Superzooms have long been a popular option for those DSLR owners seeking a one-size-fits-all solution for taking on holiday or just general day-to-day shots. Traditionally 18-200mm has been the most popular superzoom range, with all of the major camera brands (Pentax excluded) offering their own take on one. Times move on, however, and while the humble 18-200mm is still popular some manufacturers have extended the maximum telephoto reach of their superzooms ever further.
All of which brings us to the Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Not only does this ultra-telephoto superzoom offer one of the widest zoom ranges on the market, it manages to do so while remaining relatively compact in size. Just as importantly, you get all this convenience at a relatively affordable price too. While maximum aperture isn’t particularly fast, it needs to be remembered that this is, above all else, a lens of convenience – it isn’t designed for creative shallow-depth-of field photography.
Mounted on an APS-C DSLR the Tamron 18-400mm provides the 35mm equivalent of 27-600mm (29-640mm on Canon APS-C cameras), which should be more than enough telephoto reach for most users. In terms of size and weight, the lens measures 199mm in length (unextended), 86.2mm in diameter and weighs in at 1,135g. Internally, the lens is driven by Tamron’s High/Low torque modulated Drive (HLD) motor to ensure quick and relatively quiet focus and also benefits from built-in Vibration Compensation (VC) technology to keep images sharp at slower shutter speeds or extended focal lengths.
Given the huge focal range some optical compromises are inevitable. In this respect the Tamron 18-400mm definitely produces sharper results at wideangle settings, and even at 400mm you can expect to get usable results. Some distortion and vignetting is also present, as is purple fringing on high-contrast borders. Though shooting in raw largely enables you to correct these aberrations at the post-processing stage.