I was a fool to have believed that the kit lens(18-55mm f/3.5-5) from the 350D was enough, but I was more than a fool when I thought the "nifty-fifty"(50mm f/1.8) was the only lens I needed. The kit lens was only a "so-so" lens at best. And the nifty-fifty was hard to take pictures when I must be standing at least 5 feet back to capture my subject. The 1.8 of the nifty-fifty was brilliant but having almost everything except one small spot in focus is not worth my "Kodak moments." I needed something more versatile, something efficient and cater to the budget photographer like myself.
I scoured the internet for a lens that could be titled as the "King of the Walk around Lenses." Many lenses were nominated by photographers across the net. Lenses such as the Canon 17-40 f/4L, the Canon 17-85 IS USM, Sigma 18-50 f/2.8, the Canon 50mm f/1.8(Nifty Fifty), Canon 24-70 f/2.8L, Canon's 28-135mm IS USM, and much more. A good walk around lens must have versatility, which for me meant a decent zoom range. Something that a prime lens like the "oh so perfect" 50mm f/1.8 nifty fifty cannot satisfy.
Here I shall digress a little and talk about the nifty fifty. It's definitely a great lens, a lens that is extremely affordable, approx 80USD. It is outstanding in low light and again, it is CHEAP. Many people love this lens for its value per price, myself included. That is why that the 50mm f/1.8 was my very first lens besides the kit lens. I began using it all the time but always found myself stepping back, way back, in order to achieve a good composition of the subject at hand. This annoyed me a little and I decided to continue my search for the best walk around lens.
Back on topic now, versatility is important, zoom range is important. Something like the 17-85 IS USM, 28-135mm IS USM definitely interested me. These are definitely not as expensive as the other lenses out there, especially the L-line. I was holding back because the prices on the mentioned Canon lenses were still quite steep; they were as expensive as the camera body! I could not come to grip with a lens that costs as much as the body, here I would like to mention I'm new to SLR photography. Price was a major factor for me and the zoom range was important as well.
Along with zoom range, another aspect of versatility included the lens' ability to be useful for indoor or night photography. This is the reason why I bought the nifty fifty in the first place. I took more interest in the lenses that had a larger aperture; something about f/2.8 just screams sexiness to me. Well with these criteria in mind, I started to really look at the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L. This lens has received epic reviews from every photographer. Its built quality and its pictures are perplexingly amazing. My versatility requirement has been met at every angle. When I look at the price, my jaws dropped and suddenly this lens just became a lens beyond my reach.
As price is a huge factor in buying anything these days, the price of the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L scared me away. But through my meticulously investigation into the 24-70L lens, I came across a small group of people who had found an alternative.
That alternative is what I am really reviewing here: the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8.
Advantages of this lens are the best part. This lens is incredibly versatile, good zoom range, great for low lighting shots. It was the perfect alternative to the beloved Canon 24-70L. The major factor that really pushed me into buying this Tamron was the price. It was a HUGE bargain. The Canon sells for more than a thousand dollars while this Tamron is in the very reachable range of 350USD.
Now there are only a few sample images by fellow amazonites so I was hesitant in believing what others were saying about the quality of the pictures. And there weren't many in depth review on this lens either. I also heard this lens has to seek focus for an image in low lighting areas. I took the plunge and bought this lens anyways.
To my surprise, this lens is tremendously useful. The 28mm is decent enough for landscape. The other end at 75mm is quite good for portraits or just typical zoom images. My pictures were very sharp comparing to the kit lens and the nifty fifty. I have taken pictures indoor during a cloudy morning, indoor night time with halogen lights in the room, outdoor nature, and outdoor people. This lens produces exceedingly sharp pictures.
The constant f/2.8 was the best part. I can shoot rather well in low light. For some ridiculous reason, I walked into a national park as the sun was setting, so when I was a mile in, it was already dark. My Tamron was able to still take pictures at ISO speeds of 800 and I thought, "Wow, I couldn't do this with my other lenses." With that said, there is one minor annoyance. This is not a USM obviously, so it does take a little bit of time searching for that focus. In extreme low lighting, like that of a hike after the sun has set, it was impossible for me to obtain autofocus. I guess this is true for all lenses so it is not that big of a problem here.
The Tamron's build quality is quite sturdy. This lens was very strong from when I was playing with it. The 28-75mm is much heavier than the kit lens I received with the 350D so I was still getting used to it. When this lens sits in my 350D body, I couldn't really hold the camera if my hands were only on the camera. I needed to place my left hand on the barrel of the lens in order for a good feel. Mounting this combination onto a light weight tripod gave me moments of fear. The top of the tripod would start tipping forward. When I tilted my camera vertically on the tripod, the tripod tipped to the left. Of course adding weights to the tripod solved the problem but be warned that this is a real lens that has a good weight to it.
Comparing to the Canon 24-70L lens, which weighs twice as much and cost three times as much, this Tamron is a steal! Even though this lens is not that well known, I love its ability to compete with the 24-70L. I especially love the price of this incredible lens. For those that are hesitant to buy this lens, please don't be. It's an excellent lens with good quality.
To sum it all up, the price, the zoom range, the large aperture, the built quality, and again the price make this lens the best "bang for the buck" lens for a Canon SLR. I love the ability to just take photos in any situation while producing sharp pictures. This lens claims the title "King of the Walk Around Lenses" in my book. And last but not least, a good walk around lens will definitely encounter battle scars so the low cost of this lens would not take a week's worth of pay to buy another one. Two thumbs up, five stars, top 10 rating from me.
I am sorry if this review was too long, I just love this lens.
Just came back from a 40 day backpacking trip through Europe. I brought this lens with me along with Canon 50mm f/1.8. The whole time, I only used the Tamron. It was heavy to be strapping the 350D around my neck walking around in 85F heat but i managed.
The lens performed commendably! It was truly a great walk around lens because when you're out, you're going to be out all day. So from morning to night, my lens was able to capture every moment I wanted to remember. Though I did find myself saying "I wish I had a wide angle lens" almost everytime I visited a museum or a church, I still recommend this Tamron whole heartedly.
After my long trip, I have learned that no single lens can truly claim to be everything you need, but with this Tamron, you'd have a blast with its sharp pictures! When I was in museums and churches, people were flashing about with their cameras while I took all my photos with my amazing 2.8 aperture so no flash was neccessary, capturing the true lighting on the subjects. People were just amazed and asked "Wow, you don't need a flash?"
Hope I can update every one out there with my experience on the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
Update 12/13/07: 1 year later......
The lens is great, I did a lot of portrait shots over the year and with the 2.8, it made the subject stand out from the background. But I guess I'm still a beginner at photography. I looked back at some photos and realized my portrait style cannot be applied to taking photos of objects. Extending the focal range, I had tried to capture a car from a distance but my shaky hands and the f/2.8 made everything blurry! I have to review my basics and use a smaller aperture.
Still a great lens, for its price, it's definitely unbeatable.
I have now added a Canon 10-22mm to my collection, which is extremely fun to play with.
UPDATE 4/28/2010: 4 years later!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OMG can you believe I'm updating this review 4 years later? Well it's because I LOVE this lens!!!!! I've shot a lot in the past 4 years with this lens, and I've grown into loving portrait photography even more. This lens is AMAZING performing portraits, great depth of field with the 2.8 at 75mm. I usually turn up the f-stop to 3.5 or so, 75mm, lower EV -1, and shoot in raw so I can edit the brighten up the photo later on in photoshop. The lens is still very sturdy, I've traveled to Ecuador, Hong Kong, South Korea, and throughout the US since then.
This lens was so cheap back then, now it's about $440.. wow... what happened?!