Product Review: Tamron 18-270mm Lens

By Diane Berkenfeld

I recently had the opportunity to test out an ultra zoom lens from Tamron, the 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro lens. The lens is designed for use with DSLRs that utilize the smaller APS-C image sensor, and comes in Nikon and Canon lens mounts. The wide, 15x range of the lens means you can cover a range of view equivalent to that of a 28mm – 419mm zoom. I was using the 18-270mm lens on my Nikon D100 body.

There are some folks who still shun the idea of using third-party lenses, and that might have been true years ago, but the technology has improved to the point where these lenses rival those from the camera makers themselves.

I put the lens through its paces shooting a range of subjects, including a local trip where I drove to the destination and a longer trip that included flying and packing lighter than normal. Having such a long zoom range available in one lens is great because you can travel lighter than if you had to bring multiple lenses with you and change them while shooting, which can also lead to dust on your sensor.

One of the great features of the Tamron 18-270mm lens is that in addition to its zoom range, it offers a 1:3.5 Macro as well. The minimum focusing distance is 19.3-inches throughout the entire zoom range.

A great example of the wide view the lens offers. Resolution is crisp and sharp. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photograph © Diane Berkenfeld

Now look at the same image with scale - yellow circles around two groups of people. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photograph © Diane Berkenfeld

Lastly, a cropped view of the people, viewed at 100% in Adobe Lightroom. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photograph © Diane Berkenfeld

The lens also offers VC – Vibration Compensation, which can be turned on or off, depending upon whether or not you need it. Most image stabilization lenses zap an awful lot of battery power when used constantly, but I found that even with the VC on much of the time I was shooting, the camera’s battery didn’t drain quickly. This is so important, because if you don’t have more than one battery with you while shooting on location or vacation, and you drain the only one you have, that’s it for shooting; you’re now just enjoying the view, not capturing it anymore.

An example of the lens zoomed all the way in to 270mm. (l.) is the original file. (r.) I cropped it and tweaked the exposure for my personal taste. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photographs © Diane Berkenfeld

There was only one instance where the subject I was trying to shoot was all one color, with little contrast. Other than that, the lens had no problem focusing the rest of the time. You can also choose to manually focus if need be. I love how sharp the lens is, and how crisp, bright, and easy to view my subjects were when shooting with it. Colors were reproduced faithfully, and images didn’t need to be altered much beyond my personal taste for the look of my final images. The seven diaphragm blades of the lens offer a nice blur or bokeh for out of focus areas of photographs.

The Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro lens is a good choice for those photographers who can’t afford faster f/2.8 lenses; or who want only one lens that can extend through the large zoom range. Street price is around $600. For more information, go to www.tamron-usa.com.

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