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Tamron 28-75 f/2.8

Tamron SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical [IF] MACRO
Weight: 18oz
Filter Size: 67mm
  If you ever thought Nikon and Canon had long lens names, take a look at the full name of this bad boy. Then say it three times really fast. I am completely lacking in product shots of this lens, as I've owned one and used a borrowed one extensively and never got around to taking shots of either.

   There are a lot of attractive things about the Tamon 28-75mm f/2.8. First is the weight, at only 18oz it's considerably lighter than the 33oz Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 or 32oz Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8. How about cost? It's also over $1,000 cheaper than either of the Nikkors. On top of being lighter and cheaper, it's also considerably smaller which can be a big factor for whitewater kayaking. Fairly cheap, light and fast, and good reviews on APS-C sized dSLRs, what's not to like?

  Build quality is right in line with consumer grade Nikkor lenses. All plastic construction of a rather cheap feel, but it does have a metal lens mount. The 28-70 got a lot of praise in the DX only era, although it's a very awkward length of lens for a cropped sensor. Neither wide or really telephoto, a true midrange. On a full frame camera the range is quite appealing, from my favorite wide angle to the start of telephoto.

  On paper everything looks great for this lens to be an adventure photographers dream. I couldn't hold back and bought one. Now for some field testing:

Ben Blake, Fantasy Falls of the Mokelumne.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 28mm 1/1000 f/5.6 ISO 800

100% crop with no sharpening added, not stunning but not bad either.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 228mm 1/1000 f/5.6 ISO 800

  Well things were looking pretty good. Except this weird problems. My copy of the lens would either miss infinity focus or had a loose element throwing things off from time to time. I'd been waiting for years to be on the river while a good rapid was in the light and nice storm clouds were overhead. The day had finally come.

Jonas Grunwald, Fantasy Falls

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 28mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

Well things look good online, but looking at an unsharpened crop, things just don't look right, certainly not sharp for f/8.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 28mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

Reviewing images around camp I wasn't happy, but then the lens would do fine before the strange lack of sharpness would pop up again.

Adam Bixby, Fantasy Falls of the North Fork Mokelumne.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 28mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

100% no sharpening.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 28mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

Well that damn thing had done it again. On my second favorite shot of the run, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I quickly got rid of the lens and continued on shoot primes and the occasional zoom. Then, before leaving for Japan I noticed a friend had the same lens. Well, can't hurt to try it again, as the issues mine had must have been related to my copy. I took the lens on an overnight and confirmed that it didn't have the same issue as the previous copy. Off to Japan and a week later I am noticing something strange. The new copy seems to have no resolution in the bottom right corner (when held horizontally). Even stopped down. That's a big decentering issue.

Shon Bollock and Ryan Knight in Japan.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 55mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

100% crop. Yikes.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 55mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

Things seem to be just fine on the other end of the same image.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 @ 55mm 1/1250 f/8 ISO 200

To confirm I'm not going crazy, it can be really good:

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 @ 1/1000 f/5.6 ISO 200

100% with no sharpening of of course.

Nikon D700, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 @ 1/1000 f/5.6 ISO 200

  Build: 5/10                     - Average plastic build with a metal lens mount.
  Handling: 6/10              - Totally average consumer grade feel, but the zoom action is smooth enough.
  Performance: 7/10         - Great optical performance if the manufacturing process and stars align correctly.
  Value: 8/10                    - $250-300 used, a fraction of the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
  Overall: 7/10                 - Can be a great lens, but has massive quality control issues. Probably 9/10 if you can get a good copy.

Practicaly for kayaking: 9/10 if you can find a good copy

 This lens is almost perfect for expedition kayaking and adventure sports. Except the key lack of quality control and or durability. It took me three tries to find a copy of this lens that didn't have terrible focusing issues, or de-centering issues. The final version I got is shockingly good for image quality, while focusing and overall handling leave something to be desired. Not shocking considering the price point.

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