I am not a fan of all-in-one zooms because to me, most inexpensive/affordable all-in-one zooms are optically inferior and buying a good one will be like spending a lot of money just to buy convenience. It is because in most cases, you can get the same zoom range with about the same optical quality by going a for a pair of mid-range zoom and telephoto zoom instead of the more expensive corresponding single all-in-one zoom (e.g. 18-55mm+55-200mm instead of 18-200mm). The only in-production all-in-one zoom that I had tried and would buy is the Tamron 18-270mm VC (for APS-C sensors only of course) which I think it is well balanced in optical quality, size+weight and most important, price.
So why did I buy the one above? The answer is straight and simple: It is cheap and I need a carry-around zoom for my film bodies. The lens was bought used from a graphics studio for only $50CAD and later I got a clearance priced ($6CAD) brand-new Tamron 62mm skylight filter for it. The lens is very very compact and light given its large zoom range. It is still considered small even when it is fully extended at 200mm (see photo below). As far as I know, this particular version of the Tamron 28-200mm is the smallest of its kind in the world!
The lens also has a nice custom flower-shaped bayonet hood and a switch to lock the zoom at 28mm for transport. Most important, it has an aperture ring so that I can use it on my F-801 and EM. For a lens that was introduced in 2001, this is really nice because almost all in-production camera bodies at that time do not need the aperture ring to function. Another nice feature of this lens is it can focus to 0.45m not just at 200mm but for the whole 28-200mm range.
One thing worth mentioning is that beside using the lens on film bodies, it can also be used on digital bodies with APS-C sensors as a compact telephoto zoom. If the lens can auto-focus with your DSLR body or you don’t mind manual-focus, it will a much cheaper alternative to a new APS-C only 55-200mm. Another use that I will try in the future is using it with the D40 as a spot meter (and also a Polaroid back) when shooting large format.
After shooting with the lens on both film and digital, I found that it is not that bad. In fact, I would rate it 7/10 on the 6 megapixel D40 and 8/10 on film (given that it is an all-in-one!). Below are two sample shots, the upper one was taken with the EM and Fujifilm XTRA400 and the lower one was a black and white converted digital image taken with the D40.
Do you know Tamron made a total of 8 different versions of 28-200mm?
After reading through several sources on the Internet, I found that there are two manual focus versions that belong to the Adaptall-2 system with the remaining six being all auto-focus. According the Tamron website (Japan), they are (equivalent silver versions not listed):
MF: 71A(1994), 171A(1998)
AF: 71D(1992), 171D(1996), 571D(1999), 371D(2000), A03(2001), A031(2006)
The one I have is the A03 and note that it was introduced only a year after the 371D. Although they were introduced only one year apart, the A03, at least to me, is a major breakthrough because Tamron successfully reduced the weight and the size of 371D (371D has filter size 72mm while A03 is 62mm, two sizes smaller!) while maintaining the optical quality. One of the Internet sources states that it is due to the use of glass elements with high reflective index (hence the name XR = “Extra Reflective Index”).
Status: On Loan to a Friend