Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro review

Of the numerous incarnations of Tamron's famous superzoom concept that we've seen over the last couple of decades, the latest 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro looks like one of the bigger steps forward. It offers a lot more than the incremental increase in focal length that has characterized most of its predecessors, starting at 18-200mm with the first version for APS-C format cameras in 2005, rising to 250mm, then 270mm, and now up to 300mm.

This time though, the focal length range also extends wider, from 18mm to 16mm (28mm to 24mm equivalent), bringing serious wide-angle capability to the superzoom category for the first time. A couple of millimeters improvement over the previous Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD may not sound like much, but it makes a very useful difference at short focal lengths and the extended range now sets a new record with a whopping 18.8x zoom ratio. Closest focusing distance has also been reduced to earn the 'Macro' designation (even if it's hardly macro in the true sense of allowing 1:1 reproduction). 

Additionally, the new lens has had a thorough mechanical overhaul with several welcome changes. The PZD (Piezo Drive) auto-focusing and VC (Vibration Compensation) image-stabilization systems are both improved. The focusing ring is better positioned close to the camera and it no longer rotates during auto-focusing. The build quality goes up a notch too, with 'moisture-resistant' construction. Both size and weight have increased slightly, but it's still a very handy package.

Headline features

  • Class-leading 16-300mm focal length range (approx 24-450mm equivalent)
  • Swift and quiet PZD ultrasonic-drive autofocus
  • Effective VC (Vibration Compensation) in-lens image stabilization
  • Close focusing to 0.39m, maximum magnification 0.34x
  • Weather-resistant build
  • Compact size (for focal length range)
  • APS-C format only, in fittings for Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs

In the DSLR sector, Tamron faces superzoom rivals in every camp, and some of the designs are notably similar. Alphabetically, the Canon EF-S 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 IS looks a little behind the curve these days, though it's a proven good performer. Nikon has a history of occasional cooperation with Tamron and matches the long-end reach with its Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-6.3G AF-S DX ED VR. The Pentax SMC DA 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 ED SDM bears more than a passing resemblance to the superseded Tamron 18-270mm. Not to be outdone, Sigma joins the up-to-300mm superzoom club with its revamped 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM C, and Sony has the DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3. 

Angle of view

This is what superzooms are all about - one lens, that goes from wide-angle, through the standard focal length range, and on to a very respectable telephoto. Tamron has even trade-marked the term 'all in one' and its 16-300mm lens leads the class with an 18.8:1 zoom ratio.

From 16mm (24mm equiv) and upwards to... ...300mm (450mm equiv). Longest range in class.

Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro compared to Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

 Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MacroTamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD
Principal specifications
Lens typeZoom lens
Max Format sizeAPS-C / DX
Focal length16–300 mm18–270 mm
Image stabilizationYes
Lens mountCanon EF-S, Nikon F (DX), Sony/Minolta AlphaCanon EF-S, Nikon F (DX), Sony/Minolta Alpha DT
Maximum apertureF3.5–6.3
Minimum apertureF22–40
Aperture ringNo
Number of diaphragm blades7
Aperture notesCircular diaphragm
Minimum focus0.39 m (15.35)0.49 m (19.29)
Maximum magnification0.34×0.26×
Motor typeUltrasonicMicro-type ultrasonic
Full time manualYesNo
Focus methodInternal
Distance scaleYes
DoF scaleNo
Weight540 g (1.19 lb)450 g (0.99 lb)
Diameter75 mm (2.95)74 mm (2.93)
Length100 mm (3.94)88 mm (3.46)
MaterialsPlastic barrel, metal mount
Zoom methodRotary (extending)
Power zoomNo
Zoom lockYes
Filter thread67 mm62 mm
Hood suppliedYes
Tripod collarNo
NotesSony version will not have image stabilisation, and will be called '16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Macro'