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Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro Lens Expert Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the 18.8x super zoom lens from Tamron, the 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens for APS-C cameras.

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Handling and Features

Tamron 16 300mm F 3 5 6 3 Di Ii Vc Pzd Macro (3) (Custom)

Tamron are calling this new 16-300mm lens, for use with APS-C and DX format SLRs a 'Mega-zoom', due to its huge 18.8x zoom range. As well as offering angles of view equivalent to a 24.8-465mm lens used on a 35mm camera, this lens sports Vibration Compensation, a silent Piezo Drive focusing motor and splash proof construction, all for around £530. There must be a catch? Right? In this review we'll take a look and see how it performs.


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Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro Handling and Features

Tamron 16 300mm F 3 5 6 3 Di Ii Vc Pzd Macro (4) (Custom)

The absolutely huge zoom range offered by this lens, hasn't compromised the size, with it having similar dimension to many 4x or 5x zooms lenses and it weighs only 540g. The low weight and compact size make this lens an ideal candidate as a walkabout lens for those times you may wish to travel light. It feels right at home on the Nikon D7100 body used for testing, and will make a good companion for smaller, more compact DSLR camera bodies as well. High quality plastics with a matte finish have been used for much of the construction of the lens barrel, and it feels reasonably robust as a result. A rubber gasket, located around the metal lens bayonet, will help to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body.

A Piezo Drive motor powers autofocus and speeds are fairly quick, especially for a super-zoom lens. Manual adjustments can be applied at any time via the narrow focusing ring near the base of the lens. Manual focusing action is smooth and well damped, which makes fine adjustments a pleasure to apply. The zoom action is smooth and it doesn't snag or tighten at any point in the zoom range. Just enough resistance has been applied to prevent the zoom creeping forward when it is pointed down, even so, a switch to lock the lens at 16mm is provided, to prevent the lens from extending accidentally when it's removed from a case or bag.

Tamron 16 300mm F 3 5 6 3 Di Ii Vc Pzd Macro (6) (Custom)

Closest focus distance is 39cm, which is very close for a lens that covers up to 300mm and focusing is performed internally. The 67mm filter thread does not rotate, which should make this lens ideal for use with graduated filters and polarisers. A petal shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which attaches to the front via a bayonet fitting.

Tamron's Vibration Compensation system promises to allow hand-held shooting at shutter slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand-held photos would allow. The system settles down quickly, providing a steady viewfinder image, although it is best to leave a short pause after focusing to ensure the system is properly settled. With care, sharp handheld shots were possible at shutter speeds as low as 1/15sec around half the time at 300mm, which is roughly five stops slower than the usual rule of thumb they recommend.

Tamron 16 300mm F 3 5 6 3 Di Ii Vc Pzd Macro (5) (Custom)

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

At 16mm and maximum aperture, the sharpness delivered by this lens in the centre of the frame is already outstanding, and clarity towards the edges of the frame is fairly good. Stopping down improves performance across the frame, with peak sharpness being achieved at f/8. Here clarity is outstanding in the centre, and excellent towards the edges of the frame.

Zooming to 70mm, results in a drop in sharpness to very good levels in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, but clarity towards the edges of the frame is improved, reaching good levels. As is the case at 16mm, f/8 provides the best performance across the frame; with excellent sharpens in the centre and very good clarity towards the edges.

Finally at 300mm, overall performance is reduced a little, but the lens still holds up very well, especially when the huge zoom range is taken into consideration. At f/6.3, sharpness approaches very good levels in the centre of the frame and is fairly good towards the edges. The performance towards the edges of the frame doesn't improve by much with stopping down, but sharpness does reach excellent levels in the centre between f/8 and f/11.

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How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D7100 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are an issue for this lens towards the edges of the frame, especially at 300mm. Here it exceeds two pixel widths, which is a level that may be clearly visible along high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame.

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How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D7100 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is well controlled for a lens of this type. At 16mm the corners are 1.62 stops darker than the image centre and at 300mm the corners are 1.27 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/8 or beyond throughout the zoom range.

As is often the case with super zoom lenses, distortion is at both ends of the range, although it isn't too intrusive with this lens. At 16mm 5.4% barrel distortion is present, which is a reasonably high level and at 300mm 0.87% pincushion distortion is present, which is much less noticeable. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so any distortion should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards if required.

