To begin with, I would like to special thanks to Cles Distribution of Tamron Singapore for giving me the opportunity to loan the Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 Di III-A VC RXD (Model B070X) for Fuji mount for this review. At the time of releasing this review, I returned the loan unit to Cles Distribution.
Tamron 18-300mm f3.5-6.3 was first announced in August 2021. Fast forward 8 months later, here comes the second lens. Based on the full-frame equivalent, it gives a focal length from 25.5mm to 105mm and this is actually a good range for everyone to pick up easily.
Design & Build Quality
First of all, it comes with a plastic build body with a metal rear mount bayonet. It may not have the best handling experience but the built quality is solid for its class. The plastic material gives it a smooth like feel when you hold it.
If you have noticed, this lens does not have an aperture ring, which means controlling the aperture value has to be done on the front dial of the camera body.
Rotating the zoom ring gives a smooth with little friction experience. The zoom throw takes 90° from 17mm to 70mm, which is great for quick zooming purpose. Unlike the zoom ring, the manual focus ring is frictionlessly smooth.
Likewise, it is also an external zoom lens, which means it extends the length of the overall lens when you zoom. At 70mm, it extends about 1/3 of the original length. The 67mm filter size lens weighs 530 grams. Personally, I feel the weight is well distributed throughout the lens. I do not feel the lens weight is heavy on the front, especially at 70mm.
Although this is an external zoom lens, it comes with weather sealing, not weather resistant!
At f2.8, the sharpness of the image quality is sharp but not a tad sharp. Let me explain. If you view the photos from the monitor, phone or tablet at the “filled” size, they are sharp. If you blow it up to 100%, it is somehow not that sharp. But it could be me being picky.
Nevertheless, the sharpness is pretty consistent across the focal lengths. The contrast is pretty decent too.
Since it is a zoom lens, I am expecting some chromatic aberration and vignetting. But the lens proves me wrong. I do not see any chromatic aberration but only a little vignetting was observed. I think Tamron did well in this department.
For sunny stars, the sharpest result is at its smallest aperture among all apertures. Not sure if this is the common behaviour when it comes to zoom lenses?
The focusing speed is probably not the fastest I have ever tried on a zoom lens. Maybe it is due to the limitation of the Rapid eXtra-silent stepping drive (RXD) motor? It does focus fast enough during the day for all focal lengths. But when it comes to low-light situations, it is no longer fast enough. I can feel the response time of the focusing speed is slower or maybe it is me who feels it that way. Sometimes I am also unable to focus locked onto the subject and it takes a few tries to get it. You might have lost the golden moments when the subject is finally focused.
But thanks to the RXD, the focus is silent and I hardly notice any motor noise whenever I press the shutter.
Minimum Focus Distance (MFD)
At 17mm, this lens is capable of shooting at a Minimum Object Distance (MOD) of 19 cm and has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.8. How close is 19 cm? Basically, I have to remove the lens hood if I want to shoot that close. At 70mm, the MOD is 39cm and has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.2. I must say the engineering of this lens is very impressive. It allows the photographer to shoot a very close-up of the subject.
Shooting wide open will give you a soft render characteristic feel. Some photographers appreciate it while some do not. Stepping down the aperture will help to improve the overall sharpness.
Something to note
Unlike the Tamron 18-300mm, it does not come with a Zoom Lock Switch that prevents the lens from creeping. Probably it does not need one?
As the name of this lens suggests, it comes with Vibration Compensation (VC). While there is no official statement on how many stops of compensation, I find it works well. At 70mm, I can go as slow as 0.2 seconds. This is something beyond my expectation and I am very satisfied with this outcome. This makes me think that it might work even better with In-Body Image Stabilization cameras.
Side by side
There are not many lenses in the market that meet the constant f2.8 zoom criteria. The closest is the red badge XF16-55mm f2.8 and the soon-to-arrive Sigma 18-50mm f2.8.
From what I see, each lens has obvious pros and cons. The biggest pro for Tamron is that it is equipped with an optical image stabiliser, has a longer reach and better price (compared to XF 16-55mm only, 799 USD versus 1999 USD & SGD 1262 versus SGD 1799).
Who is this for?
It can be used for almost every genre except for wildlife (probably). For photographers who just want to keep as few lenses as possible, this is one good lens to consider and I am sure it is also a good travel lens too.
As a general purpose lens, Tamron strikes a good balance in almost everything and does serve its purpose. It has a constant f2.8, decent image quality, decent MFD, considerably lightweight, weather sealing and it gives a reasonable price too. If these criteria meet your checklist for a new zoom lens, you can consider this to be your next arsenal.
Thank you for reading.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Some of the shots are straight out of the camera while others are edited via In-Camera Raw Processing, Capture One and Photoshop.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
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