Tamron 18-300mm: The best all-rounder lens?
Special thanks to Cles Distribution of Tamron Singapore for giving me the opportunity to loan the Tamron 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD (Model B061) for Fuji mount for a review. At the time of releasing this review, I have returned the loan unit to Cles Distribution.
1. All the shots shown here were taken by me.
2. Some shots are straight out of the camera, while others are edited via In-Camera Raw Processing and Adobe Lightroom Classic.
3. I reserve ownership of these images. If you wish to use my images, please notify me.
4. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake made, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
Before I start, I wish to highlight that this is a lengthy sharing session of my personal experience with this lens but not too much on the technical specifications. You may skip to the Conclusion if you wish to, or just browse the photos.
A Little History
Tamron has a long history of producing lenses, and they are the pioneer of producing high-ratio zoom lenses. The AF 28-200mm F3.8-5.6 was the first all-in-one zoom lens that was launched in 1992, and since then, Tamron has never stopped innovating and creating many “first” in the photography industry. In other words, Tamron is an expert in this field.
About The Lens
As the name of this lens has suggested, it is an ultra-zoom lens that features a 16.6x zoom ratio, besides having a focal length from 27mm to 450mm (full-frame equivalent). At 18mm focal length, this lens is capable of shooting at a Minimum Object Distance (MOD) of 15 cm with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2 and MOD at 1 meter at the tele end with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4. That is a pretty remarkable piece of engineering to me as I love to shoot close-ups a lot.
It is a plastic lens body with a metal rear mount bayonet. To be honest, the experience is not as good as the metal-constructed lenses, but it still feels solid and does not feel cheap on my hand. Rotating the zoom ring is smooth while giving you some little friction. Do note that when the lens zooms to 300mm, the physical length of the lens does extend to almost 3/4 times its original length.
Unlike most of the Fujifilm lenses, it does not come with an aperture ring, which means you have to control the aperture via the front command dial on the camera body. If you wish to purchase a filter to protect the lens’s front element, it has a 67mm thread, which is on the affordable side.
It weighs 620 grams, which is acceptable for an ultra-zoom lens. Only looking at the numbers, the lens seems to be heavy, but fear not, the weight distribution is evenly throughout the lens.
During the day, the image quality across all focal lengths is great. I am surprised that the images are decent and beyond my expectation. Of course, the image quality is not comparable to prime lenses but not too far behind from the shorter zoom ratio lenses. Different lenses are created for different purposes, so it is not a fair comparison if you are comparing it with other lenses directly.
Also, I am not expecting creamy, nice, and beautiful bokeh produced by this lens, but the result is quite acceptable for me. It still does its job well for separating the subject from the foreground/background. The good thing about its bokeh is that it still produces smooth and nice fall-off, and it does not give harsh and disturbing background blur.
If someone is concerned whether the aperture at F6.3 for 300mm does not give a pleasing background bokeh, well, I think this has to depend on what genres you are shooting with. At least for my shoots, I think the bokeh is okay.
Thanks to the VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear motor focus mechanism, the focusing is pretty fast at all focal lengths and silent under sunlight. The focus is quite accurate at most focal lengths, but I do miss some shots at 300mm. I am wondering if it is due to the small aperture at 300mm.
As for dim lighting situations or nighttime, the focusing speed is noticeably reduced. At 18mm, the focusing speed is still not too bad. However, as the focal length increases, the focusing speed gets slower and more focus hunting is observed too. I think this is also due to the small aperture value at 300mm.
This lens is equipped with Tamron’s proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization, which helps to compensate for unwanted camera movements, especially under low light situations. While the official statement does not indicate the number of f-stops the lens can deliver, I tested and managed to get decently sharp photos at 1/14 sec at 300mm. I think I can confirm that VC does work reasonably well under such a situation.
Minimum Object Distance
I have mentioned the MOD earlier. But what I want to mention here is how impressive the MOD is. If you want to shoot at 18mm, basically your lens is very close to the subject. It is surprisingly a fun perspective to shoot with.
A soft vignetting is observed throughout the focal lengths, but it can be easily correctly via post-processing. Also, I noticed some softness at 300mm at F6.3 for some shots, but it gets slightly better if the aperture is lower to F8 onwards.
This lens comes with a Zoom Lock switch where it locks the zoom ring at 18mm and prevents the lens from creeping due to the weight of the lens while on the move. This mechanical switch is common among all long barrel lenses, and I am glad that the Tamron engineers included it in this lens as well.
Another thing that I like about this lens and I think it is worth mentioning. If I want to change the focal length from 18mm to 300mm, all it takes is to rotate the zoom ring 45°, and I have arrived at 300mm.
Who is this lens for?
This lens is actually quite versatile, and it’s a great lens in its class. If the image quality is not much of a concern, this lens basically can shoot anything under sunlight.
This lens also gives a good focal length for a photographer who is exploring different kinds of genres without breaking his wallet. If a photographer wants to travel light for his overseas trip, this is one good option too. Besides, if the photographer wants to do a simple product shoot with budget studio lights, this lens is capable of it too.
This is Tamron very first lens for Fujifilm users, and I think this is a wise choice to start off with. That’s because Fujifilm does not have this level of the all-in-one zoom lens in its lens lineup. The closest that Fujifilm has is the 18-135mm, and it is nowhere near what Tamron has to offer. Not only that, it is selling at USD 699 (SGD 1088). With such competitive pricing, I think it will attract lots of interested photographers.
In my own words
Frankly speaking, I am excited to see more and more 3rd party manufacturers stepping into the Fujifilm X-system. Not only this gives Fuji users a wider variety of lenses to choose from, but it also provides healthy competition with other APS-C manufacturers.
Thank you for reading.
Alwin is a 37 years old engineer, husband and Fujifilm fanboy from Singapore. His first encounter with Fujifilm was the launch of the X10 in 2012. It was love at first sight. It was a joyful compact camera and it also introduced film simulations to him. But what brought him deep into Fujifilm was the X-T2 and the love grows further. He loves to experience and discover many genres.