Our friend, Leonardo Carrizo, is a multi-media storyteller who travels around the world capturing the story behind the destination. In this stateside blog entry, Carrizo takes us behind the scenes of a very cool vintage motorcycle shoot with Tamron’s new 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD for Sony’s E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Occasionally everything fits together perfectly. This was the case last weekend when I already had set up a photo shoot with my friend Chris who is a motorcycle period-correct custom builder and has a great collection of vintage motorcycles that I love to use to shoot portraits. I went for the very cool 1950 Triumph and his niece Holly as well as his nephew Andrew were set to be the models. Coincidentally, Midwest Photo gave me the opportunity to preview Tamron’s new 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD lens for Sony’s E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras. The cherry on top was that I was able to choose which Sony body I wanted to use with Tamron’s new lens so I went for new 42.4. megapixel sensor Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera. A perfect match.
This choice makes sense because there are a lot of hobbyist and professional photographers going mirrorless. It also makes a lot of sense for Tamron to make a high-quality E-mount lens to get into the action – nobody really likes to use adapters. Now, I have to be honest, I haven’t made the switch to a mirrorless camera system like many of my colleagues who are extremely happy after switching. I don’t have any preconceived negative opinion or anything like that about mirrorless cameras. If you remember, I had the opportunity to shot with a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with their 35mm f/2 lens last summer in Ecuador and I loved it (you can read about it here) I just like my Canon DSLR and L-series lenses, though, after this experience I might have to reconsider. A smaller full-frame camera like Sony A7R III with impressive image quality and specs, along with this very versatile 28-75mm f/2.8 lens from Tamron for portraits and landscapes that is extremely sharp, can make my travel photography backpack lighter and me more agile while on the road. And that’s the big attraction to mirrorless cameras, right? You want professional quality images in a compact system.
Wait, did I mentioned that I was also using two Profoto A1 Air TTL units – “the world’s smallest studio light? Well, this post is mainly about my experience with Tamron’s lens so I’m keeping that for a later post!
I have this cautionary habit of bringing my own gear even when I’m testing new gear especially if working with other people. This is because I know my equipment and I want the option to pick up my camera if I’m not satisfied with the performance of whatever I’m testing. It has happened before that I end up switching to my personal equipment. This time I kept my Canon in the bag and after the first couple of shots I felt confident that I wasn’t missing anything and I was making the images I wanted to see from the Sony A7R III and Tamron’s 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD.
I was sufficiently wide for the environmental portraits. The first idea was to photograph Holly with the 1950 Triumph behind this old brick warehouse for the portraits but we were lucky to find the gates wide open so we shot inside this great location. Here’s an image at 28mm shot at 1/200 at f/5, ISO 500.
Here is another image, this time of Andrew, at 28mm 1/200 sec at f/6.3, ISO 500. As you can see, shooting at 28mm is wide enough for an environmental portrait and there is no risk of distortion.
The image below is the same set-up, exposure and the same distance to subject but shot by zooming to 71mm. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD allows you to take full advantage of the Sony’s full-frame sensor.
“But is it sharp? Yep, it’s sharp! And on a 42 megapixels camera it’s insanely sharp. I shot in RAW + JPG and I haven’t done anything with the raw files yet. Therefore, all the images I’m sharing are JPEGs straight from the Sony A7RIII with some post-production but I didn’t add sharpness to any of the images.”
Another feature about Tamron’s lens is its new RXD (Rapid eXtra-silent stepping Drive) auto focus system and they are not lying about the silent part. We were shooting inside a dark warehouse and it was probably the only time that I actually appreciated having the focus beep function enabled in the camera. This silent feature along with Sony’s silent shooting can be very useful for wedding photographers during the ceremony, for street-shooters capturing candid photos, wildlife photographers, and for photojournalists covering important events where you don’t want to be disturbing a scene.
Speaking of the auto focus – it is very fast both on the camera and lens but a few images were slightly soft. This could be because of the dark conditions challenging the auto-focus but most likely it was user error since it was my first time with this equipment.
But is it sharp? Yep, it’s sharp! And on a 42 megapixels camera it’s insanely sharp. I shot in RAW + JPEG and I haven’t done anything with the raw files yet. Therefore, all the images I’m sharing are JPEGs straight from the Sony A7RIII with some post-production but I didn’t add sharpness to any of the images.
