What’s in my camera bag today? A Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens. That’s a mouthful, so since I’m among friends let’s just call it the Tamron 18-270. The best camera was “the one you have with you and Tamron, who is a pioneer in “do everything” optics, created this surprisingly small (3.5-inches long) and lightweight (15.9 ounces) lens as a perfect traveling companion.
The 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 is part of Tamron’s Di-II family that’s designed specifically for digital SLRs with image sensors measuring 24mm x 16mm that are usually referred to as APS-C. I tested the Canon EOS version using a 50D and its sensor measures 22.3mm x 14.9mm so that’s close enough for me. The lens’ 15x zoom range provides a 35mm focal length equivalency of 28.8-432mm with the Canon 50D’s 1.6X multiplication factor but will be slightly different for the Nikon and Sony versions that are also available.
Tamron’s Vibration Compensation (VC) system works in a similar but different manner than Image Stabilization and Vibration Compensation used by other lens makers. VC uses a tri-axial configuration that wraps three pairs of driving coils and low-function ball bearings around the shake-compensating optical group to produce a free-floating shake compensator. The 18-270mm VC lens incorporates a gyro sensor for detecting any movement and the entire system compensates for diagonal camera shake as well as for up-and-down and side-to-side movement. When combined with its built in CPU, Tamron claims up to a four-stop advantage in making sharp handheld pictures at slower shutter speeds.
The lens is surprisingly compact and well balanced even on my IR-converted EOS Digital Rebel Xti that I used to make the above photograph. Tamron’s 18-270 has a few controls built-into it. The most obvious and is the AF-MF switch and there’s also a VC on-off switch that’s clearly labeled, without cryptic symbols. There’s also a lock switch for when the lens is at its physically shortest (18mm) focal length to prevent lens droop that affects most long focal length zoom lenses. Tip: Be sure to use it when carrying a camera with the lens mounted. Tamron bundles a reversible “tulip” style lens hood and it worked perfectly under all kinds of lighting conditions.
Shooting the Tamron 18-270mm lens, whether at the zoo or while working on my “Barns of Colorado” project was a delight. It’s compact size, wide zoom range and more or less affordable price make it an useful all-around lens. The images produced with it were consistently sharp, even when shot under marginal lighting conditions. When combined with Tamron’s SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical lens they would make a ideal two-lens kit for travel photography.