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Review by Klaus Schroiff and Markus Stamm, published March 2012
Tamron has always been one of the driving forces behind extreme range zoom lenses. With the Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical [IF] VC macro (boy, what a name ...) they combined the largest zoom range available for DSLRs (still a valid claim at the time of this review, more than 3 years after the lens was announced) with their optical stabilization system, which was first seen in another super zoom lens, the full-frame AF 28-300mm VC.
The 18-270mm VC is a dedicated DX lens that covers a large range from wide angle to quite long tele settings. So, it's an all-purpose wonder, albeit a slow speed one with maximum aperture settings down to f/6.3 at the long end of the zoom range.
In this review we will have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.
In terms of build quality the Tamron is a fairly typical consumer grade zoom lens. Most of the outer construction is made of plastic except for the metal mount. Zooming isn't really effortless - the broad, rubberized zoom ring has a very high friction especially in the middle range. The small focus ring (rotating in AF mode) operates reasonably smooth although somewhat "lifeless".
The lens uses a duo-cam zoom mechanism (two inner lens tubes) to extend towards to long end of the zoom range. At 270mm the lens is about twice as long as full retracted (@ 18mm). The tested copy, which has seen some usage already, showed a small amount of wobbling of the inner lens tubes and also suffered from zoom creeping throughout most of the zoom range. To help against the latter, Tamron implemented a switch that locks the lens in the shortest (18 mm) setting. Ironically, that's about the only setting were the tested sample did not suffer from creeping anyway.
The lens features an integrated motor which makes it fully compatible with all current Nikon DX DSLR, including the entry-level models. Tamron uses a conventional AF micro-motor which generates a moderate degree of noise during operation.
Due to a very short focus path (~30 degrees) the AF speed is relatively fast. However, this design decision doesn't come for free - manual focusing is very difficult because slight adjustments via the focus ring have a rather massive impact on the focus point. During the field tests, the lens showed a rather mixed behaviour in terms of focus precision. Especially towards the long end, the results quite often were poor due to obvious misfocus. The slow speed of the lens towards the tele range (down to f/6.3) may explain this behaviour partly.
Thanks to an IF (Internal focusing) design the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.
As already mentioned, the lens features Tamron's optical stabilization system (called VC for "Vibration compensation"). Tamron claims a potential equivalent to 4 f-stops. As always you should take such statements with a grain of salt but the VC worked well during the field sessions.
Typical for all G type lenses the Tamron does not provide a dedicated aperture ring.
|Equiv. focal length||27-405 mm (full format equivalent)|
|Equiv. aperture||f/5.3-f/9.5 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)|
|Optical construction||18 elements in 13 groups, incl. 2 LD and 3 aspherical elements|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.49 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:3.5 @270mm)|
|Dimensions||80 x 101 mm|
|Filter size||72 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal-shaped, bayonet-mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Optical stabilization (VC), integrated DC motor|