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Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Aspherical Interchangeable Lens Review

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Category: Interchangeable Lenses
Product: Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical
Price: £450.00
Rating: 3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 5

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Aspherical - Review of the first 15x superzoom lens for APS-C format DSLRs, and it includes Vibration Compensation for sharp-shooting even at slow shutter speeds.

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Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

 Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical main image
ePHOTOzine lens expert, Gary Wolstenholme casts his keen eye over the 15x Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical (IF).
 

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical: Handling and features
With a zoom range of 15x, The Tamron 18-270mm is intended to be a lightweight and convenient all-in-one solution for APS-C sized sensor cameras. This lens covers an incredible range from moderate wide-angle, through to super-telephoto range, albeit at a relatively modest maximum aperture. On Canon DSLRs with a 1.6x crop, this lens gives a 35mm format equivalent of 29-432mm; with Nikon 1.5x crop DSLRs it's 27-405mm. In theory, this one compact lens can cover all your photographic needs. The Vibration Compensation feature promises to allow shooting in lower lighting conditions without camera shake ruining the image quality.

Plastic is used for most of the construction of this lens, which makes for a very lightweight design with the only metal part being the lens mount. The quality of the materials is good, feeling solid enough for general use. The wide rubberised zoom ring takes up most of the body of the lens and its action is quite smooth, although it does tighten up at around 100mm. A zoom lock is provided to prevent the lens from extending during transport, although this will not prevent the zoom creeping forward during shooting, which I found does happen when the camera is tilted down and the lens is zoomed in a little. The lens balances well on intermediate bodies such as the Nikon D90 or Canon EOS 50D, but feels a little large to me on smaller bodies such as the Nikon D3000 or Canon  EOS 500D. The low weight of the lens means it still balances well on entry-level bodies though.

Autofocus is achieved via a motor built into the lens. It is not the silent (USM or HSM) type found on many modern zooms, so a noise can be heard during focusing. Focusing is fast and accurate at the wide-end of the zoom, but AF performance is less efficient as the lens is zoomed in, often hunting around in lower light conditions. The minimum focusing distance is 0.49metres (19.3in) throughout the zoom range, which is very close for a lens covering such a extreme focal length range.

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical: Performance

For this review, the lens was tested on a 10Mp Nikon D80 using Imatest.

As I would expect for a lens covering such a wide focal length range, this lens is a competent rather than spectacular performer resolution-wise. On our scale, the lens produced fair resolution at focal lengths up to 100mm, which will satisfy users looking to produce A4 prints. By 270mm, the resolution has dropped off somewhat and have a visibly soft appearance. Throughout the zoom range this lens is at its best between f/8 and f/11, which will suit those taking shots on sunny days the most. Diffraction robs the lens of clarity at small apertures of f/32 and beyond. I would say these settings should be reserved as a last resort.

Resolution at 18mm Resolution at 50mm
Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical resolution at 18mm Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical resolution at 50mm
Resolution at 100mm Resolution at 270mm
Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical resolution at 100mm Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical resolution at 270mm

Chromatic aberrations are reasonably well controlled at shorter focal lengths, approaching and only just exceeding 1 pixel width at the edge of the frame. This will be barely noticeable, unless you go hunting for it. At 270mm, things get a little worse, approaching 2 pixels wide, which will be noticeable on closer examination.

Chromatic Aberrations at 18mm Chromatic Aberrations at 50mm
Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical Chromatic Aberration at 18mm  Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical Chromatic Aberration at 50mm
Chromatic Aberrations at 100mm Chromatic Aberrations at 270mm
Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical Chromatic Aberration at 100mm  Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD Aspherical Chromatic Aberration at 270mm

Light falloff towards the corners could be noticeable at 18mm. At f/3.5 the comers are 1.5 stops darker than the centre. Stopping down improves matters, but the corners are still just over half a stop darker than the centre at f/16 and f/22. At longer focal lengths, falloff is much less of an issue, with image illumination being fairly even throughout.

Distortion is always a major issue for superzoom lenses, and the Tamron 18-270mm is not an exception to the rule. 5.62% barrel distortion was recorded at 18mm, which will be highly noticeable as buildings bow out fro the centre of the image. At 270mm distortion is present, but the 1% pincushion isn't overly disturbing.

Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD wide angle view Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD telephoto view
The pulling power of the 18-270mm is amazing, as you can see from the two shots above, taken at the lens's two extremes but from the same spot.
Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD wheel Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD bridge

Being constructed of 18 elements in 13 groups, the flare and ghosting performance of this lens is reasonable probably due to the sheer number of glass surfaces the light has to cross before reaching the sensor. Strong sources of light in the frame cause a quite severe loss of contrast. The lens is also prone to flare at the wide end with light sources out of the frame. The supplied hood improves matters a little, but strong sources of light out towards the corners will still cause quite strong flare.

Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD portraits Tamron AF 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 Di VC LD workmen

Tamron's Vibration Compensation system helps a lot with the slow maximum aperture of the lens, improving the sharpness of images taken at low shutter speeds. Tripod detection isn't present though, so this feature will need to be switched off when used with a support.
There is no doubt that the VC technology is very effective at getting sharper images when the light levels are low. Of course, we are not saying that VC means you can throw away the tripod, but when you are travelling light it lets you shoot for longer and that can only be a good thing.

Taken on a handheld Nikon D300 at ISO800, the shots above were with the Tamron 18-270mm lens at 92mm with a shutter speed of 1/10sec. The shot with VC is on the right.
The same scene but shot with the lens zoomed out to 270mm. Shutter speed was 1/6sec, again with a handheld D300, with the much sharper VC shot on the right.



DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Aspherical Lens.

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical: Verdict
At around £450, this is a great value lens for photographers after a portable all-in-one solution for their photography - for travel photographers, for example. Optically, it is not up to the standard of zoom lenses covering more modest focal length ranges, but that's no surprise. That said, used at its optimum apertures and with sound camera technique there is no reason why you can't get high quality pictures from this optic.

The Vibration Compensation feature adds to the convenience factor, visibly improving shots taken at slower shutter speeds.

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE
OVERALL

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical: Pros
Zoom range
Price
Vibration Compensation feature
Light weight

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical: Cons
Slow maximum aperture
Needs to be used at mid-apertures for best quality

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical: Specification
Price £450 approx
Contact Intro2020
Filter Size 72mm
Format APS-C, available in Nikon & Canon mount
Construction 18 elements in 13 groups
Angle-of-view 75°33' - 5°55'
35mm equivalent (APS-C) 27-405mm (Nikon), 28-432 (Canon)
Internal focusing Yes
Image stabilisation Yes
Minimum focus 49cm
Maximum aperture f/3.6 - 6.3
Minimum aperture f/22 - 40
Weight 550g
Size 101x79.6mm
In the box Petal shaped lens hood

The Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical costs around £450 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (Nikon fit)

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (Canon fit)


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Comments

ploiesti55
5 Jan 2010 - 12:36 AM

Hello Gary,
I am surprised by the results. I mean from the graphics we have to understand that the Tamron lens is never better than "Fair". Not even in the center of the lens. That is much worse than other reviews (ex. http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/412-tamron_18270_3563vc_canon?start=1) show. Is that a problem with the graphic? What are the actual values for the Imatest. Another problem is that the graphic doesn't show a great difference between results at different focals, which is surprising. Can you comment on this?
Thanks

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5 Jan 2010 - 12:20 PM

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theorderingone
5 Jan 2010 - 12:20 PM

Hi Daniel. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, it seems the results for 100mm got muddled with the results from 18mm & 50mm.

The graphs have been amended with the correct results and should make more sense now.

Phil1958
Phil1958  5272 forum posts Wales4 Constructive Critique Points
20 Jul 2010 - 11:36 PM

Just bought one of these crackers - really impressed with it - tack sharp - use it on my 50D but found it a bit heavy on my 550D

sparkiUK
sparkiUK  3
10 Sep 2010 - 1:22 PM

I have the 550D also, and was looking at this lens an 'upgrade' to a more all in one lens, but you commented you found it a bit 'heavy'?


Quote: Just bought one of these crackers - really impressed with it - tack sharp - use it on my 50D but found it a bit heavy on my 550D

What did you mean by that? Struggling to choose between this and the Sigma 18-125mm and Canon 18-200mm IS as I'm wary of losing picture quality vs the kit lens 18-55mm that came with the camera, and i find that very good.

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