Vacation Superzooms II (Image Quality)

Started Jun 13, 2012 | Discussions thread
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ScottKim2012
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Vacation Superzooms II (Image Quality)
Jun 13, 2012

Hello Everyone,

Several months back I posted regarding the popular 18-250/270 superzooms,
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1037&message=40652387

I’m posting again hopefully to add some more value by showing some image quality comparisons.

My goal was to compare the image quality between superzooms and against high quality alternatives. So here are the superzooms, Sony 18-250, Tamron 18-250, Tamron 18-270 PZD and Sigma 18-250 HSM.

And here are the high quality alternatives, Sony 16-80 CZ, Sony 70-300G and Sony 70-400G.

Here is the picture at 18mm focal length.

And here is the picture at 250mm focal length.

The target is of course the humming bird plaque and it is at a distance of 30ft from the camera.

Now before I get into this I want to state that I understand that this is a forum of photo enthusiasts with varied experience ranging from beginner to professional all with differing opinions. I’m sure that someone could point out something that I could have done better or something that I missed but I have done my best to minimize the variables and the value that I hope to add is that, despite the test not being perfect, it was done consistently across all the lenses and I think that is the main benefit.

So here are the details of how I took the shots.

I used the Sony A580 on a tripod with a remote release, Steady Shot off, Manual mode at F/8 and ISO 100 with a Sunny white balance. All lenses were manually focused with the 15x magnifier and the scene was originally metered with the 70-400G (just because that is what was on the camera at the time) using multi-segment meter indicating a 1/50s shutter speed with those settings. As different lenses were used along with different focal lengths the multi-segment meter was indicating anywhere from 1/3 overexposure to 1 stop overexposure but those settings were of course kept. All shots were remotely released with the 2s mirror pre-lift timer and the whole test was done within one hour.

For each superzoom I took a picture at the following focal lengths, 18/35/50/70/100/200/250(incl. 270mm for PZD). For the high quality alternatives only those focal lengths that applied. I took a 350x350 pixel segment of a 100% crop from each picture and put them together from each focal length to compare.

The pictures I show are untouched jpegs straight out of the camera with the only manipulation being cropping.

So here they are in increasing focal length order.

So the results were a bit surprising, first off I will have to retest the Tamron 18-270 PZD as it was significantly worse than the others at almost all focal lengths except at 270mm. This was something I noticed with this lens when I came back from vacation last month and I noticed a lot of shots came out soft (and is what actually prompted this test).

So from what I can tell, the difference in image quality between the superzooms and higher quality lenses are more apparent at longer focal lengths, the biggest difference seems to be at 250mm where the 70-400G seems the best followed by the 70-300G and then the Tamron 18-250.

Surprisingly between 18mm and 70mm I could not see much of a difference between the 16-80 CZ and any of the superzooms (excluding the PZD). In fact the Tamron 18-250 seems to have more contrast than the others in several comparisons.

At 70mm all lenses are present and, excluding the PZD, I have to say that they are all remarkably similar. I must have a really good copy of the Tamron 18-250 cause it holds up really well against even the 70-400G.

So I leave it you guys to interpret and maybe give me suggestions on how I could have done this better. I did my best to equalize all conditions for the lenses but I cannot speak to the variation of the lenses that I have, some of them may be extremely good copies and others extremely poor copies. If this test is a valid comparison (even somewhat valid), it is a testament to how good these superzooms really are.

Thanks for reading, I know it was long.

Scott

Sony SLT-A58
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