Choosing Tamron super zoom lens

by Enche Tjin on September 30, 2009

Tamron super zoom lens / general purpose lens are very popular especially for vacation. All super zoom lenses are relatively light (1 pound or less) and short (101mm or shorter). It is especially popular for Sony or Pentax users because they can get image stabilization from the camera body.

tamron-18-250mm-zoom-lens

Tamron 18-250mm is relatively compact. The lens comes with a free lens hood.

Today, Tamron has six super zoom lenses in the market. The lenses are available for Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax cameras. This could cause confusion for new buyers. In this post, I’ll help to guide you to get the best lens.

Here is the Tamron lenses compared based on image quality (IQ), built quality (BQ) and price.

Name BQ IQ Price
Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF AF 6 4 $300
Tamron 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical IF Macro AF 6 7 $475
Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical IF Macro AF 6 6 $600
Tamron 28-200mm f/3.8-5.6 XR Di Aspherical IF Macro AF 6 4 $300
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di AF 6 7 $400
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical IF Macro AF 6 5 $600

Based on compatibility, Tamron lenses are divided into two category. Di and Di II. The Di II lenses only compatible with crop sensor cameras, which is 95% dSLR cameras in the market right now, for example: Canon XSi, Nikon D90 and so on.

The Di lenses are compatible with both full frame camera such as Canon 5D mark II / Nikon D700 / Sony A900 and also crop sensor cameras. Therefore, if you have plan to get a full frame DSLR cameras soon, then You might want to look at Di lenses.

To reduce the cost, Tamron lenses use a lot of plastic, but the lens mount, so the built quality is a bit better than regular kit lens (lens that comes with your beginner DSLR cameras). Most of the lenses has similar built quality. However, the image quality among the lenses are not the same.

Recommendation

If you use Sony Alpha or Pentax digital SLR cameras, I recommend to get either Tamron 18-250mm or 28-300mm. It has the best image quality and great value for money. If you have Canon or Nikon, you might want VC (Vibration Compensation or Image Stabilization) so the best option should be 18-270mm or 28-300mm VC.If you check the table carefully, being a Canon or Nikon shooters are in disadvantages here, because both system does not have image stabilization built into the camera. The price of lens that have VC are more expensive, and the image quality drop a bit especially the 28-300mm VC.

Other Tips

If you have the lens already, you will get the best image quality of the lenses when you set your lens at around 35-70mm and at aperture of  f/5.6 – f/8.

Don’t forget to check:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith George October 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

I have the Several Tamron Lenses, the 18-200, the 90MM Macro and just purchased the 70-200 2.8. The 18-200 is workhorse of the group. It will turn out some great shots, and is a bargain for the price. I agree with your comment about setting the F stop between f/5.6-f/8. Landscapes turn out sharp, and have great color!

Mike Driscoll November 6, 2010 at 11:30 am

What’s a good workhorse lens for a Canon Xsi? Willing to consider all names.

Enche Tjin November 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

For Tamron brand, it is Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 For long zoom all purpose: Canon 18-200mm IS and for the best but pretty expensive: Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

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