We've said it before, but it bears repeating—we love third-party lenses. They not only help fill gaps in product lines, but also drive innovation and are great values to boot.

Tamron is one of our favorite third-party manufacturers. They have decades of experience making glass for Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and more recently, for Sony. While they're certainly an established and well-respected company, Tamron often gets overshadowed by giants like Sigma, Zeiss, Voigtlander or even an upstart like Samyang—but no more!

Let's take a few minutes and go through some of our favorite Tamron lenses that offer a lot of bang for little money.

Tamron 16-300mm

Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

This zoom for APS-C cameras offers a wide range of focal lengths in a relatively compact package. Equivalent to 24-450mm, it covers just about any need that may arise, from wide to telephoto and even macro. To achieve Tamron's optical quality, the lens sports four aspherical elements, two low-dispersion elements and two extra refractive elements. It also features Tamron's three-coil Vibration Compensation system to retain sharpness and has an ultra-quiet autofocus motor. Great for travel, events or as an all-in-one lens.

Sample image:

Tamron 16-300mm Photo by Phil Kaplan

Tamron 17-50mm

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II SP

This wide-to-normal zoom for APS-C has a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the range, which makes it ideal for shooting in low light and offers a shallow depth of field for subject isolation. Considering its complexity, the lens is on the lighter side and quite compact, so you won't have to sacrifice portability for its great optical qualities. It also has a handy zoom lock feature, so you can be sure it stays put while in transit. A wonderful lens for those that require great image quality in an affordable package.

Sample image:

Tamron 17-50mm Photo by Phil Kaplan

Tamron 150-600mmTamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 SP DI VC USD

This super-telephoto zoom lens can be used on both APS-C and full-frame bodies and offers tremendous reach, making it popular with landscape, nature or wildlife photographers. Since it's a zoom lens that can back off all the way to 150mm you get a level of flexibility not found with many other 600mm lenses—you won't have to worry if the action starts moving towards you. It has a Vibration Compensation system and offers advanced autofocus features. It's a truly remarkable lens with a great combination of reach, performance, and portability.

Sample image: 

Tamron 150-600mm Photo by Phil Kaplan

Tamron 45mm f/1.8Tamron 45mm f/1.8 DI SP VC USD

This wide-aperture prime lens can be used for full frame or as a short telephoto for APS-C. Slightly wider than a classic 50mm, this 45mm has a sophisticated look and excellent optical quality. It sports an accurate and fast autofocusing system, and has Vibration Compensation which isn't offered on any Nikon standard prime. Its wide aperture and narrow depth of field make it ideal for low-light shooting and environmental portraits. Since it also has a short minimum focusing distance, it shines in close-ups of flowers or small items with a lot of fine detail.

Sample image:

Tamron 45mm f1.8 Photo by Phil Kaplan