Eric L. Woods

The frugal photographer strikes again. Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di.

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My recent switch to a Pentax K-3ii has been a success. Next up? A zoom.


Note: I also had always wanted a body with a topside LCD, in body image stabilization, dual front and back dials, and 2 memory card slots. No camera I owned had that combination of features, but the K-3ii had them all with a many buttoned control layout I really liked as a bonus.

Specifically a zoom lens that has tripped up a number of systems for your humble frugal shopper.  A 70-200mm f2.8. Why? Glad you asked. A recap via my system journey in chronological order.

Prices below as of the writing of this post from B&H Photo Video. Best APS-C (except the E-M1) camera and least expensive lens combo that brings IS, with the A7 solution thrown in for comparison’s sake.

Olympus: E-M1 ($1,099) + 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO ($1,399) = $2,498

Nikon: D7200 ($1,096) + Tamron 70-200mm VC f/2.8 ($1,399) = $2,495

Samsung: NX1 ($1,299) + 50-150mm f/2.8 ($1,599) = $2,898

Sony: A7 ($1,098) + 70-200mm f/4 ($1,498) = $2,596

And now this:

Pentax: K-3ii ($979) + Tamron 70-200mm Di ($769) = $1,748

Body and lens combined is $648 less than the VR Nikon 70-200mm alone at $2,396. And I paid even less as I caught a body on sale and traded for $825. Another route to new is to pickup the very similar K-3. You lose GPS, but you ‘gain’ a flash. While I do not plan to tag files with location nor do I plan to use the astrotrace feature for star shots it is nice to have the option so I chose the ii.

I will not quibble about best tool for task, etc., etc. After dancing through a few systems and sensor sizes I firmly believe any modern system can meet my needs.

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Some gifts. Some second hand screaming deals that fell into my lap. One new. Have owned pocket, 1", MFT, APS-C, and full frame digital cameras. Have owned many 35mm, now medium, and years ago Polaroid film cameras. Have owned many brands not represented here. Have owned multiple mirrorless systems. Have owned a couple DSLR systems. None of that matters. Ultimately I love no brand, format, form factor, or technology. I will walk away from any debate regarding these insignificant details. I love photography. My only devotion is to capturing light. I am a novice that thrills at learning. A few good captures and many more bad along the way. What I use to do so matters little as long as I can continue to do so. #film #35mm #mediumformat #photography

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Another admission. I had a Tamron 28-75mm for the D3300 that I liked quite a bit so I had no 3rd party apprehensions.

I have had the lens only 5 days and I am already impressed. Lastly here are some pros, cons, and a gallery:


  • Excellent optics like the Tamron 28-75mm I had for Nikon some time ago.
  • Not a true macro as marked, but with a close focus distance of 51.2″(1.30m) at 200mm it does a great quasi-macro impression. Check out water drops on leaf shot in gallery.
  • One would expect great low light performance given the specs and it does not disappoint. Band shots in gallery were taken in a dimly lit gymnasium on a rainy day with the windows blocked and I had no issue getting bright, clear shots across the gym.
  • Also as one would expect with these specs it is a great portrait lens.
  • Focuses very quickly with little to no hunting on the K-3ii.
  • f/2.8, in body stabilization, teamed with the 3 center vertical -3EV focus points means low light is of little challenge.
  • It is light compared to other like spec’d lenses.
  • I really like the quality of the bokeh this lens creates.
  • Acceptably sharp at f/2.8 and tack sharp starting at f/3.8 – f/4 and up.
  • Comes with a nice lens bag, hood, and a sturdy tripod collar.
  • Great value.


  • Pull focus ring manual focus switch falls victim to 3rd party one design for many mounts issue since Pentax has an on body switch that must also be switched. As a result switching to manual focus and back is a 2 step, albeit quick, process. It is of no consequence personally since I have yet to miss focus using AF.
  • AF by body screw drive is noisy compared to newer in body focus drive systems, but it has not been an issue for me. I imagine it would be an issue if there was a lot of hunting, but that has not been the case here.
  • That is about it.

Here is an ongoing gallery and a sample gallery below:




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