With a mind boggling 18-400mm zoom lens, Tamron should have your attention! But the question is whether this crazy focal length can still offer amazing image quality. So, let's take a look at this Tamron 18-400mm VC Lens in this review and see if the performance is worthy of your camera. These images were all shot using the Nikon D7500.
Honestly, super zoom lenses like this are usually not on my buy list. They rarely offer the quality and wider aperture of better lenses with less zoom range and certainly will never come close to the quality of a nice prime lens. However, as cameras and software begin to automatically correct typical lens issues like Chromatic Aberration and produce better image quality at high ISO, I’m beginning to care less. And after using this lens, I’m concluding that many of these amazing images would have lacked impact had I not had the range of this single lens.
The Tamron 18-400mm VC is available for both Canon and Nikon cameras with APS-C size sensors. The result is a 27-600mm range equivalent when used on cameras like the Nikon D7500 and Canon 80D. At 1.5lbs, it is a little on the heavy side but still very compact compared to other zoom lenses. Once you begin to zoom in however, everything changes as the lens almost doubles in size. Vibration Compensation provides the image stabilization which is a must have feature in longer telephoto lenses although I did not find the Tamron performed exceptionally well in this area and required faster shutter speeds to maintain sharp subjects. I would estimate about 2-3 stops of compensation is the best you can expect on the longer end. The lens feels great though and well built with Orings protecting moisture and dust from entering by the camera connection. The zoom ring is large and mostly smooth although it gets a bit harder to turn at around 70mm before loosening up at the end. The manual focus ring also had an extremely short throw making it difficult if you planed on shooting without autofocus. It also rotates while focusing and is locked unless manual focus is selected. Overall the Tamron feels like an amazing quality lens easily worthy of the price.
Thankfully, image quality is actually very good! It could use a bit more contrast but tones, de-focused areas, and subjects look great with smooth transitions throughout. You will see Chromatic Aberration and some vignetting in certain shots but this was mild and easily correctable in software. As with most super zoom lenses, sharpness can suffer through certain focal lengths. The 35-200mm range looked best for my shots with 18mm and 400mm suffering a bit. It was still usable at wider apertures and you certainly will not notice this in small prints or on social media, but zooming in to 100% left things looking a bit soft. Distortion is also very well controlled and while slightly noticeable, especially at the wider end, I did not find it distracting at all. Autofocus was fast and quiet with very few issues and this Tamron performed almost perfectly on my Nikon D7500.
Overall, a superzoom lens is a tough call. It offered me a mind boggling focal range that helped drive impact for all my images in situations where I couldn’t take 2-3 large lenses with me. It may not have been the most amazing quality lens I have used and pixel peeping at 400mm was a bit depressing, but the lens was well built, the quality and tones were still great, and there is no substitute for shooting at a 600mm equivalent for wildlife shots only to switch to wide angle landscapes a second later with a setup that fit in a small bag.
If this is mostly for personal use and you want a quality lens for shooting family memories and posting to social media, the Tamron 18-400mm lens will serve you very well. If you need to pixel peep and demand the utmost in quality, you should probably look else-ware...but you probably already knew that. Unfortunately for you, while your images may look better at 100% with less CA and distortion, I wonder if the impact your images likely lack from shooting at a less than ideal focal length are worth the trade-off. Food for thought.