4 Professional Zoom Lenses for Photographers on a Budget

In the past few years, we’ve seen professional zoom lenses take a quantum leap forward. Prime lenses have always produced the best image quality, but zoom lenses have become exceptional. Professional zoom lenses have been the envy of many photographers. And if you shoot with Sony cameras, then you’re in luck as you have access to the best professional zoom lenses that don’t cost a whole lot of money. You’ll still have funds left over to get other accessories if you need them. So take a look at this roundup to see what’s great on the market right now.

How We Chose These Professional Zoom Lenses

Here’s some insight into how to use this guide on professional zoom lenses:

  • Our staff has reviewed all these professional zoom lenses. Each section has a link to our fuller reviews. We’ve shot all the product images and sample photos in this roundup, so you can trust that we’d recommend these products with confidence.
  • Most professional photographers know a zoom isn’t a substitute for getting closer. Sometimes you really, truly can’t get closer. But don’t use it as a crutch. Always remember the powerful framing a wider angle can provide.
  • These professional zoom lenses have some degree of weather-resistance built in. They’ll do the best job of keeping the sensor in your Sony camera clean.
  • These lenses work with Sony’s autofocus system to get great autofocus performance even in low light.
  • These lenses can fill a lot of gaps for you. Shooting a wedding? Are you a photojournalist? Going to photograph landscapes? Well, these lenses are capable. The Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 specifically is a huge winner on this list.
  • These lenses use Tamron optics and achieve a unique look. There’s surely a character and it’s evident once you load the images into post-production software.

Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD

Tech Specs

Model A058
Focal Length 35-150mm
Maximum Aperture F2-2.8
Angle of View
(diagonal)
63°26′- 16°25′
(for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction 21 elements in 15 groups
Minimum Objective
Distance
0.33m (13 in) (WIDE) /
0.85m (33.5 in) (TELE)
Maximum Magnification
Rate
1:5.7 (WIDE) / 1:5.9 (TELE)
Filter Size φ82mm
Maximum Diameter φ89.2mm
Length* 158mm (6.2 in)
Weight 1,165g (41.1 oz)
Aperture Blades 9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum Aperture F16-22
Standard Accessory Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps
Mount Sony E-mount
Format Full-Frame Mirrorless***

How Are the Colors?

In our review, we state:

The first time Tamron’s colors really hit me was when they came out with their 35mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8 for DSLR cameras. The colors from the Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD hit me just as hard. But the colors here are a bit more muted, and I adore that. It’s also so much more important for anyone shooting portraits.

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Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD

Model A046
Focal Length 17-28mm
Maximum Aperture F2.8
Angle of View (diagonal) 103°41′-75°23′ (for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction 13 elements in 11 groups
Minimum Object Distance 0.19m (7.5 in) (WIDE) /
0.26m (10.2 in) (TELE)
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:5.2 (WIDE) / 1:6 (TELE)
Filter Size Φ67mm
Maximum Diameter Φ73mm
Length* 99mm (3.9 in)
Weight 420g (14.8 oz)
Diaphragm Blade Number 9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum Aperture F/22
Standard Accessories Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps
Compatible Mounts Sony E-mount

How’s the Color?

In our review, we state:

Here at The Phobographer, we tend to shoot in Daylight or Tungsten white balances. The images give us a more cinematic and film-like look straight out of the camera. We’re very happy to say, that when it comes to colors, the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD really excels.

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Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD G2

Tech Specs

Model A063
Focal Length 28-75mm
Maximum Aperture F2.8
Angle of View
(diagonal)
75°23′- 32°11′
(for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction 17 elements in 15 groups
Minimum Object Distance 0.18m (7.1 in) (WIDE) /
0.38m (15 in) (TELE)
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:2.7 (WIDE) / 1:4.1 (TELE)
Filter Size φ67mm
Maximum Diameter φ75.8mm
Length* 117.6mm (4.6 in)
Weight 540g (19 oz)
Aperture Blades 9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum Aperture F22
Standard Accessory Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps
Mount Sony E-mount
Format Full-Frame Mirrorless***

How are the Colors?

In our review, we state:

“Tamron tends to be vivid and have its own sort of color that Sony doesn’t quite give. Sony is vivid, but also kind of sterile. Tamron isn’t that way. And in our tests, the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 G2 stayed true to that philosophy.

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Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III VXD

Tech Specs

Model A056
Focal Length 70-180mm
Maximum Aperture F2.8
Angle of View
(diagonal)
34°21′-13°42′ (for full-frame mirrorless format)
Optical Construction 19 elements in 14 groups
Minimum Object Distance AF: 0.85m /33.5 in (Full zoom range)
(MF: 0.27m /10.6 in (Wide), 0.85m /33.5 in (Tele))*
Maximum Magnification Ratio AF: 1:4.6, MF: 1:2 (Wide) / 1:4.6 (Tele)*
Filter Size Φ67mm
Maximum Diameter Φ81mm
Length** 149mm (5.9 in)
Weight 810g (28.6 oz)
Aperture Blades 9 (circular diaphragm)***
Minimum Aperture F/22
Standard Accessory Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps
Compatible Mounts Sony E-mount

How are the Colors?

In our review, we state:

“Colors rendered by the Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 are vibrant and saturated but lean towards the warmer side out-of-camera. This is preferred by some photographers, providing a more organic tone to images. Those seeking more color-accurate images will want to shoot using custom white balances.”

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The Phobographer’s various product roundup features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve thoroughly reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This piece is presented in partnership with TAMRON. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this roundup already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few essential gems to you.



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