Tamron 20mm f/2.8 review: Landscape photographers must give this premium compact a look

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Tamron’s 20mm f/2.8 lens for Sony E-mount cameras offers something most wide-angle lenses don’t: a compact, ultra-lightweight footprint that’s easy to toss in a bag when on the go. shift. Whether you’re traveling across the country or just heading to your local beach, this lens will capture those wide scenes beautifully.

Tamron’s main line of 20, 24 and 35mm are reliable ‘get the job done’ lenses. Image quality is excellent, autofocus is accurate and overall these are great lenses to use. And on the 20mm On the other hand, it’s a great lens for landscapes, cityscapes and everything in between.

Advantages

  • Compact and lightweight; perfect for traveling
  • Fully waterproof, surprising for a lens in this range
  • Superior sharpness
  • Incredibly affordable

The inconvenients

  • Autofocus can be a little slow, but it’s accurate
  • Some barrel distortion present

Tamron 20mm f/2.8 — Technical specifications

Photo by Kris Kinsey

All technical specifications of the Tamron 20mm f/2.8 are taken from B&H Photography:

  • Aperture range: f/2.8–f/22
  • Viewing angle: 94° 30′
  • Minimum focusing distance: 4.3″ / 10.92 cm
  • Maximum magnification: 0.5x
  • Macro reproduction ratio: 1:2
  • Optical design: 10 elements in 9 groups
  • Diaphragm blades: 7, rounded
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Filter size: 67mm (front)
  • Dimensions: 2.87 x 2.5″ / 73 x 63.5mm
  • Weight: 7.8oz / 221g

Tamron 20mm f/2.8 — Ergonomics and build quality

The Tamron 20mm will feel right at home for anyone who has ever used Tamron’s mirrorless lenses. The plastic exterior and lightweight design are premium and look very smooth.

The lens is dust and splash resistant, which is surprising considering its price. The exterior has no buttons or dials, just a small manual focus ring. Tamron is going for a minimal look on the outside of its lenses, and that’s a welcome sight considering other manufacturers seem to be taking a different approach.

The lens cap is Tamron’s standard cap for all of its mirrorless mount lenses. The hood can be difficult to screw on at times, one of the things I’ve always called out on Tamron lenses, as the hood isn’t as forgiving as other brands.

Given its small size, this lens is ideal for travel photographers looking for a lightweight landscape or cityscape lens. It takes up virtually no room in a bag and is super lightweight. For videographers, it’s sized to match its 24mm and 35mm cousins, making it easy to swap out on a gimbal.

Tamron 20mm f/2.8 — In the Field

The Tamron 20mm is a great wide-angle lens, and it’s very accessible considering its size and weight. Although the lens does not have image stabilization, this should not be a problem, especially on modern Sony bodies with IBIS.

Autofocus performance

Autofocus on the Tamron 20mm is accurate but can be a little slow and noisy. Despite this, it was able to keep up with my shots without issue and easily lock onto subjects.

What really sets this lens apart is its minimum focusing distance of 4.3 inches. This makes it perfect for getting creative shots or using the lens’ macro capabilities. Compared to Tamron’s main competitor with this lens – the Sigma 20mm f/2 Contemporary lens – you can capture objects twice as close. It’s super impressive.

Tamron 20mm f/2.8 — Image quality

The Tamron 20mm is certainly a workhorse and gets the job done no matter what you throw at it. Although it doesn’t have the beautiful optics of a Sony G Master or Sigma Art lens, for example, what you get for the price is nothing short of stunning.

Distortion control and vignetting

Compared to the 35mm Tamron, there is some barrel distortion (as well as a slight vignette) with the 20mm Tamron. That said, this is expected of a wide-angle lens, and is easily correctable in post-processing.

Ghosting, reflections and chromatic aberrations

Chromatic aberrations are not an issue for the Tamron 20mm, nor is flare. There is some very, very slight ghosting present when shooting in sunlight, but it’s barely noticeable.

Acuity

Like its 35mm counterpart, the Tamron 20mm eludes sharpness. Corners can be a bit soft, but improve at f/8. Tamron has done a really good job with this, delivering sharpness that I would expect from a lens over $1000…not one that costs a few hundred dollars.

bokeh

You’re not going to buy a 20mm wide-angle lens for bokeh. That said, it does produce nice background separation with nice falloff.

The lens also has macro capabilities, meaning you can get close to subjects up to 4.3 inches away. It’s a neat feature in a pinch, and it definitely heightens the depth of field you get with the lens.

Color rendering

The colors lean slightly warm, but are very pleasant. This is similar to other Tamron lenses for Sony E mount.

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