Courtesy of my local camera shop, since online retailers still seem to have stock issues with it, I have had this lens for a minute and am still processing the ramifications of such a piece of kit. The original intent:
Replace my beloved and appreciated Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8…
…and past fast tele zoom lenses like the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8…
…and the former precious Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8.
…and DSLR era 70-200mm f/2.8.
As noted in my previous posts on this lens thus far this “replacing two zoom lenses with one” exercise has been successful. As a part of this exercise, I reviewed the focal lengths used with these precious zoom lenses. I found a couple of things that played a part in this success.
- Often times photos taken were not at the extremes of either lens, 28mm, 200mm, or 180mm.
- This helped accommodate a scenario where the 35-150mm could stand as a replacement for both.
- If I ever need the extra reach past 150mm plausible “fixes” less costly than a longer lens would be:
- Cropping the image.
- Picking up a crop APS-C Sony body.
- Using APS-C crop mode on a high MP R body.
- If a wider focal length is needed pair the lens with the also excellent Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8.
But something else happened. I touched upon the bag of primes thing previously, but it was a tentative mention at best. With the benefit of a little more time, I can lean into this a bit more and admit something.
Having let go of all the lenses below the 35-150mm has now officially replaced all of my Sony FE mount prime lenses…
…save two. But those two lenses do not count because they are both “want to have” lenses, not “need to have” lenses. But when considering the more pedestrian prime lenses I have had I can honestly say that they are redundant for me. Which ones I imagine you asking? Well, I am glad that I imagined that you asked. Across a few focal lengths starting at the widest let us take a walk down prime lens memory lane.
Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.8 FE
Could have easily taken any of the shots above with the Tamron 35-150mm. At f/2 there is little sacrifice in subject isolation and light gathering. The 35-150mm also sports a similarly close focus distance at 35mm.
It is also as sharp in my experience and renders colors as well also. There are no focus performance improvements to speak of either. Other than the size of the lens there is no disadvantage in using the 35-150mm f/2-2.8.
Rokinon/Samyang AF 45mm f/1.8 FE
A great lens. More “soul” IQ wise than nearly any other 50mm adjacent normal-ish FE mount lens I had used. Small. Light. Reasonably sharp. Reasonably efficient AF. Maybe a little more plastic-y than I would like it to be build-wise. It should have done it for me, but it did not. I cannot put a finger on the why not if I am honest. Having let that lens go there is little sacrifice aperture wise at f/2.2 at 45mm with the 35-150mm spec-wise. And at around 45mm the 35-150mm outshines the Rokinon/Samyang 45mm IQ wise in my opinion.
Other than size and weight, the Rokinon/Samyang 45mm has no advantages to offer me.
Rokinon/Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE
Again. A great lens. Overall I would say that it is a better performer optically and is better built than the 45mm above. Reasonably efficient AF also. Considered in isolation this is a great lens. And since the 35-150mm is at about f/2.5 at around 75mm the Rokinon/Samyang 75mm carries a bit more of an aperture advantage than the lenses above. But this is where the many primes instead of a zoom model hits a rather obvious downside.
Many of the photos above with the 75mm were taken during a stranger portrait session on a NYC photo walk back in August of 2021. But soon after I switched to the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. Why? For street portrait sessions I quickly started to realize that the added flexibility of the Tamron zoom was preferred. And after that, I never returned to the 75mm for the remainder of the photo walk. I finished up the stranger portraits with the 28-75mm…
…which netted pleasing results at 71mm above, but also reminded me that the zoom’s flexibility was appreciated with quick changes in framing like the shot below not long after the shot above at 51mm.
And that was it. On the subway down to Washington Square and onward the 28-75mm f/2.8 stayed on the camera for the rest of the photo walk.
Like the 28-75mm f/2.8 the 35-150mm f/2-2.8 would have also done just fine the rest of the day. In fact, I never wanted for a wider lens the rest of the day, but with a few shots, like the one below, I would have preferred a longer lens than the 75mm available with the 28-75mm zoom.
Rokinon/Samyang AF 24mm f/1.8 FE
So what of the Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.8?
I really, really like the Rokinon/Samyang 24mm f/1.8 in theory. Features that I raved about like the Infinity on Demand button also sound fantastic in theory. An f/1.8 aperture also sounds fantastic. But in practice?
- I am not a zoom with your feet type of guy usually. But I must admit that in most instances I could make do with 35mm with the Tamron 35-150mm by adjusting my position. And while not sporting an Infinity on Demand button like the 24mm it sports a host of helpful buttons and switches of its own.
- If I truly needed a wider focal length overall I would be better served by pairing the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 with a wide zoom like the also excellent Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8. At these wider focal lengths, the added flexibility would be of more use than the f/1.8 aperture. Personal preference.
And courtesy of Sony’s impressive low light performance the f/2.8 aperture is not much of a hindrance in low light.
And subject isolation at this focal length range with f/2.8 is not an issue either courtesy of the 17-28mm’s quite decent close focus performance.
So in addition to the 28-75mm and 70-180mm Tamron lenses the 35-150mm f/2-2.8, for me, functionally replaces prime lenses also. I mentioned above that a lens that reached past 75mm would have been preferred for a couple of instances above. There are a few mortal primes longer than 75mm that I appreciate in order of focal length.
The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 is just one of the 85mm lenses I got on fine with. The also FE mount Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and RF mount Canon 85mm f/2 IS are also great options.
Prime Lenses between 100mm and 135mm
It is not missed on me that there are 100m and greater focal length primes that sit an f/2.8 like the 35-150mm at these focal lengths. Two examples in Pentax mount are the Pentax smc Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro and older, manual focus legacy Takumar 135mm f/2.5.
All of these 85mm to 135mm lenses are great. Some add advantages like macro functionality. But used strictly as portrait lenses the longer end of the 35-150mm f/2-2.8 would make a fine alternative to all of them.
To sum up not only did the 35-150mm when combined with the Tamron 17/28mm f/2.8…
…displace the Tamron f/2.8 lens holy trinity…
…it also displaced the Rokinon/Samyang tiny 4 lens line up…
…as well as other longer focal length primes mentioned above.
For me, this has officially made the Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 bag of prime lenses. Not just replacing two lenses, but more than six altogether. What’s more, it has replaced these lenses without feeling like a compromise.
Ok, there is one compromise. It is larger and heavier. But…
Back on that NYC photo walk I would have loved to have had this lens. I brought a bag of lenses that day and I know shots were lost while switching between lenses and attempting to contemplate what lens I should be using next. I can say with full confidence that if I had this lens I would have been much better off during this photo walk. Not only that I would have fared better on the entirety of this trip to NYC. I brought a number of zoom and prime lenses, but as you can imagine switching lenses in a bustling city is not optimal and I would have fared better with the 35-150mm f/2.8. On my next trip, I would have no issues bringing this lens alone. Every shot on that trip could have been taken with the 35-150mm f/2-2.8.
Going back to a wedding where I used the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Tamron and the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 I would have also fared better with the 35-150mm f/2-2.8 allowing me to free up a camera body. This could have allowed me to use one body or free up another body for a wide zoom or any other lens I chose.
This has also freed up my camera bag. This lens, the 17-28mm and I am pretty much good to go.
Why have I not mentioned the price? Once again I am glad that I imagined you asked. One lens that replaces many in my bag justifies the asking price for me.
I say once again. Well done Tamron.