Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4: An impressive mid-tier zoom

Started Jun 5, 2019 | User reviews thread
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chulster
chulster Contributing Member • Posts: 951
Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4: An impressive mid-tier zoom
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I've only had this lens for a couple of days. I did not have an autofocus zoom that covered the "normal" range, and I needed one for an upcoming event. I believe this Tamron will do nicely.

The lens is wonderfully sharp—even wide open, even at the longest focal length—and at most settings the sharpness extends all the way out to the edges of the frame. Being familiar with the performance characteristics of the Nikon 24-120mm f/4, I was quite surprised that this Tamron maintains excellent sharpness throughout its zoom range—even at the long end, where the Nikkor performs at its worst. Unlike many zooms, the Tamron is actually least impressive at its shortest focal length, where the center of the image is sharp, but edge acuity isn't great until you stop down to at least f/4. Tamron calls this lens a "portrait zoom", and it does seem to be optimized for the typical portrait focal lengths from 50mm through 135mm. The 35mm end seems like a bonus, rather than the focus of the lens (pun intended).

Autofocus is very reliable, except perhaps (on my copy at least) at the short end of the zoom range, where there seems to be a bit of inconsistency—perhaps my copy needs fine-tuning at 35mm, which I can perform if I get the TAP-In console. Autofocus speed is quite leisurely. The lens seemingly takes almost a full second to rack focus from infinity to MFD or vice versa. Also, the AF motor is not particularly quiet. I believe it's a micromotor instead of a ring motor like Nikon's SWM. Still, it's nowhere near as noisy as some screw-drive lenses.

Manual-focus action is decent, and it's mechanical, not fly-by-wire. Unusually for a modern lens, the focus ring turns during autofocus—which isn't great, because you have to remember to keep your fingers off the ring or risk stressing the AF motor. Also, the lens lacks any kind of focus scale. (Hyperfocal distance? What's that?)

This lens focuses really close! At MFD, when the lens is zoomed in to 150mm, the front of the lens is something like 6 inches from the subject. And the magnification at that working distance—1:3.7—is higher than that of some zooms that call themselves "macro" lenses. This is a versatile lens.

Image stabilization works very well. If you're any good at hand-holding, the stabilization on this lens will make the image in the viewfinder simply rock-steady. It works better than the VR on the Nikon 24-120mm. The VC motor is very quiet when engaging and disengaging, unlike that on some older Tamron lenses such as the 70-300mm f/4-5.6.

I was afraid the lens would be heavier than I like, being about 10% heavier than the Nikon 24-120mm (a lens that already feels a bit heavy to me). Surprisingly, it actually doesn't feel too heavy. What it does feel is bulky. This is a very thick-bodied lens—too thick to be comfortable for small hands.

The exterior of the lens is made of good-quality plastic. The surface finish is smooth matte. I worry that it will scratch easily, and that the scratches will show well. I'll probably need to take off my wedding ring when shooting with this lens if I don't want the bottom of the barrel to get a collection of scratches. Overall, the fit and finish of the lens is excellent for a consumerish model. The zoom action feels pretty good—nice and consistent throughout the zoom range, without mechanical play, but with an undamped feel. It could use a little lubrication. There is a zoom lock switch that seems unnecessary, since there is no hint of zoom creep. The lens is shortest at the 35mm focal length and longest at 150mm, at which point the forward inner barrel sticks out about two inches. Impressively, there is ZERO movement when you grab the front of the extended barrel and try to wiggle it laterally. I just hope it stays that way.

Apologies for the lack of sample photos. I may add a couple later.

Tamron 35-150mm F2.8-4 Di VC OSD
Telephoto zoom lens • Canon EF, Nikon F (FX) • A043
Announced: Feb 20, 2019
chulster's score
4.0
Average community score
4.0
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