Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Review

4.0
June 20, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD is a new 18.8x wide-angle ultra-zoom lens for Nikon and Canon APS-C DSLRs. Crucially offering built-in image stabilisation, the Tamron 18-270mm offers an effective focal range of 24-450mm, replacing at least three lenses in your camera bag. Read our Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD review to find out if it's too much of a compromise or not...

The Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD is a wide-angle to telephoto zoom lens designed for APS-C crop sensor DSLRs. Boasting a 35mm focal range of 24-450mm and features such as a Piezo Drive focusing motor, Tamron’s exclusive VC (Vibration Compensation) technology to combat motion blur, moisture resistant construction and a 39cm minimum focus distance and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2.9, the Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD costs around £529 / $629 and is available in Canon, Nikon and Sony fit. The Sony model comes without the VC image stabiliser because Sony cameras already have it built into the camera body.

Ease of Use

The Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD is quite light considering the massive 18.8x zoom range on offer, weighing in at 540g. It certainly doesn't feel too weighty in the hand and proved to be well balanced on the Canon EOS 7D that we tested it with. The lens extends by about an extra 8cm when fully zoomed out to 300mm.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens attached to the Canon EOS 7D

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens attached to the Canon EOS 7D

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens attached to the Canon EOS 7D

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens attached to the Canon EOS 7D

There's a distance scale that runs from the closest distance of 39cm to infinity, but no depth of field scale. The rear element is surrounded by a metal lens mount and hides 16 elements in 12 groups. That's a lot of glass for the light to go through and is under continuous threat of dispersion. There are seven aperture blades for the aperture range which has a minimum of f/22-f/40.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe front of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe front of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens

Towards the back of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens are three switches. The first is a simple lock to keep the lens at 16mm by placing the switch into a carved divot in the barrel.

The other two switches are to toggle the AF/MF and VC on/off. The AF/MF switch on the side of the lens makes it easy to switch between the two focusing systems.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe front of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe rear of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

Vibration Compensation is Tamron's version of an image stabiliser. This is a big selling point for the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, as neither the Canon or Nikon equivalents offer image stabilisation.

In practice we found it offered around 3 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependant upon your own particular hand-holding technique, making it easier to use the lens in low-light. It's an active type that will visibly steady the shot in the lens for you to see. It does that for around a second after you've locked focus before resetting. Tamron claim that their VC system is lighter and smaller thanks to a complete reversal in how the system operates. Usually IS uses magnets attached to the IS lens element with electromagnetic coils. The new system is attached directly to the lens element.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe side of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe side of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD in-hand

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDThe Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD with the supplied lens hood fitted

The lens is supplied with lens caps and a petal-shaped lens hood - there's no bag included. The filter size is 67mm.

Focal Range

The focal range of the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD is extremely broad. It's possible to encompass a large amount of photographic styles when using a lens such as this.

At 16mm, the field of view is 82°12', which is the same as that of a 24mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDField of view at 16mm

At the 300mm end, the angle of view is 5°20', which is the same as that of a 450mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDField of view at 300mm

Auto-focusing

The 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD features a form of ultra-sonic motor. It incorporates a Piezoelectric motor that uses an electric charge to rotate the tip by producing an ultrasonic vibration. This in turn adjusts the rotor using friction. This type of ultrasonic focusing is distinctly smaller than other varieties meaning that there's less space being used. Focusing is certainly silent and precise but we didn't think it was as fast as a Canon USM lens. Importantly, this solution allows instant manual override even when the focus mode switch is in the AF position.

Chromatic Aberrations

The Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD does suffer from chromatic aberrations, more so at the edges of the frame when shooting wide-angle, but it's really not too bad at all.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

Vignetting and Distortion

With the Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD wide open, you can see some very noticeable light fall-off in the corners throughout the zoom range. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/8 or smaller. There's also some very obvious barrel distortion at the 16mm setting.

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDVignetting at 16mm

Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USDVignetting at 300mm

Macro

The Tamron AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD has a closest focusing distance of 39cm / 15.3in and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9 at 300mm focal length, so it doubles up as quite a handy macro lens.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZDClose-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. In the  AF 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens, Tamron have employed an iris diaphragm with seven rounded blades, which has resulted in quite nice bokeh in our view. We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included some 100% crops for your perusal.

Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD
   
Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, lens, super-zoom, zoom, telephoto, image stabilisation, f3.5, vibration compensation, anti-shake, tamron, 300mm, 16mm, vc, f6.3, 18.8x, 16-300mm, Tamron AF 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

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