AP was the first UK outlet to get hands-on with Tamron’s new superzoom, which covers an astonishing zoom range and benefits from a light and compact form factor. Michael Topham tests the first working sample
Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD review: Features
Favoured by photographers who’d like to switch from wideangle to ultra-telephoto without changing lenses, superzoom lenses are considered highly versatile optics well suited for a wide range of subjects including travel scenes, wildlife, action sports, portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, and food photography. Being a lens that’s intended to be popular for travel and everyday use, Tamron has made a conscious effort to make it as lightweight and compact as possible. It weighs 705g, which works out at 250g more than Tamron’s 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens, and has a total length of 121.4mm when fully extended.
A new lens barrel design utilising three-step extensions had to be designed to enable the necessary elongation to produce the 22.2x zoom ratio, with the optical construction seeing 16 glass elements arranged in 11 groups. As well as featuring two moulded glass aspherical elements and one hybrid aspherical element, the optical design includes three low dispersion (LD) elements to help minimise chromatic aberrations and distortion, which is often a bugbear on this type of lens. The optics are also designed to be resistant to flare, aided by the application of Tamron’s broad-band anti-reflective (BBAR) coating.
With a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9 and a minimum focus distance of 45cm, the lens doubles up as a useful lens for tele-macro photography and shooting close-ups. Elsewhere, the lens features Tamron’s latest HLD (High/Low torque modulated Drive) motor that’s designed smaller to take up less space and ensure the lens goes about its business accurately and quietly. To keep handshake in check it also benefits from Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation) system, which allows users to shoot up to three stops slower than would otherwise be possible.
Tamron has added some other user-friendly features too, including moisture-resistant construction with five internal weather seals. This will be well received by outdoor photographers who may get caught out in adverse weather conditions. Nikon users will find that the lens uses an electromagnetic diaphragm, which brings a number of operational benefits for live view and video. However, while this will work on all Nikon DSLRs introduced from 2010 onwards, it’s worth noting that it won’t work with any that pre-date 2007. The lens is consequently incompatible with the D2-series, D1-series, D200, D100, D90, D80, D70-series, D60, D50,D40-series and D3000 DSLRs.
At the front the lens accepts screw-in filters and adapters via a 72mm thread. It also has a bayonet mount to accept the supplied petal-type plastic lens hood, which can be reversed when not in use without hindering the operation of the zoom ring.