Review: Tamron 28-75 2.8

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     Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 SP XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) for Canon Digital SLR Cameras if you want to get all specific.

     I wanted a replacement for my EF 28-135 3.5-5.6, which had some shortcomings in a few aspects that I just could not allow, namely corner sharpness at wide apertures, too slow at times, etc.

     So, I did my research, and ended up saving up a few pennies, and got a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 for $400 and quite happy I did

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     My initial thought of, "What the hell, why is it zooming backwards?" was quickly overwritten by joy. For what I need, the expectations I have, and for the use for which I intend on using this lens for, it's perfect.

     I typically look for five things when deciding on which lens to use.
             - Sharpness + Edge Sharpness
             - Focal Length / Zoom Range
             - Color rendition
             - Contrast
             - OOF / Bokeh (though not often)

Sharpness.
     This is an aspect of lenses that is pretty important to photographers of all skill levels. Is this as sharp as an EF 100 f/2.8L? No, but I have no need for that much sharpness unless shooting beauty, and for that, I use a 100 2.8.
     In all of my tests, I experienced no noticeable softness that was not due to user error. I don't shoot shallow depth of field very often, and 75mm f2.8, shooting at close distance takes some getting used to, and I'm learning. I love how sharp my 50mm 1.8 is, and yes, I''m comparing the sharpness of this lens to the Nifty Fifty. At wide open, both are 'sharp enough' but step down 1 stop and you're golden. For crisp images, f/4 is definitely within my standard range. Opening up to 2.8 offers versatility, and is still sharp enough for 95% or more of what I do.

Edge Sharpness.
     This was my biggest issue with my EF 28-135. Taking an image where the subject is sharp, yet the edges of the image, which should be within the depth of field, and sharp, are soft, and an ugly softness at that. Being one of my biggest gripes, and reasons for a new lens, I am very happy with the performance of this lens. During practical tests, shooting at both f/2.8 and f/16, softness at the edges was not visible unless zoomed to 200%. Yes it's there, but absolutely nothing that I will likely ever have to worry about.

Zoom Range.
     44mm - 120mm on my crop cameras. Since all I shoot is portraits, it's a pretty ideal range for me. 44mm is slightly longer than the 'standard' full body focal lengths of 28/35mm, I don't find it an issue whatsoever. Taking an additional step or two backwards won't hurt me, and wide angle distortion is much less noticeable shooting full body at this focal length, while still giving plenty of subject-to-background separation for when I want to emphasize the subject a bit. Going all the way to 120mm gets me all the way in close to beauty ranges. It'd be nice to get to 135 or so, for face shots, but I don't typically shoot any tighter than head and shoulders... again, one more thumbs-up for this lens. I don't foresee any issues with this lens when dealing with 98% of the portrait photography I do. On a full frame camera, it's also a very useful lens. Full body and landscape capable on the wide end, head and shoulders on the tight.... great portrait range.

Color Rendition and Contrast.
     I'm combining these two qualities... Both are great, and fit my aesthetic very well. The above image is almost completely unretouched. Shot with a Canon T2i and Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, and surprisingly (for me) no lights... all natural, something I have not done in over two full years. Small adjustment in DPP for white balance, and a tad bit of dodge, burn, and heal, and that's about it. I absolutely love the way the colors came out, bright and vibrant, with a very smooth quality of contrast, especially in the skin tones. Gorgeous. And sure, this image has about 15% desaturation, I still love the color quality and smooth contrast of the original.


Out of Focus / Bokeh.
     I will be completely open about the fact that I am not the King of Bokeh. Most of the time, I consider f/5.6 as "wide" so out of focus areas and quality of bokeh typically never come into my mind. However, with this recent shoot to test the lens, I made a point to shoot at f/2.8, with shallow depth of field. As I mentioned earlier, shallow DOF is not my forte, but I liked the results. I think the above image, as well as the below, are among the only ones that show any sort of out of focus areas, overexposed as they are, but hey, I like how it looks. Again, Bokeh is not a quality i look for, but from what I've seen from testing for the past few weeks, it's nice enough for me, and at least it isn't distinctly ugly, like the EF 35-80, god that's nasty.

Here's a third photo, just cause I thought you'd like it, and can get a little bit more of an idea of the color,  contrast, bokeh, and other assorted whatnots. 



Final thoughts? For my needs, it is fantastic. It fulfills all of my needs, without leaving me wanting more. I spent two weeks borrowing a friend's EF 24-70 2.8L while I was initially trying to figure out what I needed from a lens. I honestly would be hard-pressed to find any practical difference between the two. Marginal difference in sharpness, and aesthetic differences when it comes to color, contrast, you may like one better than the other. The Canon does have the upper hand in the bokeh department, but it's not worth an additional $800+ to get a place in my camera bag. If you're looking for a fast, short tele zoom lens... Definitely give this lens some consideration.

Happy Shooting.

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