Here is just a screen shot from my computer while I was selecting images using Lightroom and zooming in to check the sharpness of the image. You can see that I shot it at 34mm and the exposure setting was 1/200 sec at f/5, ISO 500
Here is a similar image, same composition, Holly is just looking towards the right. These examples have no post-production – no exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows or sharpness, nothing.
And here is the same image but cropped in on the face in Lightroom and exported as a JPEG. Again, no post-production just to show the sharpness and range of the camera and lens.
I’m very happy with the sharpness to say the least. I wish I had more time to explore all the focusing functions and in different situations as well as conditions. In any case, if you are shooting portraits this is a very good lens option.
I mentioned the versatility of this lens and it can’t be more obvious in the visual variety in the next set of images. The advantage of having a fast f2.8 aperture at any focal length with a 28-75mm range lens is that you potentially don’t need other lenses which also means that you can carry less gear which also translates to less additional weight. Notice that I said potentially, I know we all want to have more tools!
The lens according to Tamron weighs under just 20 ounces. Tamron also emphasizes its Moisture-Resistant Construction, BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating to help against flaring and Fluorine Coating that make it water and oil repellant. In other words, this lens is compact but solid and you should have fun with it outdoors. From my experience it feels like a professional lens should feel in your hands. The reason why it feels like a professional lens is simple- it is a professional lens and it must be if it’s going to compete against Sony native lenses.
By now, I have already showed you how you can use this lens for environmental portraits with external lights – a bit studio and commercial style. But, if you are photographing a vintage motorcycle you need to show it as the main subject as well. So here is a walk-around set of photos of this beautiful 1950 Triumph.
Here is the standard ¾ bike photo from the front and rear. Front shot at 31mm 1/2000 sec at f/4, ISO 200 (Note to self, at some point in the near future, I need to write a more extensive blog tutorial on photographing motorcycles)
Rear ¾ shot of the bike at 28mm 1/2000 sec at f/4, ISO 200. According to my friend Chris, the left side of this bike is the money shot for people who know about this particular 1950 Triumph motorcycle.
Don’t forget the details like this beautiful three colored Smith chronometric speedometer from 1949! Shot at 41mm 1/2000 sec at f/4, ISO 200
Details help tell the story not only of the bike but of the bike culture. For example, what you see in the image below is a Spirit Bell and according to Chris is commonly used today and it is supposed to help keep the evil spirits away but it only works if it is given to you not if you buy it. It’s an important detail image and it was shot at 71mm 1/2000 sec at f/4, ISO 200.
“Another cool feature of the Tamron’s 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD is its MOD (Minimum Object Distance) of 19 centimeters or 7.5 inches. Basically, this means that you can shoot wide angle while keeping your subject close to you and sharp.”
Another cool feature of the Tamron’s 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD is its MOD (Minimum Object Distance) of 19cm or 7.5″. Basically, this means that you can shoot wide angle while keeping your subject close to you and sharp. The image below is not a perfect example of this close focusing feature since I was further from the subject than 7.5″ but it shows that I’m getting closer to the subject than usual. You can also see the effect of using large aperture with the shallow depth-of-field for portraits.
This image was shot at 28mm at 1/400 sec at f3.2, ISO 200.
And this image was shot at 75mm at 1/400 sec at f3.2, ISO 200. In both images at 28mm (above) and 75mm (below) her eyes are sharp! And again, no post-production
Tamron’s new 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD lens is only $799! You can pre-order this lens right now from Midwest Photo. Tamron is stating that delivery of the lens will start on May 24th!
Stop by Midwest Photo’s Feature Fair on May 5th and check this lens out in person! They will have the exact lens that I used for this post there for demo. There is nothing better than to have the equipment in your hands to determine if you like it. My guess is that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
I truly enjoyed the awesome versatility of the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD lens for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless E-mount cameras. It’s an extremely fast and sharp lens constructed for the hobbyist or professional photographer in mind. It can easily become the only lens you need for typical travel and street photography. At the same time, I wound not hesitate to take this lens on any commercial or editorial assignment as long as I have a Sony A7R III to go with it. After all, together, they are a perfect fit!
Photo Gear used on this photoshoot:
Finally, here is a portrait of my friend Chris on his period-correct custom 1950 Triumph.