Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 (Model A063) lens for Nikon Z

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      The Z-mount version of Tamron’s 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens is just as nice to use on an up-to-date Nikon mirrorless camera as the earlier Sony version of the lens. If anything, it’s a better performer, which more than justifies our Editor’s Choice award.

      This lens is ideal for everyday photography, in particular for spontaneous street shooting. Its relatively light weight also makes it a good choice as a travel companion for a full-frame Z-mount camera. It’s also light enough to be used on Nikon’s Z DX mount cameras, the Z30, Z50 and Z fc, where it would cover a focal length range of 42-112.5mm.

       

      Full review

      Tamron’s  28-75mm f/2.8 was popular when it was released for the Sony E mount and reviewed by Photo Review in October 2021. This lens has now been released for Nikon Z mount cameras with a few significant updates and a very slight increase to its overall length and weight. The optical design is the same as the E-mount version, consisting of 17 elements in 15 groups and including two LD (Low Dispersion) and two GM (Glass Moulded Aspherical) elements to control optical aberrations and ensure high resolution across the zoom range.


      Angled view of the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 (Model A063) lens without end caps or the supplied lens hood. (Source: Tamron.)

      Nikon already makes a similarly-specified Z-mount lens, the Nikkor Z 28-75mm f/2.8, which was released at around the same time as the Tamron E-mount lens, although it’s a bit more expensive with an RRP of AU$1749. It is larger (75mm diameter and 120.5 mm long) and heavier (565 grams) and its optical and physical designs are also different, as shown in the comparative illustrations below.


      This illustration shows the physical differences between the Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens (top) and the Nikkor Z 28-75mm f/2.8 lens.

      The Tamron lens has been developed and manufactured and is sold under the license agreement with Nikon Corporation. So there should be no issues concerning compatibility with any Nikon Z-mount camera. (We have not yet reviewed the Nikkor lens.)

      Who’s it For?
      Like the E-mount version we reviewed, the new Nikon Z mount version of the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 (Model A063) lens is ideal for everyday photography, in particular for spontaneous street shooting. Its relatively light weight also makes it a good choice as a travel companion for a full-frame Z-mount camera.  It’s also light enough to be used on Nikon’s Z DX mount cameras, the Z30, Z50 and Z fc, where it would cover a focal length range of 42-112.5mm.

      The Z-mount lens includes support for all in-camera optical corrections (shading, chromatic aberration, distortion) as well as Nikon’s Hybrid AF, Eye AF and M/A Mode.

      Otherwise, the technical specifications are identical to those of the E-mount lens and, like that lens, the Z-mount lens has a USB-C port is located around the left hand side of the barrel which enables users to easily update the lens firmware without going through the camera. This interface can also be used to adjust settings like limiting focusing to two pre-selected focus points, shifting focus from one subject to the other with the Focus Set Button and swapping between Linear and Non-Linear modes for manual focusing.

      (According to Nikon guru, Thom Hogan, Nikon licensed the optical formula for its lens from Tamron and both lenses appear to have been made in the same plant in China. You can find Hogan’s review of the Nikkor lens here.)

      Build and Ergonomics
      In both build and design, the Z-mount lens is very similar to the E-mount lens. Both have solid plastic barrels on metal mounts.  Build quality is generally good for a consumer-level lens and, like the E-mount lens, the Z-mount version is dust- and moisture-resistant.

      The inner barrel extends by approximately 18 mm when it is zoomed in to the 75mm position. The front element has a diameter of approximately 53 mm and is surrounded by a threaded filter ring that accepts large, 67 mm diameter filters. Its outer surface has a bayonet fitting for the supplied, petal-shaped lens hood, which is made from solid black plastic and has a ribbed inner surface to suppress reflections.

      The zoom ring, which is 36 mm wide, is located at the leading end of the outer barrel. Most of its surface covered by rubber-like ridging to provide a secure grip, with a 4 mm wide band around its trailing edge that carries stamped markings for the 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 75mm positions.  The ring turns smoothly with no trace of slackness.

      The barrel curves slightly inwards at the start of a 23 mm wide band that carries the focus set button, which is located around the left hand side of the barrel, where it’s easily reached. Branding information is also stamped in white on this section of the barrel.

      Behind this section is the focusing ring, which is entirely clad in rubberised ridging. This ring turns through 360 degrees when power is off as focusing is driven from the camera.

      The barrel steps inwards then straightens out to end with the brand silver ring and the very solid metal lens mount. The USB-C port is located around the left hand side of the barrel where the sloping section meets the straight section.

      The unridged parts of the outer barrel have a smooth, low-gloss surface that has been treated to resist scratching and fingerprints. The supplied lens caps fit securely to each end of the barrel, while the lens hood can be reversed over the front of the barrel for transport and storage.

      Performance
      Our Imatest tests yielded some impressive results, showing the review lens to be capable of exceeding expectations for the 24-megapixel sensor on the Nikon Z6 II camera across a wide range of focal lengths with measurements taken in the centre of the frame. Our measurements also showed resolution declined a little across all focal lengths mid-way between the centre and the edge of the frame with a further slight decline towards the edges of the frame.

