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Review by Markus Stamm, published March 2012
The Tamron 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 VC still offers the largest zoom range of any currently available DSLR lens (at the time of this review). Even though no competitor has matched the zoom ratio, yet, the lens nonetheless looked a bit dated compared to competing products because Tamron could not offer a sonic wave AF drive. With the new Piezo Drive (PZD) they can now build very compact sonic wave AF drives and implemented it first in the new 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 VC PZD.
The new PZD lens corrects another "issue" of the 18-270 VC: in the past, Tamron super-zooms have usually combined a very large zoom range with a very compact design. The 18-270 VC did not quite fit here, being surprisingly large for a Tamron zoom lens. The new 18-270 PZD is considerably smaller again and more in line with earlier offerings, like the 18-250 Di II or 18-200 Di II.
The compact size is also reflected in a change in Tamron's naming scheme. From
AF 18-270mm F/3,5-6,3 Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro
we're now down to just
AF 18-270mm F/3,5-6,3 Di II VC PZD
which is a most welcome achievement.
In this review we will have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera, the Nikon D7000.
The Tamron 18-270 PZD shows a build quality which is typical for consumer grade zooms. The lens is built on a metal mount and features an outer barrel made of good quality plastic. Both the broad zoom ring and the rather thin focus ring a rubberized. The focus ring rotates during AF operation. Despite the ultra sonic drive, the lens needs to be set to MF to manually change the focus. Once unlocked from the AF drive, the undamped focus ring can be rotated easily. Both the zoom ring and focus ring work in the same direction as on Nikon lenses.
The lens extends considerably towards longer focal lengths. Allthough the lens features a duo-cam design for the moving inner lens tubes it shows no signs of wobbling. At medium focal length settings the tested sample showed some zoom creeping. To prevent accidential movements, Tamron has implemented a lock switch that holds the lens in its shortest position.
Thanks to an IF (Internal focusing) design the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.
Thanks to the PZD drive the lens is fully compatible with all Nikon DX DSLRs, including the motorless entry-level models. As expected, the AF is very quiet, but a bit on the slow side. In the field we found it to quite often lack precision. The slow speed of the lens towards the tele range (down to f/6.3) may explain this behaviour partly.
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. max. f-stops||f/5.3-9.5 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field - not speed)|
|Optical construction||16 elements in 13 groups|
|Number of aperture blades||7 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.49 m (max. magnification ratio 1:3.8)|
|Dimensions||74.4 mm x 88 mm|
|Filter size||62 mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||DA18, petal-shaped, bayonet-mount (supplied)|
|Other features||Optical stabilization (VC), Piezo AF drive|