Tamron 18-270 F3.5-6.3 DI II VC PZD

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* The Tamron 18-270mm is light and compact, perfect for travel and photography on the fly.

Tamron 18-270 F3.5-6.3 DI II VC PZD

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Tamron is famous for releasing super zoom lens, this 18-270mm is one of Tamron best yet to date.  It is most likely the best products for the money you can buy for this zoom length.  Like all super zoom, to archive such zoom length in such light and compact body, it has to forgo some features such as image quality and resolution, well, make that forgoing a lot of features, because image quality and resolution is definitely not the reason you want this lens.

You may ask what is a lens left with without resolution and image quality, the answer is time.  A versatile lens allows you to do a lot more within a short time.  You can obtain a lot more photos compare to if you do not have a versatile lens and those photos could be a memory to cherish for a life time and you do not have to live in regret for not getting the shots you want :) And also important to remember is, the image quality of this lens is actually pretty good comparing to other super zoom in the market.

Now let us look at the summary of this lens.  I do not review this product my self, rather, I read through major review sites out there and provide you with a simple summary of the products.  This way, you get a quick glance of the products and if you are interested, you can follow the link for a deeper read.  The following summary are review I read from:  Photo.net | Photozone.de | DPReview.com | CNet.com | ePhotoZine.com | DXOMark.com.  All review credits go to them, I only summarize and offer my take on the product.  Please visit their website for the detail review of the product.

Key Features:

  • A whopping 15x zoom ability in its 18-270mm zoom length.
  • Very practical image stabilization, at least up to 3-stopped while Tamron claims up to 4 stops in its official release statement.
  • Light and compact.
  • Low cost in comparison to other similarly placed lens in the market.

Build Quality:

  • Build quality is ok, typical for consumer grade zooms
  • Metal mount with outer barrel made of good quality plastic
  • Well balanced, feel solid,  little barrel wobble even when fully extended
  • Compact and smaller than other super zooms in the market
  • Barrel will slip out when not in lock position at its shortest end

My interpretation:  Build quality has nothing to complain about, barrel slip out is inconvenience.

Image Quality/Resolution:

  • DXOMark overall score tested with Nikon D300s:  7 – archiving best resolution at 18mm f4
  • Image quality is very good at the center of the frame at all focal length and apertures
  • Best resolution at 18mm, lens performs better optically at 270mm than at 70mm
  • Best image quality at f8 and f11
  • stopped down to get sharper image
  • Image quality is not very good at the edge/corner of the frame, getting worse as focal length increase
  • Image sharpness and is lower at the edge/corner of the frame, overall sharpness decreases as focal length increase

My interpretation:  This lens does not offers any resolution spectacular, in fact, it is at the lowest end of the resolution chart.  Increase aperture number to gain better resolution and sharpness, stick with F8 and F11.  There’s nothing you can do about the weak image quality at the edge/corner of the frame especially at the longest zoom length, stopping down can only do so much.

Distortion:

  • Distortion is a problem for all super zoom lens, this lens is not the worst one out there
  • Barrel distortion at the widest end and quickly change to pincushion distortion as focal length increases
  • The Canon version is worst at wide-angle (barrel distortion) and the Nikon version is worst at mid-range (pincushion distortion)

My interpretation:  This lens produce distorted image, at all focal length.  The good news is, distortion can be easily corrected with software.

Vignetting:

  • Very well control
  • Vignetting is worst at 18mm when shooting wide open, also at its longest end although not as bad as its shortest end
  • There’s essentially no vignetting at the mid zoom range
  • Stopping down can reduce or eliminate vignetting at all focal length

My interpretation:  Not a problem.

Chromatic Aberration:

  • Very well control
  • Some at 18mm, essentially no chromatic aberration around mid-zoom range, worst at 270mm
  • Red/cyan at the short focal length and green/magenta at the long focal length
  • Stopping down can increase chromatic aberration

My interpretation:  Not a problem.

Pros:

  • 15x zoom ranges
  • Very practical vibration reduction
  • Small and compact
  • Ok image quality for a super zoom
  • Accurate auto focus
  • Image is sharp at the center
  • Vignetting and chromatic aberration is well control
  • Good value for the money

Cons:

  • Slow auto focus
  • Image is soft at the edge/corner and at long zoom range
  • Heavy distortion
  • Zoom does not hold in position, it’s a hassle when zooming
  • No macro ability
  • Not suitable for sports photography

My conclusion:

Its not quite the do it all lens as we all wanted, you know, super versatility and the highest image quality.  To be fair, such lens has not exist yet.  Considering DXOMark only give this lens a 7, compare to their highest lens score of 40, we should not expect much resolution from this lens.  To be fair, this lens is a super zoom and the lens that scores 40 is a Nikon prime.  Not that you can’t produce high quality image, just somewhat restricted.  We can always get better photos with any lens by using a better camera body (duh), post processing, downsampling, and etc.  However for the price, it’s size and it’s zoom power, it sure make it an attractive lens for photography on the fly.  Not everybody can take a vacation to some exotic places on earth just to shoot photo, it might be the dream of everybody who like photography, but in reality, you are most likely traveling with families, and most likely with children, and worst yet, you are traveling through travel tour.  For those who travel with families and tour group, you know you have no time to focus purely on photography, everything you photo, you photo on the fly, zoom – focus – click – done – next!  You have no time to change lens, you have no time to consider the best angle, you certainly do not have time to walk around to get the best focal length, especially if you are using prime.  You can only afford a couple shots per location before you were hurried off to the next location by your tour guide.  For this purpose and this purpose only, this lens is a perfect!  It offers the best value to this group of user.

Please remember to visit Photo.net | Photozone.de | DPReview.com | CNet.com | ePhotoZine.com | DXOMark for their very insightful full review.

/Lumaca Moderno

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