Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

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PhotosByHall Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!
2

Hi all

I got a Tamron 18-400 for a very good price a little while back. I had read the reviews, main complaints seemed to be it was soft at the long end.

I bought it primarily for its extremely long reach, as a ratio of price\quality\weight. I use long lenses while travelling for wildlife, street photography etc. I'm more interested in range for this lens, and less in the from 18mm superzoom capabilities - i will be carrying distinct wide lenses when away.

I now have the 55-250, 70-300 and 18-400mm. So i needed a battle of the zooms to see which ones i would get rid of and put the Tamy properly thought its paces shooting stuff in the real world - similar to what I would shoot abroad

The zoo wasn't the best hunting, the light wasn't great (and the tamy gets much sharped stopped down a bit from f6.3) and the more interesting animals (elephants, rhinos) either refused to leave their enclosures or looked like they were sleeping off a hangover (tiger, snow leopard).

Anyway - here's some photos followed by my general conclusion - would be interested in people's opinions on the Tamy 18-400. (these aren't Serengeti-level images, but I had a few i was quite happy with and got to test my lenses in the 'real world')

Shots are processed in LR, as I think my primary objective was to get to shots I was happy with - even if some PP was needed.

So what's my conclusion?

I didn't think the Tamy would be sharp enough for what I wanted it for.

But i was pleasantly suprised at f8 and above and f11 is even better - although its not always feasible to shoot at those apertures - you need good light or high iso.

When you do have to shoot at f6.3, I think its fine if you aren't printing out large. I generally have wildlife stuff printed at 6x4, 8x6 or just use for social media - so its not such a biggie. It is soft at f6.3.

It's a small lens for the reach, and it lets you get very close in terms of macro\close up especially with extension tubes.

IS and AF is a little slower than a native Canon lens, but its just about getting used to its quirks and foibles.

What do people think?

Compare the Meerkat! Shot at f6.3, has been processed in LR

Compare the Meekat II! Same shot at f11. The Tamy noticably sharpens up at f11 - but its not always possible to shoot at that aperture.

Humboldt Penguin. I think this is pretty sharp at f6.3

Again at 6.3

Madagascan Lemur f11

Monkey!

Gecko - shot indoors through glass, only possible thanks to that zoom range.

Prairie dog - f6.3

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Tord S Eriksson
Tord S Eriksson Forum Pro • Posts: 15,325
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!
1

PhotosByHall wrote:

Hi all

I got a Tamron 18-400 for a very good price a little while back. I had read the reviews, main complaints seemed to be it was soft at the long end.

I bought it primarily for its extremely long reach, as a ratio of price\quality\weight. I use long lenses while travelling for wildlife, street photography etc. I'm more interested in range for this lens, and less in the from 18mm superzoom capabilities - i will be carrying distinct wide lenses when away.

I now have the 55-250, 70-300 and 18-400mm. So i needed a battle of the zooms to see which ones i would get rid of and put the Tamy properly thought its paces shooting stuff in the real world - similar to what I would shoot abroad

The zoo wasn't the best hunting, the light wasn't great (and the tamy gets much sharped stopped down a bit from f6.3) and the more interesting animals (elephants, rhinos) either refused to leave their enclosures or looked like they were sleeping off a hangover (tiger, snow leopard).

Anyway - here's some photos followed by my general conclusion - would be interested in people's opinions on the Tamy 18-400. (these aren't Serengeti-level images, but I had a few i was quite happy with and got to test my lenses in the 'real world')

Shots are processed in LR, as I think my primary objective was to get to shots I was happy with - even if some PP was needed.

So what's my conclusion?

I didn't think the Tamy would be sharp enough for what I wanted it for.

But i was pleasantly suprised at f8 and above and f11 is even better - although its not always feasible to shoot at those apertures - you need good light or high iso.

When you do have to shoot at f6.3, I think its fine if you aren't printing out large. I generally have wildlife stuff printed at 6x4, 8x6 or just use for social media - so its not such a biggie. It is soft at f6.3.

It's a small lens for the reach, and it lets you get very close in terms of macro\close up especially with extension tubes.

IS and AF is a little slower than a native Canon lens, but its just about getting used to its quirks and foibles.

What do people think?

Compare the Meerkat! Shot at f6.3, has been processed in LR

Compare the Meekat II! Same shot at f11. The Tamy noticably sharpens up at f11 - but its not always possible to shoot at that aperture.

Humboldt Penguin. I think this is pretty sharp at f6.3

The beak is totally out of focus, and the image might be slightly overexposed in the highligts.

