Duels of the superzoom lenses

by Enche Tjin on June 18, 2009

The competition in superzoom lens for DSLR cameras are getting hotter and hotter. It is so popular for many people because its versatility. It is one lens for all kind of purpose. It is wide enough to cram in big group photos, and it is long enough to capture birds or outdoor sport games. It is generally compact and lightweight so it is also good for tourists or amateur travel photographers who love to travel light.

canon-50d-sigma-18-250mm-tamron-18-270mm

Because of the popularity of super zoom lenses, many manufacturer compete to provide the best lens in the market. Now, we have so many superzoom lenses from almost all manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Sigma and Tamron.

Today, the newest superzoom lens are Sigma 18-250mm OS HSM and Tamron 18-270mm VC lens.

Feng Niao (hummingbird), a Chinese photography site tested the Sigma, Tamron with Canon 18-200mm IS. The findings are not conclusive because each super zoom lenses have their strengths and weaknesses.

Corner sharpness

  • Wide zoom (18mm): Tamron is the sharpest, followed by Sigma and Canon
  • Standard zoom (35mm): Canon is the sharpest, followed by Sigma and Tamron
  • Telephoto zoom (200mm and beyond): Canon is the sharpest followed by Sigma and Tamron. Keep in mind that Canon maxes out at 200mm while Sigma 250mm and Tamron 270mm

Vignetting control

  • Tamron controls vignetting better both in wide and telephoto angle.

Distortion control

  • Wide zoom (18mm): Sigma is the best, Canon is the worst
  • Standard zoom (35mm): Almost identical
  • Telephoto zoom: Almost identical

Built Quality, Operation and Focus
Sigma has HSM (Hypersonic motor) which ensure quiet and faster auto focus. Canon AF performs pretty good, Tamron is struggling in low light. All of the lenses have image stabilization which is very good.

Price

  • Today, Tamron has the highest price, $630, followed by Canon $600 and Sigma $530.

It is hard to determine which is the best. You will love Sigma fast and quiet focusing and distortion control in the wide end, but this lens is not the sharpest lens out of the three.

Tamron is the sharpest in wide angle and control vignetting well. Tamron has the longest zoom compare to the other two, but the distortion in wide angle is horrible. The auto focus is the weakest.

Canon is generally a pretty good lens. It is very sharp at 35mm-50mm, but distortion in wide angle is very bad. It is also the shortest superzoom lens.

So which is the best? It depends on what focal length you use the most, if you use wide angle and super telephoto angle (more than 200mm) a lot, Tamron might be a good deal. If you use standard zoom a lot and rarely use focal length above 200mm, pick Canon. If you prefer fast and quiet AF operation, and you can live with average image quality, pick Sigma.

Below of is the sample comparison lens test.

canon-sigma-tamron-18-200-250-270-distortion

Maybe interesting to check out: Choosing your superzoom lens

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

text to screen October 31, 2009 at 11:31 am

Thanks for the info! It helped a lot! Bought a 18-270mm Tamron off eBay today

BF deal hunter November 23, 2009 at 8:14 pm

AbesofMaine will have it almost under $500 soon!

Naresh March 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Thanks a lot for this comparison!! I bought Sigma as I need fast and quiet AF on my Canon T2i…

antoine March 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm

thnanks for the helpful info; i have a 550d with kit lens 18-55 and i am in the market for a super zoom, i know that the best combination is 18-55 & 55-250 but i would really like a “convenient” lens; so in terms of quality which is better canon 18-200, sigma 18-200 (although i hear that the new sigma 18-250 is even better) or the tamron 18-270? also how compatible are they with the canon flash metering?

thanks.

Enche Tjin March 30, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS is the best compare to the other lenses. Avoid Sigma 18-200 or Tamron 18-200mm.

Tamron 18-270mm and Sigma 18-250mm are better than the 18-200mms but not as good as Canon version.

