a favorite: Tamron SP 28-75 f2.8 XR Di
Our studio cabinet is stocked with mostly all Canon lenses…and one Tamron lens. Generally speaking, we usually opt for the manufacturer’s own lens. By sticking with Canon L lenses we find consistent color balance, sharpness and vignetting characteristics. But when it was time to buy a midrange zoom a few years ago there were a lot of positive comments about the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 (lens specs) floating around the internet. Get a really good sample, so the story went, and you would see amazing sharpness. Get a bad sample, though, and you should return the lens for a replacement. We got a good one right off the bat and this lens pretty much stays permanently mounted to one of our Canon cameras.
All new lenses get put through our standard tests for sharpness, color and vignetting. The Tamron was sharp wide open (many 2.8 zooms are not) and became really crisp around 5.6-8 at all focal lengths. To be honest, sharpness does seem to drop off a bit by f11 and smaller but it’s not a problem. As a result it might be considered best for low light use but we still use it stopped down for studio setups with no complaints. For the price it really has amazing sharpness.
The attached image (using blue gels and a fog machine) was shot for a Halloween catalog section using the Tamron, showing excellent contrast. The coatings also prevent flare except when you’re doing something terribly wrong, like shooting directly into the light source. No noticeable chromatic aberration has been noticed.
Vignetting is minimal wide open and gone by 5.6 and, best of all, color balance is very close to the premium Canon lenses, perhaps a point or two more yellow. For most people in most applications this wouldn’t even be a consideration but we like to keep everything in our workflow as tightly color managed as possible. It’s just easier to product consistent results in the studio that way.
The build construction is great, in a word. I like this lens a lot and highly recommend it. That’s why it’s one of my absolute favorite photographic items. Selling for just over $300, it’s a great value. There are some more scientific tests of this lens out there…you might want to refer to the Pop Photo test or Google search on “Tamron 28-75 test”.
A friend just purchased a new Sigma 28-70 f2.8 lens and next week we’ll compare the two lenses head to head. I’ll let you know the results here if you’re interested.