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Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Review

John Riley reviews the new Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC lens, for APS-C Digital SLRs, this lens offers image stabilization and an entry level price.

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Handling and Features

Tamron 18 200mm VC Oblique Front

With the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC lens, Tamron has taken the opportunity to add their VC (Vibration Compensation) for Canon and Nikon users, in a package that has an impressively low price. Let's find out if this new lens is up to the mark, despite its modest cost.


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Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Handling and Features

Tamron 18 200mm VC On Canon 600D

The use of high quality plastics in the construction, including the mount, gives us a lens that weighs only 400g. This balances well with the Canon EOS 600D body used for this review. The fairly wide zoom ratio means the lens extends some way forwards when moving to full zoom and a lock is provided to ensure the lens does not extend during carrying. The only other controls are an AF/MF selector and an on/off switch for the VC system. The provided lens hood clicks securely into place via a bayonet mount that surrounds the 62mm filter thread. The lens is described as “moisture resistant” which is a wonderfully vague phrase that I take to mean it will survive light rain if used with due care.

The 18-200mm range is equivalent to 28.8-320mm on the Canon body, 27-300mm on a Nikon body, in 35mm format terms. Maximum magnification is a useful 1:4 so close focusing is not a problem. The lens has internal focus, so does not extend, but the front focusing ring does rotate so needs to be kept free to move. The front element does not rotate, making use of polarising filters much easier.

Tamron 18 200mm VC On Canon 600D Full Zoom

Focusing is via a DC motor, which is fast and silent in operation. Focus is acquired efficiently and swiftly with little or no hunting. The diaphragm has 7 blades.

The VC system is interesting, using the movement of a group of lens elements to control the effects of camera shake. Here the instructions are quite clear that when used on a tripod, VC should be switched off. I would add that when shooting fast moving subjects at fast shutter speeds it could be better switched off anyway, as the one second acquisition time could mean missing the moment. When switched off, the lens groups are held electromagnetically, which has the side effect of making the viewfinder image jump slightly into position as the camera is activated. If a careful composition has been made on a tripod, for example, this means that slight re-composition may be needed when a half press on the shutter release is made.

The optical construction is 16 elements in 14 groups, including one LD (Low Dispersion) element.

Tamron 18 200mm VC Rear Element

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Performance

Sharpness varies over the lens range, but from the start it is clear that higher levels of performance will be found at the centre of the image and at shorter focal lengths. At 18mm, central sharpness is excellent, approaching outstanding, from open aperture through to f/11. It is still very good at f/16 and only drops to fair at f/22. The edges lag some way behind, reaching very good levels from f/5.6 to f/11 but being just fair to good from open aperture to f/4, good at f/16 but poor at f/22. CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well controlled at the centre, but will be obvious at the edges, especially in subjects such as tree branches against bright sky.

At 35mm, central sharpness is again excellent from open aperture to f/11, very good at f/16, falling to fair at f/22 and poor at f/29. At the edges, open aperture is fair, sharpening to a good level at f/5.6, very good at f/8 to f/16, falling again to fair at f/22 and poor at f/29. CA is still at a very low central level and the edges rather better than at 18mm.

At 70mm, central sharpness is excellent from f/5 to f/11, very good at f/16, fair at/22 and poor at f/32. Edge sharpness deteriorates somewhat, only reaching fair levels at f/8, very good sharpness at f/11 and dropping off again to good at f/16, fair at f/22 and poor at f/32. CA is even more tightly controlled and rather impressive.

At 135mm, open aperture sharpness is very good, becoming excellent at f/8 and f/11, falling to very good at f/16, still good at f/22 before tailing off to poor levels at f/32 and f/40. The edges start off poor at f/5.6, fair at f/8, good and f/11 and f/16, fair again at f/22 and poor at f/32 and f/40. Central CA is still at a very low, insignificant level, but the edges are straying a bit and will show obvious signs of fringing.

At 200mm, a similar pattern is seen, with open aperture being very good, sharpening to excellent at f/8 and f/11, then reducing to very good at f/16, good at f/22 and again poor at f/32 and f/40. The edges do not catch up, only reaching good levels at f/8 and f/11. CA at the centre is still low and not a problem, but the edges have quite high levels. Software will assist with this if needed.

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. 

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. 

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

Testing the lens at various focal lengths gives a fairly complex picture, but it is clear that the bokeh can be slightly fussy, but less so at longer focal lengths. It becomes quite pleasant from 70mm or so, making that useful for portraiture.

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 Canon EOS 600D using Imatest.

The VC system does work well, albeit requiring 1 second or so to lock on. The effect of this can be seen quite clearly in the viewfinder. For critical sharpness, good results were obtained over two stops. For a slightly lower demand, up to four stops advantage can be seen. Large prints would mean less leeway, but for web use four stops is achievable.

Distortion starts off high, with -4.01% barrelling at 18mm. This rapidly becomes pincushion distortion, measuring +0.899% at 35mm, +1.59% at 70mm, +1.24% at 135mm and +1.08% at 200mm. This can be corrected in software if required and is reasonable for this lens design.

Flare resistance is excellent and the lens can be used into the light with very satisfactory results. The coatings and construction work well to avoid any artifacts from flare.

Overall, we have here a lens with quite impressive central performance, at the expense of the edges. However, the better edge sharpness is found at wider angles where overall sharpness in an image might be more essential, such as landscapes. The longer focal lengths may well be more suited to sports, wildlife and portraits and here the emphasis is to maintain the central quality as much as possible. As something has to give with the design at this price level, the choices made do seem logical. In any event, the very smallest apertures are best avoided, especially at longer focal lengths.

The Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Lens delivers visually sharp, contrasty and punchy images.

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Sample Photos

Value For Money

Alternatives are to be found in the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens (£356) and for Nikon users the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G AF-S DX ED VR II (£469), or for both marques the Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM at £249.

The Tamron costs a modest £169, which gives us a lot of lens for very little money. For more options have a look at to Top 5 Best Tamron Lenses of 2015.

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Verdict

The Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC lens performs very well indeed, especially at the centre and is punching way above its weight in many areas. It has high central sharpness, low CA, low flare and an incredibly low price. There are performance compromises, as mentioned throughout this review, but for anyone wanting an inexpensive, versatile holiday or travel lens this is terrific value for money. Add the bonus of the VC system and it is difficult not to be impressed.

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Pros

Impressive central sharpness
Effective and silent AF
Good VC system
Very low central CA
Good flare resistance
Excellent value for money

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Cons

Lower edge sharpness
CA at edges


The Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC lens is an impressive and versatile zoom at an amazingly low price.


Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF
  • Sony Alpha
Focal Length18mm - 200mm
Angle of View7.59° - 75.33°
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
Min Aperturef/22 - f/40
Filter Size62mm
35mm equivalent28mm - 310mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus49cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFlower-shaped lens hood, Lens caps

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