Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 (Model A063) lens
The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens is a pleasure to use, offering a nice combination of light weight, a fast maximum aperture and good all-round performance.
Designed specifically for Sony E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras, the new 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 (Model A063) lens updates the popular 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD (Model A036) lens while retaining its compact size but weighing 10 grams less. It also offers better handling, thanks to improved texture on the zoom and focus rings and a more abrasion and fingerprint resistant outer barrel. A new Function Button and USB C Port make it easier to customise the lens and apply firmware updates, eliminating the need for the lens to be on a body or separate console.
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.)
The optical construction (shown below) is optimised to be compatible with Sony’s latest, high-resolution mirrorless cameras and consists of 17 elements in 15 groups. Two LD (Low Dispersion) and two GM (Glass Moulded Aspherical) lens elements provide control over optical aberrations and ensure high resolution across the zoom range.
The optical design of the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 lens showing the positions of the exotic glass elements, (Source: Tamron.)
The constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, coupled with the nine-bladed iris diaphragm, delivers the soft and attractive bokeh that characterises fast-aperture lenses. Tamron’s proprietary BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating is applied to suppress internal reflections and the front surface of the lens is fluorine-coated to keep it free of moisture and dust.
Autofocusing is driven by a fast VXD linear motor focus mechanism that claims to be approximately twice as fast as its predecessor when moving from the closest focus to infinity in AF-C mode. In addition, the minimum focus of 17 cm is two centimetres closer than the previous lens and permits a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.7 with a working distance of around 4.4 cm.
Seven rubber gaskets seal vulnerable regions against possible entry of moisture and dust. Like its predecessor, the new lens lacks built-in stabilisation, relying instead on the SteadyShot Inside systems in Sony’s cameras. It is supplied with front and rear caps plus a petal-shaped lens hood.
Who’s it For?
The relatively light weight and fast maximum aperture make the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2 a good choice for travellers as well as for everyday shooting and video recording. Improved autofocusing will also benefit such users.
Tamron claims the new VXD linear motor AF drive will focus faster and maintain positional accuracy down to 0.005mm, as well as being compatible with the latest Fast Hybrid AF and Eye AF functions in Sony’s recent cameras. The table below shows the main differences between the new lens (Model A063) and its predecessor, the Model A036.
|Model A036||Model A063|
|Lens construction||15 elements in 12 groups||17 elements in 15 groups|
|Exotic elements||1 ED, 1 LD, 1 GMA and 2 hybrid aspherical elements||2 LD and 2 GM aspherical elements|
|Focus drive||RXD (Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive) stepping motor||VXD linear motor focus mechanism|
|Minimum focus||19 cm at 28mm; 39 cm at 75mm||18 cm at 28mm; 38 cm at 75mm|
|Maximum magnification||1:2.9 at 28mm; 1:4 at 75mm||1:2.7 at 28mm; 1:4.1 at 75mm|
|Dimensions (Diameter x L)||73 x 117.8 mm||75.8 x 117.6 mm|
|Weight||550 grams||540 grams|
|RRP at launch||$1299||$1599|
Although this lens is designed for cameras with 36 x 24 mm sensors, it’s small and light enough to be used on Sony’s cameras with APS-C sensors where it will cover the equivalent of a 42-112.5mm focal length range.
Build and Ergonomics
As the second generation model of this popular lens, a number of refinements have been made to its physical design. The surface of the outer barrel is glossier and more abrasion-resistant. It also resists fingerprints better.
The rubber grip bands on the zoom and focusing rings have been redesigned with an improved texture and the rings operate more smoothly. A new Function Button can be set to access focus settings or assign Custom Function from the camera, while a USB-C port and supplied USB Type-A to Type-C cable allow for direct firmware updates to be installed without needing to mount the lens on a camera body or fit it in a separate console.
The lens has an extending inner barrel that increases the overall length by approximately 18 mm when it is zoomed in to the 75mm position. At the front of the inner barrel, 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.
The outer surface of the ring has a bayonet fitting for the supplied lens hood, which is made from solid black plastic and has a ribbed inner surface to suppress reflections. A few millimetres behind it marks the end of the inner barrel.
The zoom ring, which is 36 mm wide, with most of its surface covered by rubber-like ridging to provide a secure grip. A 4 mm wide bade around its trailing edge carries stamped markings for the 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 75mm zoom positions. The ring turns smoothly with no trace of slackness.
