Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Lens Review

Superzooms are a popular choice for photographers wanting an all-in-one lens when transporting a full kit bag is impractical. For many, a superzoom may even be a default lens, with more specialist lenses an option only when the situation really demands it.

For a photographer using a DSLR with an APS-C sensor (that’s most Canon, Nikon and Sony owners, with the exception of a fortunate few that own a full-frame camera), the good news is there’s plenty of choice available, with Canon, Nikon Sony and Sigma all making a wide choice of longer lenses.
the Tamron and  Nikon DX AF-S 18-300mm
One lens well worth considering is the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3Di II VC PZD, a firm favourite at Park Cameras. Offering an effective focal length of 28-420mm, it offers a massive range of framing options, and is a great choice when you want to travel light, and leave most of your other lenses at home. It’s the second generation model of this lens, and was awarded the prestigious EISA award for Best Zoom Lens in 2011/12.

Following the theme of our recent blog on lens naming conventions, we should point probably start by deciphering the name; Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

The AF denotes that this is an autofocus lens, the 18-270mm shows it’s a really powerful zoom with a 15x zoom range. It has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at the 18mm end of the zoom range, moving to 6.3 at the telephoto end. Di indicates it’s designed for APS-C / DX mount bodies, whilst the remaining abbreviations show it’s the second generation of this popular lens, it features Tamron’s Vibration Compensation system to overcome camera shake at longer focal lengths, and uses a Piezo Drive motor system.

One of the first things to point out about this lens is how small it is. It’s just 96.4mm length, and can easily find its way into your bag when travelling. It’s noticeably smaller than both the Canon and Nikon 18-200, and at 450g it won’t put much strain on your shoulder if you carry it around all day.

Design and Construction
It’s well built with a metal mount and high quality plastic barrel. It has a wide zoom ring and a thinner focus ring, both with a tactile rubber grip. The zoom ring rotates the same way as Nikon and Sony lenses, and the opposite way to Canon. Even though the lens uses a Piezo Drive motor, the focus ring rotates during AF operation, and you’ll still need to switch to MF to manually change the focus. However, this is quick and easy in practice, with the AF/MF switch well placed for operation with your left thumb when holding the camera.

The Vibration Compensation switch is also conveniently locating alongside the focus switch, which lets you switch off the compensation when using a tripod, for example. Since Sony Alpha models feature in-camera stabilisation, the Sony mount version of the lens does not include the VC functionality.

The lens extends considerably towards longer focal lengths, and there’s a locking switch to secure the lens at its most compact and stop the lens from extending, preventing accidental damage when carried on your shoulder, for instance.

The lens uses an internal focusing design, which means that the front element doesn’t rotate, so using a polariser presents no challenges. There’s a simple distance scale in both feet and metres on the zoom barrel and also the focusing ring, and the lens is supplied with a petal shaped, bayonet-mount lens hood. This can be reversed onto the lens for storage and a white dot on the hood aids alignment for mounting.

We found that unlike many telephoto lenses, its compact design mean that it doesn’t block the built-in flash at wide-angle, which would ordinarily result in shadow in the lower centre of the image. If you shoot at wide-angle with the hood attached though, you will see some shadowing.

Features and Performance
Even on a small DSLR like the EOS 600D the lens feels nicely balanced on the body, which is not something that can be said of all superzoom lenses. The piezo driven autofocus system is near silent and decisive, even at full telephoto, although we should point out that it’s not as snappy as a USM motor, for example. This won’t present many challenges in real life, but sports shooters looking to track moving subjects may want to consider other options.

At 18mm, sharpness is impressive right across the frame, even wide open, and improves only marginally on stopping down, with best results around f/5.6. As you might expect, the lens gets progressively softer on zooming, with the corners of the frame suffering more than the centre.

Like all superzooms, it’s prone to chromatic aberration (or colour fringing) at each end of the zoom range, but this can be removed pretty quickly and easily by most leading software packages.

All things considered, there’s lots to like about this lens. It’s one of a small number of lenses that manage to combine extensive reach into a compact, lightweight package. Whether you just want to travel light and leave your other lenses at home, or simply want to use one lens for a day’s shooting, the Tamron is well worth a closer look, and at only £349, it won’t break the bank either.
Why not pop into store to try it for yourself?

We Love

Compact and lightweight
Very useful 15x zoom range
Excellent image quality

Key Specifications
18 lens elements in 13 groups
7 diaphragm blades
Minimum focusing distance 0.49m
62mm filter Size
Weight 450g
Length 96.4mm
Canon, Nikon & Sony mount options

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