of doing everything its predecessor could and more. The company offers a fairly robust set of wide-angle lenses at incredibly affordable costs. While the 17-28mm gives a wide to semi-wide field of view, the Tamron 20-40mm f2.8 goes from wide to normalish. This could accompany the Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 to tackle pretty much all your needs. On top of that, it’s got weather resistance and it’s not at all heavy. In fact, it’s so light that you’d easily want to take it everywhere with you.
Other Great Options for the Best Small Zoom Lenses Under $1,000
Recently, Tamron has provided more mount support for Nikon and Fujifilm. Hopefully soon, they’ll give photographers even more options. If you shoot Fuji, then you’re in luck. We’ve got a special one just for you. But if you want something else for Sony, then we’ve got you covered with these two small zoom lenses under $1,000. Make no mistake, we think that these are the best.
Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD
In our review, we state:
…photographers should take note not only of the sharpness this lens exhibits but also the bokeh that it’s capable of producing.
Tamron 11-20mm f2.8 Di III-A RXD
In our review we state:
The Tamron 11-20mm f2.8 offers ultra-wide character with exaggerated distances and soft, bent edges. That’s wrapped up in a surprisingly affordable, compact lens. So what’s not to love?
Using This Guide to the Best Small Zoom Lenses Under $1,000
If you’re considering purchasing anything from this list of the best small zoom lenses for under $1,000, 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.
- At the moment, none of these lenses are available for Nikon Z mount under the Tamron name.
- 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.