The outer barrel curves slightly inwards at the start of a 23 mm wide band that carries the new 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.
Our Imatest tests yielded some impressive results, showing the review lens to be capable of exceeding expectations for the 24-megapixel sensor on the Sony α7 II camera across a wide range of focal lengths with measurements taken in the centre of the frame. In addition, a substantial number of measurements taken mid-way between the centre and the edge of the frame also exceeded resolution expectations.
And that’s just for JPEG files; ARW.RAW files captured simultaneously had even higher resolution and some measurements made 75% of the way from the centre to the edge of the frame also exceeded expectations. The results of our tests are shown in the graph below.
Lateral chromatic measurements were made with all in-camera corrections disabled. They showed the levels of this aberration straddled the negligible and low band, the border of which is indicated by the red line in the graph of our test results below.
This is actually quite a good result, which was confirmed by test shots that showed little or no signs of coloured fringing in most shots, although a few showed traces of it along high-contrast boundaries. It was lowest with the 50mm focal length and also comparatively low with raw files, confirming this won’t be an issue for most potential users.
Vignetting was also low and only visible at maximum apertures across the zoom range – even with raw files. Stopping down by one stop caused it to disappear.
Rectilinear distortion ranged from just noticeable barrel distortion at 28mm to visible pincushion distortion at 50mm, which continued through to 75mm. Again, this is a relatively minor issue since Sony’s cameras include in-camera distortion correction.
We had few complaints about autofocusing speed, both of which are influenced by camera settings, although we’ve marked it down a tad due to the occasional failure to focus on the selected area. This only occurred in tricky lighting conditions and when the nature of the subject made it difficult to pick where to focus. Focusing was also very quiet and we couldn’t detect any focus breathing, which augurs well for its use when shooting video.
Backlit subjects were generally handled quite well, although we’d recommend shooting ARW.RAW files in such situations to cover potentially wide brightness ranges in subjects. A few flare artefacts were found in strongly backlit shots and sunstars in these shots tended to be poorly defined.
In contrast, where the direct backlighting was relatively small in size, the sunstars were nice and sharp. It’s worth experimenting with specular reflections from water, which can create some attractive sunstars when the lens is stopped right down
Bokeh in close-ups at wide aperture settings was variable. We found some outlining of bright highlights in many shots, especially at shorter focal lengths. Low-contrast backgrounds were, as expected, usually smoother looking although even there, brighter areas tended to be rendered as ovals rather than circular towards the edges of the frame.
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Picture angle: 75.4 degrees to 32.2 degrees
Minimum aperture: f/22
Lens construction: 17 elements in 15 groups (including 2 LD and 2 GM aspherical elements); BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating; Fluorine Coating
Lens mounts: Sony E-mount
Diaphragm Blades: 9 (circular aperture)
Weather resistance: Dust and moisture resistant.
Focus drive: VXD linear motor focus mechanism
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 117.6 mm
Weight: 540 grams
Distributor: Blonde Robot; (03) 9023 9777
Based upon JPEG files taken with the Sony α7 II camera.
Based on ARW.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.
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, 1/160 second at f/11.
75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/11.
Close-up at 75mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/160 second at f/5.
Smooth bokeh in evenly-lit background in close-up at 75mm, ISO 200, 1/2000 second at f/2.8.
Highlight outlining in close-up at 28mm, ISO 100, 1/4000 second at f/2.8.
Close-up showing oval rendering of highlights near the edges of the frame; 75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/3200 second at f/2.8.
Portrait shot at 75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/1600 second at f/3.2.
28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/10.
Crop from the above image magnified to 100% showing traces of coloured fringing along high-contrast edges.
40mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/8.
Crop from the above image magnified to 100% with no obvious fringing.
Sunstar plus flare artefacts at 75mm, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/22.
Sunstar at 51mm, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/22.
Multiple small sunstars on specular highlights; 75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/22.
75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/13.
75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/8.
75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/10.
Crop from the above image magnified to 100% showing detail resolution.
75mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/7.1.
68mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/40 second at f/16.
28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/9.
36mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/20 second at f/3.5.
RRP: AU$1599; US$900
- Build: 8.9
- Handling: 9.0
- Image quality: 9.0
- Autofocusing: 8.8
- Versatility: 8.9