Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3

A very cheap super-zoom for DX, which has a built-in focus motor (and so it is fully compatible also with entry-level models). It does not have VR though (unlike it's longer cousin, the 18-270). Is it any good?

+ great focal length range, wide enough for DX
+ really cheap, and it has an AF motor - good value for entry-level camera users
+ with some precautions, image quality is not bad at all

- No VR (or VC - Vibration Compensation - as Tamron calls it) means longer focal lengths require caution - or fast shutter speed
- although the image quality is not bad, it's not excellent either - especially wide open @ 200mm
- in some sense, it is obsolete in the time of CX (mirrorless). Read the Final Verdict more more on this

If there is plenty of sunlight, the Tamron offers contrasty, vivid images

Intended Users
Great for:

  • traveling light. If you plan to simply take snapshots/family pics, this is a good choice.
  • a cheap super-zoom for your entry level camera. If you wanna have only one lens, this, perhaps, is a good choice for you.
  • Situations where you can't afford to waste a second changing lenses (and can't afford anything better/more expensive)

Not for:
  • image quality work. Although this lens stopped down isn't bad, it's not too great either.
  • low-light, especially @200mm. f/6.3 is really small.
  • anything involving fast action. Although it has a focus motor, AF is quite slow

Final Verdict
All-in-all, not a bad lens, especially considering how cheap it is. It does have drawbacks of course. The image quality isn't great (but definitely acceptable, perhaps even good if there's plenty of light), the autofocus is slow - and note that although there is focus motor, there is no instant manual focus override - and the overall ergonomics of the lens are not great. But the biggest issue for this lens is that it isn't very relevant anymore. Mirrorless cameras offer small size and relatively good image quality. DSLRs still have the upper hand for serious work (where quality and functionality can't be compromised). But they require the proper lenses, and the Tamron 18-200 is a "compromise" lens. So, in some sense, it is a remnant of a previous, pre-mirrorless era. If you want compromise, get a mirrorless; if you want quality, get some other lens for your DSLR

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