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Conclusion - Pros

  • Very useful 15x zoom range
  • Good image quality at wideangle
  • Quiet autofocus
  • Reasonably effective image stabilization
  • Compact and lightweight

Conclusion - Cons

  • Rather soft at telephoto, especially wide open
  • Strong distortion across most of the range
  • Chromatic aberration at each end of the zoom (most pronounced at telephoto)
  • Slower autofocus than its peers

Overall conclusion

The Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD is a compact and lightweight superzoom that manages to fit a huge zoom range into a compact, lightweight package. Throw in its quiet PZD autofocus and optical image stabilization, and it's a very versatile little lens that's well worth considering if you're looking for an all-in-one solution.

Optically, the 18-270mm PZD is somewhat uneven - it's impressively sharp at wideangle, but very much less so at telephoto. Chromatic aberration is very visible at the telephoto end, and fairly strong at wideangle too, giving visually-intrusive green/magenta fringing towards the corners of the frame. Typically for an SLR superzoom, distortion is also very pronounced at almost all focal lengths. It's of the barrel-type at wideangle, turning to pincushion across the rest of the range (and strongest around 50mm).

Autofocus is near-silent, but on the Canon-mount version we tested not especially fast - this is one area where it lags behind similar lenses from Sigma, Nikon or Canon. But the PZD motor is at least faster than the sometimes painfully-slow micromotor used in the older Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-5.6 Di II VC. The image stabilization system works quite well too, although we've found it to be slightly less effective than its predecessor's, it's still good for letting you use shutter speeds a couple of stops slower than you'd otherwise be able to hand-hold without blur.

In terms of build, the Tamron is perhaps best described as functional, with its relatively lightweight plastic barrel. The zoom control is a little uneven, and manual focus slightly loose, but neither has a huge impact on normal shooting. The overall impression is of a lens that's been made to a price, but quite sensibly so

Compared to its main competitor, the recently-released Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-5.6 DC Macro OS HSM, the Tamron performs pretty creditably. The Sigma is noticeably sharper at telephoto, but softer at wideangle - it's also quicker to focus, and we found its image stabilization to be a bit more effective too. The Tamron offers slightly longer telephoto range, of course, but the Sigma is better for close-up shooting. All things being equal we'd favour the Sigma, but everything depends on the relative prices (which vary considerably depending on where you live).

The Final Word

The Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.6 Di II VC PZD is a decent-enough option if you're interested in buying a lightweight, long range general-purpose lens. It won't gave the same image quality as two separate lenses covering the same range, but then again it's less to carry around, and you won't miss shots changing lenses. It's not the quickest in the world to focus though, so not the best choice if you frequently want to shoot moving subjects.

Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD
Category: Superzoom Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Anyone looking for a compact, lightweight, all-in-one general purpose and travel lens.
Not so good for
Sports or action work that requires fast autofocus.
Overall score
73%
The Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD is a perfectly competent superzoom that squeezes a huge focal length range into a compact package. Autofocus is slower than its competitors, however, and image quality is weak at the the telephoto end.

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