When I was asked to do a lens review for the Photo News Canada on the Tamron 18-270 lens, to be honest, I kind of felt like I was cheating. I’m quite familiar with this lens, as I work part time at a camera store, and had sold it quite a few times. There are quite a few companies who sell these “ultra zooms” and I have used quite a few of them. This is Tamron’s latest installment of the “ultra zoom” and this new model boasts a crazy range (18mm-270mm), vibration control (Tamron’s version of vibration reduction or image stabilization for you Canon users), and is extremely small and lightweight. I decided to use it to go out and shoot some landscape photos as I had been shooting primarily portrait work for quite a while. I did, of course, end up shooting a few portraits. Anytime I go out with the intention to shoot only landscapes, portraits always find their way in somehow.
This lens is made for crop body cameras only. I could have shot it on my D700 in the dx crop mode, but decided I would borrow a friend’s D300 as that is how the lens is truly made to be used. The thing that impressed me the most about the lens when I first saw it was the size and weight. At it’s smallest (not zoomed out) it’s length is about 95mm and weighs only 450g. This is a lens that is marketed to be an all-purpose lens. With its size and weight I could be hiking or traveling all day and the weight would be no factor. Although if you know me, you know I would never hike all day…
I’m not a big zoom lens user; all my lenses are prime lenses. I did, however, quite enjoy the versatility of this lens. Having this lens on the camera you’ll never be in a situation where you would need to change lenses. Unless of course you had to shoot in more low light conditions as it is not a fast aperture lens (F3.5-F6.3). I was able to stand in one spot and take many different types of images of the same subject at all different focal lengths. Shooting with the lens pointing down can be a bit tricky, as the zoom tends to “creep” when being held down. This again is a common side effect of the “ultra zoom” (not that I necessarily take many photos with the camera pointing straight down). While I find the lens softens up a bit past 200mm, it is consistently sharp all the way down to 18mm. I say consistently as most super zooms tend to have soft spots throughout their range.
This is by no means a pro lens, but it isn’t marketed as such either. The auto focus isn’t the speediest, and the slow aperture does limit things somewhat. Having used and owned quite a few Tamron lenses in the past I must say that the auto focus is much faster and quieter than many of their previous lenses, which is because of the new Piezo Drive in this model. The auto focus tends to have a bit more trouble finding focus at the higher focal lengths, and it’s speed would not make it ideal for sports. However, with that said, if you were shooting outdoor sports in daylight it would work great. I am mainly a commercial fashion and portrait photographer, so for the type of work I do this lens wouldn’t really fit the bill. While I could use it for my shoots, it wouldn’t be my first choice… but like I said I’m mainly a prime lens type of guy. This would be the type of lens I would like to have on my camera to go on vacation where I wouldn’t necessarily know the types of images I would be taking. It would allow me to really only bring one lens, but would keep all my options open due to it’s extreme versatility. Bringing one lens is both ideal for travel and to keep out pesky sensor dust.
The final image of the farmer was done extremely quickly. He was driving by and I waived him down to ask him if I could take his portrait. He was in a hurry… despite only moving at about 3 km/hr, so I really only had time to fire off 2 frames. I was happy the 18-270 was on the camera, as I knew no matter what type of shot I wanted to do, the lens would accommodate it.
Overall I enjoyed my experience with this lens and would definitely recommend it to people. It would of course depend on the type of images you’re looking to take, but it’s like that with any lens you’re going to buy.