Japanese lensmaker Tamron is doing quite the job of ferreting out new niches for itself in the full-frame Sony E-mount lens market. A few weeks back we told you about a uniquely long-zooming 50-400mm lens the company has in development, and now it’s revealed another lens that should also be arriving this fall, the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 Di III VXD.
Much like the 50-400mm before it, the new Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 has no direct rivals on the market currently. The nearest equivalent in terms of focal length and aperture is Sony’s FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master, but that’s a much bigger, heavier lens and it’s also rather more wide-angle across the board. Next-nearest would have to be Sigma’s 28-70mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary, but again, that’s noticeably bulkier and nowhere near as wide.
Who’s the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 for?
As you could probably guess from its focal length range, the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8 is intended to be a versatile, do-it-all optic. At the wide end, it should be perfect for landscapes, architecture, street photography, and more, yet, it can still yield a “normal” focal length at the other end of the range. And while it offers no telephoto capability out of the box, Tamron notes that by switching to an APS-C crop it effectively becomes a 30-60mm zoom, giving you just a little more reach if needed.
As capable as the 20-40mm f/2.8 is for stills, Tamron says the new lens was built with video in mind. Describing its optic as a standard zoom for vloggers, the company notes that the lens’ lightweight design and compact dimensions make it well-suited to gimbal use. And of course, its focal length range is conducive to selfie-shooting, even on crop sensor bodies. While the f/2.8 maximum aperture should give you a good degree of background blur.
So just how small and light is this lens? We don’t yet have a diameter, but the lens barrel is just 3.4 inches in length. That’s a full 1.4 inches shorter than the 16-35mm G Master, and a handy 0.6 inches less than the Sigma 28-70mm. And the difference in weight versus those lenses is even more obvious. The Tamron will weigh just 12.9 ounces, which is 28% less than the Sigma and a whopping 46% lighter than the Sony.
That size and weight are achieved despite a moisture-resistant construction. Tamron also notes that it has improved the texture and scratch-resistance of the coatings used on the lens barrel. Dedicated controls include a customizable focus ring and a zoom ring with a throw of 65 degrees. Tamron’s Lens Utility software can be used to modify the focus ring functionality and to apply firmware updates. Up front, you’ll find a set of 67mm filter threads.
Tamron has selected its VXD linear autofocus drive technology for the new lens. (Not familiar with that acronym? It’s a contraction of “Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive”.) It’s said to be both accurate and quiet in operation. Tamron is also promising “excellent” autofocus tracking performance as well as compatibility with Sony’s Hybrid AF and Eye AF algorithms.
The 20-40mm f/2.8 can focus to a minimum distance of 6.7 inches at wide-angle or 11.4 inches at telephoto. For the most macro-like results, you’ll want to shoot wide and get close to your subject. But once you do so, you should be able to achieve a ratio of 1:3.8 (0.26x).
Tamron has yet to disclose anything about this new lens’ optical formula, so all we know for right now is that it has an f/2.8 maximum aperture and a fluorine coating to help repel dust and smudges from the front lens element.
Pricing & availability
Since this is only a development announcement, we don’t have a precise release date or price for the Tamron 20-40mm f/2.8. We shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to learn these details, however. Pandemic and supply-chain issues allowing, Tamron expects its first shipments to be delivered this fall.