      NEF.RAW files captured simultaneously with the JPEGs had higher resolution across the board and some measurements made near the centre to the edge of the frame exceeded expectations by almost a factor of two, which is impressive. The results of our tests are shown in the graph below.

      Lateral chromatic measurements were made with all in-camera corrections disabled and the graph below shows the results obtained from NEF.RAW files, which were similar to those from the JPEGs. The graph of our test results below shows the levels of this aberration to be effectively negligible. The red line marks the border between negligible and low CA.

      We found no obvious signs of coloured fringing in any of the test shots we took so, even without the in-camera corrections engaged, this won’t be an issue for potential users. Vignetting was also visible at f/2.8 across the zoom, although topping down to between f/3.5 and f/4 reduced it to barely noticeable.

      Rectilinear distortion ranged from apparent barrel distortion at 28mm to slight pincushion distortion at 50mm, which continued through to 75mm. Both vignetting and rectilinear distortion are relatively minor issue since Nikon’s cameras include in-camera distortion correction.

      We found autofocusing to be both fast and accurate, in part due to the capabilities of the Nikon Z6 II camera we used for our tests. There were no apparent delays in focusing in either dim lighting conditions or with low-contrast subjects. Focusing was also very quiet and, as with the Sony E-mount version of this lens, we couldn’t detect any focus breathing.

      Backlit subjects were generally handled well, although we found the lens tended to produce rather contrasty images, in part due to its high levels of sharpness. Most of the test shots in the Samples section of this review have been derived from NEF.RAW files, showing that in contrasty situations the camera and lens combination was able to cover potentially wide brightness ranges in subjects.

      The lens was very flare-resistant and we found little evidence of flare artefacts in strongly backlit shots.  In addition, stopping the lens down to f/22 enabled us to record well-defined, 18-pointed sunstars at any aperture setting.

      Bokeh in close-ups at wide aperture settings was variable.  Bright highlights in the backgrounds out-of-focus were often recorded as hard-edged circles and mid-tone variations appeared very ‘busy’. Low-contrast backgrounds were, as expected, usually smoother looking although even there, brighter areas tended to be rendered as disks, even towards the edges of the frame.

      Thanks to the IBIS in the Nikon Z6 II camera we used for our tests we were able to use shutter speeds as slow as ½ second for hand-held shots. Some of the credit must also go to the user-friendly design of the lens and how well it integrates with the camera body.

      Conclusion

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      SPECS

      Picture angle: 75 degrees 23 minutes to 32 degrees 11 minutes diagonal
      Minimum aperture:  f/22
      Lens construction: 17 elements in 15 groups (including  2 Glass Moulded Aspherical and 2 Low Dispersion elements) plus BBAR G2 coating and a fluorine coating on the front element to repel water and oil
      Lens mounts: Nikon Z
      Diaphragm Blades: 9 (circular aperture)
      Weather resistance: Leak-resistant seals throughout the lens barrel
      Focus drive: VXD linear motor
      Stabilisation: No (relies on camera’s IBIS)
      Minimum focus: 18 cm at 28mm,  38 cm at 75mm
      Maximum magnification: 1:2.7 at 28mm,  1:4.1 at 75mm
      Filter size: 67 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 75.8 x 119.8 mm
      Weight: 550 grams
      Standard Accessories:  Front and rear caps, petal-shaped lens hood
      Distributor: Blonde Robot Pty Ltd

       

      TESTS

      Based on JPEG files recorded with the Nikon Z6 II camera.

      Based on NEF.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.

       

      SAMPLES


      Vignetting at 28mm f/2.8.


      Vignetting at 35mm f/2.8.


      Vignetting at 50mm f/2.8.


      Vignetting at 75mm f/2.8.


      Rectilinear distortion at 28mm.


      Rectilinear distortion at 35mm.


      Rectilinear distortion at 50mm.


      Rectilinear distortion at 75mm.


      28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/8.


      75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/5.


      Close-up at 28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/8000 second at f/2.8.


      Close-up at 75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/8000 second at f/2.8.


      Choppy bokeh and outlining of bright background highlights in close-up at 75mm, ISO 100, 1/4000 second at f/2.8.


      Absence of flare in image shot with 28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/10.


      Sunstar at 28mm, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/22.


      Sunstar at 75mm, ISO 100, 1/20 second at f/22.


      Portrait shot at 75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/12 second at f/2.8.


      Half-second exposure with the camera hand-held; 75mm focal length, ISO 200 at f/6.3.


      55mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/7.1.


      75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/1000 second at f/8.


      33mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/5.


      75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/3.5.


      Crop from the above image magnified to 100% showing detail resolution.


      75mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/4.5.


      75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.


      75mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/2.8.


      40mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/11.


      46mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/11.


      28mm focal length, ISO 2200, 1/30 second at f/11.


      75mm focal length, ISO 2000, 1/40 second at f/11.


      37mm focal length, ISO 102400, 1/200 second at f/11.


      45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/10.

       

      Rating

      RRP: AU$1699

      • Build: 8.9
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.9

       

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