Again at 6.3

A slightly smaller aperture might have boosted the sharpness near the nose?!

Madagascan Lemur f11

Monkey!

Soft.

Gecko - shot indoors through glass, only possible thanks to that zoom range.

The focus is slightly off, the branch being sharper than the gecko.

Prairie dog - f6.3

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

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OP PhotosByHall Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

Tord S Eriksson wrote:

PhotosByHall wrote:

Humboldt Penguin. I think this is pretty sharp at f6.3

The beak is totally out of focus, and the image might be slightly overexposed in the highligts.

The highlights are defo overcooked - the shallow dof on the beak was intentional.

Again at 6.3

A slightly smaller aperture might have boosted the sharpness near the nose?!

I have pictures of the giraffe at f8 and f11 (like the meerkats above) - this was to see what the sharpness was like at f6.3, where it is acknowledged to be at its weakest.

Monkey!

Soft.

This was an example of f6.3 through glass, not sure if the glass softened it off more. I did also take this at f8.

EDIT : Whoops. I tell a lie, this was at f7.1

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, they came out pretty well i think - not pro grade, but its not a pro lens.

I took about a thousand shots all in - it wasn't ideal conditions for the lens and its not the best in terms of quality, but I think it will be good enough for my casual wildlife shots \ travelling.

If I was to shoot wildlife more professionally I would invest in a bigma or a Canon 100-400. For printing small prints and travel shots I think this will be good enough. Just got to remember to stop down to f8 and f11 when it is possible.

The two meerkat pictures show the difference between f11 and f6.3 - they've been edited in LR, but purposefully not sharpened. One other thing I forgot to mention was these were shot in JPEG (generally i shoot everything in RAW)

 PhotosByHall's gear list:PhotosByHall's gear list
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Tord S Eriksson
Tord S Eriksson Forum Pro • Posts: 15,325
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!
1

PhotosByHall wrote:

Tord S Eriksson wrote:

PhotosByHall wrote:

Humboldt Penguin. I think this is pretty sharp at f6.3

The beak is totally out of focus, and the image might be slightly overexposed in the highligts.

The highlights are defo overcooked - the shallow dof on the beak was intentional.

Again at 6.3

A slightly smaller aperture might have boosted the sharpness near the nose?!

I have pictures of the giraffe at f8 and f11 (like the meerkats above) - this was to see what the sharpness was like at f6.3, where it is acknowledged to be at its weakest.

Monkey!

Soft.

This was an example of f6.3 through glass, not sure if the glass softened it off more. I did also take this at f8.

EDIT : Whoops. I tell a lie, this was at f7.1

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, they came out pretty well i think - not pro grade, but its not a pro lens.

Agreed!

I took about a thousand shots all in - it wasn't ideal conditions for the lens and its not the best in terms of quality, but I think it will be good enough for my casual wildlife shots \ travelling.

OK!

If I was to shoot wildlife more professionally I would invest in a bigma or a Canon 100-400. For printing small prints and travel shots I think this will be good enough. Just got to remember to stop down to f8 and f11 when it is possible.

Very obvious, even my big Sigma 150-600 S sometimes works better at F/8.0!

The two meerkat pictures show the difference between f11 and f6.3 - they've been edited in LR, but purposefully not sharpened. One other thing I forgot to mention was these were shot in JPEG (generally i shoot everything in RAW)

Very pedagogic!
How much did it cost?!

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Owner of a handful of Nikon cameras. And a few lenses.
WSSA #456

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OP PhotosByHall Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

This was an example of f6.3 through glass, not sure if the glass softened it off more. I did also take this at f8.

EDIT : Whoops. I tell a lie, this was at f7.1

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, they came out pretty well i think - not pro grade, but its not a pro lens.

Agreed!

I took about a thousand shots all in - it wasn't ideal conditions for the lens and its not the best in terms of quality, but I think it will be good enough for my casual wildlife shots \ travelling.

OK!

If I was to shoot wildlife more professionally I would invest in a bigma or a Canon 100-400. For printing small prints and travel shots I think this will be good enough. Just got to remember to stop down to f8 and f11 when it is possible.

Very obvious, even my big Sigma 150-600 S sometimes works better at F/8.0!

The two meerkat pictures show the difference between f11 and f6.3 - they've been edited in LR, but purposefully not sharpened. One other thing I forgot to mention was these were shot in JPEG (generally i shoot everything in RAW)

Very pedagogic!
How much did it cost?!

