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Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC NEX Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC telephoto zoom lens for the Sony NEX system.

|  Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC
Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC

This high power 11.1x zoom lens, which provides an angle of view equivalent to a 27-300mm lens on a 35mm camera, costs around £550 and sports Vibration Compensation and internal focusing. It is currently only available to fit the Sony E-mount, as used on Sony NEX cameras.

Sony's equivalent 18-200mm optic also sports optical stabilisation and internal focusing but costs around £630.

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Handling and Features

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC
Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC

Two finishes are available to choose from and we are reviewing a silver finished version of the lens here. A black finish is also available. Although much of the lens is constructed from plastics, it has a high quality feel to it, thanks to a metal coating and lens mount, which make the lens feel very solid and precise in use. Weighing 460g and being 96.7 cm long this lens is noticeably larger than the 18-55mm lens supplied as a kit with Sony NEX cameras. This results in a lens-heavy combination, which can be difficult to hold steady when zooming as the camera body tends to twist with the motion of the zoom mechanism. A locking switch is provided on the zoom to keep the lens from extending accidentally during transport.

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC on Sony NEX-3
Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC on Sony NEX-3

As focusing is performed internally the 62mm filter thread does not rotate, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Focus speeds are reasonably quick throughout the zoom range, although it does tend to hunt around a little at telephoto focal lengths on the Sony NEX-3 used for testing. The manual focus ring offers a decent amount of resistance, which makes applying fine adjustments fairly straightforward.

The minimum focus distance of 45cm makes is fairly typical for a lens in this focal range, but is plenty close enough for frame-filling images at 200mm. The vibration compensation system allows sharp images to be taken with a degree of consistency at 1/40sec and about half the time at 1/20sec, which is roughly four stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would dictate possible. The stabilisation system also helps to steady the on screen image, which can help with composing images at telephoto focal lengths.

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Performance

As is typical for high ratio zooms like this, sharpness at shorter focal lengths is excellent, with performance dropping off as the lens is zoomed in.

At 18mm, clarity in the centre of the image is already outstanding at maximum aperture, with very good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Peak sharpness is achieved between f/5.6 and f/8 where clarity is excellent across the frame.

Zooming to 70mm results in reduced sharpness in the centre although it still reaches excellent levels between f/5.6 and f/8 and the clarity produced towards the edges is still very good.

Finally at 200mm, sharpness in the centre is reduced again, but still remains very good, unfortunately as you get closer to the edges of the frame clarity is reduced to fairly good levels. Peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/11 for this focal length where sharpness in the centre is very good in the centre and good towards the edges.


MTF @ 18mm
MTF @ 70mm
MTF @ 200mm

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 Sony NEX-3 using Imatest.

At shorter focal lengths, chromatic aberrations are extremely well controlled. Fringing does increase as the lens is zoomed in and chromatic aberrations are at their strongest at 200mm. Here levels of fringing can exceed one pixel width towards the edges of the frame, which may become visible along high contrast edges, and especially in large prints.


Chromatic aberration @ 18mm
Chromatic aberration @ 70mm
Chromatic aberration @ 200mm

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 Sony NEX-3 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very well controlled with the corners being 0.9 stops at 18mm and 0.7 stops at 200mm darker than the image centre. Visually uniform illumination across the frame is achieved with the lens stopped down by one stop throughout the zoom range.

Imatest recorded a level of 5.03% barrel distortion at 18mm, which is reasonable for a lens of this type, but may still pose issues when shooting subjects like architecture where straight lines are important. At 200mm this barrel distortion is replaced with a low level of 0.305% pincushion distortion. The distortion pattern remains even across the frame, so should be relatively easy to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Sample Photos

A deep, petal-shaped hood, is provided with the lens, which does a reasonable job of shading the front element from extraneous light that may cause flare or loss of contrast at shorter focal lengths. Shooting into the light can cause problems with flare, especially at wide-angle focal lengths. During testing images taken into the sun often showed signs of flare, although levels of contrast remained good.


Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Verdict

Those looking for a convenient lens that covers a wide range of focal lengths for their Sony NEX camera should be pleased with the performance from this Tamron optic. Sharpness levels are good for a lens of this type and with a price set almost £100 less expensive than the Sony equivalent it represents pretty good value too.

The sleek metal finish adds to the quality appearance of this lens and overall, it is a good value buy.

  The Tamron 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC offers good value and a wide range of zoom.

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Pros

Excellent sharpness at shorter focal lengths
Performance holds up reasonably well at telephoto focal lengths
Metal finish and lens mount
11.1x zoom range
Internal focus

Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Cons

High CA levels at 200mm
Flare when shooting into the light



Tamron 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III VC Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
Focal Length18mm - 200mm
Angle of View8 - 76
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/6.3
Min Aperturef/22 - f/40
Filter Size62mm
35mm equivalent27mm - 300mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus50cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFlower-shaped lens hood (included)

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lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
22 Feb 2012 11:46AM
They've done well keeping the size and weight down - it's more like the size and weight of a lens for Micro 4/3.

My Panasonic Lumix 14-140mm f4 - 5.8 is 60g heavier, 3mm narrower and 10mm shorter.

Quality wise I don't know how they'd compare but I've always been very pleased with my 14-140 zoom as a take everywhere lens.
26 Feb 2012 9:01PM
So basically,is it better than Sony 18-200 zoom lens?

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