I don’t think that using third party lens will interfere with flash metering. But I am not 100% sure.

antoine March 31, 2010 at 6:13 am

than you for your reply; I am still confused which lens to get the canon ef-s 55-250 to complement my 18-55 or the ef-s18-200? and relieve myself from the hassle of changing lenses (i would eventually use the 18-55 for indor only). what would you do in my place? does the 18-200 sacrifce a lot in term of quality in favor of convenience? if you were to rate both lenses in term of IQ only what would be your verdict?

thanks again…

Enche Tjin March 31, 2010 at 11:14 pm

in term of IQ only, it is better to get 18-55mm and 55-250mm. It is not significantly better than 18-200mm, but it will be noticeable.

If I am In your place, I will likely to get 55-250mm to complement my 18-55mm because it is much cheaper and IQ is better. Although I will need to bring two lenses instead of just one.

bruno April 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

In terms of durability which one can you recomend: canon 18-200 or sigma 18-250.
I heard that canon 18-200 has problem with the lock.

Enche Tjin April 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Built quality is identical, both are constructed in plastic, metal mount and plastic filter thread. Finishing a bit different. Sigma features a black-matte finish which make it look less plasticky. Yeah I head about the low quality of the Canon zoom lock too.

bruno October 22, 2010 at 6:01 am

I bought sigma 18-250 mm lens a week ago for my canon 550D. It works well so far.
Im only worried because sometimes I heard and felt bumping or sliping sound inside. I dont know if its normal for this type of lens or maybe there is a problem? Im a beginner and this is my first lens.

Thanks.

chris November 29, 2010 at 5:11 am

I have had all three and here is what I think:

Canon 18-200mm: THE GOOD– Sharpness, Silent Focus, Quick Focus, Silent IS.

Canon 18-200mm: THE BAD– Lens slip/creep, manual focus.

Tamron 18-270mm: THE GOOD– 6 year warrantee, great contrast, sharp images under 100mm, the additional 70mm, and it’s VC is superior to Canon/Sigma, overall lens size,feel, and button position.

Tamron 18-270mm: THE BAD– VC startup, VC will wear your battery down faster than the Canon lens, anything past 220mm was soft on my 3 different copies, slowest focus, loudest focus. The worst is the lens length – it is very long past 50mm and too long to ‘casually’ use without turning heads or looking intimidating.

Sigma 18-250mm: THE GOOD– lightweight, small (inconspicuous <- sp?), smooth zoom.

Sigma 18-250mm: THE BAD– build quality, SOFT images.

Enche Tjin November 29, 2010 at 5:17 am

thanks for sharing

Drew March 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I currently have two non-IS lenses (Canon 18-55mm, Sigma 70-300mm), that I am looking to replace with a stabilized lens… I have been debating between the three you’ve mentioned in your review, plus the Canon 18-135mm IS.

My other existing lenses are 10-20mm, a fast (f1.4) prime 30mm, and macro 60mm … so my camera bag is getting kind of heavy…

So three questions – would be interested in your opinion…:
1. Will I be disappointed with the image quality in a superlens given what I am used to?
2. will I miss the extra distance I currently have (i.e. should I actually replace it with an xx-300 IS instead)?
3. now that it has been over a year since your initial review, have your opinions changed on any of the three lenses?

appreciate any thoughts you might have…

Enche Tjin March 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Hi Drew,

1. It seems that you’ll not disapointed witht he superzoom lens because it will be up to par or better than what you can get from your current lenses
2. 300mm is very long, unless you shoot bird photography or outdoor sports a lot, you might not miss the 200-300mm range
3. Yes, I still think the Canon 18-200mm IS version is better than other superzoom lenses in the market up to date.

Javier Ossa July 26, 2011 at 3:32 pm

This my be too late for many of you but i had canon 550D with the lens canon ef-s 18-55mm and 55-250mm i did buy the ef-s18-200mm and the pictures were bettert with the 2 first lenses, it is nice to have only 1 walk around lens but i think it does not pay to have the ef-s 18-200mm, know i have the Canon 7D and i am just waiting to have the money for an L 100-400mm lens, i did keep the 18-200mm but i use the ef28-135mm more.

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