Well, it was more about comparing the difference.  i know a lot of people wouldn't use a lens this soft - but it does depend what you are shooting and where, as well as how big you are printing \ displaying.

As for cost - about £300 2nd hand. I used to use a Nikon 1 with a 55-300mm on it , this basically gave a 150-810mm. Obviously, you massively lose IQ with a small sensor on it, but it made shooting certain things that wouldn't have been possible - possible.

Like i said, the 18-400mm ain't ideal, but I think it will do me as a travel lens.

We will see. More tests to come....

 PhotosByHall's gear list:PhotosByHall's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS M50 Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +4 more
Tord S Eriksson
Tord S Eriksson Forum Pro • Posts: 15,325
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

PhotosByHall wrote:

This was an example of f6.3 through glass, not sure if the glass softened it off more. I did also take this at f8.

EDIT : Whoops. I tell a lie, this was at f7.1

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, they came out pretty well i think - not pro grade, but its not a pro lens.

Agreed!

I took about a thousand shots all in - it wasn't ideal conditions for the lens and its not the best in terms of quality, but I think it will be good enough for my casual wildlife shots \ travelling.

OK!

If I was to shoot wildlife more professionally I would invest in a bigma or a Canon 100-400. For printing small prints and travel shots I think this will be good enough. Just got to remember to stop down to f8 and f11 when it is possible.

Very obvious, even my big Sigma 150-600 S sometimes works better at F/8.0!

The two meerkat pictures show the difference between f11 and f6.3 - they've been edited in LR, but purposefully not sharpened. One other thing I forgot to mention was these were shot in JPEG (generally i shoot everything in RAW)

Very pedagogic!
How much did it cost?!

Well, it was more about comparing the difference. i know a lot of people wouldn't use a lens this soft - but it does depend what you are shooting and where, as well as how big you are printing \ displaying.

As for cost - about £300 2nd hand. I used to use a Nikon 1 with a 55-300mm on it , this basically gave a 150-810mm. Obviously, you massively lose IQ with a small sensor on it, but it made shooting certain things that wouldn't have been possible - possible.

Like i said, the 18-400mm ain't ideal, but I think it will do me as a travel lens.

We will see. More tests to come....

I've found the Sigma 100-400 C and the AF-P 18-55 VR superb for much of my Nikon 1 photography, with 6.7-13 being a complement, as is the AF-P 70-300 VR DX, up to around 200mm, after which the Sigma is far better if slower-focusing.

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Owner of a handful of Nikon cameras. And a few lenses.
WSSA #456

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OP PhotosByHall Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

Tord S Eriksson wrote:

PhotosByHall wrote:

This was an example of f6.3 through glass, not sure if the glass softened it off more. I did also take this at f8.

EDIT : Whoops. I tell a lie, this was at f7.1

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, they came out pretty well i think - not pro grade, but its not a pro lens.

Agreed!

I took about a thousand shots all in - it wasn't ideal conditions for the lens and its not the best in terms of quality, but I think it will be good enough for my casual wildlife shots \ travelling.

OK!

If I was to shoot wildlife more professionally I would invest in a bigma or a Canon 100-400. For printing small prints and travel shots I think this will be good enough. Just got to remember to stop down to f8 and f11 when it is possible.

Very obvious, even my big Sigma 150-600 S sometimes works better at F/8.0!

The two meerkat pictures show the difference between f11 and f6.3 - they've been edited in LR, but purposefully not sharpened. One other thing I forgot to mention was these were shot in JPEG (generally i shoot everything in RAW)

Very pedagogic!
How much did it cost?!

Well, it was more about comparing the difference. i know a lot of people wouldn't use a lens this soft - but it does depend what you are shooting and where, as well as how big you are printing \ displaying.

As for cost - about £300 2nd hand. I used to use a Nikon 1 with a 55-300mm on it , this basically gave a 150-810mm. Obviously, you massively lose IQ with a small sensor on it, but it made shooting certain things that wouldn't have been possible - possible.

Like i said, the 18-400mm ain't ideal, but I think it will do me as a travel lens.

We will see. More tests to come....

I've found the Sigma 100-400 C and the AF-P 18-55 VR superb for much of my Nikon 1 photography, with 6.7-13 being a complement, as is the AF-P 70-300 VR DX, up to around 200mm, after which the Sigma is far better if slower-focusing.

Oh nice. I loved the Nikon 1 system. Wish Nikon had carried on with it.

I had a v2 and still have a J5 with a 30-110mm lens. I use this at gigs where I don't have permission to shoot

Nothing to touch that range at that size. Shame that IQ takes such a serious hit.