A petal-shaped hood is supplied with the lens, which does a decent job of shielding the front element from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss on contrast. At 300mm, shooting into the light does result in a slight loss of contrast, but otherwise, this lens is fairly resistant to flare.

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

Additional sample photos can be found in our Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro Lens Quick Review, using a Canon EOS 7D.

Value For Money

This 16-300mm lens costs around £530, which is very reasonable for a newly released lens, especially as the 18.8x zoom range is currently unique.

Canon's closest offering is their EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, which costs around £370. However, this lens sacrifices 2mm from the wide and a whopping 100mm from the telephoto end, compared to this Tamron optic.

Nikon's closest equivalent is their newly released AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, which costs around £615 and sacrifices 2mm for the wide end of the range compared to this Tamron.

Sony's closest equivalent is their 18-250mm DT AF lens, which costs around £430, but sacrifices silent focusing with full time manual override, 2mm from the wide end of the zoom range, and 50mm for the telephoto end.

Finally, Sigma's closest equivalent is their 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens, which costs around £300. Although this lens has silent focusing motor, it doesn't allow manual overrides at any time. Also, like the Sony lens, it sacrifices 4mm from the wide end of the zoom range and 50mm from the telephoto end.


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

Not only have Tamron delivered a lens that offers a uniquely huge zoom range, but they've managed to make one that performs well, is well specified, and is good value too.

Although those who will only really be sated by the absolute sharpest of lenses may not be overly excited by this lens, those who value convenience will find this lens is more than adequate for general photography. The compact size, light weight and splash proof construction make this lens an ideal travel companion, and the lens' ability to focus down to 39cm makes frame-filling close-ups possible.

Overall, this is a very versatile lens, which should win over many fans.

  The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6/3 offers a uniquely huge 18.8x zoom range, performs well, delivers good value for money and has impressive close up focus performance making this an ideal travel zoom lens.

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

Very good sharpness in the centre
Extreme 18.8x zoom range
Effective VC system
Good build and splash proof construction
Compact and lightweight
Focuses very close for a lens that covers 300mm

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

CA levels towards edges of the frame are high at 300mm
Performance towards the edges of the frame falls behind at 18mm and 300mm


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

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF-S
  • Sony Alpha
Focal Length16mm - 300mm
Angle of View5.2° - 82.12°
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
Min Aperturef/22 - f/40
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalent24.8mm - 465mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus39cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFlower-shaped Lens hood, front and rear lens cap

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ElSid 14 11 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2014 10:59AM
Someone needs to go back to school - 18-16mm = 2mm not 4mm...Tongue
joshwa Plus
11 927 1 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2014 11:03AM
Updated thanks
Dackj 5 1
17 Apr 2017 11:35PM
I thought this would be a perfect one lens solution but I did some test photos against a Canon 70-300 which my local shop had used for 1/2 the price. Here is the rub, I gained the 16-70 mm range but the Tamron at 300 was the same magnification as the Canon at 200 mm. I've heard of lens float but that's huge! Tested it against an old Canon 50-200 and again the Tamron matched the 200mm setting of the Canon. Checked the Tamron 18-200 and at 200 it was about equal to the Canon at 160mm. Not sure who is right but I'll take the higher magnification of the Canon for half the price.
12 May 2017 8:24PM
Thanks for an excellent review.

I have just acquired of these lenses for my EOS 70D. I have been trying out some shots at 300mm. Very close up, macro, I get good sharp results, but further away (say 2m) it gets much softer in comparison (both centre frame). I have used a tripod, indoors to avoid any breeze, using contrast based focus and also manual focus (which allows a x10 on the LCD for precise adjustment, though auto is very good). I have tried from F6.3 up to F22, with best results at F8. ISO 100 and speed adjusted accordingly (but on tripod). VC mode off as on tripod. I have viewed both jpg and raw (no difference really). See attached in both macro and at 2m (ish), though I may need to post enlarged.

In coming to the soft assessment, I looked at the sample photo of the berries taken in the review, which is quite excellent for such a lens.

Any ideas? Had the sample photo been processed with an unsharpen mask etc? Could you have been very lucky with the lens you tried? Would alignment at Tamron improve things for me?




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