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Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom AF

Review Date: Oct 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, esp. above 35mm, performance at 28mm is good wide open and very good by F/5.6, distortion well-controlled, light and compact body, very good value, focusing is fast, quiet and usually accurate
Less micro-contrast than 24-70L, medium build quality (although this no doubt contributes to its light weight)

I'll do a full professional review of this next month but this is probably the best performing zoom lens I've ever tested in the less-than-$1000 range. I've owned both the 28-70L and the 24 -70L (both of which have similar visual signatures) but haven't yet been about to compare this Tamron directly with one or the other. From memory and reviewing old files, I believe the following to be true:

- From 35mm up, the Tamron 28-75 is as sharp as the 24-70L
- At 28mm, the 24-70L performs slightly better than the Tamron, esp. in the outer zones
- The 24-70L shows more micro-contrast overall than the Tamron
- The Tamron shows *less* rectilinear distortion at 28mm than the 28-70L or 24-70L. The "horizontal stretching" of faces near the edges of the frame is much more pronounced with the Canon lenses than with the Tamron (I'll confirm this in a direct comparison in the full review)

I don't actually like zooms very much. In fact the reason that I ended up selling both my 28-70L and 24-70L is that they spent far more time too much time in my bag. At one point I'd sold all of my zoom lenses (all Ls) and I still do most of my personal and professional work with primes. But, undeniably, there are fast-paced shooting situations where using a zoom lens works better than carrying multiple bodies with primes. For those times, this 28-75 Tamron may be just what I need on the Canon 5D (and 1Ds if I pick up another one). Having moved to a lighter, smaller SLR for weddings (5D from 1Ds) I'm keen on keeping my lenses smaller and lighter as well. It really makes a difference when I'm shooting hand-held for hours.

We'll see how it pans out over the next few weeks but so far this is a surprisingly impressive little lens - that it costs $400 or less is just icing on the cake.