 PhotosByHall's gear list:PhotosByHall's gear list
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Tord S Eriksson
Tord S Eriksson Forum Pro • Posts: 15,325
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

PhotosByHall wrote:

Tord S Eriksson wrote:

PhotosByHall wrote:

This was an example of f6.3 through glass, not sure if the glass softened it off more. I did also take this at f8.

EDIT : Whoops. I tell a lie, this was at f7.1

Interesting lens! Nice shots!

Pretty sure the lens is far better at f/8-11, but, as you point out, you need enough light as well then, not always available.

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, they came out pretty well i think - not pro grade, but its not a pro lens.

Agreed!

I took about a thousand shots all in - it wasn't ideal conditions for the lens and its not the best in terms of quality, but I think it will be good enough for my casual wildlife shots \ travelling.

OK!

If I was to shoot wildlife more professionally I would invest in a bigma or a Canon 100-400. For printing small prints and travel shots I think this will be good enough. Just got to remember to stop down to f8 and f11 when it is possible.

Very obvious, even my big Sigma 150-600 S sometimes works better at F/8.0!

The two meerkat pictures show the difference between f11 and f6.3 - they've been edited in LR, but purposefully not sharpened. One other thing I forgot to mention was these were shot in JPEG (generally i shoot everything in RAW)

Very pedagogic!
How much did it cost?!

Well, it was more about comparing the difference. i know a lot of people wouldn't use a lens this soft - but it does depend what you are shooting and where, as well as how big you are printing \ displaying.

As for cost - about £300 2nd hand. I used to use a Nikon 1 with a 55-300mm on it , this basically gave a 150-810mm. Obviously, you massively lose IQ with a small sensor on it, but it made shooting certain things that wouldn't have been possible - possible.

Like i said, the 18-400mm ain't ideal, but I think it will do me as a travel lens.

We will see. More tests to come....

I've found the Sigma 100-400 C and the AF-P 18-55 VR superb for much of my Nikon 1 photography, with 6.7-13 being a complement, as is the AF-P 70-300 VR DX, up to around 200mm, after which the Sigma is far better if slower-focusing.

Oh nice. I loved the Nikon 1 system. Wish Nikon had carried on with it.

Had the problems with the lenses (the aperture mechanism) not arrived there probably been at least one generation more.

I had a v2 and still have a J5 with a 30-110mm lens. I use this at gigs where I don't have permission to shoot

Likewise, but I have a V1 as well, and my 30-110 is long gone.

Nothing to touch that range at that size. Shame that IQ takes such a serious hit.

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WSSA #456

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lyrictenor1 Junior Member • Posts: 27
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!
2

Nice shots! I own a Tamron 18-400 as a walkabout/zoo/hiking lens (for non-photographic hikes), and I've been very happy with mine. I own a bunch of other much better glass as well, but this lens has done the job well for me, especially when I'm out and about, and just wanted to capture something I saw. Here is one of my favorite zoo shots from the 18-400 on a D500.

OP PhotosByHall Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

lyrictenor1 wrote:

Nice shots! I own a Tamron 18-400 as a walkabout/zoo/hiking lens (for non-photographic hikes), and I've been very happy with mine. I own a bunch of other much better glass as well, but this lens has done the job well for me, especially when I'm out and about, and just wanted to capture something I saw. Here is one of my favorite zoo shots from the 18-400 on a D500.

That's a nice shot, hard to keep it steady at 300mm (480) at 1/100 of a second, but its cool.

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Tord S Eriksson
Tord S Eriksson Forum Pro • Posts: 15,325
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

PhotosByHall wrote:

lyrictenor1 wrote:

Nice shots! I own a Tamron 18-400 as a walkabout/zoo/hiking lens (for non-photographic hikes), and I've been very happy with mine. I own a bunch of other much better glass as well, but this lens has done the job well for me, especially when I'm out and about, and just wanted to capture something I saw. Here is one of my favorite zoo shots from the 18-400 on a D500.

That's a nice shot, hard to keep it steady at 300mm (480) at 1/100 of a second, but its cool.

Yeah, utterly delightful!

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Owner of a handful of Nikon cameras. And a few lenses.
WSSA #456

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nonproshooterdad Contributing Member • Posts: 860
Re: Tamron 18-400mm at the Zoo!

Stopping down can give sharper image, but not always especially when handheld. I used it on my 7D mark ii. I used this lens wide open, ISO 800. I don't want to bump up ISO any further. Sometimes f/6.3 gives better images than f/8  because faster shutter speed.

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