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LENS TEST: TAMRON SUPERZOOM TO WIDE 18-250MM


16th
DEC 2014


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Article Posted by:
RICK YOUNG
Lens test: Tamron Superzoom to Wide 18-250mm
I often wondered how good can a really affordable lens with a staggering zoom range be. I've spent so much money on lenses it is ridiculous, and yet there are affordable lenses out there that can produce good results, so long as you know the weaknesses and limitations which come with such offerings!
It was too tempting to pass up, a used lens for only 119, (Sterling) a Superzoom of 18-250mm. On my Super 35mm camera that would would equal, in photography terms 27-375mm.
That’s a very appealing Focal length. The big question is would the zoom perform. The lens manufacturer is Tamron, so much glass at so little cost – how good could it be…

Check out movie below to see the test footage.
I’ve a particular need for the 28-380mm range in my work. I invested a lot of money in the Sony SCL-Z18X140 FZ mount lens a couple of years ago. This is a power zoom, built specifically for the Sony PMW-F3 with a zoom range of 18-252mm. This retails for 6500 ex-vat, and is large, heavy, and good quality all rolled into one. I shot with this lens (and many others) for more than year with the Sony PMW-F3. I still have my F3’s – the big power zoom I sold recently for a good price!
I sold it because it was too big and bulky. I can can get comparable results from high quality Nikon zooms, which I live by, and these also much faster apertures: Nikon 17-35mm F2.8, Nikon 28-70 F2.8, Nikon 80-200mm F2.8.

The Nikon zooms perform great, however, with these comes the inconvenience of having to change lenses!

The aperture range on the Sony monster zoom is T3.9/T6.8

The aperture range on the Tamron zoom is F3.5/F6.3

One costs 6500 ex-vat; the other I can have used for 119

I buy the lens – for fun . I spend 119 on a Tamron superzoom just to see what I get.

On seeing the results, my gut feeling is the Tamron will be useful for many things, particularly run and gun, event coverage type of work. Of course, the high quality Nikon glass is what I live by, however, for certain situations where a super zoom to wide is needed, the Tamron will fit the bill. Yes it is soft on the long end of the lens, though the centre remains sharp. The trick is to shoot with a lot of light and open the lens up 2 to 3 stops from wide open. I’ll pump gain in on the F3 to help me achieve this. With the big sensor a little gain goes a long way.

Then in post perhaps add a little sharpening, correct the images to make them look nice, and you’ll never know what lens the images were shot with.

Note: the current Tamron is 18-270mm; Sigma also make an 18-250mm lenses which is another one I’d like to check out. I should mention the Tamron 18-250 is an older model, the current version is 18-270mm. I wonder if this would perform better or worse. Then there are superzooms in both the Nikon and Canon EF range of lenses. Canon make an EF 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 IS, Nikon make both an 18-200 and also an 18-300 f/3.5-6.3G ED VR Lens.

A superzoom to wide, all in one lens, is always going to be a compromise. Low light performance suffers, the image may appear soft around the edges in extreme telephoto. However, the range is staggering and for an ENG, run around camera guy who has to get the shots… I appreciate what the superzoom to wide offers.

Note: the Sony 18-252mm power zoom performs beautifully at all apertures. That performance, however, comes at a price. As mentioned the Sony power zoom sells for 6500 ex-vat.

One other comment, the action, in the hands feel of the Tamron 18-250mm is great. The zoom snaps to just where you want it to be, focus is easy and precise. That’s important. I did have another superzoom, at one point, which I sold because I didn’t like the feel of the lens. Manual focus was too much of hit and miss affair.

Got to love your lenses!
Above: Tamron Superzoom fully extended.

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