Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 DI VC PZD Lens Review

Are you looking for a lens that is ready for anything? Well, Tamron recently released their 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 DI VC PZD lens and they are calling it the “innovative all-in-one zoom.” Their goal was to create a lightweight lens that covers wide-angle, telephoto, and everything in between without being overly priced.

For the last few weeks I have been able to play with this lens on my Canon 5D Mark II and I’ve really put it to the test! I’ve taken it to a wedding, home for Thanksgiving, and out on several nature walks. When it comes to taking pictures, I shoot as often and as many things as I can. As a photographer, I fall somewhere on the spectrum between a student, a semiprofessional, and an art enthusiast. I am sometimes paid to take photos, but that is not my sole means of income or my sole motivation to take photos. This means that when I shop for equipment, I have to weigh the want/need/affordability of the product. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Tamron 28-300mm lens.

Specifications of the Tamron 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 DI VC PZD lens

Focal Length 28-300mm
Maximum Aperture F/3.5-6.3
Angle of View(diagonal) 75°23"-8°15’(for full-frame format), 52°58"-5°20’(for APS-C format)
Lens Construction 19 elements in 15 groups
Minimum Focus Distance 19.3"(0.49m)(throughout the entire zoom range)
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:3.5(at f=300mm:MFD 19.3")
Filter Size 67mm
Length (front tip of lens to mount face) 3.8"(96mm)
Maximum Diameter 74.4mm
Weight 19oz (540g)
Diaphragm Blades 7 (circular diaphragm)
Minimum Aperture F22-40
Standard Accessories Flower-shaped lens hood
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon, Sony

Physically the lens is lightweight, compact, and fits comfortably in my hand. The weight of the lens is very balanced on my Canon 5D Mark II and is not forward heavy when I take a photo. It fits easily into my camera bag and is not too heavy to carry on long photo shooting excursions. On the barrel of the lens there is a zoom lock to prevent slippage once you select a specific focal length. However, I have not found that the lens slips with the lock off or experienced any circumstances when I need to use this feature.

Also, on the barrel of the lens is a switch to turn focus from automatic to manual. PZD stands for Piezo Drive, “a standing-wave ultrasonic motor system,” which is the power behind this lens’ quiet and reactive autofocus feature. If you prefer to focus manually, it’s an easy flick of the switch.

Tamron 28-300mm lens

Next to the AF/MF switch on the lens barrel is the switch to turn the Vibration Compensation off and on, which helps to reduce motion blur. In my photos, turning on the VC does create a visible difference in the images shot at full zoom extension. When shooting at the shorter focal lengths, I see no difference in the clarity of my shots taken with the VC on or off. You might have a very steady hand and never need to use the Vibration Compensation at any time, but it is a nice option to have, especially when shooting at 300mm.

Vibration Compensation Off

Vibration Compensation On

The maximum aperture of this lens varies with the focal length. As the zoom increases, light is lost through the lens and once the lens is at its full zoom extension of 300mm, the maximum aperture you can shoot at is F/6.3. Therefore, if you are shooting in manual mode, which is my personal preference, and you are rapidly changing focal length, you will continually have to stop to adjust your ISO or shutter speed to compensate for the changing aperture. I like the control that you have when shooting in manual mode, so the varying maximum aperture significantly slows down the pace at which I shoot when using this lens.

Maximum Apertures of the Tamron 28-300mm lens

Focal Length Maximum Aperture
28mm F 3.5
35mm F 4.0
50mm F 4.5
70mm F 5.0
100mm F 5.6
200mm F 6.3
300mm F 6.3

Personally, I really love to shoot with a shallow depth of field and I find the bokeh of this lens very visually appealing. (Bokeh refers to the quality of the out of focus parts of an image and that quality differs from lens to lens depending upon how the glass of a lens reflects and refracts light.) The bokeh of this lens is soft and yet there is still visible detail. It blends nicely into the sharply focused parts of the image, creating a nice contrast.

F 3.5, 1/800, ISO 100

You will also notice in the image above that this lens has very little visible aberration. (Aberration refers to a subtle blurry colored border around subjects that sometimes appears in photos because different color waves of light are being focused by the lens at different points.) The lines in the images taken with this lens are crisp and have very little visible aberration around their edges.

There is some visible vignetting with this lens. As demonstrated in the images below, it varies in severity with aperture. In most photographs there is enough variation of shapes and tones to hide slight vignetting. I have not found the vignetting in this lens to be distracting or to aesthetically hurt the photos that I have taken. However, it is important to know that the vignetting is happening so that you can compensate or disguise it if you are afraid it will detract from your images. If you are a fine art photographer or are just interested in experimenting, you might even want a vignette around your image!

In the second set of images below you can see the increase in vignetting as the F-stop is increased. However, I do not think the vignetting hurts the images aesthetically.

Vignetting on blue sky at various F-stops.

Vignetting on trees at various F-stops.

My conclusions are that while I would use this lens a lot, I would not use it everywhere, every time the way Tamron has intended. The shooting conditions always determine which lens is appropriate for a situation. For my shooting preferences (which are: manual mode, no flash, as wide open as possible) this lens is often not the right choice. The wedding that I brought this lens to was indoors at night, and while the 300mm zoom was great for shooting across the room, this lens was not fast enough to capture the shots I wanted without slowing down my shutter speed and really punching up my ISO, which of course led to motion blur and grain. However, outdoors during the day, this lens takes great looking photos.

F 5.6, 1/80, ISO 6400
This photo was taken at Thanksgiving from across the room in low light. In order to compensate for the limited F stop I had to punch up the ISO. This photo is visibly grainier than the photo below.

F 4, 1/200, ISO 200
In well-lit situations, this lens performs beautifully.

The wide to long zoom range is ideal for shooting landscapes, nature photos, and people. I took it on many nature walks and ended up with some beautiful shots with which I am truly happy. As I mentioned above, the varying maximum aperture slows down the rate at which I shoot because I like to shoot in manual mode. Therefore, places and times that I would use this lens are limited to outdoors or well-lit indoor events where there is plenty of time to adjust my camera settings without missing a shot. While it might not be my first choice lens for every occasion, especially ones that are fast-paced, the lightweight portability and the excellent image quality, beautiful bokeh, little aberration and vignetting make the tamron_28-300mm lens a strong choice for $849.

Talia Krohmal has a degree in photography from Marlboro College and currently works in the film industry.

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    • I have taken this lens (actually, an earlier incarnation of it) into the Arizona and New Mexico deserts where there is plenty of light and I have no complaints. I even set my Canon 5D MarkII to shoot at a reduced 10 MP size and the results are still quite spectacular. Despite all the nay sayers this is a good lens. especially with the VC.

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    • I like such lenses myself for when I am hiking or visiting a country show where one moment you need wide angle and then zoom for action in the arena or similar. I do have some reservations though as in overcast conditions these lenses seem to make the light even more flat and drab, which does not happen with prime lenses. You can see that in the first examples and I see similar with my superzooms. A by product of the small aperture and lots of glass maybe. My only other reservation is that by using non-manufacturer specific lenses you lose the in body distortion correction profile for JPEG so distortion will go uncorrected unless you do it manually. Anyway, I look forwards to trying this lens myself!

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