Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Review

July 28, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


There are always going to be compromises with such a wide-ranging lens, but somewhat surprisingly Tamron have managed the difficult feat of extending the focal range even further than previous super-zoom lenses and also improving the overall image quality throughout that range, making the Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD a viable proposition as an inexpensive all-in-one travel companion.

Its sharpness, while not on a par with the best lenses that we have reviewed, is actually pretty good considering what the lens is trying to achieve. It never hurts to stop a lens like this one down, but the usable aperture range is actually quite broad at most focal lengths, although at 400mm performance does drop off a little. This means that in the sharpness department, you're not paying too high a price for the convenience of having a single lens to cover such a vast range of focal lengths.

The Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD does suffer from chromatic aberrations, though, with quite obvious purple fringing appearing along contrasty edges. In terms of optical performance, there are two other areas of concern - vignetting when shooting wide open at 18mm and geometric distortion in the form of barrelling at 18mm.

Mechanically, the Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD lens is a lot better than you would expect based on the reasonable asking price. The zooming action is smooth without the zoom ring being too loose, manual focus is easy, and the new HLD auto-focus motor is virtually silent, making it well suited to video work. Vibration Compensation thankfully works pretty well too, allowing you to take hand-held shots at shutter speeds that would be critically slow for the focal length used. Build quality is similar to other recent Tamron lenses that we've reviewed, commendably adopting the same serious black design, and there's even a rubber gasket around the lens mount for a degree of moisture protection, although it's certainly not fully weather-proof.

So as an all-in-one lens that covers everything from wide-angle to extreme close-ups, with the added bonus of tele-macro shooting too, the Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD certainly fits the bill, especially as it's more than capable of capturing some lovely photos at a price that won't break the bank.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 4.5