New Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 Lens: Their First for Sony FE-Mount

The lens's mount is perhaps even more interesting than the lens itself: this will be Tamron's first lens designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Tamron has officially announced the development of a new lens, a 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD designed specifically for  Sony’s mirrorless full-frame E-mount cameras. The lens’s mount is perhaps even more interesting than the lens itself: this will be Tamron’s first lens designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras, and the development marks their intention to expand into the full-frame, autofocus mirrorless market (currently occupied solely by Sony and Leica, but Canon and Nikon won’t be far behind). Tamron is the first of the major Japanese third-party lens manufacturers to produce lenses for Sony full-frame E-Mount (aka, FE-Mount), with Sigma relying on an adapter to mate their SLR-optimized lenses to the mirrorless species1.

Having been designed especially for E-mount, the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 Di RXD will be relatively lightweight and compact; the 4.6 inch lens will weigh 19.4 ounces (550g), which is  nearly and inch shorter and only about 60% the weight of  Sony’s 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens (886g), for comparison.

For a rough size comparison, the new Tamron lens rendering compared to a photograph of the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens, with sizes based on the standard lens mount.

Sony’s full-frame lenses are notoriously expensive (many of them are Zeiss designs), yet some do not perform up to their prices. In particular, Sony’s 70-200 f/2.8 GM OSS costs about $2600, but does not perform as well as Canon’s 10-year old 70-200 f2.8L IS II ($1900), in terms of resolution and consistency2. With many of their lenses, Sony has also made the choice to produce large, heavy optics with the highest image quality rather than focusing on compact designs. This being the case, the entry of Tamron into the FE-Mount market is very welcome indeed, particularly with their reputation for excellent optics at modest prices, and the performance of the existing Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Di VC USD (stellar optics, at least on par with the Canon).

But the announced Tamron lens is also interesting in itself.

Tamron says that the lens will be weather-sealed, DMF3 compatible, and feature a “Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive” (the RXD designation in the lens name), which should be similar to Canon’s STM motors and ideal for shooting video. Like any lens manufacturer worth its salt, they claim that the optics will be super-sharp and that the large aperture will provide nice bokeh, but of course the details will have to wait for real-world tests.

Illustration courtesy of Tamron
The new Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 Di RXD III lens will look something like this. Click to enlarge.

Price & Availability

Lens development is not sufficiently advanced for Tamron to have announced the number of glass elements in the optical formula, nor the types of special glass and lens coatings that they’ll be using. For that matter, they didn’t mention the number of rounded aperture blades that they’ll be using in the press release, and these optics companies talk about lens groups and aperture blades any chance they get.  As such, it’s no surprise that Tamron has not announced even a vague or tentative date for the appearance of this lens on the market, nor have they mentioned a price.  My guess would be around $1200 in the nine-months to a year timeframe. Update: early rumors indicate a price closer to $850.

[Correction: This article originally stated that Sony’s FE lenses were large because they were derived from A-mount lenses for DSLRs, which may be inaccurate. Sony claims that the lenses are large to achieve the best image quality possible.]

  1. Budget Korean lens maker Samyang produces a line of autofocus lenses for Sony-E, but they’re decried for their noisy, sluggish AF motors and unimpressive optics.
  2. according to tests performed by Roger Cicala  and others at LensRentals
  3. Sony’s “Direct Manual Focus” system that automatically switches to manual focus settings in the viewfinder when the focus ring is rotated.
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  • Yesterday I was able to pick up the new Tamron 28-75 at a local camera store on my way to an outdoor photoshoot. I had intended to do the shoot with my Batis 85, but decided to try the Tamron.

    Now I own the GM 24-70 and it is def great for what it is, but the AF on the Tamron is much faster and using MF didn’t seem as necessary as it doe on the GM.

    Using nothing more than my Godox AD600 and the Tamron mounted on my A7R3, the shoot was a great success.

    As the Angry photographer would say “some opinions are worth more than others” I won’t say who I am, just rest assured I do a lot of Magazine creative.

    Sharpness – equal to my GM
    Bokah – who really cares? nice blurred backgrounds is all I care about.
    Focusing – way better than my GM
    Size – I don’t care about that either, Im getting paid to produce great content. Tamron is lighter, GM has more metal.

    For the focus alone, I will be using the Tamron.

    Disclaimer : your milage my vary, but not by muck :-)

  • It’s important to note the test of 70-200GM likely was sub optimal please read the comments below showing how the lens was tested it was attempted to be focused then taken off the body to test, Sony’s modern lenses need the body to be perfectly focused it is showing the issue in their test. DXOmark has it rated higher in every measurable attribute of lens then the Canon. Infact it is resolving significantly more detail then Canon’s lens that it seems like the better value. Canon resolving only 33mpx on a 5dsr and Sony doing 38 on a much lower mpx sensor of the a7r2. Canons best lens is their 24-70 and yes it does outperform sony’s. Sony’s 70-200 is absolutely hands down better then canons. Transmission alone is almost a full stop better. Also looks like tamron lens will be $799.

  • HI Nick. There is really no such thing as an FE lens-mount. The e-mount which originated with Sony’s APSC NEX cameras, is identical. And those APSC lenses may be used on the A7 bodies, in crop mode. Likewise, the FE lenses may be used on the A6xxx camera bodies.

    • While it’s true that E and FE are physically compatible, the designation is still useful, and that’s really all that matters. Similarly, Nikon has FX and DX (both F) and Canon has EF and EF-S. You can use EF lenses on EF-S cameras, and you can use DX lenses on FX cameras in crop mode. The FE designation lets us know that the lens’s image circle is designed to cover a full frame sensor, and that’s enough.

  • None of Sony’s E mount lenses are “adaptations of DSLR designs”. Sigma has done that with their recent releases, but all of Sony’s are designed for E mount.

    • Hi Nick,

      You’re right. This was under the mistaken impression after reading an article on the subject of Sony FE-mount lens size, that claimed that many FE-mount lenses were derived from existing A-mount lenses to account for their unusually large size. A little bit of research today has shown that the optical formulas are significantly different, in most cases, and Sony claims that their large size is to increase quality and support 100+ megapixel sensors. Thanks for the critical reading! I’ll update the article.

      – Matthew

  • Nice lens, but $1200 would be way too much. It will be more expensive than the old Tamron 2,8/28-75 for DSLR’s, but not three times… $800 might work, but not more.

    • Yes, I agree. I think that when I was writing this, I was thinking of the lens as a 24-70, and of course, Tamron’s current 24-70 f/2.8 G2 still costs around $1200.

      If we were basing the price on the assumption that the old lens design is just being re-fitted to a new lens mount, I’d think that the price could be anywhere from $650 on up.

      But of course, the old Tamron 28-75 lenses from previous decades simply aren’t great lenses… they were pretty average at the time… and it would be foolish for Tamron to make a new lens without significantly improving the optics for high-resolution sensors.

      So, updating the design probably means adding expensive exotic glass elements (FLD, SLD, etc), and though they should be small elements, they’ll still be expensive. But I agree… $800 seems possible.

    • Hi Gustavo,

      It may very well end up having one or both of those things. The product image that I was given by Tamron is a “development” stage image, which means that it may change significantly before the product actually hits the market. We also only have one angle of view on this lens, so far, and some Sony lenses have their AF/MF switch practically on the bottom of the lens on the left side, so on lenses like the 85mm f/1.8, the switch is pretty much invisible from the top. It’s possible that we’re seeing something like that here.

      – Matthew

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