I was generously offered an opportunity to test the new Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens, a highly anticipated addition to the Sony lineup that offers an insane package of features at a very reasonable price point. I will briefly touch on its key features and performance specs, but this review will be focusing on my real-world experience as a Bold Emotional Colorful shooter and how this lens could be the next one on your wish list!
This Tamron lens offers a versatile focal range and an impressive f/2.8 constant aperture in a tiny package. Designed ground-up for Sony E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras, this powerhouse of a lens aims to deliver exceptional performance for both photographers and videographers alike. Weighing in at only 365 grams, I find it shocking how the engineers at Tamron managed to fit a constant wide f/2.8 aperture while maintaining an ultra-wide to standard zoom focal length. The tactile experience of the lens is also worth noting; both zoom and focus rings are well-damped, providing smooth and precise operation. Long story short, it just feels good to work with. The solid build quality and weather sealing also made me confident in shooting under wet conditions, like my experience at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The timing of this testing period couldn’t have come at a better time; I had two Goddess-style shoots coming up within a week of each other that would allow me to put the lens through its paces. The first shoot took place in Tucson, Arizona where a desert wildflower super bloom was taking place. It was an absolute joy to watch the colors of the dress and environment come to life straight out of the camera. The ultrawide end combined with a shocking minimum focus distance of just 6.7 inches allowed me to emphasize the gorgeous desert flowers in macro detail while putting my model on a natural pedestal for the most ethereal poses and shots.
The second location was the Bonneville Salt Flats on a day when the weather was a bit temperamental. The Tamron did a phenomenal job at encapsulating the scale of the salt flats and handled inclement weather without issues. Reviewing the raw photos of the shoot with my model on the back of the camera was a breathtaking experience. She was in disbelief that a camera could do this natural wonder any sort of justice. This impact certainly wouldn’t have been achievable with my workhorse 35MM.
One of my apprehensions while shooting with a focal length this wide was the loss of background separation from my subject. I often shoot with apertures from f/1.4-2.0 to achieve a nostalgic, dreamlike feel, so not having those large apertures made me nervous. Thankfully, I was proven wrong by the dynamic capabilities of the Tamron. In seconds, I could flip from capturing my subject in a landscape of epic scale at 20mm, then zooming to 40mm with the f/2.8 constant aperture to provide that flattering background separation for more intimate portrait work. I had a blast testing this lens in vastly different environments to emphasize certain perspectives and details.
I was stunned at the versatility of this lens and just how fast it would lock focus with my Sony Alpha a9.The autofocus system leverages Tamron's VXD (Voice-coil extreme-torque Drive) motor, ensuring fast, accurate, and virtually silent focusing performance. Whether capturing stills or recording videos, the lens locks onto subjects swiftly and tracks them with precision. Not once did I experience a missed shot as a result of lens hesitation. Thankfully, the color rendition and contrast were an absolute joy to work with in post-production and were congruent with my bold and colorful editing style. One additional feature that I found innovative but didn’t have a chance to test was the customizable focus ring button that can be assigned to various camera settings.
The Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens for Sony is a stunning blend of versatility, build quality and capability. I hesitate to use the cliche phrase “industry/category disrupting,” but that’s exactly what this lens is. The lens offers exceptional value for money, making it a compelling choice for Sony E-mount users seeking a professional-grade lens that won't break the bank at just $699. This lens is now the only permanent zoom in my bag.
Review & Images by, Jeremy Heinzmann of Miyagi Photography