Review

I

normally don’t like to do extensive tech reviews of photographic lenses because most of the tech specifics are available for the photographer on the manufacturers websites or the hundreds of others that do these type of reviews. But for me, I prefer to let our readers know how a product actually performs in the real world by a photographer with 50+ years of photographic experience, yes that’s me.

Interior shows VC mechanism

I have found that many of us, don’t really understand or want to know about the lens technology, but we do want to know how the lenses we are going to purchase and use, will perform. Not all photographers have the same photographic equipment needs. Many commercial photographers shoot with full frame digital cameras and a range of expensive glass. For those of us shooting a variety of subjects, we will have a number of camera bodies, lenses and a host of other equipment as I have. The memory keeper (new term for the average consumer), every day picture taker, or semi-professional photographer however, usually prefers to travel light.

Lens changing is another problem for all of us. Not only is it difficult to do when you are on an assignment, but dangerous. Many times while I attempted to change a lens in the field, I ended up juggling the camera, camera bag and the two lenses. At times I would almost drop a lens doing the change.  Then of course in outdoor locations, when you remove one lens to put on another, you expose the delicate sensor in the camera to dirt and dust that can now enter through the lens mount opening.  So an all-in-one lens is not only more convenient, but will prevent potential harm to your camera.

What I Like About This Lens

Smaller and Lighter

Aside from all the specs and technical information you will read in this review, I believe seeing is believing.  Prior to getting this lens I was shooting with an older Tamron 28-300mm Di lens and although I had great results, the lens was heavy (19.4 ounces) and not as compact as the 18-270mm.  If I forgot to lock the lens at the barrel and had it around my neck, the lens would creep or extend to its full length and hang from my neck.  I would often bang into things with this long protrusion from my camera body while extended and it was really a heavy pull on my neck. It was not the best choice for my use and I wanted a lighter more compact lens that wouldn’t creep the way the heavier lens did and would still give me a nice zoom range.

When I saw that Tamron had the new 18-270mm, I started to salivate. I read the specs as you will and thought this had to be so much better then the 24-300mm lens.  After all, when I travel I use my 10-24mm Tamron zoom almost all the time, when I do trade shows, I use the wide angle or might use the heavy 28-300mm, which was not the best choice for trade shows and some of the other events I covered.

Now with the new 18-270mm lens, I can cover the trade shows, shoot my stills or videos at the 18mm focal length. This allows me to be close to my subject during an interview and still give me enough of the surroundings that people know where we are.  It also enables me to get better sound now because I can get closer to my subject using my RODE shotgun videomic  So now I have the best of both worlds, a lens for my interviews and trade show work and a great lens for my travel and other photo assignments.

You can see this lens in action either on video or at my photo showcase right here on the impress site.  To see some of the videos click here.  To see some of the recent images I shot click here.  Most of the articles I do for IMPress will now include a video.  Since I have been using this lens for the past year, go to many of my 2011-2012 articles and see how they look with this lens.

On Assignment With The Tamron 18-270

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – Tamron 18-270mm Lens @ 18mm

Since many of the assignments I was on this past year included a lot of video work using this lens, I decided to cover an assignment I had in New York last week. I needed to do a follow-up review in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  If you haven’t read my previous article on this great museum you can find it here.  The MET would offer me a chance to take my Nikon with only one lens, the 18-270 and nothing more.  The idea was to see if I could achieve the professional results I needed and travel light, with only one lens.  Now this is something I haven’t done in years, I am always carrying my big camera bag and possibly a tripod wherever I go.

Additional Photos With This Lens

I also covered the fantastic Quick Check 30th Anniversary Balloon Festival in New Jersey and it was a blast.  I wanted to see if I could cover both of these assignments with one lens, the All-In-One Tamron 18-270mm.  I will let you be the judge. From the photos and quick video I shot of the early day event. I think you can see that this lens is all I needed.

Over 100 Ballons In The Air
Tamron 18-270mm Lens

Heating the air in balloons make them rise.

