The Tamron 18-270 mm VC is a very compact zoom lens with a sensationally big 15x zoom range and built-in image stabilization. Compared to its predecessor, the Tamron 18-270 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical IF Macro AF from 2008 (model B003), the subject of the current test, the Tamron 18-270 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD AF from 2011 (model B008), is half a centimeter shorter and 100 grams lighter. A filter diameter of 62 mm in place of 72 mm is a significant difference.
Apart from the Sigma 18-250 mm, there are few walk-around lenses with such a great zoom range that varies from wide angle to super telephoto. The Tamron 18-270 mm is a Di lens, which means that this lens is developed for use on a camera with an APS-C sensor. Upon registration of the lens with the importer, you get a five-year guarantee.
Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD AF @ Canon 650D
Field of viewTamron 18-270 mm VC @ 18 mm
FOVTamron 18-270 mm VC @ 270 mm
On the basis of these two photographs, it is clear that with this kind of lens, you don’t need to bring any others with you on vacation. From long shots to detail photos – you make them from the same position. Tamron indicates that this is also a macro lens. That is not true, because the maximum image magnification does not deliver 1:1. However, the minimum focusing distance of 49 cm is good enough, for example, to make a close up of a flower.
From the construction of the Tamron 18-270 mm, it is noticeable that this is a consumer lens. It is a very light lens that includes a lot of plastic. The lens mount is metal. If you’re careful with it, it will probably last for years. With respect to the construction, I find a (more expensive) lens such as the Tamron 70 mm much nicer.
When you zoom out with this lens, it becomes nearly three times as long. The lens is equipped with a switch to lock the zoom lens during transport in its most compact configuration. Further, the Tamron 18-270 mm is also equipped with an AF/MF switch and a switch for the image stabilization (Vibration Compensation: VC). The tested example did not show any “creeping,” i.e. that the lens would zoom out on its own if pointed vertically downward (read: hanging in front of you).
The autofocus of the Tamron 18-270 mm is equipped with a Piëzo drive (PZD), which according to Tamron delivers fast, precise and quiet autofocus. The Piëzo drive reduces the number of moving parts in the lens as well as the size and weight. The lens is fairly quiet: much quieter than the Tamron 28-75 mm that we recently tested. Even so, I doubt whether the lens is quiet enough to make videos with it.
In making the test shots, we noticed that the AF shows a greater spread than more expensive lenses. If you want to make an important photo at the lower focal lengths, you can take two particularly sharply focused pictures, no problem. Especially at the longer focal lengths, the AF has, for subjects with little contrast or in situations with little light, difficulty finding the right sharpness.
This is one of the most remarkable tests of image stabilization that we have ever done. We made test photos at a focal length of 65 mm (103 mm @ FF) at different shutter speeds, first without image stabilization and immediately thereafter with image stabilization. Usually, I photograph with a reasonably steady hand, but the photos made without image stabilization at a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second were already less sharp that photos made with image stabilization and a shutter speed of 1/6 of a second. The slower the shutter speed, the less sharp the image of the photos without image stabilization were. The sharpness of the photos made with image stabilization remained the same over the range from 1/200 up to and including 1/6 of a second. The conclusion appears justified that the image stabilization works very well. Much better than the photographer, in this case.
Tamron 18-280mm VC @ 270 mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec + VC, 100 ISO
Resolution Tamron 18-270mm
A vacation zoom with a 15x zoom range can naturally never deliver the same sharpness as more expensive, more specialized lenses. That has to do with the longer focal lengths. At full opening, the sharpness in the corners is somewhat less than in the center, but that is completely rectified after 1 aperture stop. To get an impression of the sharpness at 270 mm and f/6.3, you can view a partial enlargement of the lamb above. It is somewhat woolier than the image from an expensive telephoto lens, and the loss of brightness (vignetting) is also recognizable. There will probably be many photographers who are satisfied with such image quality.
At a focal length of 18 mm and full opening, the vignetting with 1 stop is recognizable. Even at the longer focal lengths, the vignetting is visible at full opening. But after 1 aperture stop, the vignetting becomes significantly less.
The Tamron 18-270 mm VC shows a pattern characteristic for super zoom lenses of visible barrel distortion at 18 mm, that somewhere around 28 mm becomes visible pincushion distortion at all focal lengths larger than 50 mm.
For both jpg and RAW files, there is a lens correction profile in Lightroom, with which the distortion can be corrected simply.
The bokeh is beautifully round thanks to the round aperture blades. At the shorter focal lengths, the bokeh shows a clear edge. The bokeh at 270 mm in our test shot showed up remarkably well, as you can see in the adjacent image. In the practice shots made at a focal length of 270 mm with a fully open aperture (f/6.3), the background still appears to be quite restless. Just check the 100% view of the lamb above.
The Tamron 18-270 mm comes with a lens hood and the lens elements are equipped with BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings that limit internal reflections as much as possible. Even so, it pays to invest in a lens hood for telephoto range. It is impossible with the included flower-shaped hood at a 15x zoom range to protect from backlighting at all focal lengths. In addition, this lens is sensitive to radiation: with backlighting, there can be quite a big zone with reduced contrast as a consequence of radiation. In our test images, we encountered virtually no ghosting – aperture-shaped colored spots that can be visible with backlighting.
Chromatic aberration Tamron 18-270mm
With the Tamron 18-270 mm you can, particularly at the longer focal lengths (200 mm and higher), in practice encounter chromatic aberration at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of the image, such as in the 100% image cut-out shown here. Lateral chromatic aberration is easily handled with software, for example by making use of the lens correction profile of the Tamron 18-270 mm in Lightroom.
Conclusion Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II LD IF Asph. VC macro review
- Versatile, 15x zoom range
- Compactly built
- Effective image stabilization
- Visible chromatic aberration
- Sensitive to flare
- AF not always accurat
With the introduction of the first version of the Tamron 18-270 mm in 2008, this was with respect to zoom range and compact build a unique lens. Even after the Sigma 18-250 mm, very few of these kinds of megazooms are available for owners of a Canon camera. The lens is not developed for highly demanding photographers. Even so, there will be a large group of photographers that like to go out with one lens, with which they can shoot all of their photographs, from close-up to long shots to extreme telephoto. The built-in image stabilization is a good compensator for the somewhat limited brightness, whereby you can also make low-light shots with a longer focal length.