My Favourite Travel Lens – The Tamron 28-300mm
Last year I was given an incredible opportunity to travel to the US for three and half weeks just to take photos. My trip was sponsored by an amazing woman, which spurred me to try and get other sponsors for my photography. When you are travelling you can’t take everything with you, so being able to get a lens that could handle a lot of the scenes that I wanted to shoot was very handy. To be able to go from a wide angle view, then zoom right in, was going to be a great lens for travelling, I hoped.
I had read about the Tamron 28-300mm lens, and how it was a good for travelling. I decided to contact Tamron Australia to see if they would loan me the 28-300mm for my trip, and they did. It is a full frame lens and if you have a cropped sensor then you need to remember that you won’t be able to get 28mm (more like 42mm), and that it will be far longer than 300mm (similar to 450mm).
Golden Gate Bridge with US Flag, taken through a car window. Focal length 65mm
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the size. For a lens with such a big zoom length, it’s quite small. It isn’t a heavy lens either. Straight away it seemed like the perfect lens to carry, that wouldn’t contribute to breaking my back.
It fits nicely into any camera bag, due to its compact size. The bag I used on my trip was quite small, and it was easy to pack. The light weight meant I didn’t have to worry about making my bag heavier. Imagine how your back would feel if you had to carry a bunch of other lenses to cover that range!
Some of the old building at the ghost town in Bodie, CA, focal length 122mm.
When travelling you can’t always get close to places to get the best angles, and having a lens that allows you to take photos when you are close, or far away, is an advantage. You can take an image of a building and get most of it in, then zoom in to get some details of it as well.
The following images of the Flatiron Building in NYC, show how you can take a photo of the whole building, and then a close up of some detail using the 28-300mm lens.
The Flatiron Building in New York, focal length 28mm.
Detail of the Flatiron Building, focal length 300mm.
There is also the advantage of not having to constantly change your lens. If it is busy, or crowded, you won’t have to stop, get out another lens and change it. This compact lens is great for most situations.
A bee on a flower, taken at 300mm.
With any lens that has this kind of focal length range, you are going to have to compromise somewhere.
When you take photos at 300mm, the images are not as sharp as they are at 150mm. This is a common problem with most lenses, and more so with ones that have longer lengths such as the Tamron 28-300mm.
A lens is judged by the size of the largest aperture. A fast lens has a large aperture of f/2.8 or, as is the case with some of the prime lenses, maybe f/1.4. The largest aperture means that when there is lower light you can get a faster shutter speed, which makes it a faster lens.
This Tamron 28-300mm lens has an aperture range of f/3.5 – 6.3, which translates to being able to have the faster aperture of f3.5 at 28mm, but when you zoom out to 300mm the fastest (widest) one you can get is only f/6.3. Most of the time it isn’t a problem, and only becomes one when the light is low, or when shooting indoors. The compromise is, when those conditions arise you have to put up your ISO, which introduces noise into your images, or, in old terms, grain.
Vignetting when zoomed out
One of the things I found, was that there was some vignetting when the lens was zoomed all the way out to 300mm. I was a bit annoyed initially, but when I was given an opportunity to try out the Nikon 28-300mm I noticed it did the same. It is just one of the disadvantages working with lenses such as these.
A view of New York Skyline from Staten Island ferry. Focal length 300mm,
The Other Factors
The lens weighs just over half a kilogram or 19oz. Compare it with the Nikon lens which is 800 grams or 28.2oz. As stated previously, it is quite a light lens, and an easy one to carry around and store.
One of the many mountains at Yosemite, focal length 28mm.
The lens is around US$850, which makes it a good price for the versatility that you get. It makes it an affordable lens, and a very good option for a beginner who wants to find one lens that will suit almost any situation or occasion.
This was a perfect lens for travelling. I found it so versatile, and to tell the truth, while I took a couple of other lenses, this one was on my camera 80% of the time. I didn’t want to take it off. It was very sad when the lens had to be returned to Tamron, I know when I can get the money together, it will be the next lens in my kit.
Seal at Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Focal length 135mm.