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  • Fitri Aiyub

Tamron 20mm f/2.8 (E-Mount) Review : Budget Lens Worth Investing

Let me just show you what lenses I have in my arsenal at the moment. A Sigma Art 18-35mm f/1.8 with a Viltrox adapter and a Sony FE 3.5-5.0 28-70mm kit lens. Why? Well because native full frame lenses cost a crap load of money to buy. Without a doubt lenses are always a great investment, but when your primary focus is doing video work like I am, buying camera gear such as lights, audio equipment, rigs, etc - it never stops, which eventually diverts your investment plans to all other sectors that never result in buying a lens.

Unless certain priorities shift and provided that it's within your budget of course, then buying an actual lens over renting one would make a lot more sense. So I did exactly that and bought myself this - the Tamron 20mm f/2.8 DI iii lens. It's not as ultra-wide as a 16mm but it does have its perks of a short minimum object distancing - just 0.11mm to be exact or 1 - 2 Macro capability. So you could quite literally get really close to subjects and get nice detailed-sharp images at the centre of the frame. Unless you're planning to shoot insects or products then you would be more suitable to get a macro telephoto lens than a wide angle.

Provided that it is however an ultra-wide lens, distortions are quite significant around the corners of an image and even after distortion corrections, it's still quite visible that there was some warping effect done after the fact, and you lose quite a bit of detail around the corners once it's corrected.

Bokeh effect however is still very pleasing at f/2.8 and colour fringing isn't that noticeable to my eyes but I do want to mention how the build quality of the Tamron is not exactly premium. Even with the special materials inside such as Low Dispersion, Glass Moulded Aspherical elements to quash aberrations, all that technical good stuff, it's still very light weighing only 220g. It's also weather sealed so taking this out for shoots on unpredictable tropical weather conditions like we have in Malaysia is quite the ideal pairing.

There are other alternatives that Sony themselves make, which is their own 20mm f/1.8 G lens, that is currently stated to be the best 20mm you can buy albeit having a way higher price tag and weight capacity than the Tamron. And did I mention you could get this lens for just RM1,300? That's only about SGD420 or about USD300.. Which is a bargain for this type of image quality that it produces.

Though I must state, I didn't buy this lens for photography but more so for video. So going back to how I mentioned buying the right gear at the right time is crucial in where you invest your money. For me, I've been shooting a lot of car related videos and needed a wider perspective to not only capture the entire car in the frame, but also for very close-up shots of the detailing work that is done for these cars – to capture the sorta shine that comes from a paint on a car isn't ideal with just my 28-70mm kit lens, so making the decision to get a budget-friendly-compact and lightweight lens like this Tamron 20mm was a no brainer.

Now there are some drawbacks to this lens when using it for video, given how it has quite a lot of focus breathing as this example here. But even when you switch to manual focus, the throw on the focus ring feels like it could go on forever before you hit your mark. Probably not ideal to have it be your primary lens when having subjects moving in and out of the frame.

But as a lens to suit most of the video work that I do, the Tamron 20mm is far plenty as a wide angle lens and how it could serve as the perfect budget lens I've been needing for awhile now.


Written by Fitri Aiyub

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