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Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD lens to the test on the 26MP Fujifilm X-S10.


|  Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD (Model B061) in Interchangeable Lenses
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18-300mm lenses may not be new, but they are for Fuji X fit cameras, so Tamron are here breaking new ground and extending the range of options for Fujifilm users. The lens is also available in Sony E fit. We have here a crop sensor APS-C format lens, which offers a "35mm format equivalent" field of view of 27-450mm, clearly a very extensive range that opens up a whole host of long-range photo opportunities as well as a reasonable, useful wide-angle. Can it all possibly be done in the one lens, whilst maintaining high-quality levels? As we couple the lens up with the 26MP Fujifilm X-S10 APS-C format body, let's venture out into the damp Lancashire weather and see how the technical performance balances up with the practical performance in the field.

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Tamron 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD Handling and Features

Considering the wide range of focal lengths, the lens presents as relatively compact, weighing in at a modest 620g. It is well finished and has a moisture-resistant construction, a most welcome feature in a damp climate.

Starting at the front, there is a provided petal lens hood that bayonets neatly into position. This is secure and does not need a locking catch. It does not extend particularly far, but it has to be wide enough for the wide-angle end of the lens, so is of minor benefit at the telephoto end. However, it does still protect the front element against impact, so it has a useful function. Within the bayonet fitting is a standard 67mm filter thread.

There is a wide zoom ring that is clearly marked at 18mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 100mm, 200mm and 300mm settings. The settings are accurate. The zooming action extends the lens and is smooth, but not silky smooth. It is firm enough so that the lens does not tend to creep when vertical, but in any event, there is a lock switch to hold the lens at 18mm during transit.

The manual focusing ring is electronic and, as usual, impeccably smooth in operation. It supports the usual Sony focusing methods, including AF, DMF (Direct Manual Focusing) and MF. DMF enables manual focus tweaks to be made to the focus position whilst AF is still active. All focusing options are controlled from the camera body.

The AF is smooth, fast and whisper-quiet, utilising Tamron's VXD (Voice coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear drive. Focusing locks on very reliably and is commendably free from hunting, even at the longest focal length. Focusing is down to 0.15m (5.9”) at 18mm, for a maximum magnification of 1:2, or half life-size. This is as close as older macro lenses, although not as close as the newer ones that focus to 1:1. At 300mm, focusing is down to 0.99m (39.0”) for a maximum magnification of 1:4 or one-quarter life-size. This is incredibly versatile and opens up huge possibilities for a general-purpose travel lens. The only downside is that at 18mm, closest focusing means the front element is almost touching the subject, so lighting it can potentially be a problem.

The bayonet mount is metal and fits smoothly. There is nothing else on the lens itself, the VC and AF/MF functions all being handled by the camera body.

Optical construction is 19 elements in 15 groups, including 3 Hybrid Aspherical and 4 LD (Low Dispersion). The front element has a Fluorine coating to help repel dirt, water and grease. The diaphragm comprises 7 blades.

Of course, keeping a 300mm (450mm equivalent) lens still when handheld can be a challenge, and normally would need at least 1/450s, preferably 1/1000s to ensure a reasonably sharp result. The VC (Vibration Compensation) feature makes this a whole new ball game, and this reviewer found a comfortable 4 stops of advantage at 300mm. The VC function automatically sets a suitable type of VC when shooting video. The instructions are clear in that when used on a tripod, the VC system should be switched off.

The lens is definitely aimed at the photographer who seeks a one-lens solution to ensure travelling light. The sheer versatility is staggering, as we walk around one moment shooting a bird taking an impromptu and vigorous bath and the next honing in on a single rain-soaked tulip at macro distances. In poor weather it also avoids the need to change lenses, thus removing the risk of letting water into the camera. The VC system ensures sharper telephoto shots as well. It is entirely possible that this could be the only travel lens we need, perhaps coupled with a fast standard prime for really low light situations.

The usefulness is beyond doubt, so let's see now if Tamron has managed to carry it off and maintain quality across such an enormous range of possibilities and conflicting requirements.


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