Bret Michaels In Concert At Balloon Festival
Tamron 18-270mm Lens

Handheld shot of the moon
Tamron 18-270mm Lens at 270mm w/VC on

Things You Want To Know About This Lens
  • Tamron 18-270mm, is the world’s lightest, smallest 15x zoom optimized for use on APS-C- image sensor DSLRs
  • Zoom Wide Angle to Ultra Telephoto
  • Special Glass Optimized for Digital SLR
  • Provides Vibration Compensation image stabilization – combats camera shake-related image blur
  • Allows handheld shooting at as many as four shutter speeds slower than otherwise possible
  • Anti- shake mechanism works throughout the entire zoom range
  • Rubber patterns of the zoom and focus control rings have been improved
  • Focal length of this lens is equivalent to approx. 28-419mm in 35mm format
  • PZD (Piezo Drive) ultrasonic autofocus motor makes lens lighter, shorter and slimmer than any previous lens in this category, and provides faster, quieter auto-focusing.
  • Length: 3.8 inches, closed
  • Weight: 15.9 oz
  • Filter Size:  ø62mm
  • Available For APS-C: Canon, Nikon & Sony
  • 6 Year USA Limited Warranty
Tech Information

APS-C Format and Di II

When pictures are taken with a Di-II lens on a full-size format, image corners become dark (ie., vignetting becomes noticeable).

This lens was engineered for those of us that have a a DSLR with an APS-C camera format which measure approximately 24mm X 16mm. The Nikon D7000 I shoot with is an APS-C format camera.  The smaller APS-C sensor effectively minimizes the field of view by about 1.5, so that a 300mm lens has the same field of view as a 450mm lens on a 35mm camera. So the new 18-270mm Tamron lens would be equivalent to a 28mm to 419mm lens on a 35mm camera.  Now that gives me a true wide angle lens and a really great telephoto lens and does it in a light weight, compact designed and very affordable lens.

Attempts to design shorter focal lengths inevitably result in a larger lens diameter. Tamron has solved this problem by designing the size of the lens’ image circle to match that of APS-C size imagers. In the compact design, it is almost comparable to a lens offering the same angles of view in full-size format.

Now one might ask is that all you get in this lens and the answer is no…you get a whole lot more.  This lens has the latest lens technology from Tamron.

Vibration Compensation (VC) 

This lens has the Tamron Vibration Compensation (VC) image stabilization system.  This is a a system that fights the inevitable camera shake we all have seen on our blurred or what we think are out of focus images. Camera shake is one of the most common issues on handheld photos, so it is a big deal to have a system built into the lens to help overcome this problem.

The VC system will allow you to handhold your camera at slow shutter speeds and still get razor sharp images.  Since increasing the ISO to enable you to take a sharp low light shot means you have to deal with the increased noise that often accompanies these high ISO settings.

With the Tamron VC system, you can shoot at four shutter speeds slower then you would without the VC system.  What does that really mean?  My normal exposure at 800 ISO for a low light shot might be f8 @ 1/60th of a second.  But I forgot my tripod or they don’t allow me to use my tripod in museums, places of worship or situations where it would not be practical. So I could attempt to hold the camera as steady as possible, lean against a wall to steady the shot, or simply flip the switch on my Tamron lens that says VC and now I would be shooting at the equivalent shutter speed of 1/160th of a second or four shutter speeds faster then if I didn’t have VC on my lens.  Now adding the VC system on this lens didn’t mean increasing its size or weight because they use a new moving coil mechanism to achieve these results. Want to see an interactive demo of this cool feature? Click here now.

The New Piezo Drive

Another common problem we have with these all-in-one zooms is their inability to focus on our subjects quickly and accurately. Since the focus system is built into this lens we want a system that will assure us of getting sharp images in difficult shooting situations, capture images that require speed in the focusing system so we can capture those spontaneous moments that would normally be lost to out of focus, soft images.  We also want a motor that is quiet, especially when shooting nature, live performances or any situation that demands quiet.  The new Piezo Drive is a revolutionary design that delivers on the promise.  You can read more about this drive system and see illustrations and animations on the Tamron site.

More Informaton On This Lens

Most major websites today offer so much information about their products and many include step by step instructions and videos too.  Tamron has done the same and even created their own sub-site for this great lens. After you have finished this review, go back and visit their site, it is all there and is easy reading for those of us that might be tech challenged.

We have also written an article titled, Buyers Guide-Camera Kits Yes or No, Beware of Scams, where we talk about this and other Tamron lenses vs. camera kit lenses. Be sure to read it as well for valuable information, you need to know.


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About the Author

Len Rapoport
Len Rapoport
IPA Editor-In-Chief, ID: 1000 • I am an internationally published photographer and the founder of International Press Association. As president and editor-in-chief, my duties at IPA are extensive. For over 40 years I have written articles, had my photos published in millions of publications, record album covers, books, and in the digital media. I was senior marketing and sales executive for major corporations, including my own and as a corporate communications consultant. I have taught photography and formed IPA 20 years ago. I currently work from my home office and continue to actively cover media events in addition to all of my other IPA and IMPress responsibilities.