If you're a travel photographer or perhaps a sports mum or dad, then a single lens that does everything is nirvana. The challenge is in finding a lens that is light to carry, but offers a focal length range for all eventualities.
The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro might just be this lens, featuring a massive 18.8x zoom range for APS-C sized digital SLR cameras. Zooming from 16mm (or 25mm as the 35mm full frame equivalent) to 300mm (465mm equivalent), it is an ideal all-in-one lens letting you shoot sweeping panoramic landscapes and intimate interiors with the wide-angle, or zooming in for close-ups of distant subjects. Macro focusing down to 1:2.9 is also provided.
The only downside to the lens is the f3.5-6.3 maximum aperture, which is fine at the wide-angle end, but you may need to rely on faster ISO settings at the telephoto setting to keep the shutter speeds up. And to keep a lens like this steady when hand-holding it, VC (Vibration Compensation) is essential. Tamron's proprietary image stabilisation system employs three driving coils that electromagnetically activate a shake-compensating VC lens group. Since the VC lens elements are held in place only by three ceramic ball bearings, there is smooth movement with little friction. Even when shooting long-range or under low light, the viewfinder image remains stable and the tracking response is excellent.
Lens autofocusing is pushed along by Tamron's PZD (Piezo Drive), which is noticeably faster and quieter than earlier lenses. There is enhanced support for contrast-detection AF, and focusing when in live-view mode is smoother. A full-time manual focus override lets you make fine focus adjustments at any time without having to switch out of autofocus mode.
The lens design is based on 16 elements in 12 groups and includes three Molded-Glass Aspherical elements, two LD (Low Dispersion) elements and UXR (Ultra-Extra Refractive Index) glass. Together, they correct optical aberrations, while lens multi-layer coating minimises ghosting and flare to deliver images of high clarity, Tamron claims.
The lens features rubber grips on the zoom and focus rings with a rectilinear grid pattern, while a moisture-resistant construction helps prevent moisture from penetrating the lens. Approximate price: $785. For more information, visit www.tamron.com.au.